NASHUA, N.H., Aug. 14 (UPI) -- A kit that adds laser guidance to the Hydra 70 rocket is to enter full-rate production following authorization to BAE Systems by the U.S. Navy.
The Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System has been in use aboard U.S. Marine helicopters in Afghanistan since March.
"BAE Systems designed the APKWS technology to fill the gap between the Hellfire missile and unguided rockets," said John Watkins, director of Precision Guidance Solutions for BAE Systems.
"Today, the weapon is doing its job providing our warfighters with a precise and reliable rapid-fire missile system, especially effective in the difficult terrain of Afghanistan."
The APKWS is a mid-body guidance unit that is 2.75 inches long. It provides the capability to engage enemy targets in areas where the threat of non-combat causalities and collateral damage prevented warfighters from doing so in the past.
"Full-rate production of this capability is important because it means more APKWS units will be available to U.S. military forces and select countries," said Navy Capt. Brian Corey, APKWS program manager. "This highly effective weapon allows aviators to complete their missions while minimizing the risk of harm to allies and non-combatants."
BAE noted an APKWS-equipped Hydra 70 rocked is about one-third of the cost and one-third the weight of other forward-firing laser-guided precision munitions.