BAE Systems test APKWS guided rockets for small drone defense

The profile of smaller drones is rapidly expanding in both the planning and execution of global conflicts, and in reaction defense and security company BAE Systems has continued adaptation and testing of less costly munitions to battle mid-sized UAVs as an option to larger and more sophisticated anti-air systems. 

BAE Systems said it successfully tested the firing of 70mm rockets guided by its Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) kits as defense assets to track and shoot down Class-2 drones. Those craft weigh between 25-50 pounds, and are capable of speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour.

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During its trials last month in the Arizona desert, BAE Systems used Class-2 drones as targets for five APKWS-guided counter-UAS rockets fired from a containerized weapon system ­– racking up a 100% defense rate against the rapidly-moving craft.

The company is refocusing its APKWS-guided 70mm munitions work as a potential answer to the way smaller UAVs are transforming how conflicts around the world are being waged. 

With larger anti-air defense platforms being designed for far bigger targets like jets, helicopters, missiles, and military-scale drones, BAE System is adapting the use of smart rocket technology as a more affordable option to smaller threats. Or, put another way, it is modifying less sophisticated and costly armaments into appropriately scaled flyswatters.

“Militarized drones are becoming more prevalent in conflicts around the world, and we’re giving our customers an efficient way to counter them without wasting expensive missiles,” said Greg Procopio, director of Precision Guidance and Sensing Solutions at BAE Systems. “Our tests demonstrate that APKWS guidance kits have the flexibility to engage a variety of targets to meet the evolving mission needs of the warfighter.”

According to BAE Systems, its APKWS guidance kit is the only US government’s program of record allowing 2.75-inch (70mm) unguided rockets to be transformed into a precision guided munition that can provide rotary- and fixed-wing military aircraft with low-cost surgical strike capability. The enhanced munitions can similarly be fired from a variety of mobile and fixed platforms. 

The result, the company adds, is a highly accurate but relatively low-priced supersonic, lock-on-after-launch weapon fitted with a 10-pound warhead that can destroy large drones in a matter of seconds – with or without direct contact – and greatly reduce or eliminate collateral damage.

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In addition to the mid-sized drones proliferating in conflicts like the Ukraine-Russia war – some of which are self-built, step-up models between store-bought craft and large military-grade UAVs – BAE Systems APKWS rocket guidance tech can be used to defends against enemy jets, helicopters, trucks, boats, and weapon stations.


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