IDEX 2019

Laser rockets for Lebanon [IDEX19D2]

18 February 2019

Last week the Lebanese Air Force (LAF) received its first batch of BAE Systems APKWS (Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems) laser-guided rockets. The delivery arrived in Beirut by US Air Force Boeing C-17 transport.

The APKWS acquisition, totalling 2,000 rockets, is covered by the same 2015 deal that saw six Embraer/Sierra Nevada Corporation A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft being delivered to the LAF. The Super Tucanos will be armed with the APKWS, as will the LAF's new MD Helicopters MD 530G attack helicopters. The weapon is a low-cost adaptation of the standard 70mm/2.75in air-launched rocket that provides it with laser guidance capability while retaining the original warhead and motor.

The Super Tucanos were delivered from the USA as the LAF undergoes something of a renaissance. The six aircraft equip No. 7 Squadron at Hamat, to the north of Beirut. As well as APKWS, the Super Tucanos are armed with 12.7mm (0.5in) machine guns in the wings. Other equipment that has come from the US includes at least 18 zero-lifed Bell UH-1H-II Super Hueys, three Cessna AC-208 Combat Caravans armed with Hellfire missiles, and a batch of 12 AeroVironment RQ-11 Raven UAVs. The Caravans have seen action in Syria. Six MD 530Gs were ordered via the US government in October 2018.

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