Army chooses rugged accelerometers from Meggitt for testing the Excalibur smart artillery shell
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J., 19 Oct. 2016. U.S. Army munitions researchers needed high-G rugged accelerometers to support testing of the Raytheon M982 Excalibur satellite-gilded smart artillery shell. They found their solution from Meggitt (Orange County) Inc. in Irvine, Calif.
Officials of the Army Contracting Command at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., have announced a $7.1 million contract late last month for high-gravity accelerometers for Excalibur and other telemetry programs.
The Excalibur smart artillery shell has a ruggedized Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite navigation receiver and uses satellite signals to help guide itself to its intended targets. It first was fielded in Iraq in 2007 for urban or complex-terrain engagements in which collateral damage must be kept to a minimum.
Meggitt designs and builds sensors that measure acceleration, speed, pressure, force, temperature, distance, position, vibration, and level in extreme environments like military weapons and civil power plants.
The Excalibur artillery ammunition 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 and high altitudes.
Excalibur is a fire-and-forget smart munition with better accuracy than existing 155-millimeter artillery rounds. These shells are fin-stabilized, and are designed to glide to targets with base bleed technology, as well as with canards located at the front of the munition that create aerodynamic lift.
Although Excalibur is perhaps the longest-range artillery ammunition in the U.S. arsenal, it has the ability to be fired nearly straight up from positions in cities or hilly terrain, engage its precision-guidance system at high altitudes, and detect and attack moving targets -- even individual vehicles -- with an accuracy of better than 65 feet from the desired aim point.
The shells are guided by GPS signals and inertial measurement units, and can be fired from the M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzer, as well as from the M198 and M777A2 towed howitzers.
Excalibur artillery shells come in three kinds: high-explosive; smart munitions that detect and attack moving targets; and shells able to identify and attack vehicles individually in cities and other complicated terrain.
In 2014 Raytheon test-fired a dual-mode GPS- and laser-guided Excalibur S for the first time. Raytheon experts fired the smart munition initialized with a GPS target location, and scored a direct hit on a different, or offset target after being terminally guided with a laser designator, company officials say.
It is for testing like this that Meggitt is providing its ruggedized accelerometers. The 2014 tests validated the laser spot tracker's ability to survive the forces of firing from a 155-millimeter howitzer and then hand off from the GPS to guide to a laser spot on the designated target.
Meggitt designs accelerometers that can take as many as 20,000 readings per second, in temperatures from -269 to 650 degrees Celsius, and measure acceleration from zero to 200,000 Gs.
Meggitt accelerometers also can measure extreme pressure of zero to 30,000 pounds per square inch, as well as operate in extreme radiation environments. The company can design sensors using micro-electro mechanical systems (MEMS) technologies, as well as with piezoelectric materials.
Meggitt has provided triaxial accelerometers, part number 73M2-2K-2K-2K, and accelerometers, part number 71M1-60K, for Army Excalibur testing.
Army researchers say they favor these particular sensors from Meggitt because of Meggitt's technology, level of knowledge and experience with performance verification, and because the company has the software and hardware tools necessary to adapt the accelerometers for the Excalibur program.
More information about the Army accelerometer contract to Meggitt is online at https://www.fbo.gov/notices/31ac0fbe5b6a81d8b4029a6c3532311c.
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