USMC ready to deploy APKWS on F/A-18 Hornet

USMC ready to deploy APKWS on F/A-18 Hornet

By Dario Leone
Mar 10 2018
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APKWS is a low-cost precision-guided 2.75-inch rocket system that integrates a low-cost Distributed Aperture Semi-Active Laser Seeker guidance section with existing Hydra 70 rocket motors

The Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II (APKWS II) is ready to be deployed on the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) F/A-18 Hornets.

As reported by Jane’s, in a Feb. 27 Twitter post, the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) released a photograph of APKWS loaded onto a F/A-18 aircraft belonging to VMFA-314. The image, taken the previous week, showed APKWS loaded into twin seven-cell LAU-68 F/A pods “to prepare for the weapon’s initial deployment with the aircraft”.

APKWS II is a low-cost precision-guided 2.75-inch rocket system that integrates a low-cost Distributed Aperture Semi-Active Laser Seeker (DASALS) guidance section with existing Hydra 70 rocket motors and either the Mk 152 or M282 warheads.

The APKWS laser-guided rocket demonstrates extreme precision, reliability, and versatility in theater and in testing. The system also provides new combat capabilities for air, ground, and sea-based platforms. The weapon in fact uses its semi-active laser guidance technology to strike both soft and lightly armored targets in confined areas, providing greater accuracy and mission effectiveness.

Previously, the AV-8B was the only fast jet in the USMC cleared to operate the laser-guided weapon. As we have explained in fact the weapon gives Harrier pilots, who usually fire unguided rockets or drop unguided 500 pound bombs to destroy enemy threats, a lighter, precision air-to-ground attack option.

Noteworthy the AV-8B jump jets from VMA-311 tested the APKWS for the first time in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region on Jun. 9, 2017 when they carried out a live fire exercise with the weapon at the W-183 range training area, off Okinawa, Japan.

VMFAT-101 F/A-18 print
This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.  F/A-18B Hornet VMFAT-101 Sharpshooters, SH215 / 163115 – Medal of Honor. MAG-11, MAW-3, MCAS Miramar, CA – 2014

Photo credit: NAVAIR

Artwork courtesy of

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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