The US to supply Ukraine with its most accurate artillery shell Excalibur

The Defense Department will spend $92 million in congressionally approved supplemental funds for supplying the weapon.
Loukia Papadopoulos

U.S. officials have sent Ukraine their most accurate artillery shell, the GPS-guided Excalibur, according to a budget document that acknowledges for the first time that the Pentagon has been supplying Ukrainian forces with the shell, according to a Bloomberg report published Thursday. No comments have been made about the Excalibur despite reports that planning was underway to provide it to Ukraine.

$92 million in congressionally approved supplemental funds

According to a budget document revealed last month, the Defense Department will spend $92 million in congressionally approved supplemental funds "for procurement of replacement M982 Excalibur munitions transferred to Ukraine in support of the international effort to counter Russian aggression."

According to BAE systems, the key feature of the weapon is "that regardless of the distance from the gun and the target, the round has the same accuracy, with 'Circular Error Probability' less than 10 meters."

"The round's rear end is equipped with a base bleed aggregate and rotating stabilization wings, and the front end has four canards. Wings and canards give the round aircraft-like maneuverability."

The US to supply Ukraine with its most accurate artillery shell Excalibur
Excalibur round.

"From a modern L52 caliber gun system Excalibur has a range of approximately 50km. The Lethal mechanism consists of a unitary warhead, and the system can be programmed for an air burst, point, and delay (penetration) detonation."

"Once Excalibur has been given its start position (i.e., coordinates) and the target position, it is fired just like a normal shell. The glide flight to the target starts after reaching the apogee. The shell is corrected in flight towards the pre-programmed trajectory by the 'Global Positioning System' - and Inertial' Navigation System' - supported navigation and guidance system as long as it has the kinetic energy to fly."

Doubling the program's budget

Mark Cancian, a defense analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies who's monitoring Ukraine-related spending, told Bloomberg that "the $92 million addition to Excalibur more than doubles the program's budget, adding about 900 projectiles in fiscal 2022."

"This also confirms what had long been suspected, that the United States is providing this advanced weapon to Ukraine," he added.

Based on the weapon's capabilities, it is estimated that it has probably been used thus far sparingly to surgically destroy Russian command posts and command-and-control centers.

The U.S. Army states that it provides" improved fire support to the maneuver force commander, increases lethality and reduces collateral damage. The target, platform location, and GPS-specific data are entered into the projectile's mission computer through an Enhanced Portable Inductive Artillery Fuze Setter. The Excalibur projectile uses a jam-resistant internal GPS receiver to update the inertial navigation system, providing precision in-flight guidance and dramatically improving accuracy to less than two meters miss distance regardless of range."

The new budget also reveals the U.S. will be providing Ukraine with conventional 155mm artillery rounds, MK-19 grenade launchers, "precision sniper rifles" and "spotting scopes" Javelin anti-armor and Stinger anti-air missiles, the HIMARS mobile rocket system and its Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, or GMLRS, missiles and "replacement battery coolant units" for Stingers.

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