The company recently signed a $28 million full-rate production contract with options to produce more APKWS rockets for the Navy. The latest award increases the total full-rate production contract value to $69 million and extends production through 2014.
“With this additional Navy order, our Marines in combat will have a continuous supply of APKWS units at their disposal, enhancing their ability to reliably and cost-effectively engage a variety of targets while minimizing collateral damage,” said Joseph Tiano, APKWS program manager at BAE Systems. “The option was exercised quickly, meaning more systems will go directly to the Marines, who are already using the proven precision-strike capability in theater.”
The recent Navy order caps off an impressive year for the APKWS rocket, which completed 10 live-fire tests over water against stationary and moving floating targets off Naval Air Station Point Mugu in California earlier this year. Also in 2012, the system was fired from a Beechcraft AT-6 light attack/trainer aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base as part of an industry-funded demonstration.
The APKWS rocket is one-third of the cost and one-third of the weight of the existing inventory of laser-guided weapons, and is the only Department of Defense fully qualified guided 2.75-inch rocket that uses semi-active laser guidance technology 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 produces the mid-body guidance kit, which changes a standard unguided rocket into a precision laser-guided missile.
More than 100 of the APKWS rockets have been fired in action in Afghanistan since the Marines first deployed the weapon in March 2012. None of the APKWS rockets fired has missed its target due to failure after launch.
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.