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Air-Launched Weapons

US approves APKWS, Javelin, Blackjack for UAE

29 May 2019
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An Emirati Black Hawk is seen launching a Talon over southern Yemen. The weapon looks set to be phased out in favour of the APKSW. Source: WAM

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on 24 May that the State Department has approved United Arab Emirates' (UAE's) request for air-to-surface missiles, additional Javelin anti-tank missiles, RQ-21A Blackjack small tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and United States Marine Corps (USMC) training that are together estimated to be worth nearly USD1.2 billion.

By far the largest deal outlined in the four DSCA notifications was for the BAE Systems Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS): an add-on semi-active laser guidance kit for 70 mm air-to-surface rockets. Estimated to be worth USD900 million, it covers 20,004 all-up rounds, meaning it will include the rocket motors and warheads as well as guidance kits.

This deal is also significant as the UAE currently uses the rival Cirit and Talon weapons. It was announced in February 2013 that the UAE had placed the first export order for the Cirit: a Turkish-made equivalent that was developed as an all-up round rather than an add-on guidance kit for existing rockets. Jane's was told at the time that these would be used with the UAE's Air Tractor-derived strike aircraft.

Later in the same year it was announced that the UAE had also ordered the Talon guidance kit, making it the only user of a weapon that it jointly developed with Raytheon. Since then, Talons have been seen in rocket pods carried by Emirati AH-64 Apache and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters operating in Yemen.

"The APKWS will complement the Hellfire II missile as a secondary precision munition with lower collateral damage potential," the DSCA said, suggesting the plan is to replace the Talon on the UAE's Apaches, armed Black Hawks, and possibly its Bell/Northstar 407 MRH helicopters.

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