Talking about the artillery systems that Western partners have already provided and may soon provide to Ukraine, we have repeatedly mentioned the M982 Excalibur guided high-precision projectile, which is compatible with 155-mm guns with digital fire control, such as the American M777 or French CAESAR. It became known thatCanada is handing over the M777 howitzers to Ukraine together with the M982 Excalibur. Yes, these are just four howitzers, but if you look atthe list of weapons coming from the United States , you can see another 90 (!!!) M777 and 184,000 shells to them. We are more than sure that among these shells there are Excaliburs. Let’s see what this M982 Excalibur is, and what it is capable of.
Roughly speaking, the M982 Excalibur is a 155-mm artillery shell with small impellers which turns into a kind of high-speed “glider” in the area of ballistic descent, adjusting the trajectory with the help of inertial and satellite navigation systems. Again, roughly speaking, artillerymen only need to know the coordinates of the target (thanks to satellite images, UAV reconnaissance, or counter-battery radars) to destroy it from a distance of 23-48 km, depending on the version of the projectile and gun.
M982 Excalibur is a very expensive “toy”, one projectile costs like a small rocket – $112,800 as of early 2021, while the price of conventional 155-mm projectiles is $300-1000. And this is not taking into account the cost of charge, which is supplied separately in such guns. But, according to manufacturers, the use of M982 Excalibur allows you to hit the target 10 times faster, and one “Excalibur” is able to do the “job” of 10-50 conventional shells. This projectile turns the howitzer into a sniper weapon.
As we have already mentioned, the firing range of the M982 Excalibur depends on the version of the projectile and the cannon, or rather on the length of its barrel. That is, CAESAR anti-aircraft gun with a 52-caliber gun can throw “Excalibur” at a distance of 46 km, PzH-2000 – 48 km, but M777 with a barrel of 39 calibers – only 36-40 km. But this is in any case an impressive range, which will destroy the batteries of the Russians without exposing our gunners to retaliatory fire. For example, the Russian 152-mm 2C19 Msta-C hits only 25-29 km, 152-mm 2C5 Hyacinth-C – 33 km, and only 203-mm 2C7 Peony reaches 47 km, but the Peonies are few, their deployment speed is low, and their accuracy is much lower than that of the Excaliburs.
As for the firing range: in 2020, when testing a prototype 155-mm howitzer M1299 with a barrel length of 58 calibers M982 Excalibur hit the target at a range of км 70 km!
M982 Excalibur is compatible with AS-90 (UK), Archer (Sweden), G6 Rhino (South Africa), PzH 2000 (Germany), M109A6 Paladin (USA) and M198 and M777 towed howitzers (both US). The main thing is the presence of a digital fire control system for programming projectiles.
It should be understood that M982 Excalibur are produced in limited number, we are talking about hundreds of units per year, i.e. Ukraine is unlikely to receive thousands of such projectiles. But this is the same case when quality is more important than quantity.
And let’s turn to the domestic guided projectile Kvitnyk. This is a high-precision ammunition with a laser semi-active homing head, which is made in 152 and 155 mm calibers and was even adopted by the Armed Forces in December 2012. But only in 2017 a version of the projectile without Russian components was presented, and, allegedly, the Ministry Defense planned to purchase a certain amount of these munitions… but did not purchase due to the failure to complete the full cycle of tests to be held in the second half of 2021. The same applies to updated versions of this projectile – Kvitnyk-E and Barvynok, i.e. we still don’t have them.
So for now, let’s rely on Excalibur and the M777 howitzer and hope that the Armed Forces will get the right amount of these shells to give the orcs a good beating.
M982 Excalibur specifications
Manufacturer – BAE Systems AB, Raytheon Missiles & amp; Defense
Mass – 48 kg
Length – 100 cm
Caliber – 155 mm
Effective firing range – 23-40 km
Warhead – PBXN-9 (inertial combined with GPS)
Weight of the warhead – 22 kg
Cost of the unit – $112,800 (2021).