Cobras Firing Laser-Guided Rockets Begin Operational
Aviators from the U.S. Marine
Corps completed the integrated test phase of the Advanced Precision
Kill Weapon System (APKWS) program in early January, firing five
rounds against stationary and moving targets. All five shots hit
their intended targets within 2 meters of the laser
In the final series of shots in integrated testing, five
laser-guided rockets were fired from a variety of distances from a
Marine AH-1W Cobra helicopter (file photo, below). Four of the
shots were against moving targets traveling at a range of speeds,
while the fifth shot was against a stationary target board.
The program now moves into an assessment of the operational
effectiveness of APKWS, which provides aviators with a highly
precise, low-yield weapon that is effective against soft and
lightly armored targets while causing minimal collateral damage.
APKWS was developed by BAE Systems and the U.S. government.
Operational assessment is planned to include up to eight shots that
are designed by Marine aviators to represent conditions that might
be encountered in theater.
“During operational assessment, Marine aviators are
getting a chance to ‘test drive’ APKWS before
it’s deployed to theater,” said Maj. Matt Sale,
requirements officer for Marine Corps Aviation Weapons.
“These test shots will confirm that APKWS will be highly
effective in allowing Marine aviators to prosecute targets while
minimizing the risk of harm to nearby friendly forces and
Operational assessment is the final testing in the APKWS
development program. It will demonstrate the system’s
effectiveness in a variety of scenarios, platform speeds, ranges,
and tactics against different targets.
“This testing is the culmination of a highly successful
development effort among BAE Systems, our partners and suppliers,
and the U.S. government,” said Roy Rumbaugh, APKWS program
manager for BAE Systems. “These shots demonstrate that APKWS
will make a real difference in allowing aviators to complete their
missions and come home safely.”
APKWS is a low-cost, low-yield alternative to other air-launched
munitions currently in inventory. The system transforms a standard
2.75-inch unguided rocket into a smart, highly precise laser-guided
missile. Because it uses standard launchers, APKWS requires no
platform integration or aircraft modifications, and because it is
loaded and fired just like a standard 2.75-inch rocket, very little
additional aviator or ordnance crew training is required. Its
design enables use of existing warheads, fuzes, and rocket motors,
thus protecting government investment in existing inventory.
APKWS has been demonstrated off Marine Cobra and Army Kiowa
helicopters, and can be fired from any helicopter that can launch
2.75-inch rockets, including the UH-1 Huey, and AH-64 Apache. The
Navy recently announced its intention to investigate, in
cooperation with the U.S. Air Force, the deployment of APKWS from