Aviators from the US Marine Corps completed the integrated test phase of the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) program January 5, firing five rounds against stationary and moving targets.
All five shots hit their intended targets within 2 meters of the laser designator’s spot.
In the final series of shots in integrated testing, five laser-guided rockets were fired from a variety of distances from a Marine AH-1W Cobra helicopter. Four of the shots were against moving targets traveling at a range of speeds, while the fifth shot was against a stationary target board.
The program now moves into an assessment of the operational effectiveness of APKWS, which provides aviators with a highly precise, low-yield weapon that is effective against soft and lightly armored targets while causing minimal collateral damage. APKWS was developed by BAE Systems and the U.S. government. Operational assessment is planned to include up to eight shots that are designed by Marine aviators to represent conditions that might be encountered in theater.
“During operational assessment, Marine aviators are getting a chance to ‘test drive’ APKWS before it’s deployed to theater,” said Maj. Matt Sale, requirements officer for Marine Corps Aviation Weapons. “These test shots will confirm that APKWS will be highly effective in allowing Marine aviators to prosecute targets while minimizing the risk of harm to nearby friendly forces and non-combatants.”
Operational assessment is the final testing in the APKWS development program. It will demonstrate the system’s effectiveness in a variety of scenarios, platform speeds, ranges, and tactics against different targets.
“This testing is the culmination of a highly successful development effort among BAE Systems, our partners and suppliers, and the US government,” said Roy Rumbaugh, APKWS program manager for BAE Systems. “These shots demonstrate that APKWS will make a real difference in allowing aviators to complete their missions and come home safely.”
APKWS is a low-cost, low-yield alternative to other air-launched munitions currently in inventory. The system transforms a standard 2.75-inch unguided rocket into a smart, highly precise laser-guided missile. Because it uses standard launchers, APKWS requires no platform integration or aircraft modifications, and because it is loaded and fired just like a standard 2.75-inch rocket, very little additional aviator or ordnance crew training is required. Its design enables use of existing warheads, fuzes, and rocket motors, thus protecting government investment in existing inventory.
APKWS has been demonstrated off Marine Cobra and Army Kiowa helicopters, and can be fired from any helicopter that can launch 2.75-inch rockets, including the UH-1 Huey, and AH-64 Apache. The Navy recently announced its intention to investigate, in cooperation with the U.S. Air Force, the deployment of APKWS from fixed-wing platforms.
The Navy assumed acquisition executive oversight of the program in 2008 and has fully funded it for production. BAE Systems has been the APKWS prime contractor since 2006.