Russian-Aligned Ukrainian Militia Warn U.S. ‘Excalibur’ Precision Artillery Rounds May Be a Game Changer

Personnel from the People’s Militia of the self proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) informed Russian state media outlet TASS that the deliveries of M982 Excalibur guided artillery shells by the United States to the Ukrainian Army is considered a leading threat to positions on the frontlines. “This is probably the most dangerous part of the delivery. These munitions are equipped with a seeker and can adjust their flight path upon approaching the target. They are GPS-and inertial-guided… There can be only one countermeasure – effective counter-battery activities, with strikes at warehouses where those munitions are stored and at vehicles transporting them to launchers. They must be prevented from ever being delivered to firing positions,” a militia spokesman stated. Although Russian and allied sources have frequently dismissed the capabilities of new armaments being delivered by NATO members to Ukraine, the concerns raised regarding the new Excalibur rounds has drawn a stark contrast to such responses. Excalibur rounds were designed to be launched from 155mm artillery guns, such as the M777s delivered by the U.S. to Ukraine in considerable numbers, and at over $110 million each they were designed to be used sparingly to allow for very high precision GPS guided attacks with a circular error probe of just four metres. As artillery duels have played an increasingly central role in determining the balance of power on the frontlines, the rounds have the potential to serve as a major force multiplier for Ukrainian units and allow them to quickly achieve single shot kills against DPR and Russian artillery and other key assets. With the U.S. having already allocated over $24 billion in military aid to Kiev, with billions more coming from its Western allies to supplement Ukraine’s own sizeable defence budget, high precision weapons have been fielded and expended in very large quantities. Ukraine’s access to a network of several hundred satellites deployed by NATO members, including for surveillance, targeting and communications, has provided a key edge over the Russian Military, with an extensive network of Western personnel including both contractors and servicemen playing a key role in allowing its forces to make full use of its assets. Russian and allied forces in Donetsk have taken significant loses to U.S.-supplied precision guided rocket artillery assets deployed by the Ukrainian Army, most notably the HIMARS system, and the ability to widely provide artillery guns with similar levels of precision could represent a game changer. The DPR People’s Militia which raised concerns regarding the deliveries is a separatist group in Ukraine’s ethnically Russian majority east which has been in conflict with Ukrainian government forces since 2014, when the People’s Republic was first declared. The self proclaimed republic was recognised by Russia in early 2022 shortly before the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian War on February 24, and was formally absorbed into the Russian state in September that year. The militia, and similar fighting units in the neighbouring self proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, have been gradually integrated with the Russian Military and reequipped accordingly, including with newly refurbished T-62M and T-72 tanks which are being brought out of Russian reserves. With Russian forces in Ukraine being heavily outnumbered, these units have played a key role in partly balancing out Ukrainian numerical superiority.