Accuracy of American M982 Excalibur shell destroyed by Russian jamming

Western precision munitions, such as the M982 Excalibur shell, the JDAM-ER and Hammer bombs, the SCALP-ER / Storm Shadow missiles, or the M39 ballistic missiles, are part of the systems which, today, enable forces Ukrainians to partially compensate for their numerical disadvantage against the Russian armies.

Among these munitions, the M982 Excalibur plays a very special role. This 155 mm shell, which can be launched from M777, Krabs, Caesar or even Archer, allows, in fact, to strike opposing forces less than 150 meters from the allied lines, thanks to a probable circular gap of only 5 meters, thanks to GPS and inertial guidance.

If the M982 kept its promises in Iraq, Afghanistan or even at the start of the Ukrainian conflict, its precision has significantly decreased over time, going from 55% impact at the start of the conflict, to only 6% today, leading to Washington to announce the suspension of deliveries of this expensive ammunition. Between these two dates, the Russian armies massively deployed and evolved their GPS signal jamming systems.

19 M982 Excalibur rounds at $110 to deal with a target due to Russian jamming

With such precision, where two shells were enough to, statistically, hit a target and destroy it, from now on it would be necessary to have 19 or more. Impossible, under these conditions, to use the M982 Excalibur in its primary function, namely support or opportunity strikes, when these must be carried out close to allied lines. The risks of one or more shells hitting the Ukrainian forces would, in fact, be too great.

M777 in Ukraine
M777A2 in Ukraine. More than a third of these American systems delivered to Ukraine have been destroyed since June 2022.

Worse still, the time required to fire 19 shells, and the number of projectiles fired, considerably increase the risks that Russian counter-battery systems will manage to establish a precise position of the origin of the shots, only to engage them in return with a deluge of shells and rockets.

Finally, the economic parameter enters this already unfavorable equation. In fact, an M982 Excalibur shell today costs more than $110. Shooting 000 of them therefore represents a total cost of $19 million, the equivalent of more than 2 600 mm shells which, when fired from a modern artillery system like the Caesar, the Pzh155 or the Archer, would allow to deal with more than 2000 targets of this type, and even more concerning the Caesar.

It is therefore hardly surprising that Washington announced this week that it would suspend the delivery of M982 Excalibur shells, due to their poor resistance to Russian GPS jamming which is becoming more widespread. It is, in fact, certainly not the most effective investment to meet the many needs of the Ukrainian forces today.

Several American weapons systems deemed “disappointing” by the Ukrainians on the ground

The poor performance of the Excalibur adds to a growing list of Western, and more specifically American, weapons systems deemed disappointing by the Ukrainian forces when used against Russian forces.

Boeing Saab GLSDB tests
The GLSDB system makes it possible to transform a light bomb into a surface-to-surface missile by adding a propulsion system and a GPS/Inertial guidance system.

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2 Comments

  1. Hello,
    You write, I quote:
    “all Western tanks were designed to be used with powerful logistical support”
    Do you know if this also applies to the Leclerc tank? Because when we know the state of our logistics units in France…

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