In tests during the week of Nov. 23, four guided rockets fired from a U.S. Marine Corps Cobra helicopter hit laser-designated moving and stationary targets. The firings tested the performance of APKWS against a variety of requirements and operational scenarios and the rockets were fired from the helicopter at varying altitudes and airspeeds. Each shot struck well within the required distance from the laser spot.
APKWS has hit its targets 22 times since September 2002, with six helicopters and several air crews involving various mission scenarios.
"Entering integrated test is an important step in confirming that APKWS will meet the needs of its end users," said Michelle McBride, co-project manager for the Navy's Airborne Rockets group, which oversees the development of APKWS. "The performance to date demonstrates the system's maturity and reliability. The Navy is very pleased that APKWS has entered the final phase of testing and that we are nearing a Milestone C decision."
The Milestone C decision represents the U.S. government's certification that APKWS is a mature system ready for low-rate initial production. In addition to proving the flight performance of the system, Milestone C requires proof that APKWS will survive the harsh environments it will encounter in theater, that it will not present a safety risk to aviators and ordnance crews responsible for loading and unloading weapons, and that it will not have an adverse impact on the airframe from which it is fired, among other criteria. APKWS is the only laser-guided 2.75-inch rocket undergoing this full U.S. government evaluation.
"This integrated test is the culmination of years of work on behalf of BAE Systems and our government customers to deliver enhanced capability to the aviator," said Mike Lewis, vice president and general manager of soldier and vehicle solutions for BAE Systems. "APKWS is a mature, reliable, low-cost system that will greatly improve the ability of aviators to engage targets of opportunity while reducing the risk of collateral damage."
Because it uses standard launchers, the system requires no platform integration or aircraft modifications, and the mid-body design of its guidance section enables use of existing warheads, fuzes, and rocket motors. APKWS can be fired from any helicopter that can launch 2.75-inch rockets, including the AH-1 Cobra, UH-1 Huey, OH-58 Kiowa Warrior, and AH-64 Apache.
The Navy assumed acquisition executive oversight of the program in 2008 and has fully funded it for production. BAE Systems has been the APKWS prime contractor since 2006.
About BAE Systems
BAE Systems is a premier global defense, security and aerospace company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and customer support services. With approximately 105,000 employees worldwide, BAE Systems' sales exceeded £18.5 billion (US $34.4 billion) in 2008.