BAE Systems has conducted precision strike tests of advanced precision kill weapon system (APKWS) laser-guided rockets at Yuma Proving Grounds in the US.

The rockets were tested to demonstrate their counter strike capabilities against Class 2 uncrewed aerial systems (UAS).

During the tests, the 2.75in test rockets were integrated with standard M151 warheads and Mk66 motors with APKWS precision guidance kits and a proximity fuse.

The rockets successfully engaged and destroyed airborne threats (drones) at a rate of the cost of strike capabilities of traditional counter-UAS (C-UAS).

BAE Systems Precision Guidance and Sensing Systems director Greg Procopio said: “Unmanned aerial vehicles of all sizes are a growing threat increasingly deployed by adversaries around the globe.

“The flexibility and affordability of APKWS rockets make them a good choice for taking out small, tactical military drones.

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“Our successful test strikes demonstrate the creativity of our engineers and an innovative and economical use of existing DoD materiel to address an emerging threat.”

The test fires and engineering tests were conducted as part of the company’s efforts to provide the US armed forces and allies with a capable system.

According to BAE, the proximity fuse is very crucial to APKWS rockets’ counter-UAS capability. It is jointly developed by L3Harris Technologies and Technology Service Corporation.

It integrates target proximity detection and point detonation capabilities and is a ‘drop-in replacement’ for current M423 fuses in use.

In May 2018, BAE secured a $175m contract from the US Navy for the delivery of more than 7,000 APKWS laser-guided rockets.

The deal has been awarded under a previous $600m indefinite delivery / indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract that was initially signed in 2016.

The original IDIQ contract covered the delivery of cost-efficient APKWS rockets to the US Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force, and other allied nations.

BAE’s latest APKWS kits convert the standard 2.75in rockets into precision munitions by mounting a guidance kit between the warhead and the engine of an unguided rocket.

The APKWSs are currently the only guided 2.75in rockets qualified for use by the US Department of Defense (DoD).