BAE Systems completes first ground-launched test of APKWS laser-guided rockets

On June 1, BAE Systems announced the completion of a series of test shots of APKWS laser-guided rockets from a tactical configuration ground-based weapon system. It is the first time the APKWS rocket has been fired from a tactical ground platform. The success provides warfighters with a unique solution for engaging targets with greater range than small arms fire and without the need for air support.

The tests from the land launcher were carried out with the help of the U.S. Navy and Arnold Defense, a premier manufacturer of rocket launchers, at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground.

During the tests, the team used Arnold’s FLETCHER 2.75-inch/70mm Weapon System concept – a purpose-built laser-guided rocket launcher for ground vehicles – to fire several successful shots. Due to its size, FLETCHER can be installed on a wide range of wheeled and tracked vehicles, which can become an important element of fire support for ground forces.

The APKWS (Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System) rocket is a laser-guided rocket derived from non-guided Hydra 70 rockets. The weapon has approximately one-third the cost and one-third the weight compared to the current inventory of laser-guided weapons.

This 73.8 in (1.87 m) missile with the wingspan of 9.55 in (24.3 cm) and the weight of 32 lb (15 kg), was originally designed to be fired from a wide variety of fixed and rotary-wing aircraft. It has a maximum speed of 3,600 km/h (2,200 mph) and an effective range of up to 5 km (3.11 miles) (a rotary wing) and up to 11 km (6.8 miles) (fixed-wing).

Our customers see the value in low-cost, precision-strike capabilities that reduce the risk of collateral damage, and they want the flexibility to deliver them from the platform of their choice,said Greg Procopio, director of Precision Guidance and Sensing Solutions at BAE Systems. “Demand is growing for ground-to-ground precision munitions that provide a safe standoff distance for small ground units. We’re working closely with our customers and partners to deliver that capability.”

Thanks to guided missiles equipped with the APKWS steering module, ground forces will be able to combat targets beyond the range of small arms without calling for air support. There is currently no information regarding range after firing from a land launcher.