APKWS rocket

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has conducted the first ever live firing trials of the BAE Systems advanced precision kill weapon system (APKWS) from its Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopter (ARH) in the country’s Northern Territory.

Conducted by an integrated test team from the Defence Materiel Organisation and Royal Australian Air Force, as well as operational units from 16 Aviation Brigade, the trials were aimed at examining the potential for APKWS rocket use by the Australian Army.

During testing, the APKWS rocket scored ten hits out of ten, using a Forges de Zeebrugge (FZ) rocket motor, warhead, and launcher.

BAE Systems precision guidance solutions director David Harrold said: "These demonstrations have proven the versatility and flexibility of the APKWS rocket.

"The results are clear that our unique mid-body design can quickly and cost-effectively transform current inventory of unguided FZ rockets into highly precise weapons for greater mission success as it has done for Hydra rockets since initial fielding in 2012."

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Australian Aerospace Operational Support Group Aircraft Stores Compatibility Engineering Squadron Rotary Wing flight commander major David Paterson said: "The combination of a perfect seven-for-seven from the ground trial and ten for ten from the flight trial confirms this as a fully functioning capability.

"These demonstrations have proven the versatility and flexibility of the APKWS rocket."

"This testing supports the potential use of the APKWS rocket on the ARH, and it clearly demonstrated the weapon’s capability under a wide range of flight conditions."

Conducted in extreme heat conditions at ranges from 1,500m to 4,500m, at altitudes from 200ft to 1,500ft, and at speeds of up to 140k, all ten test shots hit the target within one metre of the laser spot.

The live fire test shots from the Tiger helicopter with the FZ equipment are expected to open up new opportunities for the rocket, which is currently available to international customers through the US foreign military sales programme.

Claimed to be the US Department of Defense’s only fully qualified guided 2.75-inch rocket, the APKWS uses semi-active laser guidance technology to destroy soft and lightly armoured targets in built-up and confined areas.

Image: The advanced precision kill Weapon System was fired from ADF’s Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopter for the first time. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.