BAE, Raytheon Advance Laser Rocket Business
Guided rocket conversion competitors BAE Systems and Raytheon announced new milestones for their respective offerings. BAE’s Advanced Precision Kill Weapon (APKWS) and Raytheon’s Talon laser-guided rocket (LGR) convert standard 2.75-inch Hydra rockets into precision guided munitions by adding a semi-active laser guidance package.
On May 7 at the Special Operations Conference and Exhibition (Sofex) in Amman, Jordan, BAE announced that the U.S. Navy and Jordan have signed a letter of offer and acceptance for the first international sale of the APKWS, which will be fitted on new Royal Jordanian Air Force CASA-235 light gunships. In a May 1 announcement, Alliant Techsystems (ATK) said it had delivered the first of two gunships it is modifying with the King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau.
Now in its third year of full rate production, the APKWS mid-body guidance kit enables the only U.S. Department of Defense “fully qualified,” semi-active laser-guided 2.75-inch rocket, BAE says. The U.S. Marine Corps has equipped AH-1W Super Cobra and UH-1Y Super Huey helicopters with the APKWS, and the system has also been integrated on the MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter.
The APKWS fills a gap between unguided small diameter rockets and larger diameter anti-armor munitions, according to BAE. More than 400 of the rockets have been fired in testing and in combat. “Through the foreign military sale process, the APKWS rocket can provide precision strike capabilities to Jordan and other military allies that would benefit from an affordable, proven, low-risk laser-guided rocket system currently in the U.S. inventory,” said David Harrold, BAE director of precision guidance solutions.
Raytheon and the U.S. Army have completed the certification process for airworthiness release of the Talon LGR on the AH-64D/E Apache attack helicopter, the company announced on May 4. The certification “provides for potential operational employment” of the Talon on U.S. Army and international Apaches. Raytheon and Emirates Advanced Investments developed the front-fitting Talon guidance package for UAE armed forces Apaches.