Military Review

"Big Brothers": 127 mm and 155 mm ammunition of a potential enemy


M982 Excalibur Shell

Land and Sea Excalibur

Military conflicts of recent decades have shown the need for precision systems weaponscapable of delivering dagger strikes on point objects. This is especially becoming relevant in connection with the widespread use of communication tools. In the XNUMXth century, for the sake of destroying a group of militants, it was possible to wipe out a whole settlement from the face with several massive strikes, as was done, for example, in Vietnam. Now such a trick is unlikely to pass: the saturation with means of video and photographic fixation is so high that in a couple of hours the whole world will know about such facts. Therefore, high-precision weapons are becoming one of the ways not to lose face in front of the world community.

In addition, guided missiles allow you to respond very quickly to sudden threats: GPS guidance allows you to abandon the fire spotter, as well as quickly transfer fire even without changing the gun’s pointing angles.

Unfortunately, in Russia, despite the presence of the Centimeter, Kitolov and Krasnopol shells, there is a significant lag in the development of long-range high-precision large-caliber artillery shells. The main limiting factor is the lack of domestic onboard vibration-proof equipment for satellite navigation.

Howitzer M777. One of the guns capable of firing Excalibur

One of the most famous examples of foreign artillery guided missiles of small dispersion is the American Excalibur (and its many modifications). About him, First Deputy Managing Director of the Tula Instrument Design Design Bureau. Academician A. G. Shipunov N. I. Khokhlov, answering a question from journalists about respectable foreign counterparts, said:

"The most advanced shell, probably Excalibur."

For the first time, the Americans used the most successfully guided missiles in Iraq in 2007 during Operation Point of Arrow, when they worked out 70 munitions at once on the enemy. The probable circular deviation in 92% of cases did not exceed 4 meters. In 2012, in Afghanistan, marines from the advanced Zeebrugge base in Kajaki from an M777 howitzer hit a group of Taliban who are at a distance of 36 km. Actually, these successes prompted the Pentagon to increase purchases of “smart” shells - in total, Americans have fired such Excalibur more than 1400 times. At first, the Ministry of Defense bought every shell for an incredible 100-150 thousand dollars at a cost of only 40 thousand. There is no corruption component, the developers from Ratheon and Bofors just spent about a billion on the creation of the shell and wanted to quickly get the money back. One of the Excalibur variants under the 1b index is the basic option for creating the 127-mm guided projectile Excalibur N5 (Naval 5-inch) for naval 5-inch artillery pieces of NATO armies.

Excalibur N5

70% of the entire filling of the “marine Excalibur” is unified with option 1b. Excalibur N5 can fire both from 5-inch cannons of the company BAE Systems, and from 127-mm systems of the Italian company OTO Melara. For the first time, the 127-mm Excalibur shell was demonstrated at the Euronaval-2014 exhibition in Paris. Excalibur N5 has three modes of detonation: non-contact (air), contact, contact with a delay of detonation to penetrate obstacles, including bunkers.

Tests of Excalibur N5. Note that to increase the damaging effect, the projectile falls on the target almost vertically

Excalibur Project Senior Business Development Manager Paul Daniels explained the situation with moving ammunition to moving targets:

“Modern naval artillery fire control systems have the ability to take into account the speed and direction of movement of the target ship, determined with the help of radar, and calculate the estimated point where the projectile meets it. Thus, the projectile controlled by the GPS system has the basic ability to intercept moving vessels, especially large ones, which cannot quickly change course and maneuver. ”

In addition, the MQ-8B Fire Scout drone helicopter, which is now used by the U.S. Navy, can serve as a laser pointer for a 127 mm Excalibur on a moving target.

However, the high cost of each shot of shells of this type makes us look for new options to improve the accuracy of artillery fire - it is not always possible to find a worthy target for a shell at the cost of an elite car.

Counted - wept

Ammunition with a flight path correction system became one of the methods for increasing accuracy. For example, you can increase the aerodynamic drag of a projectile or mine at the right time, thereby “tweaking” its flight in the desired direction. One of the most budget options was the device with brake flaps from the French Nexter for 155 mm SPACIDO shells. Correction of the flight is carried out using an artillery radio ballistic station and makes it possible to reduce the circular deviation by several times at a distance of 15-18 km. The operation of such correction devices is as follows: the projectile flies along a ballistic trajectory with a predicted flight relative to the target, the artillery radio-ballistic station measures the initial velocity of the projectile and its change in trajectory during the flight of the projectile; Further, the information is processed by a ballistic computer, which transmits to the projectile the required opening time of the brake devices. The system is tested and ready for mass production.

