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Delivering On-Target Effectiveness and PGM Innovation

BAE Systems’ air-to-ground, ground-launched, and naval / maritime Precision-Guided Munitions (PGMs) use advanced technologies to consistently and effectively hit a variety of targets in complex and contested environments from long distances, supporting land, air, and sea missions across every branch of the military.  We deliver scalable, affordable precision fires systems and munitions that increase lethality and tactical proficiency in the battle space, while denying adversary response and decreasing potential collateral damage.

With over 40 years of precision-guided munitions expertise and global resources to support mission-ready capabilities where and when they are needed most, BAE Systems provides modular, accurate, combat-proven PGM solutions. As a result, we are uniquely positioned to integrate munitions into a range of weapons platforms in the air, on the ground, and on water, with particular expertise in munitions handling, interior ballistics, and fire control.

Leading the World in Precision-Guided Munitions

Our precision-guided munitions deliver lethality and precision against stationary and moving targets, with reduced collateral damage and first-hit cost effectiveness, but our portfolio of PGM products assures much more. More reliability in contested and guidance-jammed areas, more counter-swarm multi-target defeat capabilities, and more capacity for multi-mission missile launches. There is extreme flexibility in every PGM product we develop, including:

  • APKWS® laser-guidance kit : A mid-body guidance section that transforms a standard unguided 2.75-inch (70 mm) rocket into a precision laser-guided rocket.
  • BONUS: Artillery-launched ammunition containing two sensor-fused sub-munitions for defeating armored vehicles including self-propelled artillery.
  • Hypervelocity Projectile (HVP): Capable of executing multiple missions, provides lethality and performance enhancements to current and future land and naval gun systems.
  • Integrated GPS Anti-jam System (IGAS): IGAS is a small, low-cost, and highly reliable system specifically designed to meet the mission needs of missile and munitions applications.
  • Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) RF Sensor : Guidance technology capable of autonomously detecting and identifying targets for this next-generation missile.
  • Long Range Precision Guidance Kit (LR-PGK) : Our PGK with GPS anti-jam technology corrects inherent ballistic errors of high-explosive and rocket-assist artillery projectiles to deliver long range precision fires.
  • NavFire™ GPS receiver : NavFire is a 24-channel, dual-frequency, all-in-view receiver.
  • NavStorm™+ GPS Receiver : A small, low-power, G-hardened, SAASM-based GPS receiver with integrated five-channel anti-jam.
  • NavStrike™ GPS receiver : NavStrike's low cost, small size, high accuracy and high reliability are key to mission success in missile and munition applications.
  • Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) seeker: Guidance technology for the U.S. Army anti-ballistic missile defense system, which is designed to shoot down short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase by intercepting them with a hit-to-kill approach.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) seeker enables hit-to-kill engagements of short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

Capabilities: How do Precision-Guided Munitions work?

Although technologically complex, precision-guided munitions actually consist of three core parts – the armament that fires an explosive munition, the targeting system that guides it, and an anti-jamming device to prevent adversaries from interfering with the guidance signals.

Our advanced precision-guided munitions solutions continually push the envelope of integrating ordnance and munitions with electronic warfare (EW) technologies for a next-generation PGM portfolio that includes:

Artillery and Ammunition Systems. BAE Systems is the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for the:

  • M777 Lightweight Towed 155mm Howitzer
  • M109A6/A7 Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzer
  • M1299 Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA)
  • Mk 45 Naval Gun System

Targeting Technologies. With every new generation of products, as well as in legacy upgrades, BAE Systems uses industry-leading technologies to take PGMs further into the future, including:

  • Low size, weight, and power, and programmable microelectronics
  • Sensors, antennas, and arrays 
    • Semi-autonomous electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) navigation
    • Radar antenna
    • Multi-function radio frequency (RF) arrays
  • GPS-enabled targeting
  • Command guidance fire control

Anti-Jamming Capabilities. The costs of highly sophisticated technologies have fallen dramatically in recent years, making signal-jamming systems more accessible than ever to both state and non-state actors around the world. As a world leader in EW technologies and product development, we also leverage our machine learning and cognitive processing expertise to take anti-jamming further than ever before, for more continuously accurate, mission-critical PGM targeting even in signal-denying environments.

