Spanish Army to conduct live fire tests of US M982 Excalibur 155mm precision shells

According to Defensa on October 24, 2023, the Spanish Army is preparing for live fire tests of the M982 Excalibur 155mm precision-guided artillery shells, recognized for their extended range and accuracy. This long-anticipated testing of Excalibur munitions, planned for the second half of 2023, is aimed at evaluating their compatibility with Spanish artillery equipment.
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The M982 Excalibur extends the reach of artillery systems up to 70 km. (Picture source: BAE Systems)

The initial shipments of Excalibur shells in Spain are slated for assessment during these live-firing exercises. The validation procedure comes after Artillery Support Command (MACA) personnel have undergone training in the protocols and procedures linked to the utilization of the M982 Excalibur munitions.

The live tests for the 155mm precision shells are expected to take place at one of the Spanish Army's national firing and maneuvering ranges, possibly at San Gregorio in Zaragoza, known for its suitability for advanced munitions trials.

While specific details about the nature of the Excalibur tests are limited, it is likely that these live-firing actions, designed to ensure the seamless integration of these munitions with Spanish MACA artillery pieces, will involve multiple test shots. This cautious approach is due to the high cost and limited quantity of Excalibur munitions available. The Army's Logistics Support Command (MALE) received the American Excalibur munition between August and September, along with the necessary auxiliary equipment for calculating and transmitting firing data.

Given the current organizational structure of MACA and the equipment allocated to its regiments, the Excalibur validations in Spain are expected to involve the 155/52mm SIAC towed howitzers. Units such as the Artillery Rocket Regiment No. 63, based in Astorga and San Andrés del Rabanedo in León, have received this equipment while anticipating the acquisition of high mobility rocket launch systems under the SILAM program and are expected to play a pivotal role in these tests.

The Spanish Army is set to receive over two hundred units of the 155mm Excalibur munitions, acquired through two separate orders from the American manufacturer Raytheon. A significant portion of the initial order is likely to have already been delivered to Spain.

The Excalibur projectile, developed through a collaboration between Raytheon Missiles & Defense and BAE Systems Bofors, is designed as a precision weapon, known for its consistent accuracy, hitting targets within a radial miss distance of fewer than two meters. It extends the reach of various artillery systems, with .39-caliber artillery reaching 40 km, .52-caliber extending to 50 km, and .58-caliber achieving a range of 70 km. In practice, one Excalibur weapon can accomplish what would typically require at least ten conventional munitions.

The Excalibur munition offers several variants tailored to meet specific requirements. The Excalibur 1B, for instance, is an enhanced version with Enhanced Shaped Trajectory (EST) software, allowing soldiers to engage targets in hard-to-reach locations by selecting the projectile's terminal or final phase attack angle.

The Excalibur HTK comes with an armor-penetrating warhead and leverages the proven StormBreaker smart weapon design. It autonomously locates targets with an all-weather seeker effective against moving and imprecisely located targets. The Excalibur S is a laser-guided variant that incorporates a digital semi-active laser seeker, enabling it to hit moving targets and engage and strike without accurate location information, reducing the risk associated with GPS jamming. Lastly, the sea-based Excalibur N5 is a 5-inch naval variant that extends the maximum range of conventional 5-inch munitions while maintaining the same level of accuracy as its land-based counterparts.