Trajectory correction system with brake flaps: a - SPACIDO; b - ECF; 1 - brake device; 2 - radio receiver unit; 3 - cocking device

According to the manufacturer, the cost of one shot with the SPACIDO corrector rises to 7,8 thousand dollars. A similar development (still in prototype stage) is the ECF system for 155-mm shells from the British BAE Systems and the Swedish VCSM, which differs from the French idea in the principle of GPS guidance. The cost of such a shot is 9 thousand dollars, and the circular probable deviation is about 25 meters.

The second method of increasing the accuracy of standard artillery ammunition was the system of correction of the trajectory with a hard mount steering wheels, receiving commands from GPS. The principle is implemented, in particular, in the device XM1156 from ATK for 155-mm shells M107, M549A1 and M795. The circular probable deviation of such adjusted high-explosive fragmentation shells does not exceed 50 meters at any range. Before starting, the coordinates of the target and the flight path are programmed and transmitted to the on-board systems using a portable programmer. After the projectile leaves the barrel, the battery is activated and the GPS receiver immediately begins to receive satellite signals. During the first second of the flight, the projectile rolls along the roll, as well as its coordinates. Further, in the case of a deviation of the projectile from the calculated trajectory, based on constantly updated navigation data, the electronic equipment of the nose guidance block calculates the correction of the trajectory correction for the steering wheel block.

XM1156: 1 - GPS system; 2 - steering gear; 3 - bearing isolation node; 4 - induction ring; 5 - cocking device

Under the influence of the incoming air flow in flight, the ring with the rigidly fixed steering wheels rotates freely in the direction opposite to the rotation of the projectile. The rotational speed of the ring is less than the rotational speed of the projectile. The rudders installed at different angles during rotation of the ring for a full revolution create the same perturbing effects in all directions perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the projectile, and do not affect the ballistic flight path. At the calculated moment, the locking device stops the rotation of the ring when the rudders are at a certain angle along the roll, which ensures correction of the trajectory in the desired direction. Further, after the ring is unlocked, its free rotation begins again, opposite to the rotation of the projectile, until the next moment when it will be necessary to correct the trajectory. Naturally, this option, although less accurate, allows, in comparison with Excalibur, saving about 85 thousand dollars for each shot. But that is not all. Israel and South Africa believe that the systems mentioned above do not satisfactorily cope with the frantic rotation of the projectile of about 250-300 rpm, which negatively affects the accuracy of the correction. Indeed, Excalibur for normal operation in flight does not rotate at all, although it is used in rifled weapons. The design provides an obturator in the form of a sliding bearing, which when moving along the rifling of the barrel practically does not transmit the moment of rotation of the projectile. That is why the Israeli company BAE Systems Rokar International Ltd has created a sophisticated flight correction unit based on four aerodynamic rudders. The node is quite tricky: two rudders are responsible for the rotation of the correction node in the direction opposite to the rotation of the projectile, and two correct the direction of flight. Such "autonomy" in rotation is possible due to the decoupling unit with the main part of the projectile. The GPS-based system was given the name Silver Bullet, and it allows you to reduce the likely circular deviation at a distance of 20 km to 5-7 meters, however, the cost of each shot is a considerable $ 20 thousand. These are truly “silver shells”. South African firm Denel created a similar “smart” nozzle for a 155-mm shell, but the total cost of a shot is even more - 25 thousand dollars.

