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Artillery-launched guided projectiles were developed long ago. The laser-guided Copperhead
Artillery-launched guided projectiles were developed long ago. The laser-guided Copperhead and Krasnopol have already been in use for more than 20 years. As technology evolves, the latest generation of these weapons use signals from satellite navigation systems. The first munition of this type to go into production was the American M982 Excalibur, named after King Arthur's legendary sword.

Unlike laser-guided projectiles, this weapon is unaffected by weather conditions and needs no target illumination, which enables it to hit targets at the anticipated coordinates with pinpoint accuracy. Its circular error probable is 10 meters (compared to 200-300 with non-guided projectiles), dramatically decreasing the number of rounds required to destroy a target. The only disadvantage is the Excalibur's high cost, exceeding $100,000 per shell.

Tests were completed last year. Besides the U.S. Armed Forces, Canadian, Swedish and, recently, the Australian military wish to have the new weapon in their arsenals.

Like any other monopoly in military technology, U.S. and their allies' monopoly of the new projectile lasted only for a short period, with the Moscow Design Bureau Kompas (Compass) developing a new guidance system for artillery-delivered munitions within the Dinamika (Dynamics) program. Like Excalibur, the new Russian projectile can use either the GPS (Global Positioning System) and GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) signals for homing.

In comparison to the American projectile, the Russian weapon, currently under development, has one major advantage - it does not have to decrease the rotation rate to receive a signal from the navigation system, simplifying the control system and reducing costs.

The Russian 152-203 mm GLONASS projectiles' circular error probable will be 10 meters, similar to that of the American one. The rounds can also be equipped with laser-seekers, which when combined with satellite guidance enable them to hit targets with a precision of 1-2 meters, without adjustment fire. These capabilities will provide a sudden hit on a hard target with minimum ammunition expenditure, which is valuable in any possible armed conflict, either a limited counterinsurgency or a full-scale warfare against large regular armed forces.

The Kompas Bureau spokesmen say that work on the Dinamika program will be finished by 2011, though problems of GLONASS deployment, already behind schedule, could slow the process down.

The importance of GLONASS is high, and it keeps growing steadily, and so do the number of military and civil technologies bound with it. The Kompas Bureau alone, beside the Dinamika program, is developing a series of systems meant to be used in connection with GLONASS, ranging from a landing system, enabling the use of deck-pad helicopters at night and in stormy weather, to portable and vehicle navigation units for civil use. The bulk of these products, which are based on domestic-made components, are supposed to hit the market in the near future. Therefore a number of science-intensive programs depend on the deployment of Russia's satellite navigation system.

Another problem is the frequent changes in the government's defense order management system, each slowing the work down by a few months, as weapons, military equipment and components developers and manufacturers complain. Management stability and transparency of rules are also considered to be the key factors for the success of any high-tech development. Non-system approach and lack of uniform understanding can bury any plan.

Many captains sink the ship, as the saying goes.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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