Pulse news magazine

Volume 20, August 2017

Painting the next masterpiece

There is competition here, but we are well positioned for that.
Like gliding a paintbrush across an empty canvas, the possibilities were endless

With no lines within which to color, BAE Systems’ Electronic Systems (ES) put paint to brush and came up with a design that no one saw coming: a mid-body guidance kit that fit neatly between the warhead and motor of a Hydra rocket called the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS™) laser-guided rocket.

The design made the Hydra rocket one of the most precise guided munitions on the market today. Now ES is ready to paint its next masterpiece, developing the next wave of guidance kits that will add precision to a range of existing munitions.

“With all our capabilities, we have the ability to take the whole mission,” said David Harrold, Business Development director for Survivability, Targeting & Sensing Solutions. “We have a history of developing disruptive technology.”

ES is no stranger to adding guidance to munitions, with more than 35 years of experience. It has built a legacy with programs such as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and the Small Glide Munition (SGM) currently in production for the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). BAE Systems also successfully developed and tested seeker guidance systems for a family of long range ballistic missile interceptors with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and for the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) with the U.S. Army.

The APKWS rocket builds on that legacy, as the most affordable and precise weapon in its class. That combination is one BAE Systems is hoping to mimic as it takes the next step in developing new guidance technology for today’s munitions.

“We have the disruptive technology to change the game,” said Harrold. “APKWS is a prime example. That design was disruptive because no one else had one like it.”

The business hit the mark last year with its selection to begin development on a solution for the U.S. Army’s Precision Guidance Kit II (PGK) program. Since then, it has added to that success, developing units for the High Explosive Guided Mortar (HEGM) program for the U.S. Army.

“We are a real player in this market,” said Dave Richards, program manager for Survivability, Targeting & Sensing Solutions. “There is competition here, but we are well positioned for that.”

Today’s soldiers need to accurately engage targets at greater ranges without giving away their position. At the same time, they need guided projectiles that operate in GPS-denied environments. Too expensive to miss, these munitions need to hit their intended target the first time. It also helps if they can easily integrate and network with one another.

“What the customer doesn’t want is a different quiver for every arrow,” said Harrold. “It needs to be modular and scalable – that’s what they’re asking for.”

From rockets to mortars, ES is aiming to meet these needs with solutions that strike intended targets at a price its customers can afford. One thing is for sure, ES isn’t afraid of an empty canvas. “We started with a blank sheet of paper with APKWS and met the capability,” said Richards. “We are looking to remain that value leader - we think that’s a match in this market.”

By Anthony DeAngelis, Communications, Merrimack, New Hampshire