And now let's get acquainted with the calculations of the costs of the above 155-mm ammunition for the destruction of the hypothetical installation of MLRS. Materials on this topic are given in one of the issues of the publication “Izvestia TulGU. Engineering ”for the year 2019. So, if the MLRS is located at a distance of 8 km, then for its guaranteed destruction of shells with SPACIDO brake flaps, about 45 pieces will be required, while managed by Excalibur Block 1b only 8 copies are needed. A promising Excalibur Block S is currently under development with a semi-active laser homing head, which is expected to hit such an average target of 1,2 shells. It is noteworthy that the key advantages of the XM1156 and Silver Bullet systems are the independence of ammunition consumption from the target range. If the MLRS is located at a distance of 8 to 25 km, then the XM1156 will require 65-67 shells, and Silver Bullet - 8-9. At the same time, the “Silver Bullets” in terms of efficiency were practically equal to Excalibur Block 1b (despite being 5 times cheaper): Israeli shells have a similar expense at the indicated ranges to the target. The plus of all Excalibur is the firing range increased to 48 km due to the bottom gas generator. By the way, SPACIDO brake pads on 155-mm shells are not particularly effective at ranges of 15–25 km - in this case, 65 to 173 shells are required to destroy MLRS. That is, theoretically, the elimination of the multiple launch rocket system may require a million dollars or more. This, of course, if you do not take into account that the artillery positions conducting such intense fire will be detected by counter-battery systems and destroyed.
Photos used:
Edition “News of TulGU. Engineering ”,,

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  1. Vladimir_2U
    Vladimir_2U 13 January 2020 06: 02
    At the calculated moment, the locking device stops the rotation of the ring when the rudders are at a certain angle along the roll, which ensures correction of the trajectory in the desired direction
    A very witty decision!
    The main constraint is the lack of domestic onboard vibration-proof equipment for satellite navigation
    Or maybe all the same the small number of GLONASS satellite constellation and the impossibility of accurate GPS positioning?
  2. Nikolaevich I
    Nikolaevich I 13 January 2020 07: 37
    If the Author says that "there is nothing like that" in the Russian Federation, then there is a reason to be offended by him! In Russia, oh, how many things were promised! fellow For example, the "Dynamics" correction modules capable of stably receiving GLONASS signals on a rotating projectile! Moreover, these modules can be inserted into the old "free-falling" artillery shells without any "technical excesses"! This is how we will morning our nose to Israel and South Africa with theirs with ball bearings and "silver bullets"!
    1. bars1
      bars1 13 January 2020 10: 21
      Well, the RF Ministry of Defense on these modules also saves! In the sense of not buying them.
    2. Arthur 85
      Arthur 85 13 January 2020 19: 55
      Here they wrote that in South Africa, fear and horror, and they create guided shells! But by the way, against which enemy?
  3. Hermit21
    Hermit21 13 January 2020 09: 14
    Unfortunately, in Russia, despite the presence of the Centimeter, Kitolov and Krasnopol shells, there is a significant lag in the development of long-range high-precision artillery shells of large caliber.

    "Koala" at 70+ km also shoots out of control?
    1. Nikolaevich I
      Nikolaevich I 13 January 2020 14: 42
      Quote: Hermit21
      "Koala" at 70+ km also shoots out of control?

      Well, why not bang 70 km if the shell allows it? For this, "all sorts" of artillery shells are created: 1. active-reactive; 2. with a bottom gas generator; 3. Improved aerodynamic shape ... ERFB-BB / RA, ERFB-BB / HE, ERFB / HE! By the way, a corrected projectile is also intended for the Coalition, which is being created on the basis of Krasnopol, but with GLONASS ...
      1. Hermit21
        Hermit21 14 January 2020 07: 52
        I mean, shooting at such a range with an ordinary projectile makes no sense because of almost no accuracy. This means for sure the guided missiles. However, 90-95% of the fire missions that we have, that the amers are solved by unguided shells
  4. VicktorVR
    VicktorVR 13 January 2020 10: 47
    Something I did not understand - shouldn't these adjustable / controllable wunderwaffles hit the target with one shot?
    An explosion of 155mm landmine at a distance of 25 meters is guaranteed to disable the MLRS system ...
    1. Pivot
      Pivot 13 January 2020 11: 12
      Well, if the MLRS is in an open field not dug in and does not change position, then yes
  5. Operator
    Operator 13 January 2020 11: 00
    Guided rotating projectile - nonsense, because the gyroscopic effect of a guided projectile is not only unnecessary, but also harmful in terms of range and accuracy.

