Monday, February 14, 2011

BAE Systems to develop laser-guided 70-millimeter rockets for close-air-support jets

Military & Aerospace Electronics

Feb 11, 2011
Posted by John Keller

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md., 11 Feb. 2011. Precision-guided munitions experts at the BAE Systems Electronic Solutions segment in Nashua, N.H., are developing laser-guided 70-millimeter rockets for fixed-wing aircraft designed for close-air support, such as the AV-8B Harrier and A-10 Warthog.

BAE won a $19.7 million contract, announced Thursday to develop the fixed-wing Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) II for the AV-8B and A-10 aircraft to support a joint capability technology demonstration. Awarding the contract were officials of the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md.

The APKWS is a precision-guided version of the venerable Hydra 70-millimeter rocket that uses laser guidance to improve the accuracy of the previously unguided Hydra munition. The APKWS -- which uses existing Hydra 70 components such as launchers, rocket motors, warheads, and fuzes -- is intended to fill the need for air-launched weapons more powerful than the unguided Hydra 70, but which do not need the firepower of the AGM-114 Hellfire missile.

The APKWS helps extend the lethal range of military attack jets, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), as well as expand the number of precision-guided munitions that each aircraft can carry. BAE Systems won a $15.3 million Navy contract last August for low-rate initial production I (LRIP-I) of the APKWS II guidance section to convert the unguided Hydra rocket to a laser-guided smart munition.

Precision rockets can carry a wide variety of munitions, from dispersed bomblets to small explosive warheads for use against enemy infantry, armored personnel carriers, light vehicles, and unfortified buildings.

BAE Systems will do work on this contract in Nashua, N.H., and should be finished by May 2014. For more information contact BAE Systems Electronic Solutions online at, or Naval Air Systems Command online at


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