The US Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded BAE Systems a $2.7bn contract to produce Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems II (APKWS II) which will support both the US military and foreign weapons sales.
The contract will see the production of the APKWS II increased to continue the supply for militaries across the world providing what the company calls a ‘low-cost surgical strike capability’.
The DoD said the deal will support sales to Iraq, Lebanon, Netherlands, Jordan, Afghanistan, United Kingdom, Tunisia, Philippines and Australia, with work expected to be completed by December 2025.
Used for air-to-ground fire, the rockets can be fired from a range of rotary and fixed-wing platforms including the AH-64 Apache helicopter gunship, F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet and MH-6 Little Bird helicopter.
The APKWS II aims to deliver more accurate fire without having to use more expensive guided missiles.
The US Navy, US Air Force, and US Army will use the new more accurate rockets. Flight Global reported that the contract could cover up to 119,000 rocket kits for the DoD.
BAE Systems will split production of the kits between two facilities in the US; one in New Hampshire and one in Texas.
The rocket will fill the gap between unguided rockets and anti-armour munitions and, according to BAE Systems, provide precision engagement against soft targets with a lower likelihood of collateral damage. The company says the rocket is capable of locking onto a target from as far as 3km away.
BAE Systems’ website says: “In combat, the rocket has achieved over a 93 per cent hit rate when fired from rotary- and fixed-wing platforms’ having already been deployed throughout the US and foreign armed forces.”
Demand for the rocket has been so high that in 2016 BAE Systems opened a new factory to ensure it could deliver the required units on schedule. The system has been in production for six years, with over 10,000 units delivered so far.
The non-competitive contract awarded no funds upfront; instead, orders will be paid for as they are delivered.