BAE Systems has successfully concluded its first ground-based test firings for the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS), the company announced on 1 June.

The proof-of-concept testing demonstrated the flexibility of laser-guided APKWS rockets to deliver standoff precision strike capabilities for ground forces, providing a unique solution for engaging targets with greater range than small arms fire and without the need for air support. The tests took place at the US Army’s Yuma Proving Ground, in collaboration with the US Navy and launcher manufacturer Arnold Defense, whose FLETCHER 2.75in/70mm Weapon System concept – a purpose-built laser-guided rocket launcher for ground vehicles – was used to fire several successful shots. The ground-launch capability builds on hundreds of successful shots in combat from rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft.

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,” explained 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 customer and partners to deliver that capability.”

Ground-launched APKWS rockets could provide mounted and dismounted units with a unique way to engage soft and lightly-armoured targets from a variety of platforms. Their low size, weight, and power requirements make them ideal for lightweight tactical vehicles, remote weapon stations, non-standard tactical vehicles and stationary platforms, providing users with precision munitions that improve safety and mission effectiveness.

We designed FLETCHER specifically as a ground launcher for precision-guided 70mm rockets,” commented Arnold Defense President & CEO, Jim Hager. “FLETCHER-launched APKWS rockets enable our military customers to engage targets from more than just airborne platforms. We envision FLETCHER being used on everything from trucks and tracked vehicles to marine platforms in the future.”

APKWS laser-guided rockets are the only US government programme of record for precision-guided 70mm rockets. All four US armed services use APKWS rockets, which is also available to US allies via the Foreign Military Sales programme, which currently supports more than a dozen partner nations and interest from other nations.

The APKWS ground-launched tests considerably expand the potential utility of the precision-guided munition system. (Image: BAE Systems)

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