BAE Systems is confident that by 2015 its precision rocket guidance system will be operational with the US Army.
The Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) is already in the inventory of the US Navy (USN) and is used on board the US Marine Corps' Bell UH-1Y Venoms and AH-1W Cobras in Afghanistan.
BAE carried out testing of the weapon on board the US Army AH-64 D/E Apache at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona in 2013 under a military utility assessment, which resulted in some minor modifications made to the system.
“This is going to be really easily integrated into the Apache,” Dave Harrold, director of precision guided solutions at BAE, says. “I feel pretty bullish about the US Army buying APKWS in 2015.”
APKWS typically uses the Hydra 70 unguided rocket, and there is a budget line for this which includes APKWS, Harrold notes.
“It is likely that the first platform will be the Apache, but I can’t speak on behalf of the army.”
APKWS effectively adds a precision-guided capability to an unguided 70mm rocket, and fills the gap between these rockets and advanced missiles such as the Lockheed Martin Hellfire.
Harrold says that APKWS is one third of the price of a Hellfire and also one third of the weight, so more of the weapons can be stowed onboard.
A joint technology demonstration between the USN and the US Air Force demonstrated the weapon on board fixed wing aircraft, including the A-10, AV-8B and F-16, a marketing avenue that BAE is also pursuing.