BAE Systems' next-gen kit improves range of laser-guided rockets
BAE Systems has revealed the latest iteration of its Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) laser guidance kit that converts dumb rockets into precision munitions. The modifications increase the effective range of APKWS-guided rockets by 30 percent and introduce the ability to strike at a greater angle of attack.
First seeing service with the US armed forces in 2012, the APKWS is designed to take on soft or lightly armored targets. It's a compact package that fits between the standard rocket motor and the standard warhead of a 2.75-inch-diameter (70-mm) Hydra 70 unguided rocket. Capable of being fired from a wide variety of fixed- and rotor-winged aircraft as well as ground platforms, the APKWS deploys four fins while in flight for both sensing and guidance.
The leading edges of these fins are equipped with Distributed Aperture Semi-Active Laser Seeker (DASALS) technology sensors that detect laser light illuminating the target in a 40-degree field of vision without the need for a special sensor package being fitted in the nose of the warhead. Once locked on, the kit computes the optimum angle of attack and steers the rocket in for impact.
One third the cost and weight of comparable laser guidance systems, the modular APKWS is the only US program of record for guiding 2.75-inch laser-guided rockets. With its improved capabilities, the new version increases the odds of a first-shot hit against both stationary and moving targets to above 93 percent, as well as improving training and logistical features.
Because of its modular design, the APKWS requires no modifications of the Hydra 70 rocket to be installed, nor does the aircraft carrying it need to be altered. Production of the new version is expected to begin later this year.
“Our customers’ precision strike needs are changing,” says John Watkins, vice president and general manager of Precision Strike & Sensing Solutions at BAE Systems. “We’re focused on evolving APKWS guidance kits to provide them with a more capable low-cost product that’s easy to use and known for its accuracy.”
Source: BAE Systems