BAE Plans To Ramp Up Production of Laser Guidance Sections

 - October 19, 2016, 9:02 AM
The APKWS mid-body guidance section converts a standard unguided munition into a laser-guided rocket. (Photo: BAE Systems)

BAE Systems plans to ramp up production of its Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) guidance sections after receiving a large contract order from the U.S. Navy. The $618 million indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract the Pentagon announced on October 7 names the Navy, the U.S. Air Force and five foreign countries as recipients.

In a press release on October 19, BAE said it has readied a new manufacturing facility at its campus in Hudson, New Hampshire, to meet a growing demand for the system. The manufacturer produced more than 2,700 APKWS guidance sections in the past year. With the new facility, BAE will be capable of producing 20,000 units per year.

The APKWS mid-body guidance section converts a standard unguided 2.75-inch (70 mm) munition into a precision laser-guided rocket. A Navy program of record, the system has been in full-rate production since 2012. BAE said it has delivered more than 7,000 units to date.

The recent Naval Air Systems Command contract award covers procurement of APKWS II full-rate production lots 5 through 7 in support of the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force as well as the governments of Iraq, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Jordan and Australia under the foreign military sales program. There was an initial award of $130 million under the contract to help speed delivery of the precision-guided rockets, BAE said.

The U.S. Marine Corps first fielded the APKWS in Afghanistan in 2012, deploying it from AH-1W Super Cobra and UH-1Y Huey helicopters. Last year, the U.S. Army procured a quantity of the guidance sections for AH-64 Apache helicopters in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The APKWS has also been integrated on the Navy’s MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter, with the larger C-model to follow, and designated for Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II and Marine Corps’ AV-8B Harrier jets.

“The Navy has been a tremendous partner, and this latest contract includes valuable provisions that allow other services and allies to leverage this small guided munition program of record,” said David Harrold, BAE Systems director of precision guidance solutions. “The large demand for this cost-effective technology is a testament to its highly innovative design, and this contract will allow us to greatly increase production.”