Laser-guided weapons can be devastating from the air, with long-range and micrometer accuracy, but firing them from the ground is a different story. That is, until BAE Systems launched its Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) laser-guided rocket from a ground-based tactical weapons system for the first time. The successful test flight proved that the concept of a precision guided rocket could work on its own, without air support, to engage far-off ground targets with reasonable accuracy.
The laser-guided ground rocket (see the figure) was tested at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground, collaborating with the U.S. Navy and Arnold Defense, a top manufacturer of rocket launchers. The system was based on Arnold’s FLETCHER 2.75-in./70-mm rocket launcher. It is a laser-guided rocket launcher for ground vehicles and was used to fire several successful shots during the testing. Previously, laser-guided rounds had been fired from fixed- and rotary-wing air vehicles only.
“Our customers see the value in low-cost, precision-strike capabilities that reduce the risk of collateral damage, and they want the flexibility to deliver them from the platform of their choice,” said Greg Procopio, director of Precision Guidance and Sensing Solutions at BAE Systems. “Demand is growing for ground-to-ground precision munitions that provide a safe standoff distance for small ground units. We’re working closely with our customer and partners to deliver that capability.”