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One of the major advantages available to infantry and other ground-based combat forces is the ability to call in an airstrike to take out distant hostile targets. In this way, even a small squad can deliver the punch of a much larger unit. However, sometimes air support isn’t possible. 

A tactical ground-based rocket version tested recently is designed to allow ground combat units to engage distant targets without air support. BAE Systems is adapting one of its weapon systems to fill the gap. The company has successfully tested its Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) laser-guided rocket.

The rockets were fired from a FLETCHER 2.75-inch/70 mm Weapon System concept built by Arnold Defense.

According to BAE, the proof-of-concept testing at the US Army Yuma Proving Ground in collaboration with the US Navy fired several successful rounds to demonstrate the APKWS rocket’s ability to produce standoff precision strike capabilities for ground forces that are normally provided by helicopters and combat jets.

The APKWS rocket has been in service with the US armed forces since 2012. An upgraded version of the Hydra 70 unguided rocket, the 32 lb (15 kg), 73.8 in (1.87 m) long missile was originally designed to be fired from a wide variety of fixed and rotary-wing aircraft. It has a maximum speed of 2,425 ft/s (739 m/s) and an effective range of up to 5 km (3.11 mi). 

Target guidance is by means of a distributed aperture semi-active laser seeker. The present development work aims at mating the APKWS to the FLETCHER, which is a purpose-built laser-guided rocket launcher for ground vehicles that could be used by mounted and dismounted units like tactical lightweight vehicles, remote weapon stations, non-standard tactical vehicles, and stationary or marine platforms to attack soft or lightly armored targets at a distance, according to