By Courtney Howard
CHINA LAKE NAVAL WEAPONS CENTER, Calif.–U.S. Marine Corps aviators have completed their operational assessment of the BAE Systems Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS), which scored eight direct hits in eight shots in January and February. 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, is intended to provide aviators with a precise weapon against soft and lightly armored targets while minimizing collateral damage. APKWS will prove useful in urban areas and situations in which non-combatants or friendly forces are near hostile targets.
The Marine Corps. AH-1W Cobra attack helicopter, shown above, used the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System in recent tests.
Marine AH-1W Cobra attack helicopters fired laser-guided APKWS rockets with live warheads to hit targets in January while flying a variety of scenarios. “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,” Sale continues. “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 APKWS development is to qualify the system for conditions in which it might be employed, transported, and stored. The Navy (parent service of the Marine Corps) may enter low-rate initial production within the next two or three months.
“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.”