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The APKWS in action.

The Navy has just authorized full-rate production of the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System, a laser-guided rocket system that manufacturer BAE Systems says costs only a third as much the Hellfire missile commonly used.

APKWS – they must pay folks extra to come up with nifty names like that, complete with the ® — converts the Hydra 70 unguided rocket into a laser-guided missile by adding a mid-body guidance unit.

BAE

“Our APKWS technology has been successfully used in combat numerous times since its deployment in March,” said John Watkins, director of Precision Guidance Solutions for BAE Systems. “Today, the weapon is doing its job providing our warfighters with a precise and reliable rapid-fire missile system, especially effective in the difficult terrain of Afghanistan.”

BAE says the cost of an APKWS round is $28,500, compared to $94,000 for a Hellfire missile. Captain Brian Corey, who manages the program for the Navy (which buys stuff for the Marines), says the new round lets Marines flying AH-1 and UH-1 helicopters in Afghanistan “to complete their missions while minimizing the risk of harm to allies and non-combatants.”

Cool APKWS weapons porn here.

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