Next-Generation Development of Precision-Guided Munitions

The evolving battle space requires smart precision-guided munitions to stay ahead of rapidly growing threats, and our research and development programs reflect the special interest in Long-Range Precision Fires (LRPF) expressed by the U.S. Department of Defense (USDoD). BAE Systems is at the forefront of PGM innovation and low-cost solutions, and is continuing to invest heavily in future technologies.

BAE Systems knows the importance of hitting a target on the first shot and with reduced collateral damage. Often, you only get one shot, so we make sure every shot counts by maximizing PGM effectiveness for the demands of the battle space, including:

  • Effectiveness in RF- and GPS-denied environments
  • Modular flexibility for use in multiple missions
  • Secure network connectivity
  • High rate of fire

Advancing PGM technology and innovation

BAE Systems develops PGM solutions that pair our market-leading guidance, navigation, and control telemetry technology with existing munitions. These innovations empower our customers to achieve accuracy across a variety of missions with:

  • Scalability for future upgrades that can improve effectiveness and extend PGM lifecycles
  • Highly-optimized manufacturing to assure quality and availability
  • Modeling and simulation
  • Adaptive processing and signals intelligence
  • Visual guidance (scene/target matching)

Benefits of our Precision-Guided Munitions

Conflicts today demand smarter firepower with greater range – a trend that will continue in the future. We deliver exceptional precision-guided munitions capabilities that give airmen, soldiers, sailors, and Marines a tactical advantage in every scenario, providing:

  • Cost effectiveness
    • Accurate first-hit defeat to increase lethality while reducing collateral damage, mission cost, and logistics costs 
    • Compatibility with existing munition and weapon systems
    • Affordability and light, compact design, so more weapons can be taken into combat
  • Versatile/Multi-service flexibility
  • Increased range effectiveness
  • Minimal training requirements or costs

Frequently asked questions

What are Precision-Guided Munitions?

By definition, a Precision-Guided Munition (PGM) is an explosive missile, rocket, or bomb that is guided by a “seeker” control system using a laser guidance beam, a global positioning system (GPS), and/or an integrated inertial navigation system for highly-accurate acquisition of military targets. Also commonly known as “smart bombs,” PGMs can be launched from the air, the ground, or ship and can change flight direction based on new information inputs about where it is going. PGMs typically serve two equally important goals – to degrade or destroy very specific targets to eliminate key threats, and to minimize collateral damage to noncombatants, materiel, and facilities that are located near those targets. Because both of these goals are paramount, the PGM’s ordnance, targeting systems, and anti-jamming technologies all have equal roles to perform in assuring mission success.

The unit cost of individual precision-guided munitions is considerably higher than that of traditional unguided bombs, since each one includes a guidance system as well as the ordnance itself. However, the formidable accuracy of PGMs also means that significantly fewer of them are required to achieve mission success; fewer military aircraft, vehicles, ships, and personnel are put at risk; and the target areas also suffer considerably less destruction, including among nearby noncombatants.  In fact, in some cases, using a minimum number of PGMs can potentially prevent the need for a much more destructive widespread invasion, counterattack, or an attack with unguided munitions.

In addition, increased sophistication of air defenses and anti-ship missiles by key global powers has also raised calls for PGMs that can launch from greater distances and operate in denied environments, known as Long Range Precision Fires, or LRPFs. That’s why world-class expertise and resources in each of these areas are essential to developing PGMs for continued dominance in the future.

What is the history of Precision-Guided Munitions?

The core difference between smart Precision-Guided Munitions (PGMs) and unguided or “dumb” munitions is the ability to guide them remotely, or program them to guide themselves autonomously. This capability may sound as if it’s a recent development, but remotely-guided and autonomous weapons and vehicles were first developed in the late 19th century. For example, a radio-controlled, self-propelled “boat” was designed by Nikola Tesla to carry torpedoes for the purpose of navigating up to an adversary’s large navy ship and releasing the explosives to be detonated remotely, inflicting lethal damage to the target with little risk to the operator and limited collateral damage. Tesla’s invention was more of a “remotely-guided” munition than a “precision-guided” one, but inventions like his created a foundation for this class of weapons.

