As near-peer threats like China grow, the race is on for the United States to maintain military readiness. America is known for its advancement of Exquisite Strike and Long-Range Stand-Off Strike weapons – which are costly and limited in capacity.
What’s imperative now is a focus on affordable precision-guided munitions (PGMs), which would be the foundation of success in any modern military engagement. The need is great – military experts have publicly stated that hundreds of thousands of these types of weapons are necessary to defeat a near-peer threat as any conflict is expected to outlast stockpiles of costly high-end weapons.
The time, scale, and urgency of the need for this kind of affordable mass is highlighted by the war in Ukraine. Current inventories do not meet the need outlined in the 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS) cited in a recent Air & Space Forces report, and the Department of Defense’s stated target date of 2027 is looming.
BAE Systems’ approach to delivering affordable mass is to integrate advanced multi-mode modular seekers into large inventories of existing weapons. This affordably adds capability to existing weapons, such as autonomy to navigate and track targets and handle threats in a number of different environments. BAE Systems’ approach is modular to enable ‘mix and match’ options to tailor weapons to the mission without costly and lengthy development cycles.
A prominent and proven example of repurposing existing stockpiles of munitions is BAE Systems’ APKWS® laser-guidance kit technology. APKWS laser-guidance kits have given new life to existing inventories of unguided rockets and turned them into precision weapons. It is a “Swiss Army knife”, boasting a variety of capabilities for use in multiple user-created mission applications. APKWS allows rockets to be fired from many different platforms and in many different types of user-defined mission applications.
In recent years, BAE Systems has continued to show advancements in APKWS capabilities with various mission sets, targets, and platforms, including successful tests against agile, high-speed military drones in counter-unmanned aircraft systems (C-UAS) missions; accuracy with High-Explosive Anti-Tank Anti-Personnel Anti-Materiel (HEAT/APAM) warheads against armored targets; and firing APKWS from a robotic combat vehicle.
Additional solutions are in development at BAE Systems to bolster affordable mass.
The variety of seeker technology BAE Systems develops and continues to advance offers low-cost solutions to current munitions shortfalls. By delivering affordable seeker solutions, we enable an increased number of munitions our military can acquire and employ, leading to enhanced operational capability on the battlefield and beyond.