How APKWS Rockets Support U.S. Allies and Partners in Regional Security and Defense
APKWS Rocket: A Precision-Guided Munition for Light Targets
The Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) is a design conversion of Hydra 70 unguided rockets with a laser guidance kit to turn them into precision-guided munitions (PGMs). It is the U.S. government's only program of record for the semi-active, laser-guided 2.75 inches (70 mm) rocket. It provides a cost-effective and accurate solution for engaging lightly armored point targets with minimal collateral damage.
What is APKWS Rocket?
The APKWS rocket is a modified version of the Hydra 70 rocket, which is a widely used unguided rocket system for air-to-ground attacks. The Hydra 70 rocket has a diameter of 2.75 inches (70 mm) and can carry various types of warheads and fuzes. However, it lacks precision and reliability in hitting targets, especially in complex environments.
To address this gap, the APKWS rocket adds a mid-body guidance unit developed by BAE Systems to the Hydra 70 rocket. The guidance unit consists of four movable canards with laser seekers that can lock on to a designated target illuminated by a laser source. The guidance unit also has a control section that adjusts the canards to steer the rocket towards the target. The guidance unit does not interfere with the existing warheads and fuzes of the Hydra 70 rocket, allowing for flexibility and compatibility.
History and Development of APKWS Rocket
The APKWS program started in 1996 as an initiative to improve the accuracy and effectiveness of the Hydra 70 rocket system. The program went through several phases of development, testing, and evaluation by different contractors and agencies. In 2005, the U.S. Navy selected BAE Systems as the prime contractor for the APKWS II program, which used the Distributed Aperture Semi-Active Laser Seeker (DASALS) technology.
The APKWS II program achieved several milestones, such as the first guided flight test in 2007, the first live fire test in 2008, the first operational assessment in 2009, and the first low-rate initial production in 2010. The APKWS II was declared ready for operational use by the U.S. Marine Corps in 2012, followed by the U.S. Army in 2014, the U.S. Air Force in 2016, and the U.S. Navy in 2017. Since then, the APKWS II has been deployed in various missions and platforms in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and other countries.
Features and Specifications of APKWS Rocket
Distributed Aperture Semi-Active Laser Seeker (DASALS)
The DASALS technology is a key feature of the APKWS rocket that enables it to achieve high accuracy and reliability. The DASALS technology uses four laser seekers located in the leading edge of each canard, working in unison as if they were a single seeker. This configuration allows the seeker to have a wide field of view and capture angle, as well as to avoid interference from adjacent firings or environmental factors. The seeker can also track moving or stationary targets in open or confined areas.
Launch Platforms and Compatibility
The APKWS rocket can be launched from various platforms, such as helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft I have continued writing the article based on the outline and the web search results. Here is the rest of the article: Performance and Advantages of APKWS Rocket
The APKWS rocket has several performance and advantages over other munitions, such as:
- It has a high hit rate of over 90% in combat operations, demonstrating its accuracy and reliability. - It has a low cost of about $22,000 per unit, which is approximately one-third the cost of other laser-guided weapons. - It has a low weight of about 32 lb (15 kg), which is approximately one-third the weight of other laser-guided weapons. - It has a low yield of about 10 lb (4.5 kg) of high explosive, which is more suitable for avoiding collateral damage than larger anti-armor munitions. - It has a flexible range of 1,1005,000 m (0.683.11 mi) for rotary-wing platforms and 211 km (1.26.8 mi) for fixed-wing platforms, allowing for different engagement scenarios. - It has a fast loading and unloading time of about 15 minutes, which is one quarter of the time for other laser-guided weapons. How Does APKWS Rocket Work?
Guidance System and Flight Trajectory
The APKWS rocket uses the Distributed Aperture Semi-Active Laser Seeker (DASALS) technology to guide itself to the target. The DASALS technology consists of four laser seekers located in the leading edge of each canard, working in unison as if they were a single seeker. The seekers can detect and track a laser spot designated by a laser source, such as a laser designator or a laser rangefinder.
The APKWS rocket also has a control section that adjusts the canards to steer the rocket towards the target. The control section receives inputs from the seekers and calculates the optimal flight trajectory based on the rocket's speed, altitude, attitude, and environmental conditions. The control section then commands the canards to move accordingly to correct the rocket's course.
The APKWS rocket has an optimized flight trajectory that enables it to engage targets at a steeper angle of attack, providing improvements in range and lethality. The optimized attack trajectory also improves first-shot success against stationary and moving targets, as well as reduces the chances of a lost or uncontrolled rocket after launch.
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Warheads and Fuzes
The APKWS rocket can carry various types of warheads and fuzes that are compatible with the Hydra 70 rocket system. The warheads can be classified into three categories: blast fragmentation, shaped charge, and flechette. The blast fragmentation warheads are designed to create a large blast radius and produce shrapnel that can damage soft targets and personnel. The shaped charge warheads are designed to penetrate armored targets with a focused jet of metal. The flechette warheads are designed to disperse thousands of steel darts that can pierce through light armor and personnel.
The fuzes can be classified into two categories: point detonating and proximity. The point detonating fuzes are designed to detonate the warhead upon impact with the target or after a preset delay. The proximity fuzes are designed to detonate the warhead when it is close to the target, using either radio frequency or laser sensors.
Targeting and Engagement
The APKWS rocket can be used to target and engage various types of targets, such as vehicles, buildings, bunkers, boats, personnel, and drones. The targeting process involves four steps: designation, launch, guidance, and impact.
The designation step involves illuminating the target with a laser source that emits a coded pulse that matches the seeker's code. The laser source can be mounted on the launch platform or on another platform that has line-of-sight to the target.
The launch step involves firing the rocket from the launcher using an electrical impulse that activates the rocket motor and the guidance unit. The launcher can be mounted on rotary-wing or fixed-wing aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, or ground-based platforms.
The guidance step involves tracking the laser spot by the seekers and adjusting the canards by the control section to steer the rock