A Bell Helicopter test pilot fired seven APKWS 70-millimeter rockets from a Bell Helicopter 407GT at Yuma, Arizona, as part of a qualification of the weapon’s safety and suitability on that platform. By completing the guided shots, Bell has qualified the APKWS rocket for use on the 407GT.
“Our highly precise APKWS rockets struck targets ranging from 1.5 kilometers to 5 kilometers away, at both direct and off-axis angles, and hit the target — a lightly armored vehicle — each time,” said David Harrold, director for Precision Guidance Solutions at BAE Systems. “The 407GT platform is significant because it is Bell Helicopter's first commercially qualified, armed helicopter, configurable to perform a wide range of missions.”
The APKWS technology transforms a standard 2.75-inch rocket Hydra-type unguided rocket into a laser-guided precision weapon able to strike soft and lightly armored targets in built-up and confined areas. BAE Systems designed the APKWS technology to fill the gap between the Hellfire missile and unguided rockets. The company is the prime contractor for the program, which is managed by the Navy.
In addition to the 407GT, the APKWS rocket is qualified on the AH-1W and UH-1Y helicopters, and is expected to be similarly qualified for use on several other rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft. The system is available to allied forces through foreign military sales.
Paul A. Roberts
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