The latest Raytheon Excalibur precision projectile is cleared for operational use in Afghanistan, after proving its capability in firing tests carried out by the United States Army.
Once in Afghanistan, the advanced 1a-2 version of the M982 Excalibur 155mm guided artillery shell, originally developed by Raytheon and BAE Systems, will be used by both the US Marines and the US Army.
The Excalibur precision shell's meant to have the power to strike with limited collateral damage and, in 2007, it was judged by US Army officials as among that year's greatest military innovations.
The highly accurate weapon made its operational debut that same year in Iraq and proved that its design philosophy worked - with more than 90 per cent of shells falling within a four meter range of the intended target.
Excalibur Block 1a-2 Precision Shell
The Excalibur Block 1a-2 precision shell, as will now be used in Afghanistan, has a firing range of up to 40 kilometers - approximately twice that of a standard artillery shell.
Each unit costs in the region of $80,000 and can be deployed around the clock and in all weathers.
According to Raytheon, the shell ‘...complements air-delivered precision when close air support is unavailable or not the best option'. As of October 2011, in excess of 500 Excalibur rounds had been fired either under trial conditions or in combat.
Raytheon Excalibur: Afghanistan
"The precision Excalibur provides is essential to the missions our war-fighters are conducting in urban and surrounding environments. It protects structures, the population and our war-fighters", the US Army's Excalibur Product Manager, Lieutenant Colonel Mike Milner explained in a Raytheon press release on the weapon's Afghan readiness.
"The Excalibur Ia-2 rounds going into theater will give the war-fighter the ability to accurately defeat targets before the target can run and hide."
"Raytheon developed and fielded the world's first extended-range GPS guided precision artillery rounds", Raytheon Land Combat Systems' Vice President, Michelle Lohmeier, added. "We continue to build upon our legacy as the world's experts in precision munitions as we deliver Excalibur Ia-2 to our war-fighters."
Older versions of the M982 Excalibur have been used in tandem with M777 Howitzer weapons systems.
Image copyright US Army