April 14, 2006 BAE Systems' entry in the Army's Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II (APKWS II) competition has successfully completed environmental tests that validate the weapon's ability to withstand battlefield conditions. Coupled with successful flight tests last year, these results demonstrate the maturity of BAE Systems' APKWS II offering. APKWS II will provide a low-cost, lightweight guided weapon that is effective against soft and lightly armored targets to fill the gap between the 70mm rocket and the Hellfire missile. The system will be used on all Army aircraft currently using the 70mm rocket. The BAE Systems/General Dynamics team is competing with Raytheon and Lockheed Martin to provide a new 2.75-inch guided rocket that will enable U.S. Army Apache and U.S. Marine Corps Cobra attack helicopters and other platforms to precisely engage non-armored targets with minimal collateral damage. The government is expected to announce the winner later this month.
BAE Systems' environmental tests verified that locating the weapon's Distributed Aperture Semi-Active Laser Seeker (DASALST) within the rocket's mid-body — with wings and optics sealed within the guidance section — protects the unit from sand, dust, vibration, ice, and other environmental hazards likely to be found in combat situations. In addition, a fully assembled 35-pound rocket dropped directly on its nose from a height of 3 feet sustained no damage to the guidance section — further confirming the ruggedness of the design for real-world operations. "We kept the war fighter uppermost in our design to put together a solution that combines proven performance, mature and production-ready technology, and affordability," said Frank Wilson, BAE Systems' director of precision targeting systems. "This is not a proof-of-concept or prototype unit, but a design that is flight-proven and has now completed a rigorous environmental test program." BAE Systems delivered 80 guidance sections for the original APKWS program and continues to produce additional seekers to support the Army's 24-month-or-less system design and development schedule. The company's industry team, which includes Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, is committed to fielding an effective and affordable APKWS II weapon system as quickly as possible. BAE Systems' APKWS II solution locates the guidance section behind the warhead to enable use of the current Hydra 70 family of warheads and fuzes without modification. The guided rocket performed better than the Army's requirements in seven test firings, with the average distance from laser spot to impact less than half the requirement when tested at distances ranging from 1.5 kilometers to 5.5 kilometers. "We have a long history with the Hydra 70 and have invested significantly in design improvements to meet the Army's needs for a low-cost low-collateral-damage precision guided rocket," Wilson said. The same DASALS technology used in BAE Systems' APKWS II offering also is incorporated in the Army's Precision Guided Mortar Munitions program, which is now undergoing system testing.