In the year 2019, The Indian Army(IA) started a process of procuring an initial lot of Raytheon Missile developed M982 Excalibur precision-guided artillery shells from the US. These guided shells are capable of targeting any target at a distance up to 40-50 Kilometers.
The uniqueness of this shell is its accuracy. The makers of this shell Raytheon Missile Systems and BAE Systems claim, that it can hit a target with an accuracy of up to 2 meters. Indian army bought two types of Excalibur. There were around 600 rounds of ammunition that could that have the accuracy of 20 metres from the target and over 700-800 rounds that can strike as close as 2 metres to the target.
After the government allowed the armed forces to go in for emergency procurements to do away with shortages of critical equipment, the Indian Army acquired more Excalibur precision-guided Artillery ammunition. This is an indication that Indian army is really happy with the performance of the system.
Not New to the Guided shells :
The Indian Army is not new to the guided artillery munitions. Earlier they had Russian Krasnopol 155mm laser-guided shells. Excalibur precision-guided is more accurate than the legacy systems. The Excalibur was selected after evaluation of the following shells :
- SMART-155 from General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems.
- Germany’s GIWS and
- Nexter Systems’ Katana
DRDO Guided Shell :
The approach that DRDO is following, will allow the regular shells to be modified as guided shells. This approach will make the shell more cost-effective and sustainable. The idea is to incorporate a Course Correction Fuze, that will allows guiding the shell to its target, using a pre-defined coordinate, after it has been fired.
The aerodynamic guidance will be performed with small wings (Cannards) controlled by miniaturized avionics embedded into the Fuze. The shell will be capable of calculating its location in space and plan the optimal course required for the shell to engage with the “predefined target”.
A prototype has been developed and undergoing evaluation. The largest advantage this system will offer is reduction of dispersion of unguided 155 mm “in- service” Artillery Shells.
This fuze will perform 2D correction of the ballistic trajectory to reduce its dispersion in both range and deflection for improved accuracy. However the guidance will be provided by GPS/IRNSS/ GLONASS.
Testing of the Shell :
The testing of these shell hasn’t started yet. This will undergo intensive trials within DRDO before a “Near Production” unit is developed for the trials with the Indian army.
The shell with this improved fuse will have to preform survivability test in dense EW atmosphere and electronic and mechanical components will have to prove the “survivability” in the toughest weather of Ladakh and Thar.