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    Old Hickory Guardsmen fire new artillery round in Iraq

    Old Hickory Guardsmen fire new artillery round in Iraq

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Robert Jordan | Smoke and dust mark the first Excalibur precision artillery round fired by Soldiers of...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Robert Jordan 

    30th Armored Brigade Combat Team

    BAGHDAD — North Carolina Guardsmen of Battery A , 113th Field Artillery Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Multi-National Division—Baghdad, became the first National Guard crew to fire an Excalibur precision artillery round in Iraq at Forward Operating Base Mahmudiyah, May 21.

    The Excalibur is a Global Positioning System-guided 155 mm round fired from the battalion's self-propelled M109 Paladin howitzers.

    "This will develop the next generation of artillery," said 1st Lt. Frank Dyson, a fire direction officer from Roanoke, Va. He worked with the Excalibur field service representative, Dennis Patnode, for the test.

    "I am here for feedback from the Soldiers going through the drill," said Patnode. "And to improve the weapon."

    Dyson said the Excalibur gives the brigade a faster, more accurate punch.

    "We do not have to coordinate with outside agencies' [for additional] weapons," Dyson said. "We have precision at our fingertips."

    Conventional artillery devastates its target but can endanger surrounding areas. Excalibur solves this.

    "In unconventional warfare, collateral damage is unacceptable," Dyson said. "Excalibur does not cause problems; it creates solutions. Excalibur can increase the role of artillery."

    If the round cannot identify the target after firing, it shifts to a safe area and does not explode.

    Patnode travels with the four-man crew, watching each man quickly prepare to fire.

    "I evaluate all the time," Patnode said, "I cannot tell the difference between this crew and [one from] the active Army."

    Dyson gives the order over the radio for the crews to fire the weapon. The Paladins cannons are rotated into firing position. Soon the rounds are heading toward their targets, miles away.

    "It is the highlight of a fire direction officer's career," said Dyson about the new round.



    Date Taken: 05.21.2009
    Date Posted: 05.29.2009 03:45
    Story ID: 34255
    Location: BAGHDAD, IQ 

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