NASHUA, N.H., March 7 (UPI) -- BAE Systems in New Hampshire is expanding a weapons system for helicopters to include fixed-wing U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marines aircraft.
BAE said the contract for its Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System was issued by the U.S. Navy and is valued at $19.7 million.
The APKWS, developed in partnership with the U.S. government, will be used by Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and U.S. Marine Corps AV-88s.
APKWS is for use against soft and lightly armored targets.
The contract calls for analysis and prediction of APKWS performance when launched from the fixed-wing platforms as well as any minor design improvements to support the expanded flight envelope of the higher performance aircraft and reduce the recurring product unit cost.
"This important program will culminate in aircraft flight test firings of 16 performance shots, 14 military utility assessment shots, and the delivery of 50 units for further evaluation of enhanced mission capability," said Roy Rumbaugh, program manager for BAE Systems in Nashua, N.H., where the APKWS guidance section is built.
The Navy declared APKWS ready for production last April and the Marine Corps will initially deploy APKWS from AH-1W Cobra helicopters.
BAE said APKWS is a low-cost alternative to air-launched munitions currently in inventory. Because it uses standard launchers, APKWS requires no platform integration or aircraft modifications and because it is loaded and fired like a standard 2.75-inch rocket, it requires little additional aviator or ordnance crew training.
The mid-body design of its guidance section enables use of existing warheads, fuses, and rocket motors, enhancing the capability of the existing 100,000-unit inventory of unguided rockets, the company said.