Russian air defense is claimed to have shot down Ukraine’s Excalibur-guided artillery shell, but there is no concrete evidence or information about the weapon used.
Excalibur-guided artillery shells are very difficult targets to deal with, although recently there has been information that Russian air defense forces have shot down one of the aforementioned shells.
“Air defense systems shot down two missiles of the HIMARS multiple launch rocket system in the area of the village of Bogdanovka, Kherson region. An Excalibur guided shell was also intercepted at the settlement of Miropolye, Sumy region,” the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation said.
This is a big surprise for the media because so far the Russian Army has been assessed to lack an anti-aircraft missile system that can effectively resist shells and mortars similar to Israel’s Iron Dome.
It should be noted that the biggest difficulty in intercepting such projectiles is their small size and high speed. In particular, the Excalibur projectile has a length of less than 1 meter and due to the specificity of the trajectory, the probability of detecting it is extremely small.
The M982 Excalibur is an active rocket and the range depends on the artillery system itself. For example, the proven range of ammunition from the M777 with the barrel length L/39 is 36 km. But the CAESAR with the L/52 barrel has a range of 46 km, while the PzH 2000 is 48 km.
That is to say, in order to maximize the effectiveness of the Excalibur, it would be better to use a self-propelled gun with a barrel 52 times the diameter in the first place. In counter-attack conditions, it will bring advantages in the distance as well as accuracy.
For comparison, the firing range of one of the most popular artillery systems in the Russian Army – the Msta type is 24.7 km with the 3VOF45 ammunition, or up to 30.5 km with the 3VOF86 special ammunition.
Thus, Excalibur shells fired from NATO’s L/52 artillery system will exceed the maximum range of Russian artillery by about 16-18 km. Even for the Russian Krasnopol-M shells, their range is only 20 km and the guidance method only has a laser channel.
In addition, Excalibur bullets have an error of only a few meters thanks to the laser guidance system with satellites. The second factor is important because to hit an accurate shot you only need to know the coordinates of the target, not “light” it with a laser.
To accurately determine the target, the Ukrainian armed forces have a full range of tools, from the Bayraktar TB2 UAV, which has proven its ability to determine coordinates at a distance of 50 km, to anti-aircraft and reconnaissance radar stations line.
It is also important to be able to fire the Excalibur from any modern NATO artillery piece. It’s the American M777, the French CAESAR, the German PzH 2000, or the British AS90 BraveHeart… as long as they have a digital control system for programming the ballistics.
The next issue of concern is if indeed the Excalibur bullet was shot down, what weapons did the Russian air defense forces use, because complexes such as Pantsir-S1 or Tor-M2 were considered incompetent?
In the meantime, the Russian-made 42S6 Morpheus air defense system is considered an “Iron Dome clone” in question, the above complex was tested in Syria but then had to quickly return to the country to complete further.
It would not be too surprising if the Morpheus complex was brought to the field test by Russia after it had been calibrated, but of course, before discussing it, it is still necessary to have proof that the Excalibur bullet was shot down.