New Ammo for the big guns!

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by CSM, Jun 29, 2005.

  1. CSM
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    CSM Senior Member

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    Arizona Daily Star (Tuscon)
    June 29, 2005

    Raytheon's High-Tech Ammo

    By David Wichner, Arizona Daily Star

    Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems has won a $22.1 million contract to jump-start production of the world's first satellite-guided artillery shell for the U.S. Army.

    Raytheon will deliver initial production models of the Excalibur XM982, a 155 mm guided artillery projectile, to the Army by the end of this year, more than a year ahead of schedule, under the contract announced Tuesday.

    Raytheon, the world's biggest missile maker and Southern Arizona's largest private employer, is developing Excalibur with Bofors Defence of Sweden, which also will field the weapon.

    The first Excalibur rounds will be delivered along with advanced targeting systems to Army units that operate the Paladin self-propelled howitzer in Iraq, Raytheon said. Excalibur also is compatible with the Army and Marine M777 lightweight howitzer and 155 mm guns now under development.

    The roughly 6-inch-diameter Excalibur uses a combination of Global Positioning System satellite guidance and inertial navigation to hit targets at ranges of up to 40 kilometers, or about 25 miles.

    By comparison, a conventional artillery shell's range is about 20 kilometers, or about 12 miles; rocket-assisted shells can go up to 30 kilometers, or about 19 miles.

    During testing last November, an Excalibur flew 20 kilometers and struck within 3.4 meters, or about 11 feet, of a target point. In a subsequent test, it landed within about 7 meters, or about 23 feet.

    "What really gave them the confidence that it could be done was the test shots," said John Halvey, Raytheon's Excalibur program director.

    Halvey noted that the Excalibur tests called for accuracy within 10 meters, while unguided munitions fired at 20 kilometers may err by up to 200 meters.

    Though not technically "rocket-assisted," the Excalibur achieves its extended range by firing a gas jet that disrupts the vacuum created behind the hurtling projectile to reduce drag, Halvey noted.

    "It's similar in laymen's terms to what NASCAR does with a spoiler," he said.

    An Army official said the Excalibur is being fielded early to help troops minimize "collateral damage" from inaccurate artillery rounds.

    "There's always a need for longer range," said Scott Cawood, international action officer for the Excalibur program at the Army's Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey. "It doesn't matter how far out it goes; the precision is the same."

    The $22.1 million contract will pay for the Excalibur rounds along with testing, manufacturing tooling, test equipment, training, and shipping and storage containers.

    The Army expects about 150 to 200 Excalibur rounds to be provided under the initial contract, Cawood said.

    When Excalibur production is scaled up by 2010, the munitions are expected to cost $30,000 each, compared with about $1,000 for an unguided artillery shell, Cawood said.

    But that doesn't mean the Excalibur can't be cost-effective. One Army study showed it would take 147 shots with unguided shells to take out a target that could be dispatched with three Excalibur rounds, Cawood said.

    While some critics have questioned the cost of guided projectiles, an analyst who is a frequent critic of military programs said the Excalibur's accuracy would make it worth the cost.

    "It's an outstanding bullet," said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, a Virginia-based think tank.

    "The cost of the munition may be comparable to a satellite-guided bomb, but the cost of manning a firebase is a lot less than the cost of an air base," Pike said.

    He added that Excalibur's longer range means each artillery location can cover more ground.

    Some critics of guided artillery projectiles have argued that their relatively high cost may make commanders more reluctant to use them.

    "That is a concern we have, so we spend quite a bit of time with the users," Halvey said. "We're going into an artillery community that is used to firing very inexpensive artillery rounds."

    The Excalibur program went into development in the late 1990s and became a joint project of the United States and Sweden in 2002. Work on the contract will be performed in Tucson, Sweden, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
     
  2. deaddude
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    deaddude Senior Member

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    Impressive, fewer unneccesary casualties, about 57,000 dollars cheaper than conventionals (according to their 3 to 147 model) and about twenty times the accuracy.
     
