Thursday, May 31, 2007

Excalibur Unsheathed in Iraq

The Weekly Standard entertains me with this little piece about not Arthur, King of the Briton's sword, but a GPS guided artillery shell.

Artillery Gets Smart, Mortars Still Dumb
reports today on the "first combat firing of a 155 mm
precision artillery shell in Iraq." The shell, the XM982 Excalibur, was fired at
an al Qaeda safe house earlier this month:
Standing on a rooftop some 700 meters from the safehouse with his fire support team, Clausen [commander of the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment] said he witnessed two consecutive rounds penetrate the target: “Never in my wildest imagination as a field artilleryman did I expect to see two consecutive rounds go through a roof into a house and have the effects that we needed to destroy that particular target.”
It all sounds very impressive--Clausen adds, "We’re looking to
improve efficiency in everything we do. Precision means you need fewer rounds,
and fewer man hours in moving large numbers of rounds...That’s how you cut the
logistics tail.”
Precision guided artillery has a short history. The Army developed a laser guided 155mm projectile called
Copperhead in the 1980s, and the round was used in combat in the first Gulf War. But the Copperhead was expensive, and laser targeting
requires a high cloud deck and a soldier on the ground to illuminate the
target--it wasn't ideal and the program was killed. But Excalibur may finally
give the Army the guided munition it's been looking for.
Still, not everyone's convinced. This morning I spoke with Stuart Koehl, a military analyst at Johns Hopkins University's Center for Transatlantic Relations, who called the strike "a stunt, because they didn't have to use an artillery round, they could
have used an airplane--it would have been a lot cheaper." I also spoke with
WEEKLY STANDARD contributor Tom Donnelly, who said that, "without being
dismissive, I would kind of agree....We're hardly suffering from a want of
firepower in Iraq." But's John Pike took the opposite view--"JDAM [the GPS guided Joint Direct Attack Munition] is widely regarded as having
revolutionized aerial warfare, and things like Excalibur, I think, have the
potential to do that with artillery."

The rest of the article is HERE

I never fail to get a laugh out of these guys who say, "why do we need this or that, we'll have a jet do that." People who say things like that have never tried to get a jet when you really need one.

The ground commander controls his arty, and he can fire his arty pretty much when and where he wants. I'm also pretty sure a 155mm gun is a hell of a lot cheeper than an F-22 or F-35 and easier to maintain as well...not nearly as sexy though... and in the end we all know that's what really counts.

For more stuff written by guys who never met a fast jet they didn't like I suggest you try this website

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