The U.S. Navy has authorized full-rate production of the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS®), BAE Systems’ affordable and versatile laser-guided rocket system. Under the contract, the company will make deliveries to support the U.S. Marine Corps, which is already effectively utilizing APKWS in theater.
“Our APKWS technology has been successfully used in combat numerous times since its deployment in March,” said John Watkins, director of Precision Guidance Solutions for BAE Systems. “BAE Systems designed the APKWS technology to fill the gap between the Hellfire missile and unguided rockets. Today, the weapon is doing its job providing our warfighters with a precise and reliable rapid-fire missile system, especially effective in the difficult terrain of Afghanistan.”
APKWS converts the Hydra 70 unguided rocket into a laser-guided rocket through the addition of a mid-body guidance unit developed by BAE Systems. The system, which is the only 2.75-inch (70 mm) laser-guided rocket program of record for the U.S. government, allows armed forces to accurately engage targets in areas where the threat of non-combat causalities and collateral damage prevented warfighters from doing so in the past.
“Full-rate production of this capability is important because it means more APKWS units will be available to U.S. military forces and select countries,” said Navy Capt. Brian Corey, APKWS program manager. “This highly effective weapon allows aviators to complete their missions while minimizing the risk of harm to allies and non-combatants.”
In addition to being precise, the weapon is affordable and versatile. APKWS is approximately one-third of the cost and one-third of the weight of the existing inventory of forward firing laser-guided precision munitions and takes one quarter of the time for ordnance personnel to use. The weapon can be fired from any helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft that can fire Hydra 70 rockets and BAE Systems is supporting U.S. government plans to expand its use to other platforms including the MQ-8B Fire Scout and the armed MH-60S.
The highly-precise weapon system was shot for the first time in March from AH-1W and UH-1Y helicopters supporting Marine Corps ground forces during combat operations in Afghanistan. The system’s semi-active laser guidance section performance in the field has illustrated the product’s exceptional capability to engage and penetrate complex targets.
BAE Systems is the government’s prime contractor for APKWS, and will deliver its 925th initial production system to the Navy in September. APKWS is also available to the U.S. allied forces through foreign military sales.