Development of remotely-controlled and autonomous precision-guided munitions continued in the early 20th century, finally gaining more viability in World War II. Germany used wireless, radio-controlled “gliding bombs” – the Ruhrstahl SD1400X and Henschel Hs293A guided missiles – launched from aircraft to damage and occasionally sink British, Italian, and American warships. They also introduced the V-1 Rocket – the “flying bomb” – in World War II, but it had no guidance system. The V-2 Rocket, however, did have a guidance system and was the world’s first ballistic missile.

The U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force also developed guided weapons and remotely-controlled vehicles during World War II, in both Europe and the Pacific. This included the TDR-1 Torpedo Drone, which was guided remotely by crews aboard TBF-1 Avenger control planes, as well as the autonomous ASM-2 BAT glide bomb, which was guided by a stabilizing gyroscope and radar. These and related inventions were developed in the 1940s by Special Task Air Group One (STAG-1) within the U.S. Navy’s Special Air Task Force (SATFOR) and not only were both effective, especially against Japanese ships and anti-aircraft facilities, but they also paved the way for ship-launched, submarine-launched, and air-to-ground cruise missiles in the Vietnam War era, the Gulf War of the 1990s, and beyond.

These evolving munitions employ and often combine a range of guidance technologies – Infrared Guidance, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Inertial Navigation Systems (INS), Semi-Active Lasers, Radar Homing, autonomous Digital Scene Matching Area Correlation (DSMAC) systems, Time of Arrival (TOA) controls, and more – but they were all designed to apply lethality to very specific targets while causing as little collateral damage as possible.

Today, increased sophistication of air defense systems, anti-ship missiles, and other Anti Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) systems around the world have caused the U.S. DoD to put a greater emphasis on Long Range Precision Fires (LRPF) munitions development. These longer-range PGMs have required further advancement of both guidance systems and propulsion technologies, and are deployed by the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps to enhance each branch’s operational utility without increasing risk to U.S. forces. Similar programs have been initiated several by U.S. allied nations with minor reconfigurations made for implementation in their own air and naval fleets.

What types of Precision-Guided Munitions are in use today?

Over 21 countries around the world, in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Latin America are known to have their own Precision-Guided Munitions (PGM) program.

The capabilities of those programs vary significantly from country to country, but today are overall broken out as Air-Launched (or Air-to-Ground), Ground-Launched, and Ship-Launched PGMs. In the United States, those include (alphabetically):

Air-Launched (Air-to-Ground) PGMs

  • AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM)
  • AGM-114 Hellfire Missile
  • AGM-158A/B Joint Air-to-Surface Strike Missile (JASSM)
  • AGM-158C Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM)
  • AGM-169 Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM)
  • AGR-20A APKWS® Laser-Guided Rocket
  • GBU-10/12/16/58 Paveway Laser-Guided Bomb
  • GBU-31/32 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM)
  • GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB)
  • GBU-53 Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II)

Ground-Launched PGMs

  • AGR-20A APKWS® Laser-Guided Rocket
  • Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS)
  • Bofors 155mm BONUS Smart Artillery System
  • Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS)
  • Precision Strike Missile (PrSM)

Naval PGMs

  • Naval Strike Missile (NSM)
  • Standard Missile-6 (SM-6)
  • Tomahawk Block IV Cruise Missile

Redefining Precision with APKWS

Ground-launched APKWS® laser...

• Compatible with all fielded ground designators
• Low cost, high-volume production, and high reliability
• Pinpoint accuracy

Related Topics to explore

Autonomous Guidance Systems • Cannon-launched Guided Projectiles • Guidance and Control • Hybrid GPS-INS Guidance • Infrared-guided electro-optical munitions • Joint Air Power Competence Center (JAPCC) • Laser-guided bombs • Laser infrared Guided Rocket (LiGR) • Missile Guidance • Network-Enabled Weapons (NEW) • PGM Drone • Precision-Guided Ammunition • Radio-controlled weapons • Satellite-Guided Weapons • Smart Bombs • Smart Munition • Smart Weapons • Seekers • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

Learn more about the Precision-Guided munitions today. Contact our Electronic Systems representative to arrange a meeting.

This information page is provided as a service to our readers by BAE Systems, Inc., a U.S.-based world leader in aerospace, defense, power, and intelligence solutions. Learn more about us here.


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