U.S. Marines Field APKWS Guided Rocket in Afghanistan
After several years of testing, the U.S. Marine Corps has deployed the BAE Systems Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) to Afghanistan. The APKWS is a conversion of the Hydra 70-mm unguided rocket into a precision-guided munition through the addition of the WGU-59/B mid-body guidance unit developed by BAE.
The APKWS was shipped to Afghanistan in early March after completing initial operational test and evaluation by the Marines at Yuma, Ariz., BAE said. In the final series of test shots, the laser-guided rockets were fired from AH-1W Super Cobra and UH-1Y Huey helicopters from various distances at moving and stationary targets. The weapon is assembled by removing the warhead, attaching the guidance unit to the rocket motor using existing threads and then re-mounting the warhead to the guidance section. It has also been fired from the U.S. Army’s OH-58 Kiowa Warrior.
“The APKWS has proved its maturity, and soon it will be available to all U.S. military forces and select countries,” said John Watkins, BAE director of Precision Guidance Solutions in Nashua, N.H.
BAE originally was awarded an Army contract in April 2006 for system development and demonstration under the APKWS II program. The Navy assumed acquisition oversight of the program in 2008 and has fully funded it for production, BAE said. The service has accepted 400 production systems into its inventory under the designation WGU-59/B.
In March last year BAE signed a $20 million contract with the Navy to expand application of the APKWS from helicopters to the Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II and Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier. Last September, the Navy awarded Northrop Grumman a $17 million contract to integrate the weapon with the MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter to support an urgent operational needs request. Delivery of an operational system is expected by next March.