The US Air Force (USAF) has deployed BAE Systems’ advanced precision kill weapon system (APKWSTM) laser-guided rockets on F-16 aircraft.

The APKWS rocket-deployed aircraft is currently participating in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The laser-guided rocket is capable of transforming a standard unguided munition into a precision laser-guided rocket to give warfighters a low-cost surgical strike capability.

Using semi-active laser guidance technology, APKWS can strike both soft and lightly armoured targets in confined areas.

The USAF will also use the rocket on A-10 aircraft.

BAE Systems precision guidance solutions director David Harrold said: "The APKWS rocket’s innovative ‘plug and play’ design makes it possible to deploy these systems on a variety of platforms.

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"The Navy and Air Force deserve immense credit for streamlining the acquisition process by leveraging an existing Navy programme of record to meet the needs of all our military services.

"The APKWS rocket’s innovative ‘plug and play’ design makes it possible to deploy these systems on a variety of platforms."

"We are confident that the addition of this highly accurate, low-collateral-damage weapon system will be a game-changer for F-16 and A-10 users in the US Air Force and around the world."

The USAF is using these rockets for the first time on a fixed-wing aircraft in combat operations.

Prior to the USAF, the US Marine Corps used the laser-guided rockets on AV-8B fixed-wing aircraft.

Eglin Air Force Base Program Executive Officer for Weapons brigadier general Shaun Morris said: "The APKWS fixed-wing fielding has been a true display of joint service and contractor teamwork to quickly deliver a capability to meet Air Combat Command fielding requirements while also exceeding Air Force should schedule timelines."

Image: Illustration of APKWS laser-guided rocket fired off of an F-16 aircraft. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.