BAE Systems revamps standard rockets to take out drones
BAE Systems has destroyed drones at the Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona using standard rockets equipped with the company's Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) and an advanced proximity fuse – an approach the company says costs much less than conventional drone countermeasures.
As drones of all sizes become more common on the battlefield and in terrorist or criminal situations, countering them has developed into an arms race to find defenses that are not only effective, but affordable. One example of this is BAE Systems' project to adapt its APKWS to turn standard dumb rockets into intelligent Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS) weapons.
In this case, the objective is to take on Class 2 UASs, which are drones like the ScanEagle that weigh 21 to 55 lb (9.52 to 25 kg), and fly under 3,500 ft (1,000 m) at under 250 knots (288 mph, 493 km/h).
To do this, BAE took a 70-mm test rocket equipped with M151 warheads and Mk66 motors and added APKWS guidance kits. The APKWS uses four fins for both mounting the Distributed Aperture Semi-Active Laser Seeker (DASALS) sensors and guiding the rocket in flight. In response to a targeting laser, the system can compute the optimum angle of attack and steer the rocket for an intercept.
According to BAE, the APKWS doesn't need to lock onto the target before the rocket is launched. Instead, the rocket can already be in flight as the semi-active laser guidance optics activate, then acquire and lock on, allowing for faster launching.
The other innovation is to replace the M423 impact fuse with a new proximity fuse jointly developed by L3Harris Technologies and Technology Service Corporation. This fuse detonates on both a grazing impact and within close proximity of the drone, increasing the chances of a kill without the need for actually hitting it.
"Unmanned Aerial Vehicles of all sizes are a growing threat increasingly deployed by adversaries around the globe," says 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 an innovative and economical use of existing DoD material to address an emerging threat."
Source: BAE Systems