Lebanon has received its first consignment of BAE Systems' Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems (APKWS) air-to-surface rockets for use on its ground attack aircraft and helicopters.
The delivery, which was announced by the US Embassy in Beirut on 13 February, was flown to the country aboard a US Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifter. The rockets will arm the Lebanese Air Force's (LAF's) Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC)-Embraer A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft and MD Helicopters Inc MD 530G light attack helicopters.
The APKWS laser-guided rocket is a low-cost, precision munition system that adapts a standard 70 mm (2.75 inch) unguided rocket into a laser-guided weapon capable of engaging unarmoured and lightly armoured targets. To use it the mid-body guidance section is simply screwed between the rocket motor and the warhead. The rocket is then loaded into a conventional 70 mm rocket launcher.
Originally designed for use for helicopters and later adapted for fixed-wing aircraft, the AKPWS has a small warhead and increased accuracy for reduced collateral damage. It is also smaller and cheaper than most other precision rockets in the US inventory.
A total of 2,000 APKWS rockets were sold to Lebanon as part of a wider deal for six Super Tucano turboprops that was signed in October 2015. Besides the rockets, the aircraft are equipped with two 12.7 mm (.50 calibre) machine guns and are being supplied with AN/AAR-60(V)2 missile launch detection systems and AN/ALE-47 countermeasure dispensers. The Super Tucano is also qualified to carry AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and GBU-12 and GBU-58 Paveway II laser guided bombs, but no mention has been made of sales of these particular weapons to Lebanon. All six aircraft were delivered to Lebanon by May 2018.
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