Friday, July 20, 2007

Excalibur gets it's first kill, and don't fear the Reaper.

If you are a in the service, and are a military enthusiast like myself, you may be interested to know that the new XM982 Excalibur Precision-guided 155mm shell got it's first kill in Iraq recently. The Excalibur is a very accurate shell designed to provided rapid support...and Raytheon has been having a devil of a time to get it to work right. Most electronics are not built to withstand the forces imposed on a shell flying out of a howitzer, but the contractor seems to have satisfactorily resolved the issue.

At $39k a pop, it's a bit more expensive than a "dumb" shell, but more accurate, which increases the chance of hitting the bad guys and missing the good guys(or non-combatants).

Of course, this isn't the only thing entering combat this week. The MQ-9 Reaper has arrived at Balad Air Base in Iraq, although USAF officials expect it's first combat use to be in Afghanistan. Unlike the MQ-1 Predator, the Reaper has been designed from the start as a bomb/missile truck in addition to Reecee duties. The Predator wasn't pitched as a combat aircraft, because for a lot of pilots in the USAF it would mean, frankly, that they would be out of a job. The Predator proved to be technically capable of being used as a UCAV, and impressed the Brass enough that the Reaper was ordered.

I note that all these new toys coming down the pike, the Reaper, Excalibur, and V-22, will be able to slap "Combat Proven!" stickers on them when making sales pitches to foreign countries. Might want to think fo keeping an eye on the stock of these companies...

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