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Laser-Guided Rocket Successfully Demonstrates Precision Strike Capability for Australian Defence Forces

Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter fires an APKWS laser-guided rocket (artist rendering)
Australian Defence Forces aim to field the APKWS rocket on Airbus Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter.

The Australian Defence Forces recently concluded a highly successful trial of BAE Systems’ Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS™) laser-guided rocket for use on its Army and Navy helicopters. The ground trial marks the first time the APKWS technology, which transforms a standard unguided 2.75-inch (70-millimeter) rocket into a precision laser-guided weapon, has been demonstrated on a Forges de Zeebrugge (FZ) rocket.

“Through its long track record of success with the U.S. military, the APKWS technology has always been used with a Hydra rocket,” said David Harrold, director of precision guidance solutions at BAE Systems. “This demonstration highlights the unique mid-body design and versatility of the APKWS technology by showcasing the ease of deployment on the FZ rocket and its native launcher.”

During the ground-based live fire event in August, held at the Woomera Prohibited Area test range in South Australia, the APKWS laser-guided technology was on target with all seven shots fired while integrated with the FZ90 rocket motor and warhead. There was no modification required to the guidance kit to integrate with the FZ rocket. Based on the successful test, the Australian Army intends to conduct a live fire flight trial in November that could lead to the APKWS rocket fielding on the Army’s Airbus Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter and Navy’s MH-60R Seahawk platforms beginning in 2015.

Conducted by the Australian Aerospace Operational Support Group, the trial was designed to qualify the APKWS rocket for use by the Australian military to bridge the current capability gap between unguided small-diameter rockets and larger-diameter anti-armor munitions. Unlike other available offerings, the flexibility of the APKWS technology allowed the Australian Defence Force to move from concept to live fire trial in a matter of months while using its current rocket inventory and equipment.

“The APKWS laser-guided rocket is an easy-to-use, cost-effective, and flexible system,” said MAJ David Paterson, Rotary Wing Flight Commander of the Australian Army’s Aircraft Stores Compatibility Engineering Squadron. “Delivering this capability to our troops while leveraging existing equipment is a significant accomplishment that will greatly expand and enhance our military helicopters’ mission success.”

BAE Systems is the prime contractor for the APKWS rocket, which is available to international customers through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program. Deployed in combat since 2012 by the U.S. Marine Corps, the APKWS rocket is the U.S. Department of Defense’s only fully qualified guided 2.75-inch rocket that uses semi-active laser guidance technology to strike soft and light armored targets. More information on the APKWS rocket can be found at

Ref # 234/2014