The US Marine Corps (USMC) has successfully test-fired two Raytheon Excalibur 155mm precision-guided artillery projectiles from an extended range of 36km in theatre in Afghanistan.
The firing marked the longest distance on record that the Excalibur round was fired in combat since its fielding in 2007.
Raytheon Missile Systems Land Combat Systems vice president Michelle Lohmeier said: "Having true precision artillery that can defeat the targets, and from such a great distance, gives our warfighters the ability to engage these targets that would otherwise be out of reach."
By integrating Excalibur into close-combat formations, US forces avoid collateral damage even when soldiers are in close proximity to the target.
An extended range, autonomous artillery round, Excalibur has been designed to provide accurate, first round fire-for-effect capability to current and future 155mm howitzers in urban environments.
The weapon utilises a jam-resistant global positioning system (GPS) aided inertial guidance and navigation technology to precisely engage a target while impacting at a radial miss distance of 6m from the desired aim point.
Additional features of the Excalibur are three fuse options, including height-of-burst, point-detonating, and delay/penetration and can be used in all weather conditions and terrain.
US Army Excalibur product manager lieutenant colonel Mike Milner said that they were continually improving Excalibur’s use in theatre.
"It is incredible to think about how this capability has evolved with its use over time, and these shots are evidence of that," Milner added.
In 2011, Raytheon has received an urgent operational order for 1,037 155mm Excalibur extended-range, precision-guided artillery projectiles from the USMC.
To date, the Excalibur has undergone more than 500 rounds in theatre for the US Army and Marine Corps artillery.
Image: An XM982 Excalibur used by the US Army. Photo: courtesy of the US Army.