Laser-guided rocket closer to deployment

March 16, 2012 at 9:32 AM
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YUMA, Ariz., March 16 (UPI) -- Initial operational testing and evaluation of the U.S. military's semi-active, laser-guided, 2.75-inch rocket was completed by the U.S. Marine Corps.

The testing involved firing rockets from AH-1W and UH-1Y helicopters at stationary and moving targets from varying distances and in varying combat scenarios.

"APKWS has successfully completed more than 80 shots in the past few months," said John Watkins, director of Missile and Munitions Solutions for BAE Systems in Nashua, New Hampshire, where the mid-body guidance section is built.

"This testing is the culmination of a highly successful development effort among BAE Systems, our partners and suppliers and the U.S. government.

"These shots demonstrate that APKWS will make a difference in allowing aviators to do their jobs and come home safely."

APKWS stands for Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System. The system transforms a standard 2.75-inch unguided rocket into a laser-guided missile that is effective against targets while reducing collateral damage, the company said.

It is an "unpack and shoot" weapon that uses standard rocket launchers as well as the existing warheads, fuses and rocket motors that currently exist in inventory.

It is being deployed in Afghanistan this month.

"APKWS is a highly effective and affordable weapon that will allow aviators to complete their missions while minimizing the risk of harm to allies and non-combatants," said U.S. Navy Capt. Brian Corey, program manager, PMA-242. "We are looking forward to bringing APKWS forward to our Marines in combat."

BAE Systems has been the prime contractor for the APKWS since 2008. To date, 400 production systems have been added to the Navy's weapons inventory.

In addition to the Marine helicopters, the rocket has been successfully fired from U.S. Army helicopters and is being viewed for use on U.S. Air Force and Navy planes and unmanned aerial vehicles.

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