Find a Security Clearance Job!

Military


XM982 Excalibur
Precision Guided Extended Range Artillery Projectile

The XM982, a PM SADARM managed program achieved highly successful results 9 January 1997 during a demonstration test at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona. An Integrated Process and Product Team consisting of representatives from the US Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command - Armament Research, Engineering and Development Center (TACOM-ARDEC), Project Manager, Sense and Destroy Armor (PM SADARM), Talley Defense, Motorola and Primex (formerly Olin Ordnance) completed the Milestone I/II ballistic demonstration test for the 155mm ER DPICM XM982 projectile. The purpose of the YPG ballistic test was to assess the XM982s design maturity for entry into the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase of development. An approved exit criteria required the projectile to achieve a range of 31.45 kilometers (1.62Km = 1 mile) which equated to 85 percent of the 37 kilometer threshold range requirement defined in the XM982 Operational Requirements Document. Actual test results showed the XM982 projectile overwhelmingly exceeded the exit criteria achieving a range of 36.2 kilometers, equivalent to 98 percent of the 37 kilometer threshold requirement for range.

The XM982 Operational Requirements Document was revised and approved by TRADOC 2 May 1997. This revision expanded the XM982 program to include the development of SADARM and Unitary Warhead 155mm ER Projectiles. The XM982 ER DPICM was to be developed first, and was expected to pave the way for the ER SADARM and Unitary Warhead Projectiles to follow.

The XM982 155mm Extended Range Artillery Projectile successfully completed a Milestone I/II In Process Review 5 May 1997. This allowed the XM982 to proceed into the next Acquisition Life Cycle Phase, Engineering and Manufacturing Development. The Integrated Product Team, including PM SADARM, ARDEC, OPTEC, TECOM and Fort Sill personnel provided the necessary documentation to support the MS I/II IPR.

In February 1998 TACOM-ARDEC, located at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey awarded the XM982 Engineering & Manufacturing Development (E&MD) contract to Raytheon TI Systems, Inc (RTIS). The XM982 Program was managed by the PM SADARM under the Program Executive Office for Ground Combat Support Systems also located at Picatinny Arsenal. The contract was performed by RTIS as a part of the newly formed Raytheon Systems Company (RSC).

The $30 million contract was for the design, development, and manufacture of a guided artillery round over 4 years. The XM982 round combined the capabilities of a missile with the durability of artillery, and was one of what was then the newest generation of extended range "smart" rounds.

Raytheon estimated that the total value of the program including planned production of approximately 250,000 rounds could exceed $3 billion. The XM982 projectile would be compatible with all existing and expected 155mm howitzer platforms, and carried 3 distinct payloads. The initial contract covered development of the basic XM982 cargo round and its DPICM payload. The contract also included 8 options: E&MD efforts for integration of the SADARM submunition and unitary penetrator variant payloads, and 6 options for the Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) for all three variants totaling 17,450 rounds.

The Army initially planned to field the munition in 2006. The Army planned to extend the range and accuracy of the M109A6 Paladin Self Propelled Howitzer (SPH) by adapting it to fire the Excalibur. This would extend the Paladin's range by 30 percent. It would improve accuracy by reducing dispersion from 370 meters for traditional artillery projectiles to 10 meters for Excalibur. The Excalibur could also be used both by the M198 155mm howitzer currently employed by the Army and Marines, and by the XM777 lightweight 155 mm gun that the services had been considering as a replacement.

In November 2001, the Army Acquisition Executive merged the Raytheon Excalibur (US) and Bofors (Sweden) Trajectory Correctable Munition programs. In February 2002, Army leadership directed Excalibur to follow a block acquisition strategy. The Block I (Unitary) Milestone C was scheduled for FY06, and an initial operational capability (IOC) by FY08. For Block II (smart) and Block III (discriminating), Milestone Bs were scheduled in FY08, Milestone Cs in FY13, and IOCs in FY16.

In 2002, an early fielding plan for the unitary version was approved. In 2002, the program was directed to include the development of the Excalibur for the Army's Future Combat System's Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C).

According the DOT&E, key technical risks for the Unitary program included reliable fin deployment, airframe maneuverability, warhead fuze development, inertial measurement unit hardening, and GPS acquisition. Gun-hardening tests demonstrated integrated GPS acquisition and tracking and inertial measurement unit mechanical performance to 12,000g acceleration levels. The canard actuator system functioned after firing. Accuracy required for engaging area targets appeared to be achievable, but achieving the greater accuracy required for structures and other point targets was higher risk.

Smart projectiles such as SADARM (US), Smart155 (Germany), and Bonus (Sweden) that employ millimeter wave variants and infrared sensors to engage armored targets had shown success against benign targets, but had historically been less successful against countermeasured targets. Germany and Sweden were working on product improvements that it was hoped would make the technology more effective by the projected start of the Block II and III programs. Technology that discriminates between individual targets was unproven.

