An artist’s conception of an APKWS strike against an unmanned aircraft. BAE SYSTEMS
The Navy League’s on line magazine, Seapower, report the successful test of a new alternative for countering Unmanned Air Systems.
BAE Systems Inc. has successfully tested APKWS laser-guided rockets in precision strike tests against Class 2 unmanned aircraft systems at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona, the company said Oct. 11.
The 2.75-inch test rockets combined standard M151 warheads and Mk66 motors with APKWS precision guidance kits and a newly developed proximity fuze, enabling them to engage and destroy airborne drones at a fraction of the cost of traditional counter-UAS strike capabilities.
(A Class 2 UAS is 21 to 55 pounds, operates at 3500 ft or lower, and has a maximum speed of 250 knots, so its pretty small. ScanEagle is an example.)
As important as this cUAS capability may be, adding this capability to Coast Guard Units would also have the bonus of providing both a capability against a range of surface targets from small, fast, highly maneuverable craft to small ships, and at least a basic anti-aircraft capability.
Adding a launcher and the required laser designator to vessels with Mk 38 mod2/3 gun mounts should not be too difficult. The PATFORSWASIA Webber class FRCs would a good place to prototype an installation.
More on APKWS here:
As I have suggested several times, there is a place for this system in the Coast Guard, here, here, and here, as a weapon that would allow even small units like patrol boats and FRCs to quickly and accurately deal with a range of threats, while minimizing the risk of collateral damage inherent in the use of our current weapons, e.g. 7.62mm, .50 cal., 25mm.
These weapons are not exotic. tens of thousands are produced annually.
Interesting to see how simply the pulse repetition frequency code is set to match it to the laser designator.
(I would also argue that the Coast Guard needs to have available laser designators in order to allow us to specifically identify threats for DOD aircraft that might be called in to help the Coast Guard deal with a threat.)
The first place to mount APKWS is on the FRCs going to PATFORSWA.
It is probably possible to mount launchers on the Mk38 gun mount. There is also the four round FLETCHER launcher (see below) that can be fitted in place of a .50 cal.
Concept art shows a ground vehicle launching an APKWS rocket. (BAE Systems)
Defense News is reporting that APKWS (Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System) has been successfully tested as a ground based weapon system. This is a small light weight missile produced by adding a guidance kit to the common and inexpensive 70 mm (2.75″) Hydra rocket. It has normally been used by helicopters.
As we have discussed previously, this looks like a weapon system that would give even relatively small Coast Guard craft a substantial punch, out to beyond 8,000 yards, with a minimal danger of collateral damage. And of course the Navy could use them against swarming fast inshore attack craft.
The company delivered more than 35,000 APKWS units by the end of 2019 and expects to deliver 18,000 in 2020.