As the threat of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) grows, so does the need for development cheap countermeasures. While many are looking at lasers and microwaves, London-based defense contractor BAE Systems has taken the route it knows best, missiles. Except that these missiles are only 2.75 inches (7 cm) in size.
Since 2012, BAE Systems has provided the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS), which uses a laser guidance kit that turns 2.75-inch Hydra 70 unguided missiles into precision-controlled munitions. APKWS missiles are already in use in the field and have proven experience with striking stationery, as well as moving targets from a wide range of military vehicles and remote weapons stations.
The company has now developed a proximity fuse that allows standard warheads and engines to be used as cheap anti-drone munitions, the company said in a statement. The proximity fuse combines the ability to detect proximity to a target and point detection and can simply replace the existing M423 fuses of current missiles.
Developed by L3Harris Technologies and Technology Service Corporation, these new and innovative fuses now allow these nefarious little missiles to destroy UAVs without having to make contact with them. The company recently tested the technology against Class 2 UAVs at the Yuma test sites in Arizona. “Our successful test strikes demonstrate the creativity of our engineers and the innovative and cost-effective use of existing DoD materials to address the emerging threat,” said Greg Procopio, Director of Precision Targeting and Sensor Systems at BAE Systems.
The unique feature of APKWS has been extended to its UAS operations. Instead of attaching to the drone, the missiles can be fired first and then reach their target, saving valuable seconds when it really matters, the company said.
“The flexibility and affordability of APKWS missiles make them a good choice for retrieving small, tactical military drones,,“Procopio added. The company claims that its APKWS provides a measure to combat drones at part of the cost of traditional strike capabilities.