The testing for the XM982 unitary munition described in the draft LFT&E strategy was fully integrated with planned developmental and operational testing, in order to efficiently use available test resources. There were no dedicated, full-up, system-level, LFT&E events. Realistic gun-fired lethality testing was planned during developmental test events using a live fire target array consisting of mixed personnel and light materiel targets, and threat representative structure targets of specified construction. Warhead technical testing, and some gun-fired testing, were expected to be completed in time to support a Milestone C decision review.

DOT&E believed that Excalibur could be susceptible to GPS jamming. If GPS jammers were employed in the vicinity of the target, then the Army expected Excalibur to use its inertial navigation system to hit the target. However, if jamming prevented initial GPS acquisition, then the round would follow a ballistic trajectory instead of achieving guided flight and might endanger friendly forces in the area of the ballistic round's impact. Excalibur would require accurate target location data in order to achieve desired effects for the unitary variant. Target location errors would need to be 35 meters or less for personnel targets, and approximately 10 meters or less for targets requiring a direct hit.

In January 2003 the Raytheon Company was awarded a $265.8 million US Army contract modification that expanded the capability of the Excalibur program to meet the war fighter needs of both the US Army and the Kingdom of Sweden (KOS). The contract modification merged the guidance development of Raytheon's on-going Excalibur program with the airframe concepts developed by Bofors Defense of Sweden, a subsidiary of United Defense Industries, as part of the US-Swedish Trajectory Corrected Munitions (TCM) program.

Following the cancellation of the Crusader SPH, developmental work on the Excalibur projectiles that were intended for the system were reoriented toward the FCS NLOS. This required an adaptation to Excalibur, because it was not possible to take this large caliber round and convert it automatically for a smaller-caliber (as in shorter overall barrel length) gun. All three payloads planned for Excalibur, the dual-purpose improved conventional munitions, sensor-fuzed munitions, and a unitary warhead, would find use in NLOS, as will its GPS guidance system.

The revised Excalibur program responded to the need for precision-guided projectiles for the US Army's Future Combat System Cannon (FCS-Cannon). The Excalibur program was in a position to enhance the performance of near-term Army platforms, to respond to Objective Force indirect fire requirements, and to encompass unique operational requirements for Sweden, such as a 52- caliber cannon system then being defined for the Swedish Army. The KOS agreed to contribute $57 million to the Excalibur program.

In late 2006 the Raytheon Missile Systems and BAE Systems Bofors' Excalibur team successfully concluded safety testing of the Excalibur global positioning system-guided 155 mm artillery projectile. The Sequential Environmental Test-Safety (SET-S) series of 15 Excalibur projectiles took place between 24 and 30 August 2006.

The projectiles were fired from an M109A6 Paladin howitzer during the tests at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona. The Excalibur rounds in the SET-S firing series were conditioned at extreme hot and cold temperatures, subjected to shock and vibration testing to simulate logistical and tactical transportation, initialized with the portable Excalibur fire control system, and fired at much higher than normal charge levels to demonstrate safety margin in the projectile design. Some of the rounds also were fired at 5 degrees off-axis to demonstrate the projectile's enhanced maneuverability and operational flexibility.

The goal of the SET-S series was to verify that Excalibur was safe to handle, transport, and fire as part of the Army's safety confirmation for fielding. Despite the over-margin test conditions, Excalibur continued to exceed its accuracy requirements. Average CEP (Circular Error Probability) was demonstrated at about 5 meters (16.5 feet), significantly better than the 10- meter (33 feet) requirement. One projectile detonated with devastating effects less than two feet from the target center.

The success of the SET-S series brought the team closer to the early fielding goal. The next steps prior to fielding to deployed forces in 2007 were production verification tests, first-article tests and a limited user test. The Excalibur program was responding to an urgent request from the warfighter to accelerate fielding because of the projectile's better than 10-meter accuracy that was not then available from any other artillery projectile.

The Raytheon Company Missile Systems and BAE Systems Bofors' Excalibur team test fired Excalibur Block Ia-2 precision-guided artillery projectiles at the White Sands Missile Range, NM, testing range between 10 and 17 April 2007. The primary test objectives were to demonstrate the navigational function throughout the flight with live base bleed and to verify Excalibur's Modular Artillery Charge System (MACS) Zone 5 maximum-range performance with base bleed. Base bleed is a solid fuel that burns in the base of the projectile, expelling gas to reduce drag and extend range. The test shots were fired from an M109 series self-propelled howitzer using MACS Zone 5.