  3. onedomino
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    onedomino SCE to AUX

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    CSM, what do you think of the fact that Rumsfeld canceled development of the Advanced Field Artillery System (Crusader), the replacement for the M109A6 Paladin self-propelled 155mm howitzer? US Army studies indicate that the Crusader is more survivable on the battlefield than the Paladin. Rumsfeld claimed that the Crusader did not fit in with his “smaller-faster” concept of the new US Army. Rumsfeld has been wrong regarding crucial aspects of the war in Iraq. He should have waited for the 4th ID to be in position before beginning the invasion. Clearly, we did not have enough troops in Iraq to prevent looting and infiltration by foreign jihadists. We had enough to win, but not enough to police. Rumsfeld has also been surprised that the M1/A2 has emerged as the most effective urban combat vehicle, even though it is not “smaller-faster.” In fact, to improve their urban combat effectiveness the M1/A2 has needed additional armor, especially near the rear mounted engine. Rumsfeld has been wrong in two crucial areas: the size of the Iraq invasion force, and his obsession with smaller-faster forces. I think that Rumsfeld’s cancellation of the Crusader is another mistake based on his smaller-faster obsession. Smaller-faster forces have their place, e.g., Afghanistan, where we used an indigenous force, the Northern Alliance, to do a high percentage anti-Taliban ground fighting. In contrast, if the 4th ID, the Crusader, and more M1/A2, had been available during the invasion of Iraq, then perhaps there would have been fewer US causalities and less chaos after the end of major combat.

    For information on the canceled Advanced Field Artillery System see this website: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/crusader.htm
     
  4. 5stringJeff
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    5stringJeff Senior Member

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    The Crusader was a tracked vehicle, which indeed did not/does not fit into the Army's vision for their Objective Force. It's not like we have no artillery assets.

    And I disagree about the 4th ID's placement. The fact that Saddam did not know whether or not we were coming from the north or not forced him to split his forces. It ended up being a great diversion, whether by design or by accident.
     
  5. onedomino
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    onedomino SCE to AUX

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    The Crusader did not fit with Rumsfeld’s vision. As late as 2002, the US Army was arguing to save the Crusader system. http://www.military.com/Content/MoreContent?file=FL_pentagon_050802. While updated, the Army's current track-mounted indirect fire support system, the Paladin M109, was introduced in the 1960's. Why would it better support Rumsfeld's "smaller-faster" force structure than the modern Crusader artillery system? The Crusader can be quickly deployed through transport in C-17 aircraft. The Crusader system offers 250 percent more firepower per unit time than the Paladin. The Crusader fires shells with 66 percent more range, with twice the accuracy. Most important: unlike the Palidin, the Crusader has enough off-road speed to keep up with the M1/A2 tanks. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/crusader.htm. Anyway, the argument is moot. Rumsfeld canceled the advanced capability of the Crusader system.

    It was announced that the 4th ID would not deploy through Turkey three days after the invasion began. http://1-22infantry.org/current/breakingmar.htm (scroll down). Thus, the division was not available to speed the destruction of Iraqi forces, move around Baghdad to the north to destroy retreating regime elements, or help control the chaos after the initial combat was over. In March 2005, Rumsfeld blamed the absence of the 4th ID invasion through Turkey into Iraq as the main reason the insurgency was so strong. http://www.smh.com.au/news/After-Saddam/US-blames-Turkey-for-Iraq-chaos/2005/03/21/1111253960989.html . Moving from the south, no one doubted that the 3rd ID and the Marines would be strong enough to knock out the Iraqi regime. However, if the invasion had waited for the 4th ID to also be deployed through the Gulf with the rest of the invasion forces, then more troops would have been available to police and prevent the infiltration of foreign insurgents. It was a major miscalculation to believe that Turkey, a country with a rabidly anti-American population, would permit the 4th ID to deploy into Iraq. If American diplomats in Turkey assured the US Army that it would be possible to deploy into Iraq from the north, one can only hope that they were subsequently sacked with letters of reprimand. It is easy to second guess, and mistakes are in the nature of combat operations, but the invasion was designed to include the 4th ID and proceeded without it. Then it became clear there were not enough forces on the ground for policing or counterinsurgency. Once the mistake was made by deploying the 4th ID to Turkey, it was compounded by not waiting for it to be re-deployed to the Gulf. Excuses were made regarding not wanting to wait for the heat of the Iraqi summer, but the undeniable fact is that we did not have enough troops involved in the invasion of Iraq, even Rumsfeld admits that (see link above).
     
