SEOUL — The U.S. military apparently is bringing GPS-guided Excalibur shells to South Korea to improve its ability to counter North Korean artillery batteries.
Quoting an anonymous military source, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported that the 2nd Infantry Division and the South’s Agency for Defense Development test-fired the precision-guided shells in May and they will be added to the U.S. arsenal here by the end of the year.
The 155 mm artillery projectiles have a range of up to 35 miles — more than twice that of conventional artillery — and have earned a reputation for pinpoint accuracy since first being used in Iraq in 2007.
Asked to confirm the report, 8th Army spokesman Col. Andrew C. Mutter said the 2ID recently test-fired precision-guided projectiles.
“Due to operational security reasons, we will not discuss results, data or other information, nor disclose the system fielding or capabilities here on the Korean peninsula,” he said.
“However, the U.S. Army in Korea is constantly improving its capabilities through the timely upgrade of weapon systems and ammunitions,” Mutter said. “Our ability to ‘fight tonight’ and assist in the defense of the Republic of Korea are renewed and improved every year.”
North Korea employed artillery in a Nov. 23, 2010, attack on Yeonpyeong, a tiny Yellow Sea island 10 miles away from the North’s mainland on the South Korea side on the disputed maritime border between the two countries.
About 170 shells were fired, killing two visiting construction workers and two South Korean marines while injuring 18 and destroying about 30 of the island’s 500 homes.