Two of the test projectiles were fired to a target range of 40.8 kilometers (25.4 miles), impacting approximately 6.7 meters (22 feet) and 2.2 meters (7.2 feet) from the target center. Three shots were fired to 35 kilometers (21.8 miles) - one of which was fired at 5 degrees off axis - that impacted between 2.8 meters (9.2 feet) and 6.1 meters (20 feet) from the target center. The demonstrated range and accuracy exceeded the Excalibur Block I objective requirements.

The extended range of the Excalibur Block Ia-2, with a planned initial operational capability in FY09, would enable optimal positioning of forces and further extend a maneuver unit's tactical reach.

As of March 2007, the Excalibur program had begun early production to support the urgent early fielding requirement in Iraq for more accurate artillery that would reduce collateral damage. According to program officials, this early production run of the Excalibur's first incremental block would involve 500 rounds and fielding had been delayed due to test issues until sometime in the second quarter of FY07. They also noted that Excalibur's critical technologies reached full maturity in May 2005, and all of its 790 drawings (an indicator of design stability) were completed in July 2005.

According to a March 2007 report by the Government Accountability office the net effect of the many changes in the program had been to lengthen the its schedule and to substantially decrease planned procurement quantities. As a result, program overall cost and unit cost had dramatically increased.

As of the March 2007 report, the Excalibur plan to focused on developing its unitary version in three incremental blocks. In the first block, the projectile would meet its requirements for accuracy in a non-jammed environment and lethality and would be available for early fielding. In the second block, the projectile would be improved to meet its requirements for accuracy in a jammed environment, extended range, and increased reliability. It would be expected to be available for fielding to the FCS NLOS Cannon in September 2008 or when the cannon became available. Finally, in the third block, the projectile would be improved to further increase reliability, lower unit costs, and would be available for fielding to all systems then in service in late FY11. The other two Excalibur variant blocks, smart and discriminating, would enter system development in FY10.

According to the program office, test issues had delayed the fielding to Iraq from the second quarter of FY06 until the second quarter of FY07. Also, first article testing was completed with an initial reliability of over 80 percent. The program office also noted that the initial block would exceed the objective requirements for accuracy and effectiveness. A limited user test was scheduled for the second quarter of FY07 prior to fielding in Iraq. Development of the second incremental block was ongoing as of March 2007. According to the program office, a limited user test was completed in FY07, almost 2 years after entering production, with results that exceeded the objective requirements for accuracy and reliability. Excalibur was fielded in Iraq with its first use in combat in the third quarter of FY07. The program office reported the munition performed well in combat operations.

As of March 2008 the Excalibur program had begun early production to support an urgent early fielding requirement in Iraq for more accurate artillery that could reduce collateral damage. According to program officials, this early production run of the Excalibur's first increment had completed testing necessary to field the projectile for use in combat operations. They also noted that Excalibur's critical technologies reached full maturity in May 2005, and all of its 790 drawings were completed in July 2005. The Excalibur unitary variant would be developed in three incremental blocks, which would incorporate increased capabilities and accuracy over time. Between the start of development in 1997 and the publication of the March 2008 GAO assessment, the program has encountered a number of significant changes, including four major restructures, reduced initial production quantities, and increased unit costs.

Excalibur started as a combination of three smaller artillery programs with the intent to extend the range of artillery projectiles with an integrated rocket motor. It was expected to enable three different Army howitzers and the Swedish Archer howitzer to fire farther away and defeat threats faster while lowering collateral damage and reducing the logistics support burden. The program encountered a number of changes and issues between a March 2008 GAO assessment and the beginning of its development in 1997, including a decrease in planned quantities, a relocation of the contractor's plant, early limited funding, technical problems, and changes in program requirements. The net effect of these and other changes had been to lengthen the program's schedule, substantially decrease planned procurement quantities, and dramatically increase unit costs according to the GAO.

The Excalibur acquisition plan as of March 2008 focused on developing its unitary version in three incremental blocks. In the first block, which was made available for early fielding, the projectile would meet its requirements for lethality and accuracy in a non-jammed environment. In the second block, the projectile would be improved to meet its requirements for accuracy in a jammed environment, with extended range and increased reliability, and would be fielded with the NLOS-C when the cannon was available. Finally, in the third block, the projectile would be improved to further increase reliability, lower unit costs, and would be available for fielding to all systems by late FY11. The other two Excalibur variant blocks, smart and discriminating, were expected to enter system development in FY10, although both of those variants were unfunded at the time.

According to program officials, compatibility with NLOS-C was identified as one of the top program risks because the muzzle brake on that platform was different than that on a standard howitzer. An engineering study was completed in May 2007 that identified modifications to both the Excalibur projectile and the NLOS-C. Testing of the new designs was scheduled to begin in December 2007, with firing of the projectile from the redesigned NLOS-C in the third quarter of FY08. If the redesigned projectile was successfully fired from the NLOS-C, the projectile would then have to be retested in the M109A6 Paladin and M777 lightweight 155 mm howitzer platforms.




NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list