Talking about kamikaze Switchblades drones delivery and reconnaissance UAVs RQ-20 Puma for Armed Forces of Ukraine, we missed one important detail. The presence in the same delivery of something that is hidden under a not very specific name: laser-guided rocket systems. Journalists of Defense Express found out what it could be.
Laser-guided rocket systems – these are laser-guided airborne ranged weapons, but there is an important nuance. Usually guided airborne ranged weapons in American military terminology are called missiles, but unguided are rockets. But unguided rockets don’t seem to be guided… although there is one exception – the AGR-20 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) (what a name!) from BAE Systems.
AGR-20 APKWS is a conversion of the American 70-mm unguided Hydra 70 missile, which turns it into a guided rocket with laser guidance. And here it becomes clear why the United States is handing over the RQ-20 Puma UAV to Ukraine. The fact is that Puma is equipped with an electron-optical system Mantis i45, which has a laser illuminator. The puzzle is complete!
There is only one “but”. AGR-20 APKWS is used primarily from aircraft and helicopters. But… In 2020, BAE Systems tested APKWS from terrestrial platforms! Will Ukraine become a testing ground for the latest weapons? Let’s see!
Hydra 70 missiles have a fairly large range of engines and warheads, depending on the platform of use and purpose. High-explosive, cumulative, flechettes (sub-caliber arrow bullets), anti-personnel, phosphorous, cassette and so on. The Russian invaders will like it.
Length –1.87 m
Diameter – 70 mm
Wingspan – 24.3 cm
Mass – 15 kg
Muzzle velocity – 1,000 m/s (Mach 2.9)
Effective firing range – 1.1–11 km
Guidance– semi-active laser guidance
Circular error probable – <0,5 metres
Warheads: 1–2 kg
Cost – $22 000