    The deviated warhead (using piezoelectric actuators) drives.
    1. Nikolaevich I
      Nikolaevich I 13 January 2020 15: 05
      Quote: Operator
      Guided Rotary Shell - Nonsense

      It's good that the "engineer-constructors" didn't have time to get your opinion and still make such shells! It is for rotating shells that RCIC technology was "invented"!Ammunition with pulse correction ("Daredevil" and "Centimeter") behave differently. RCIC technology provides for correction at the final (20–600 meters) section of the ballistic trajectory. For this, in the central part of the munition, in the region of the center of application of aerodynamic forces (pressure center), nozzles of jet propellant engines are located perpendicular to the axis of the projectile - two at the Smelchak and four at the Centimeter. Pulse engines - when turned on, one powder engine burns out completely, of which the Smelchak has three per nozzle, and the Centimeter has two per nozzle. Due to the fact that shells spin in flight, with several pulses and the correction of the trajectory is achieved.
      Quote: Operator
      The deviated warhead (using piezoelectric actuators) drives.
      Yeah nuuu? Actually, this technology (BLAM?, I think ...) was intended for small-caliber shells! But for a long time already about this technology ... "not a rumor, not a spirit"! Yes, and small-caliber shells (20-30 mm) something on the "horizon" is not observed!
      1. Operator
        Operator 13 January 2020 15: 20
        In May 1995, the BLAM (Barrel Launched Adaptive Munition) program was launched for the development of guided artillery shells for the US Air Force (USAF Armament Directorate, Eglin AFB, Florida). The developer was the Adaptive Aerostructures Laboratory (AAL) of Auburn American University (Alabama 36849)
        Project goal: to make a cheap universal head nozzle for large-caliber shells and bullets from 12,7 to 40 mm, to equip aviation small arms and cannons with such shells in order to reduce the amount of ammunition (and cost reduction) used to destroy one aircraft .
        The developers decided to abandon the idea of ​​aerodynamic rudders, since this increases the aerodynamic drag of the projectile, and control the projectile by deflecting its head tip at a small angle.
        At supersonic speeds, even deviations of a fraction of a degree will be enough to create a force capable of exerting influence on the projectile. An infrared / radar sensor must be placed in the head.
        The technical solution was proposed simple - the head tip rests on a ball playing the role of a ball support, several piezoceramic rods are used to drive the tip, arranged in a circle at an angle to the longitudinal axis of the projectile. Changing their length depending on the applied voltage, they deflect the tip of the projectile at the desired angle and at the right frequency.
        The calculations showed the strength and temperature requirements for tip drives:
        - Acceleration acceleration up to 20 000 g
        - trajectory acceleration up to 5,000 g
        - projectile speed up to 5000 m / s
        - tip deflection angle up to 0,12 degrees
        - drive response frequency up to 200 Hz
        - drive power 0,028 watts

        The first experiments were made in 1997. The last public mention of the project is in an article by R. Barrett and G. Lee from 2010. At this time, R. Barrett headed the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, Kluyverweg 1, Technical University Delf, 2629HS, NETHELANDS in Holland. In 2012, the project is listed among the ongoing work of AAL Laboratory. Project developers are constantly participating in military technology conferences, and the term BLAM is mentioned in the programs:
        Range Extended Adaptive Munition (REAM)
        Spike-Controlled Adaptive Round SCAR '00 (DARPA)
        Light Fighter Lethality Adaptive Round (LFLAR '01 -02)
        Hypervelocity Interceptor Test Technology (HITT '98 -00)
        Shipborne-Countermeasure Range-Extended Adaptive
        Munition (SCREAM '01 -03) Phase II SBIR

