NASHUA, N.H., 28 Feb. 2012. BAE Systems staff tested the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS), billed as a low-cost weapon system for reconnaissance and attack, on a fixed-wing aircraft. Guided by a semi-active laser, the U.S. military’s Hydra rocket was fired off a Hawker Beechcraft AT-6C from a range of three miles and struck within inches of the center of its laser spot target.
The APKWS flight test, held in late Jan. at the Eglin AFB test range, Fla., demonstrated the “unpack and shoot” flexibility of the weapon system. That is, BAE Systems personnel were able to convert unguided Hydras supplied by the U.S. Air Force into APKWS-guided munitions and load them onto the aircraft. The process of assembling two test rounds, loading them into the aircraft launchers, flying the mission, and completing the shot took three hours.
“The user can plug and play with the existing components, and point and shoot this weapon system like a regular Hydra rocket.”,” says Roy Rumbaugh, program manager for Missiles & Munitions Solutions at BAE Systems in Nashua, N.H., where the laser guidance section is built. “APKWS has proved itself to be precise, affordable, versatile, and lethal.”
“APKWS had never been integrated on this aircraft before. This independent test on the AT-6C was the first demonstration of the APKWS capability on a fixed-wing aircraft for the fixed-wing community,” Rumbaugh adds.
BAE Systems engineers are upgrading the APKWS design to operate in the expanded flight envelopes of high-performance Navy and Air Force aircraft under contract for the Fixed-Wing APKWS Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) program, says a representative. The APKWS previously concentrated on rotary-wing aircraft, including the AH-1W Cobra and the UH-1Y Huey, as well as the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior.