Air-Launched Weapons

USMC deploys APKWS on F/A-18 Hornet

20 April 2018
NAVAIR has released this picture of APKWS (loaded into twin seven-cell Arnold Defense LAU-131 A/A pods) on an F/A-18 aircraft. Source: NAVAIR

The US Marine Corps (USMC) has confirmed the introduction of the BAE Systems WGU-59/B Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II (APKWS II) into operational service on F/A-18A-D Hornet strike fighters.

The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) confirmed first operational flights in a news release on 16 April. Jane’s understands that Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 (VMFA-115) received APKWS II in February this year to conduct ground training and in-flight training. Deployment of the weapon in support of Operation ‘Inherent Resolve’ (the US military intervention against Daesh/ISIL) followed in March.

APKWS II is a low-cost precision-guided 2.75-in rocket system that integrates a low-cost Distributed Aperture Semi-Active Laser Seeker (DASALS) guidance section with existing Hydra 70 rocket motors and either the Mk 152 or M282 warheads. Designed as a ‘plug and play’ kit, the DASALS unit is installed between the Hydra 70 warhead and the rocket motor; the seeker aperture is divided into four elements, with each element placed on the four wings of the guidance section to provide an integrated navigation solution for the weapon.

BAE Systems was in October 2017 awarded a USD577,300 sole-source contract to integrate APKWS II onto the F/A-18A-D Hornet. According to NAVAIR, co-ordinated activity by the Direct and Time Sensitive Strike Program Office (PMA-242) and the F/A-18 and EA-18G Program Office (PMA-265) have reduced the integration timeline so as to deliver the APKWS capability to the USMC in less than eight months.

Introduction of APKWS II was expedited by a joint PMA-242/PMA-265 integrated product team in conjunction with the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft and Weapons Divisions, Air Test and Evaluation Squadrons VX-31 and VX-9, Marine Corps headquarters, and BAE Systems.

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