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Marine aviators complete operational assessment of advanced Precision Kill Weapon System

Posted by Courtney Howard

CHINA LAKE, Calif., 10 Feb. 2010. U.S. Marine Corps aviators have completed their operational assessment of BAE Systems' Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System , which scored eight direct hits in eight shots over the past two weeks. The operational assessment provides Marine aviators the opportunity to "test drive" the system before it is deployed and to confirm that the laser-guided, 2.75-inch rocket will meet their needs in combat.

APKWS, developed by BAE Systems in partnership with the U.S. government, provides aviators with a precise weapon that is effective against soft and lightly armored targets while minimizing collateral damage. APKWS will prove important in urban areas and situations in which non-combatants or friendly forces are near hostile targets.

In a series of shots fired during the weeks of Jan. 11 and 18, Marine AH-1W Cobra helicopters flying a variety of scenarios fired laser-guided APKWS rockets at targets typical of those encountered in theater. Live warheads were fitted to the APKWS guidance section, and in day and night tests, the guided rockets struck their laser-designated targets and detonated on impact, reveals a representative.

"The APKWS operational assessment has demonstrated the system's effectiveness in a variety of scenarios involving various targets, platform speeds, ranges, and tactics," says Maj. Matt Sale, requirements officer for Marine Corps Aviation Weapons. "The system's reliability has been proven with its 19-for-19 performance in tests, exceeding requirements and expectations. We are confident that APKWS is the right-size weapon for many of our typical engagements and will be highly effective in allowing Marine aviators to prosecute targets."

The final step in the APKWS development program is system qualification against the envelope of environments in which it might be employed, transported, and stored. That testing is expected to be finalized in time to allow the Navy to complete a production decision within the next 60 days. From there, the system is expected to enter low-rate initial production.

"Any time I have the opportunity to talk to our men and women in uniform, I hear about the pressing need for the capability afforded by APKWS," says John Watkins, director of missiles and munitions for BAE Systems in Nashua, N.H. "This weapon will make a real difference in allowing U.S. warfighters to complete their missions and come home safely."

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.

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