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BAE Systems awarded $224 million contract for 10,000 rocket guidance systems

BAE's Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System upgrades a standard unguided rocket into a laser-guided precision weapon

BAE Systems was awarded a $224 million contract to produce Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System guidance units for Hydra rockets, a U.S. Department of Defense release said.

The $224,331,310 modification to a 2017 contract “provides for the production and delivery of an additional 10,185 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems II (WGU-59/B) under full-rate Production Lot 7,” the Wednesday, June 27 release said.

Work is expected to be completed in March 2019.

The contract includes purchases for the U.S. Air Force (64 percent), U.S. Army (26 percent), U.S. Navy (8 percent) and foreign military sales (2 percent). The foreign government purchasing the rocket guidance systems was not specified.

“The procurement of the additional units will upgrade the current 2.75-inch rocket system to a semi-active laser-guided precision weapon,” the release added.

Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System

The BAE Systems-developed Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System is a semi-active laser guidance system that can be fitted to 2.75 inch (70 mm) rockets.

The system is a design conversion for Hydra 70 unguided rockets turning them into precision-guided munitions with a low yield to help avoid collateral damage.

The add-on units have proved popular of late, with sales approved to Bahrain of 56, Mexico of 38, and Qatar of 5,000 in recent months.

Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System seeker
One of four advanced seeker optics on the wing of an Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System rocket. Image: BAE Systems

BAE says APKWS is designed to lock on to both moving and stationary targets from over 3 km (1.9 miles) away, using advanced seeker optics on four guidance wings that are deployed after firing. This Distributed Aperture Semi-Active Laser Seeker (DASALS) technology allows the four seekers to work together as a single unit, and BAE says the system has achieved a greater than 93 percent hit rate.

The modular design enables the system to be fitted to existing and new unguided rockets, inserting between the motor and warhead, and has been fitted to more than than 20 aircraft types.

BAE claims the APKWS is the most cost effective laser-guided munition in its class, enabling “a precision-strike capability at a quarter the price of a Brimstone missile.”

It says the production plant in the United States opened in 2016 has a capacity of up to 20,000 units per year.

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