Posted by Mark Bateman on November 20, 2016
Faced with a growing population of unpredictable seaborne threats and a budget that can no longer afford to sling missiles with exotic price tags, the U.S. Navy signaled an Urgent Operational Need (UON) for an affordable, precise and reliable solution in 2012.
Arnold Defense worked closely with the Airborne Rockets and Pyrotechnics team from the U.S. Navy’s Direct Time and Sensitive Strike Weapons program (PMA-242) to rapidly develop the 19-round LAU-61 G/A Digital Rocket Launcher (DRL). Within two years, the industry team and PMA-242 had fielded the Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS), using the new “smart” launcher manufactured by Arnold Defense.
APKWS is a semi-active laser guidance section that can be added to legacy rocket components, already used in the fleet’s arsenal. The rockets can now be precision-guided by lasers using an onboard fire control system that “talks” to the LAU-61 G/A launcher. The target can be painted with a laser from the cockpit, from another aircraft or by a spotter on the ground. Aviators can select single fire, selective fire or all-ripple fire in the cockpit, and have a clear view of the actual rocket inventory in the launcher.
“We listened to the warfighter’s needs very carefully and understood that PMA-242’s guidance from the Vice CNO was to, ‘get lead in the air’ quickly,” said C.W. “Chris” Frillman, Director of Business Development for Airborne and Naval Weapon Systems for Arnold Defense. “Because of our agility and experience, we were able to deliver a digital rocket launcher for early operational capability.”
APKWS was fielded in 2014 on the SH-60S and SH-60R with Arnold Defense’s rocket launchers. PMA-242 is working with the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army to apply digital rocket launchers aboard their aircraft.
To learn more about the LAU-61 G/A Digital Rocket Launcher, click here.