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BAE’s laser-guidance counter-drone system passes field testing

29 Mar 2023

U.S. Defense division’s successful test strikes pave the way for international fielding.

The U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office (JCO) has successfully tested BAE Systems’ latest APKWS laser-guidance kits in a counter-unmanned aircraft systems (C-UAS) mission. BAE says the testing against Class-2 UAS “paves the way for fielding of the precision-guided rockets to partner nations around the globe”.

APKWS (Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System) transforms unguided rockets into smart munitions for precision strikes on soft and lightly armored targets. A newly developed proximity fuze for the standard M151 warhead allows the laser-guidance kits to target Class 2 and Class 3 drones, which typically weigh less than 25 kg (55 pounds).

The fuze retains the legacy point denotation capability for maximum flexibility of the weapon in the field. APKWS now enables rockets to engage and destroy drones at a fraction of the cost of existing C-UAS systems with unprecedented precision.

‘100 percent effectiveness’

During the Department of Defense-led exercise at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, the 70mm APKWS-guided rockets demonstrated 100 percent effectiveness when fired against 11 kg to 23 kg (25 to 50 pounds) drones traveling at more than 160 kmh (100 mph). The APKWS C-UAS solution is platform agnostic, permitting multiple options to accelerate fielding.

Aimee D’Onofrio, a director of Precision Guidance and Sensing Solutions at BAE Systems, commented, “This is a solution that comes at a remarkably affordable price point, and with APKWS already at full-rate production, we can ramp up to 25,000 units per year to make an immediate impact.”

APKWS laser-guidance kits are produced at BAE Systems’ state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Hudson, New Hampshire. The kits are available to all U.S. armed forces, as well as allies via Foreign Military Sales.

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