US Navy delivers first fixed-wing aircraft variant of APKWS

3 April 2016 (Last Updated April 3rd, 2016 18:30)

The US Navy has deployed the first fixed-wing aircraft variant of the advanced precision kill weapons system (APKWS) to Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 233, operating the AV-8B Harrier in theatre.

APKWS

The US Navy has deployed the first fixed-wing aircraft variant of the advanced precision kill weapons system (APKWS) to Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 233, operating the AV-8B Harrier in theatre.

US Marine Corps headquarters issued a requirement for this variant seven months ago, following which two programme offices; PMA-257 and the Direct and Time Sensitive Strike programme office (PMA-242), were assigned to field the 2.75in rockets equipped with semi-active laser (SAL) guidance capability.

AV-8B Harrier Weapon System (PMA-257) programme manager colonel Fred Schenk said: "This capability will provide commanders with a warfighting alternative to better enable weapon-to-target pairing."

“This capability will provide commanders with a warfighting alternative to better enable weapon-to-target pairing.”

The assigned programme offices worked on a two-phased programme to facilitate quick deployment of the weapon.

The first phase involved accelerating the fielding of the limited AV-8B fixed-wing APKWS employment flight envelope capability, which included the delivery of 80 guidance kits.

The second phase will increase the fixed-wing APKWS employment envelope limits to the maximum extent possible for AV-8B.

PMA-242 programme manager navy captain Al Mousseau said: "The intent of this requirement was to quickly provide the AV-8B with a low-cost, low-collateral damage, high-precision weapon in support of combat operations.

"This entire effort showcases what unity of effort among all government and industry stakeholders can accomplish to expediently deliver capability."

APKWS is a guided 2.75in rocket and uses SAL guidance technology to destroy soft and lightly armoured targets in built-up and confined areas.

SAL is a laser seeker, which enables the system to beam-ride reflected laser energy. The reflected laser energy is sourced by either airborne or ground-based laser designators, providing positive target acquisition.


Image: US Navy delivers new APKWS design for fixed-wing aircraft. Photo: courtesy of US Navy.