BAE Systems’ advanced APKWS guidance kits improve rocket range and impact

The British aerospace company, BAE Systems, has developed an improved version of its Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) laser guidance kit that converts dumb rockets into precision-guided munitions. The combat-proven APKWS guidance kit offers enhanced strike distance and precision strike lethality.

According to BAE Systems, the upgrade improves the effective range of APKWS guided rockets by up to 30%, allowing warfighters to engage targets from a greater standoff distance with improved survivability. In addition to the increasing range, the new APKWI can perform attacks from a more closed angle.

The APKWS is a compact package that fits between the standard rocket motor and the standard warhead of a 2.75-inch-diameter (70-mm) Hydra 70 unguided rocket. The weapon can be fired from a wide variety of fixed- and rotor-winged aircraft and ground platforms. The current APKWS design has a range of 1.1-5 km (0.68-3.11 miles) when it’s launched from a rotary-wing platform and 2-11 km (1.2-6.8 miles) from a fixed-wing aircraft.

All four guidance wings of the rocket are equipped with Distributed Aperture Semi-Active Laser Seeker (DASALS) technology sensors. Once fired, the wings deploy, and the optics lock-in, guiding the missile to the target with pinpoint accuracy.

The improved APKWS guidance kits create an optimized flight trajectory that enables the rocket to engage targets at a steeper angle of attack, providing improvements in range and lethality. The optimized attack trajectory improves first-shot success against stationary and moving targets.

Our customers’ precision strike needs are changing,” said John Watkins, vice president and general manager of Precision Strike & Sensing Solutions at BAE Systems. “We’re focused on evolving APKWS guidance kits to provide them with a more capable low-cost product that’s easy to use and known for its accuracy.

Thanks to its modular design, the APKWS requires no modifications of the Hydra 70 rocket to be installed, nor does the aircraft carrying it need to be altered. It has established itself as a low-cost, high-efficiency precision-guided weapon for the US military. The initial production of APKWS block upgrade guidance kits is expected to start in the third quarter of 2021.

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