  6. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    Sometimes I question a military so dependent on satellites. Not to hard to knock those babies out.
     
  7. CSM
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    CSM Senior Member

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    Hindsight is always easy...heh.

    Having said that, For some years now the field artillery community has been seeking relevance on the modern battlefield. With today's military, the obsession is for precision guided munitions which the artillery did not have (exception is the Copperhead round). For artillery to be effective, massed fires is the most applicable tactic. The problem is, massed artillery fire by its very nature creates lots of collateral damage (something very politically incorrect!). The Excalibur round was originally intended for the Crusader but with the cancellation of that program it was redesigned for the 109 and M198 (towed 155 mm howitzer). Personally (somewhat biased as I was a redleg for sometime) I think cancelling Crusader was a mistake...particularly if we ever have to fight a large scale conflict. The Army has a core group who think fire support for front line troops can be provided by the Air Force, However, air delivered weapons are not as responsive to the ground commander as is organic artillery. The Crusader would have provided some awesome capability but the argument was that it could not get into the fight quick enough. Transportable by C-17 is ok, but not when there are not even enough aircraft to deploy ground troops. Many of the troops went to war on chartered civilian aircraft (been done like that for decades) and their equipment was shipped by commercial freighter. Logistics for the Army can be a nightmare, especially for the heavier stuff. Again, just my opinion, but it is the heavy stuff and huge logistics tail that gives the Army it's staying power. The Marines do a fine job of the early entry piece, but it is the Army that has had the long term staying power often needed during and after the types of wars we are used to fighting.

    As for the tanks, again, I believe that we need them and lots of them. Trying to up armor HMWWV's is a stop gap measure at best. They arent designed for it, were not intended to be the primary maneuver vehicle and serve poorly in that role. It is analogous to trying to get a jeep as capable as a Tiger tank...it just is not going to happen.

    The Army is undergoing transformation and has been doing so for many years now. Achieving the right balance of doctrine, equipment, and personnel is a daunting task. I know for certain that the conflict in Iraq is one big lesson learned. Coupled with the ever present interservice rivalry for the defense dollar, political machinations of the Congress (can you say "pork") and lack of TRUE support for the troops (despite the rhetoric and protestations I am sure I will get on this one!), it is a wonder the US Army is not still using muskets and brass, muzzle loading cannons.
     
  8. CSM
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    CSM Senior Member

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    There is no doubt that the military (all branches...even Marines) is fascinated with high tech stuff. Sadly, there isn't a lot of high tech stuff available for fighting in urban terrain. House to house (Fallujah for example) still requires soldiers to fight nearly blind (sattellites cant see through walls) with hand grenades and rifles and go toe to toe with the bad guy. If I knew how to fix that, I would be one very rich SOB.
     
  9. CSM
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    CSM Senior Member

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    The 4th ID is an intereesting outfit. It was originally touted as the newest high tech Army division and was issued and trained on some pretty neat stuff....for a conventional war. What the American public doesn't realize is that all that high tech stuff requires assets and resources that just were not in place at the outset of the invasion....comm links, in particular satellite links, were at a premium and the military purchased almost every available piece of bandwidth available just to keep the "conventional" forces in touch and operating. The government of Turkey was certainly trying to extort the US by repeatedly jacking up the price they wanted for allowing US troops to operate from their country.

    My guess is that the 4th ID not being in the fight early on was considered an acceptable risk. Hindsight shows that while there were more than enough troops to do the job of executing the invasion plan, Shinseki was right when he predicted there were not enough troops to make the entire country of Iraq "insurgent proof". I dont think there ever could be enough troops to do that. Germany had many terrorists/insurgents running around well after WW II. Heck, we dont have enough troops or police to keep murder, rape, child abuse, kidnapping and every other crime from occuring here in the US...why would anyone think that the US military could secure an entire country and make it into "Peace Park"????
     
  10. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    Agreed. While some high tech weapons almost act more as a deterrent than anything, some more high tech weapons to help the grunts in urban warfare seems more important as that is where most of the fighting will probably be taking place in a war such as we are in now.
     

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