The USAF has deployed the use of BAE’s Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System, a semi-active laser guided rocket compatible with existing Hydra unguided rockets to turn them into precision-guided munitions.
While the USAF is deploying the system -which is referred to as LiGR (Laser-infrared Guided Rocket) by the Combined Air and Space Operations Center- for the first time, the US Army has been mounting the rockets to their AH64D helicopters since October 2015, while the US Marines have been using the rockets on their AV8B Harrier IIs since March of this year.
The APKWS system offers the use of the less expensive Hydra 70 rocket system to perform a surgical strike on softer targets where a Hellfire or Maverick AGM might be considered overkill. In addition, the multi-munition per-hardpoint capability of the Hydra pod allows aircraft to carry more guided rockets than AGMs, allowing for more capability in Close Air Support roles.
The USAF is using the rocket system on A-10s and F-16s, which perform admirable CAS roles in Afghanistan and other hotspots around the world.
According to Air Force Technology, BAE Systems precision guidance solutions director David Harrold said that “the APKWS rocket’s innovative ‘plug and play’ design makes it possible to deploy these systems on a variety of platforms.”
“The Navy and Air Force deserve immense credit for streamlining the acquisition process by leveraging an existing Navy programme of record to meet the needs of all our military services”, he said. “We are confident that the addition of this highly accurate, low-collateral-damage weapon system will be a game-changer for F-16 and A-10 users in the US Air Force and around the world.”
Brigadier General Shaun Morris, Eglin Air Force Base’s Program Executive Officer for Weapons said that “the APKWS fixed-wing fielding has been a true display of joint service and contractor teamwork to quickly deliver a capability to meet Air Combat Command fielding requirements while also exceeding Air Force should schedule timelines.”
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