        1. Nikolaevich I
          Nikolaevich I 14 January 2020 02: 42
          Well, well ... thanks for the info! Of course, the "material" cited by you, at its core, I learned quite a long time ago, but I was not aware of the dates after 2010; At one time, there were no new messages about further developments in BLAM technology. Even I had to read the following phrase: " recent years, reports of further development of "adaptive ammunition" do not appear. It can be assumed that the final results were either disastrous, or, conversely, so impressive that the technology was strictly classified ... " However, I assumed that if there were "useful" results, then specific "products" should already appear, albeit in the status of "experienced" (!); Since a lot of time has passed, and the technology itself does not seem "daunting"!
          But all this does not change the essence of my previous comment: 1. BLAM technology was created for small-caliber (!) Shells; 2. How can a technology "rule" that has not yet "presented" concrete (practical) results?
          By the way, an alternative project to BLAM appeared in the "free patents" ... ie. , as it were, "Russian BLAM" ... (the principle is similar, the execution is different).
      2. prodi
        prodi 13 January 2020 16: 03
        in general, of course, for such a fast-moving platform as a projectile, instantaneous determination of GPS coordinates (with any accuracy, in real time) seems rather complicated, but if he and his GPS receiver also rotate? ..
        1. Nikolaevich I
          Nikolaevich I 14 January 2020 03: 09
          Of course, the task is difficult! Therefore, the shtatovites apply the principle of "damping" the rotation of the projectile! But in the "advantages" of the "Dynamics" correction module it is emphasized (!) That the Russian developers managed to overcome the problem, before which the state employees were "powerless"!
          PS Although, thinking about how Compass did it, I come to "suspicions" that in this case the application of a principle similar to the Israeli one is not excluded ...
          1. prodi
            prodi 14 January 2020 09: 47
            but in general, of course, indeed, as stated in the comment below, it’s much easier, cheaper, more accurate and more powerful to add a guided projectile to the MLRS ammunition
  6. ser56
    ser56 13 January 2020 12: 55
    How effective are GPS shells?
    Especially if they are used against an adversary who can distort the operation of this system? request
    In this case, the goal must be explored - that to determine the exact coordinates with high accuracy ...
    For this we need either scouts or drones ...
    And if a normal army - then drones will not be destroyed or intelligence?
    And if these are dushmans - is it not very expensive?
    I think the author’s appeal to the media is far-fetched - see the last US strike on an Iranian general ...
    It looks like it's just a business ... request
  7. Winnie76
    Winnie76 13 January 2020 16: 47
    IMHO it is easier and cheaper to gps aiming to hit a rocket from a Grad than to do everything in every possible way with artillery shells.
  8. kind
    kind 13 January 2020 21: 14
    GPS guidance allows you to abandon the spotter fire, as well as quickly transfer fire even without changing the angle of guidance of the gun.

    Well, how the adversaries from Russia will shift the coordinates of the target positioning! What to do??? And the power of the projectile is not so great as to hit a well-defended target.
    In some cases, an MLRS volley is cheaper and more effective!
  9. looker-on
    looker-on 28 January 2020 02: 25
    Quote: Arthur 85
    Here they wrote that in South Africa, fear and horror, and they create guided shells! But by the way, against which enemy?

    Against the rest of Africa, that's not a little
  10. Sergey79
    Sergey79 13 February 2020 18: 16
    It is a pity that "probable friends" are returning to the principle of laser guidance ...
  11. Maxim_ok
    Maxim_ok 22 August 2020 23: 13
    “However, the high cost of each shot with this type of projectile forces us to look for new options to improve the accuracy of artillery fire - it is not always possible to find a worthy target for a projectile at the price of an elite car”

    - The concept of the cost of military toys does not fit the criteria of the layman operating with civilian ideas about the high cost. Obviously, Excalibur for the current $ 112 thousand will be used for priority targets, and the mass will shoot and shoot with conventional shells with a PGK kit, which currently provides a CEP of 10 meters (Excalibur is two meters) and a cost 10 times less.
    And the price in this sense is relative, since using such high-precision projectiles does not need zeroing in (and the consumption of projectiles), logistics is facilitated, fewer guns and, accordingly, personnel are needed, the wear of guns is sharply reduced, and the characteristics of ammunition makes it possible to defeat point targets, by that previously a large number of shells were required, plus the enemy would not have time to escape from the attack. Further, Fire support can be carried out in the shortest possible time and thus the lives of their soldiers will be saved, in addition, such accuracy allows them to strike at an enemy very close to their soldiers (reducing the line of safe removal) cheaper and faster.
    The author also miscalculates the projectile consumption. What is this "guaranteed defeat" of the RZSO? If the coordinates are correct and the target is not moving, then the defeat will be carried out by one projectile. With a KVO of two meters (that is, Excalibur will not go beyond the target's size), we have a direct hit and guaranteed disabling of any missile defense system.