The Direct & Time Sensitive Strike Weapons Program Office (PMA-242) has successfully demonstrated the BAE System-built advanced precision kill weapons system (APKWS) fixed wing variant’s robust design, marking the completion of the joint capability technology demonstration (JCTD).
Recently, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) has released a military utility assessment (MUA) report, an official document of the fixed wing (FW) tests’ results, validating the weapon’s performance and reducing safety of flight concerns.
During the guidance section tests, the weapon system validated its design robustness and helped reduce risk in subsequent live-fire tests.
Ground launches and two different aerial launches, performance and MUA shots were involved in the APKWS rocket testing.
PMA-242 programme manager navy captain, Al Mousseau, said the JCTD phase completion marks a step ahead in demonstrating the operational effectiveness for an affordable, fixed wing, forward-firing, air-to-ground, low collateral weapon in support of the close air support mission.
The APKWS weapon underwent JCT trials on the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt, General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon and McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 aircraft.
APKWS is a guided 2.75in rocket and features semi-active laser guidance technology to destroy soft and lightly armoured targets in built-up and confined areas.
The JCTD technical manager Bill Hammersley said the team evaluated the weapons systems’ build up, loading and delivery during the variety of tests, as well as demonstrated its performance, as designed, to hit stationary and moving targets.
"The success of these tests means that an aircraft pilot will be able to carry seven guided rockets in one launcher that weigh less than a single 500lb bomb, allowing for more shots in a single sortie," Hammersley said.
The JCTD completion marks a significant step towards assessing the addition of another variant to the current APKWS programme of record.
Image: An instructor describes the APKWS rocket. Photo: courtesy of Lt. Jonathan Bacon.