By Bijan Razzaghi
The US Marine Corp has decided to upgrade its F/A-18s with the APKWS Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System. The APKWS uses laser guidance to hit targets and uses the same rocket as the unguided hydra 70 system. Each individual rocket is fitted with the laser guidance kit. The rockets can be designated by the aircrafts FLIR or Sniper Pod.
All variants of the Marines F/A-18 will be upgraded with the system including the A+, C and D. The system will be particularly effective on the two seat F/A-18D model, as the WSO can identify targets prior to an attack run.
The APKWS was specifically designed to be used in urban environments as an alternative to the AGM-114 Hellfire that produces a larger blast radius. The standard Hydra 70 only yields a 2.3lb warhead. The smaller explosive power prevents damage to civilian infrastructure and civilian casualties. The APKWS can be used against mortar positions, VBEDs, Light Vehicles and infantry.
The system will likely be used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria once deployed. The system is currently active on AV/8B Harriers, AH-1W/Z Cobras and MQ-9 Reapers.