BAE Systems has successfully tested its Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) laser-guided rocket. The precision strike tests were held against a Class 2 Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). APKWS was recently upgraded and the company claims the weapon’s distance has been extended by up to 30%, and the rocket can now strike a target at a steeper angle of attack than previous guidance systems.
The APKWS guidance kit transforms an unguided rocket into a precision-guided system that does not need to lock on the target before launch, as it relies on semi-active laser guidance optics that activate on launch. Once fired, the wings deploy, and the Distributed Aperture Semi-Active Laser Seeker (DASALS) seeker optics lock-in, guiding the rocket to the target. The system can be launched from rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft and unmanned platforms to hit ground, air or sea-based targets.
APKWS rockets’ exceptional counter-UAS capability is due to its innovative proximity fuse which was jointly developed by L3Harris Technologies and Technology Service Corporation. The fuse combines target proximity detection and point detonation capabilities, allowing APKWS rockets to destroy UASs without the need for actually hitting them.
“Unmanned Aerial Vehicles of all sizes are a growing threat increasingly deployed by adversaries around the globe,” said Greg Procopio, director of Precision Guidance and Sensing Systems at BAE Systems. “The flexibility and affordability of APKWS rockets make them a good choice for taking out small, tactical military drones. Our successful test strikes demonstrate the creativity of our engineers and innovative and economical use of existing DoD materiel to address an emerging threat.”
For the demonstration, BAE took a 70mm/2.75 inch test rocket combined with standard M151 warheads and Mk66 motors with APKWS precision guidance kits and a proximity fuze, enabling them to engage and destroy airborne drones at a fraction of the cost of traditional counter-UAS (C-UAS) strike capabilities. The key to The company’s APKWS guidance kit transforms unguided rockets into precision-guided munitions that gives rotary- and fixed-wing military aircraft a low-cost surgical strike capability. APKWS rockets have the flexibility to strike a variety of stationary and to move targets from planes, helicopters, ground vehicles, boats, and remote weapon stations.