The U.S. Forces Korea is planning to introduce precision-guided artillery shells which could pulverize North Korea's long-range artillery batteries near the demilitarized zone.
The South Korean military considered buying the XM982 Excalibur shells after the North shelled Yeonpyeong Island in November 2010, but put off the decision due to their high price.
The Second U.S. Infantry Division already test-fired Excalibur rounds at the Anheung test site of the Agency for Defense Development in late May, a military source said Thursday. It will deploy them properly together with additional Patriot PAC-3 missiles and ATACMS surface-to-surface missiles by year's end.
The Excalibur is the world's first GPS-guided "smart" 155 mm shell. It is capable of hitting targets within a radius of less than 10 m. Excalibur rounds fell within less than 4.5 m of targets in about a dozen tests conducted in the U.S. until 2006.
Because they strike targets nearly vertically, they would be effective in hitting North Korean long-range artillery batteries positioned behind mountains, which are difficult to strike with K-9 self-propelled guns or multiple-launch rocket systems.
Excalibur rounds proved effective in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each shell costs W50-100 million (US$1=W1,114).