The U.S. Navy delivered the first fixed-wing aircraft variant of the Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System in March 2016 to Marine Attack Squadron 233 operating the AV-8B Harrier in theater.
Seven months after receiving a requirement from Marine Corps headquarters, two program offices based at Patuxent River fielded the 2.75-inch rockets equipped with Semi-Active Laser guidance capability.
“This capability will provide commanders with a war fighting alternative to better enable weapon-to-target pairing,” said Col. Fred Schenk, AV-8B Harrier Weapon System (PMA-257) program manager.
PMA-257 and the Direct and Time Sensitive Strike program office (PMA-242) worked together to define a two-phase program to quickly field the weapon variant. The first phase expedited fielding of a limited AV-8B fixed-wing APKWS employment flight envelope capability. This included the delivery of 80 guidance kits. The second phase will expand the fixed-wing APKWS employment envelope limits to the maximum extent possible for AV-8B.
“The intent of this requirement was to quickly provide the AV-8B with a low-cost, low-collateral damage, high-precision weapon in support of combat operations,” said Navy Capt. Al Mousseau, PMA-242 program manager. “This entire effort showcases what unity of effort among all government and industry stakeholders can accomplish to expediently deliver capability.”
APKWS, a product of BAE Systems, is the only DOD fully qualified 2.75-inch rocket that uses Semi-Active Laser guidance technology to strike targets in built-up and confined areas. The SAL is a laser seeker which allows the system to beam-ride reflected laser energy. The reflected laser energy is sourced by either airborne or ground-based laser designators providing positive target acquisition.
PMA-242 is responsible for the acquisition, development and sustainment of weapon systems, including anti-radiation missile systems; airborne rocket systems; precision guided munitions; airborne gun systems; and joint air-to-ground munitions. PMA-257 is responsible for life cycle sustainment of the AV-8B Harrier Weapon System for the U.S. Marine Corps and its allied partners.