The Daily Telegraph
Us-supplied Excalibur shell has sharpened Kyiv’s blade
Pentagon spending $92m to send Ukraine stocks of Gps-guided weapon that has tilted balance of war
The United States has sent Ukraine its “most accurate artillery shell”, a high-precision Gps-guided munition called Excalibur, Pentagon budget documents have revealed.
Previously undisclosed documents, dated last month, show the US defence department has had permission from Congress to spend $92 million “for procurement of replacement M982 Excalibur munitions transferred to Ukraine in support of the international effort to counter Russian aggression”.
For months defence watchers have suspected the US and Canada of supplying significant quantities of the sophisticated weapon, capable of hitting targets 25 miles away with an accuracy of around two metres, to Kyiv’s forces.
Precision munitions, such as Excalibur and the long-range Himars missile systems, have radically changed the nature of the war in Ukraine, allowing Kyiv’s numerically inferior force to choose when and where to counter-attack.
The two advances under way – to the east of Kharkiv and in the southern Kherson region – are relatively small scale. Although causing great destruction of Russian forces, the southern push seems to have come at a high cost for Ukraine.
Without the use of Excalibur, first employed by US forces in Iraq in 2007, and other precision weapons, it is questionable whether Ukraine would have been able to mount simultaneous operations. The weapon has helped to even out the relative capabilities of the two sides.
Excalibur is a highly sophisticated satellite-guided weapon, fired from standard 155mm artillery guns, meaning it can be made far more available to Ukraine’s troops compared with the equally sought after but somewhat more exotic Himars.
Its digital fire control system is programmed with the coordinates of the intended target. Once the shell leaves the barrel, folded fins are extended from the base and nose compartment allowing it to glide towards the target location.
The greater accuracy means fewer rounds are required compared with a standard 155mm artillery shell, allowing the gun crew to move away from the firing point immediately after
‘Troops can decide whether the shell should explode in the air, upon impact or to delay the blast’
the shot, thereby increasing survival rates against incoming fire aimed at the launch point.
The round can carry three fuses. Troops can decide prior to firing whether the shell should explode in the air to maximise casualties among troops in the open or in soft-skinned vehicles, explode upon impact, a tactic best employed against tanks and other armoured vehicles, or delay the blast for a fraction of a second, so as to explode inside buildings or underground bunkers.
In this way, Ukraine has been able to target Russian military headquarters, ammunition dumps and long-range artillery. In turn, this has enabled Kyiv’s forces to go on the offensive and attempt to retake Russian-held territory. Where Russia has mass, Ukraine has countered with precision.