M982 Excalibur - History


Excalibur started as a development program in 1992. The Operational Requirements Document (ORD) of May 1997 called for 200,000 rounds of an unguided munition with increased range at an estimated cost of $4,000/round, and Texas Instruments (now part of Raytheon) was awarded the initial EMD contract on 23 January 1998. In November 2001 the volume was cut to 76,677 rounds and soon after this was further reduced to 61,483, but the developers were encouraged by the Indian experience of using Russian Krasnopol guided shells against Pakistani bunkers in the Kargil War of 1999. In March 2004 the program was merged with a Swedish/US program to create Trajectory Correctable Munitions, reflected in a new ORD in September 2004 which removed the Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munition "cluster bomb" variant in favor of the discriminating munition variant. Later that year the US Army reduced its planned order to 30,000 rounds. Low-rate production of 500 rounds was approved in May 2005 and Raytheon was awarded a contract to produce 165 rounds in June 2005, worth $22.1m. In September of that year, the round was successfully demonstrated at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona. Raytheon was awarded a $42.7 million contract for production of 335 Excalibur projectiles and related test articles and services in June 2006 for that fiscal year.

In August 2006, technical problems relating to environmental sensitivity and GPS signal lock were discovered, pushing the expected in-service date to Spring 2007. Testing in September demonstrated an actual average CEP of 5m or better.

Increment Ia-1 completed testing in early 2007 and in April that year the US Army approved an Urgent Material Release to allow deployment to Iraq. The Excalibur was first operationally fired in Iraq in May 2007. Increment Ia-2 achieved a 40 km range in a live-fire demonstration in April 2007 and in July the Army Acquisition Executive approved the Milestone C decision for Ia-2 to enter low-rate production.

In September 2008 both Raytheon and Alliant Techsystems were awarded competitive development contracts for Increment 1b mass production, but Raytheon secured the final manufacturing contract in August 2010. Test firings of Increment Ia-1 rounds in March 2009 revealed that the Honeywell inertial measurement unit was not up to standard, and it was replaced by a unit from Atlantic Inertial Systems. In April 2010 the US Army's planned order was cut further, from 30,000 rounds to 6,264, which increased the unit cost sufficiently that it triggered an investigation under the Nunn–McCurdy Amendment. Normally a Nunn-McCurdy breach signals a program in trouble, but a 2012 RAND report concluded that the cost increases were caused by the cuts in procurement numbers, which in turn resulted from the improved accuracy of modern artillery, fewer shells were needed.

The munition was developed with US$55.1 million in financial assistance from Sweden, which expected to receive service rounds in 2010. The Australian Army ordered US$40m of Excalibur rounds in October 2007, an order revised in April 2008 to an estimated US$58m. In 2008 unit cost was US$85,000. In FY2013 the US Army has requested 2287 Increment 1b rounds at a cost of US$122.629m, or US$53,620/unit, but some of this funding may be denied.

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