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Weapon systems manufacturer, Raytheon, has revealed that the U.S. Navy has quietly conducted ground tests of a precision-guided projectile usually fired from Army cannons.
The N5 naval variant of the Excalibur projectile was tested last September at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.
“What we have done is leveraged and reused the components… in a round that can be fired from the Navy 5-inch gun,” said John Hobday, senior manager for advanced programs with Raytheon’s Land Warfare Systems division, to military.com. “Part of [the test] was to establish the fact that it did work with the existing 5-inch rounds.”
The Navy revealing this information is a positive indicator towards what the Navy plans to do next with the N5 variant of the Excalibur.
The Excalibur projectile has twice the effective range of the conventional shell currently fired from the MK-45 5-inch gun aboard destroyers and cruisers. The projectile offers accuracy of up to 2 meters from the target and can be fired at targets 40 kilometers away.
Investing in the Excalibur projectile would be a smart investment for the Navy since most of the testing has already been done by the Army. All the Navy has to test for now is if the projectile can be used in the existing 5-inch gun without any major changes required to the cannon.
Officials estimate that if the Navy were to invest in the N5 projectile, costs per round should stay steady at around $70,000.
The Navy may also look into an updated version of the Excalibur that Raytheon is developing for the Army. A laser guided varient called the Excalibur S that allows the round to seek and engage moving targets.