BAE Systems has entered the final phase of testing on its Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS), a technology that increases the accuracy and cost-effectiveness of airborne weapon systems.
The tests seek to confirm the production readiness of the APKWS rocket and its ability to meet Navy and Marine Corps requirements, including safely launching from a helicopter, and reliably acquiring, tracking, and hitting laser-designated targets.
In the most recent testing, a laser-guided rocket fired from a U.S. Marine Corps Cobra helicopter hit a stationary target. This test firing initiated a sequence of more than 20 firings that will comprise the program’s final test phase, to be completed by the end of 2009.
“Shooting APKWS is just like shooting a conventional 2.75-inch rocket, except the APKWS goes exactly where it’s told to go,” said LCDR John “Doc” Dougherty, Navy APKWS deputy program manager.
With completion of this contractor test flight, BAE Systems and the Navy are preparing for Navy demonstration test flights and full government qualification testing. APKWS will enter production in 2010.
“When we enter production, we expect to be the only fully-qualified laser-guided 2.75-inch rocket in the U.S. inventory,” said John Watkins, director of missile and munitions solutions at BAE Systems in Nashua, New Hampshire, where the APKWS guidance section is produced. “We are very proud that APKWS will be in the hands of the warfighters next year.”
APKWS has hit its targets 18 times since September 2002, including five shots from helicopters involving several air crews and various mission scenarios.
The low-cost, low-yield precision munition system turns a standard 2.75-inch unguided rocket to a smart, highly precise laser-guided missile. Because it uses standard launchers, the system requires no platform integration or aircraft modifications, and the mid-body design of its guidance section enables use of existing warheads, fuses, and rocket motors.
APKWS can be fired from any helicopter that can launch 2.75-inch rockets, including the AH-1 Cobra, UH-1 Huey, OH-58 Kiowa Warrior, and AH-64 Apache.
The Navy assumed acquisition executive oversight of the program in 2008 and has fully funded it for production. BAE Systems has been the APKWS prime contractor since 2006.