PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - The Joint Munitions and Lethality Life Cycle Management Command Acquisition Center here awarded the initial contracts totaling $20.7 million to begin the Excalibur Increment Ib effort today.

Picatinny awarded contracts to two vendors, Alliant Techsystems in Plymouth, Minn., and Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Ariz. The two vendors were each awarded a contract to participate in the Phase I Design Maturation and Demonstration of the Excalibur Increment Ib.

During the 18 month Phase 1, the two contractors must evolve their proposed concepts and then demonstrate the capability in a live-fire event. The government will select a single contractor to continue to the Qualification and Initial Production phase.

Excalibur Increment Ib follows the development and successful fielding of the Excalibur Increment Ia precision-guided, extended-range 155 mm projectile.

Increment Ib requires improved performance over Increment Ia, with extended range, higher reliability and significantly lower unit production cost over the current Increment Ia projectile.

The Excalibur program is a cooperative effort between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Sweden. The Excalibur Ib projectile will be compatible with the U.S. Artillery Systems and the Swedish Archer Artillery System.

The Excalibur program is overseen by the Office of the Project Manager for Combat Ammunition Systems here. PM-CAS equips Soldiers with all tube-launched, indirect fire munitions and mortar weapons systems for the Army's current, Stryker and future forces. Under the Single Manager for Conventional Ammunition responsibilities, PM-CAS also procures ammunition for other services.