In 2007, the U.S. Army first used shells called Excalibur in the Iraq war. Charlotte Mountain, who served in the U.S. military for more than 10 years, said that these 155 mm GPS-guided artillery shells could change combat modes.

This shell is named after the legendary sword that King Arthur wielded. With version Ia-2, from a maximum distance of 40km, Excalibur has a hit rate of about 92%.

According to Mountain, battlefields like Ukraine are often large and flat, so artillerymen can use drones to target enemy positions precisely. 

But in battlefields with more complex terrain, such as Taiwan, if the enemy concentrates his troops and weapons behind the mountainside, then relying solely on drones may not be as effective.

Major General John Rafferty said that the United States wants shells that can actively seek targets. This would reduce the number of shells used and thereby cost optimization of each attack.

Rafferty’s statement generalizes the problem of artillery. Mountain said that with non-Excalibur shells, soldiers often had to fire a few shots incorrectly and re-align the projectile. This consumes time as well as exposes artillery units to the risk of being detected by enemy radars.

It is possible that because of this problem, the U.S. Army pushed for a partnership with the company Raytheon to design more effective guided artillery shells, and Excalibur was born out of this partnership. This type of ammunition can change its route during flight to find the target more accurately.

Excalibur’s range and accuracy are constantly being enhanced by the Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) weapon system. On March 6, 2020, the U.S. military used a 58mm cannon to fire an Excalibur shell that flew more than 70km.

Major General Rafferty pointed out that, in the new version, Excalibur is equipped with an improved target search sensor that can reach targets at longer distances and more accurately.

General Rafferty added that Excalibur currently has 6 samples, and the U.S. will have 18 samples before the end of the next financial year. Excalibur will be assigned to a military base at Fort Bliss, Texas. The ERCA program will undergo a year-long performance review there.

According to Forbes, an unnamed U.S. defense official confirmed this week that the U.S. would deliver a batch of Excalibur precision-guided artillery shells to Ukraine.

The official further revealed that the U.S. military is training Ukrainian soldiers to use Excalibur shells.

The Ukrainian military uses hundreds of M777 howitzers, perfectly suited for firing Excalibur-guided rounds.

According to Forbes, new artillery shells from the U.S. can help Ukraine break the overwhelming Russian firepower.

Currently, Russia uses Krasnopol artillery with laser-guided artillery shells, which have a maximum range of only more than 20 km.

China is currently using guided artillery belonging to Russia’s Krasnopol system. Armament Research reported that GP6, China’s newest GPS-guided artillery, has a maximum range of only 25km and a claimed first-round hit probability of about 90%.

These Chinese-guided artillery shells are far inferior to Excalibur. 

Excalibur will likely have the opportunity to show its capabilities in the Russia-Ukrainian war.

Excalibur’s problems, if any, will be covered in the newer version. And if the Taiwan war breaks out, the Chinese military will face an, even more, superior Excalibur. This may be the “magic sword” that the United States wants to punish China’s regime.

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