Sep 8, 2022
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How the Russian army can fool Excalibur precision-guided projectiles

The United States is supplying Ukraine with Excalibur precision-guided artillery shells, according to Pentagon reports. Since spring, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have received about a thousand of these shells. Presumably, it was with their help that American howitzers hit the Antonovsky bridge in Kherson. How can the Russian army neutralize “excalibur” strikes and what analogues do we have for the same high-precision firing at American artillery batteries?

As it became known on Thursday, Washington began sending “its most accurate Excalibur GPS-guided artillery shells” to help Kyiv in the spring. This was reported by Bloomberg, referring to the just published Pentagon spending report. It follows from the document that the US Department of Defense will spend $ 92 million of the additional funds approved by Congress “for the purchase of M982 Excalibur ammunition transferred to Ukraine.” Since one projectile costs $112,000, the APU will receive more than 800 Excaliburs in total, the news agency concludes.

Back in April, the United States began supplying Ukraine with M777 howitzers (nicknamed “three axes” at the front), which, among other shells, can fire Excalibur (“Excalibur”). According to the plans, the Ukrainians should receive 126 such guns in total. In addition, Australia promised to send six of its M777s to Kyiv, and Canada four, according to Oryx.

In July, Swedish war correspondent Lars Wilderang suggested that Excalibur shells had already appeared in the arsenal of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. He was led to such a guess by video recordings of the consequences of the shelling of the Antonovsky bridge leading across the Dnieper to Kherson. The Swede drew attention to the accuracy of eight hits.

“A thousand Excalibur shells is a very serious force, which means several hundred hit targets,” said Sergey Denisentsev, an expert at the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST). According to him, it is not easy to deal with the attack of these projectiles due to their guidance system. “Theoretically, it is possible to interfere with the GPS receiver, but in practice it is not easy, plus the source of interference will be noticeable to the enemy’s electronic intelligence systems,” the source explained. He called the Chinese GP155B, which also has satellite guidance, a direct analogue of the American projectile.

Vadim Kozyulin, an employee of the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry and a PIR Center consultant, also believes that the Excalibur is an order of magnitude more effective than conventional weapons. “Therefore, they would be a very significant increase in strength for any army in any conflict, including the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” he explained. According to the expert, it makes no sense to shoot down such shells with the help of anti-missile defense – interception will cost Russia very dearly, literally, since the anti-missile is more expensive than the American ammunition itself.

“Only some particularly valuable objects should be protected with the help of missile defense from Excalibur. And in other cases, it is necessary to conduct a counter-battery fight, use intelligence and space intelligence data to determine the location of the M777 howitzers themselves, ”Kozyulin suggests.

Analysts also noted that working with such howitzers requires very high qualifications and the Pentagon would hardly have had time to teach this art to Ukrainians in just a few months. The military reporter for Komsomolskaya Pravda, Alexander Kots, reported back in July that the crews of the M777 howitzers were commanded by American officers themselves. “This became known after the military of the LNR captured the destroyed weapon near Lisichansk. The calculation was covered in the waiting area, where the Ukrainian gunners replenished their ammunition. Local residents said that the howitzers were guarded by about 100 special forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. A black instructor supervised the calculations. According to intelligence, this is a US citizen,” Kots wrote in his Telegram channel.

By the way, last month it became known that the West has sharply reduced the volume of weapons transferred to Ukraine – such conclusions follow from the infographic prepared by the Ukrainian Forbes. According to the magazine, it was the deliveries of artillery that fell the most: if in April the Armed Forces of Ukraine received 90 M777 howitzers, then in July – zero.

Analysts suggest that this decline is due to two circumstances: the cost of the howitzer itself (which is about $4 million), as well as the high number of casualties – as you know, howitzers are regularly destroyed by Russian forces. So, in early September, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported that another M777 platoon was destroyed in the Andreevka area of ​​​​the Kherson region.

As Kozyulin recalls, the Russian army can fight high-precision projectiles using electronic warfare equipment that jams GPS signals and knocks down Excalibur adjustments. “It is difficult to say exactly what results the use of this high-precision weapon brought, because a lot here depends on skillful hands. Perhaps in the Armed Forces of Ukraine – they are not always skillful in terms of using American weapons. But, apparently, the West is now teaching them how to work with the M777 in general, and with “excaliburs” in particular, ”the analyst emphasized.

“Russia has an analogue of this weapon, and its development began in Soviet times under the direct control of the Central Committee of the CPSU. The Central Committee itself oversaw the Centimeter program, an analogue of the American Copperhead guided missile. But the idea of ​​guided artillery shells was born in the United States. Russian shells are guided by laser marks using the Malachite target designation complex,” the source explained.

Indeed, the Russian Armed Forces have an approximate analogue of Excalibur – this is the Krasnopol adjustable artillery shell, says Doctor of Military Sciences Konstantin Sivkov. “True, Krasnopol is inferior to the American one in firing range – 25 km versus 40 km, but no worse in target hitting accuracy – with a deviation of two to three meters. So we can safely say: “Whoever comes to us with Excalibur will die from the analogue of Excalibur,” he said. “Excalibur is a projectile that fires from cannon artillery at more than 40 km, with a laser guidance system on the final section of the path to the target. This is an expensive, but equally serious weapon,” Sivkov admits.

According to him, neither Russian nor any other air defense system is able to intercept Excalibur. “However, we have a way to deal with such weapons: our military can easily destroy the launchers themselves – M777 howitzers, from which Excalibur-type projectiles are fired. What, in fact, our troops are doing, ”the interlocutor recalled.

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