At issue is the U.S. Army Raytheon M982 Excalibur Global Positioning System (GPS)-guided 155-millimeter artillery shell, which has a built-in ruggedized GPS receiver and uses satellite signals to help guide itself to its intended target.
The Excalibur artillery shell first was fielded in Iraq in 2007 for urban or complex-terrain engagements in which collateral damage must be kept to a minimum. It can hit targets as far away as 25 miles, or detect and attack moving targets in cities and other complex terrain after being fired at high angles.
Now engineers at the Raytheon Co. Missile Systems segment in Tucson, Ariz., are working on using Excalibur technology for naval guns to enable surface warships to engage sea-borne or land-based targets with precision accuracy.
Just last month Raytheon technicians fired the company's new Excalibur N5 projectile during a live guided flight test at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., company officials announced.
A company-funded initiative, Excalibur N5 is a 5-inch (127-millimeter) naval variant of the combat-proven Excalibur precision projectile used by the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marine Corps and several international armies, Raytheon officials say.
Excalibur N5 designers say they expect the new naval munition to more than triple the maximum effective range of conventional naval gun munitions and deliver the same pinpoint accuracy of the Excalibur artillery shell.
"Excalibur N5's range, precision and lethality will revolutionize naval gunfire and increase the offensive firepower of our Navy's destroyers and cruisers," says Duane Gooden, vice president of Raytheon's Land Warfare Systems product line. "This demonstration showcases the N5's maturity as a proven low-risk solution, and is ready for the Navy now."
The Excalibur N5 naval gun round could help U.S and allied naval surface forces with naval surface fire support, anti-surface warfare, and countering fast attack boats, Raytheon officials say.
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What makes the Excalibur round special is its ability to hit targets with accuracy that are far away or close by. The smart munition has the ability to be fired virtually straight up, acquire targets in the vicinity, and destroy even those moving quickly with their precision guidance systems.
On land it could hit a maneuvering tank, truck, or terrorist vehicle. At sea it has the potential to hit enemy surface ships, fast attack boats, and nearly any other maritime target.
For the Excalibur artillery shell, nearly 770 rounds have been fired in combat with exceptional accuracy and lethality, Raytheon officials say. The munition consistently strikes within a range of two meters of its intended impact point.
The smart munition has proven itself on land, and now holds promise of bringing that same capability to surface engagements.
Testing continues at Raytheon.