Laser-Guided Rocket Hits the Mark for Australian Defence Force

Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter fires an APKWS laser-guided rocket (artist rendering)
APKWS laser-guided rocket fired off Tiger platform.

The Australian Defence Force demonstrated the precision strike capability of BAE Systems’ Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS™) laser-guided rocket, firing the system from an Airbus Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) for the first time. Using a Forges de Zeebrugge (FZ) rocket motor, warhead, and launcher, the APKWS rocket was 10 for 10 in the live fire flight trials.

“These demonstrations have proven the versatility and flexibility of the APKWS rocket,” said David Harrold, director of precision guidance solutions at BAE Systems. “The results are clear that our unique mid-body design can quickly and cost-effectively transform current inventory of unguided FZ rockets into highly precise weapons for greater mission success as it has done for Hydra rockets since initial fielding in 2012.”

The successful live fire flight trials, which were preceded by a ground-based live fire event in August 2014, took place in November 2014 in Australia’s Northern Territory. The 10 test shots were conducted in extreme heat conditions at ranges from 1,500 meters to 4,500 meters, at altitudes from 200 feet to 1,500 feet, and at speeds of up to 140 knots. All 10 shots hit the target within one meter of the laser spot.

An integrated test team from the Defence Materiel Organisation and Royal Australian Air Force, in conjunction with operational units from 16 Aviation Brigade, conducted these tests to examine the potential for APKWS rocket use by the Australian Army. With the successful results, the APKWS rocket is now being taken to the next stage of the trial process.

“The combination of a perfect seven-for-seven from the ground trial and 10 for 10 from the flight trial confirms this as a fully functioning capability,” said Major David Paterson, Rotary Wing Flight Commander of the Australian Aircraft Stores Compatibility Engineering Squadron, part of the Aerospace Operational Support Group. “This testing supports the potential use of the APKWS rocket on the ARH, and it clearly demonstrated the weapon’s capability under a wide range of flight conditions.”

The live fire test shots from the Tiger platform with the FZ equipment opens up new opportunities for the APKWS rocket, which is currently available to international customers through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program. The APKWS rocket is the U.S. Department of Defense’s only fully qualified guided 2.75-inch (70mm) rocket that uses semi-active laser guidance technology.

More information on the APKWS rocket can be found at

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