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1st BCT soldiers learn new, precision weapon
weapon demo
NTC instructor George French explains proper handling procedures of the Excalibur system’s projectile to 1st Brigade soldiers. - photo by Photo by Denise Etheridge
Alpha Battery, of the 141st Field Artillery, 1st Brigade tested Excalibur, a satellite guided warhead with almost pinpoint accuracy on a firing range in the middle of the Mojave Desert Thursday.
As the big guns fired its two rounds, costing $250,000 each, only the Army, the weapon’s engineers, a reporter and a few lizards heard and felt the vibrations of the test firing.
The 141st Field Artillery, along with the rest of the 1st Brigade from Fort Stewart, are readying themselves for the expected and the unexpected before deploying to Iraq in mid-December. The 1st Brigade is training at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., this month.
The Paladin equipped with the Excalibur computer software can shoot at a target as close as 5 kilometers and as far as 24 kilometers.
“It’s like the sniper of the artillery world,” said Capt. Daniel LaBar, of Alpha Battery, 141st Field Artillery, 1st Brigade.
LaBar explained the Excalibur weaponry is most often reserved for “high level” targets.
NTC instructor George French, of the Excalibur Net Team, guided soldiers through the proper unpacking and inspection procedures for the precision weapon. French also told soldiers the proper way to carry and load Excalibur’s projectiles.
“This (precision weaponry) killed the No. 2 and No. 8 Al Qaida (chiefs) in Iraq,” he said. “You don’t have to shoot through a building to get to another building.”
French said when a round is fired using the Excalibur system it has a ballistic fall with an 85-degree angle or arc, which is why it can hit such precise targets.
Excalibur is supposed to minimize collateral damage and is designed for use in urban environments, LaBar explained after two rounds were successfully fired.
The test firing rounds traveled nine and a half kilometers, making for two exact hits in the center of the target.
“We couldn’t ask for better,” French said.
“Any time we get to fire the guns is a good day,” said Staff Sgt. Tyshawn Alexander, one of the section chiefs who made sure the test firing was in order.
Staff Sgt. Christopher Rodgers, also a section chief, worked with Alexander on the test firing.
Both men have had previous deployments to Iraq; Alexander has been deployed there three times, Rodgers has been twice.
The test firing was only the beginning of Alpha Battery’s time at NTC. On Friday the 141st Field Artillery was to move its vehicles and weaponry into “the box” for more intensive training.
Sgt. Brian Partridge of Alpha Battery said NTC is purposely made to be tough on soldiers so when they deploy to Iraq, they will be “prepared for the worst, but hope for the best.”
This deployment will be Partridge’s second tour to Iraq.

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