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An Excalibur’s first flight over Kandahar

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Gunners of Bravo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment shot an Excalibur round out of a M-777 howitzer cannon for the first time at Forward Operating Base Frontenac, Jan. 20.

The Excalibur is a separate loading, 155MM, extended-range, precision- guided projectile designed for use with other 155MM digitized Howitzers.

The M-777 is designed to be a digitally programmed weapon and is about 9,800 pounds lighter than the more commonly used M-198 Howitzer and is reportedly more accurate.

The Excalibur is intended to be used against personnel and light material such as command posts and air defense radars. It is guided to its target by the use of (GPS). This type of round on average costs more than $80,000 due to major technological advances within the explosive round.

“They don’t get shot very often due to the high cost,” said Staff Sgt. Ralph Dobrovolny, 1st Platoon, B. Batt., 2nd BN., 3rd FA, platoon sergeant. “The Excalibur is shot because it is most accurate and causes the least amount of collateral damage and casualties that can be caused by field artillery.”

The planning of the Excalibur fire mission took nearly a month. Once the Fire Support Officer located the land for impact, he had to get the proper approval. Lt.Col. Paul Weyrauch, commander of 2nd BN., 3rd FA, finally gave permission for the Gunners of B. Batt. to fire the expensive round for the first time at FOB Frontenac’s firing point.

The first Excalibur round fired in Afghanistan was with Charlie Battery, 3rd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment, in Kunar Province, Feb. 25, 2008.

Staff Sgt. Arshun Daniels, 1st Plt., B. Batt., 2nd BN., 3rd FA, chief of section, prepared his section by conducting “dry” fire missions before the actual live fire exercise.

“I make sure the rounds are right, the powders are right, the fuzes are right and that everybody is doing the right thing, so that my chief can focus more on his job,” said Spec. Michael Arnold, 1st Plt., B. Batt., 2nd BN., 3rd FA, ammunition team chief .

The GPS-guided Excalibur round was given the proper grid coordinate to seek out and destroy a target using the Enhanced Portable Inductive Artillery Fuse Setter by placing the system on the tip of the round and sending a digital message containing the coordinate for the round to find.

The Excalibur was fired using the M-777A2 155mm howitzer. The firing of the Excalibur round was a high-angle successful mission. The Gunners at FOB Frontenac are planning to shoot their next Excalibur fire mission soon.

Article by Staff Sgt. Jason Ragucci, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division