US: In a company-funded R&D initiative, Raytheon Company successfully fired the dual-mode GPS– and laser-guided Excalibur S for the first time. Although the Excalibur S was initialised with a GPS target location, it scored a direct hit on a different, or offset, target after being terminally guided with a laser designator. The new variant incorporates a laser spot tracker (LST) into the combat-proven Excalibur Ib projectile, the world's most precise GPS guided 155mm artillery projectile now in production for the US Army and several international customers.
"The performance of Excalibur S is very impressive and I am extremely encouraged by Raytheon's commitment to the next generation of Excalibur," said Lieutenant Colonel Josh Walsh, US Army Excalibur Product Manager. This test validated the LST's ability to survive the forces of firing from a 155mm howitzer and then successfully hand off from the GPS to guide to a laser spot on the designated target. The Raytheon-funded Excalibur S builds on the proven, GPS-guided Excalibur Ib variant. The addition of the LST will enable the warfighter to attack moving targets, engage targets that have re-positioned after firing, or change the impact point to further avoid casualties and collateral damage.
"The significance of this new capability cannot be understated. A laser-guided variant of Excalibur gives the warfighter a precision weapon that accommodates target location errors, allows continued target attack when GPS is degraded or denied, and hit targets on the move at extended ranges,” said Michelle Lohmeier, Vice President of Raytheon Missile Systems' Land Warfare Systems product line. Excalibur S also paves the way for Excalibur Ib customers to upgrade their Excalibur Ib guidance and navigation units with GPS and LST capability. Several international customers have expressed strong interest in Excalibur S, and this same capability can also be incorporated into the 5-inch Excalibur naval variant, Excalibur N5, the company is developing. Raytheon is planning a live fire demonstration of the Excalibur N5 later this year.