|AGR-20 (APKWS II)|
|Place of origin||United States|
|Used by||See Future and potential users|
|Mass||32 lb (15 kg)|
|Length||73.8 in (1.87 m)|
|Diameter||2.75 in (70 mm) (unfired)|
|Muzzle velocity||1,000 m/s (3,600 km/h; 2,200 mph; Mach 2.9) at max|
|Effective firing range||1,100–5,000 m (0.68–3.11 mi) (rotary wing);|
2–11 km (1.2–6.8 mi) (fixed wing)
|Maximum speed||2,425 ft/s (739 m/s)|
|Distributed Aperture Semi-Active Laser Seeker|
|See Launch platforms|
The AGR-20 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) is a design conversion of Hydra 70 unguided rockets with a laser guidance kit to turn them into precision-guided munitions (PGMs). APKWS is approximately one-third the cost and one-third the weight of the current inventory of laser-guided weapons, has a lower yield more suitable for avoiding collateral damage, and takes one quarter of the time for ordnance personnel to load and unload.
Where possible the system utilizes existing Hydra 70 components such as launchers, rocket motors, warheads and fuzes. The weapon bridges the gap between the Hydra 70 and AGM-114 Hellfire systems and provides a cost-effective method of engaging lightly armored point targets. APKWS is the U.S. government's only program of record for the semi-active, laser-guided 2.75-inch (70 millimeter) rocket. It converts the Hydra 70 unguided rocket into a precision guided munition through the addition of a mid-body guidance unit developed by BAE Systems. The APKWS has also been successfully tested in live fire exercises with the Forges de Zeebrugge unguided rocket, converting it into a precision guided munition and demonstrating the technology can be used on other rocket types than the Hydra 70.
The winning bidder for the APKWS II contract was the team of BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, beating out the offerings from Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Systems.
The APKWS II uses the Distributed Aperture Semi-Active Laser Seeker (DASALS) technology. This system allows a laser seeker to be located in the leading edge of each of the forward control canards, working in unison as if they were a single seeker. This configuration allows existing warheads from the Hydra 70 system to be used without the need for a laser seeker in the missile nose.
The APKWS II system is composed of the launch platform, rockets equipped with the WGU-59/B mid-body guidance unit, the lengthened 7-tube LAU-68 F/A rocket launcher, the SCS 7 aiming cue (not needed for attack helicopters), and Fastpack PA-140 and CNU-711/E storage kits for rockets and guidance kits, respectively, to ensure they are safe in the field. The WGU-59/B mid-body guidance unit is equipped with DASALS seeker optics which deploy 0.5 seconds after launch and are attached in between the Mk 66 Mod 4 rocket motor and a warhead and fuze, which increases length by 18.5 in (47 cm) and weight by 9 lb (4.1 kg) over the legacy Hydra system. Firing ranges are 1,100-5,000 meters, the former of which can be hit less than 5 seconds after firing. Maximum range is constrained by use of the existing Hydra 70 motor, but since the seeker can see as far as 14 km (8.7 mi), a more powerful motor could extend range while retaining accuracy; Nammo is working on a modified rocket motor that can extend range to 12–15 km (7.5–9.3 mi).
A software upgrade of the APKWS will be applied starting in late 2021; the upgrade increases range by 30% by means of an optimized flight trajectory to engage targets at a steeper angle of attack, while also being qualified on both fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft in a single variant and improving the surface danger zone logic for better training range options.
In June 2021, BAE successfully tested the APKWS in a counter-unmanned aerial systems (C-UAS) role. An APKWS-equipped rocket was fitted with a proximity fuze and destroyed a Class 2 UAS. The proximity fuze enables it to intercept UAS at a lower cost than other methods, and due to the rocket's laser guidance that activates on launch it does not require locking on to the target before launch.
On 14 April 2014, the U.S. Navy signed an agreement with the Jordanian Air Force for the first international sale of the APKWS for use on the CN-235 gunship. Jordan received 110 units in late November 2015.
In November 2014, the State Department approved the sale of up to 2,000 APKWS rockets to Iraq.
In June 2015, a deal to sell 6 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft to the Lebanese Air Force was approved that included the sale of 2,000 APKWS rockets for use on the turboprops. The US$462 million sale was financed by Saudi Arabia.
In April 2018, The U.S. State Department approved the future sale of APKWS units to the Mexican Navy at the same time that they approved the sale of eight MH-60R helicopters.
In December 2019, the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Eglin AFB, Florida, conducted a test using APKWS rocket against a drone representing a cruise missile. By adapting the rocket for cruise missile defense, it can serve the same role as the much more expensive AIM-120 missile, according to an Air Force release. "The test was unprecedented and will shape the future of how the Air Force executes CMD," Col. Ryan Messer, commander of the 53d Wing at Eglin, said in a release. "This is a prime example of how the 53d Wing is using resources readily available to establish innovative ways that enhance combat capabilities for our combat units."
In June 2020, BAE announced they had completed test firings of the APKWS from a ground launcher for the first time. Several rockets were fired from an Arnold Defense-built launcher called the Fletcher designed specifically for ground vehicles, demonstrating the weapon's ability to address a demand for standoff ground-to-ground precision munitions for small ground units.
Ukraine is being supplied with APKWS rockets.
((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) US Army 2008 R&D Budget Request (Page 4)