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January 3, 2020

U.S. Air Force F-16C Viper recently shot down
a target drone using a laser-guided 70mm rocket in a test
The important part is that these rockets are generally used for air-to-ground engagement
but in this case, was used in air to air role. US Air Force conducted the experiment to determine
the feasibility of using the weapon for shooting down incoming cruise missiles. But the usage will not be limited to cruise
missiles and could also be leverage for destroying small unmanned aircraft, including suicide
drones. As per reports, the F-16C, assigned to the
85th Test and Evaluation Squadron, part of the 53rd Wing at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida,
conducted the test over a range off the coast of the state on Dec. 19, 2019. A BQM-167 target drone was used to simulate
a cruise missile threat. In this video Defense Updates analyzes why
F-16C Viper using APKWS II 70mm rocket for air to air engagement is a significant step
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20 million players from all over the world! The proliferation of cruise missile and drone
technology has meant that the chances of facing asymmetric threats are much more than it was
a decade before. In January 2018 Russian forces faced a drone
swarm launched against Khmeimim Air Base, in Syria. The Russian were able to neutralize most of
these. Though the attack was able to inflict limited
damage it indicated that the threat of the drone swarm has arrived. A recent example is the September attack on
Saudi Arabia. On September 14, facilities of Saudi Arabia’s
oil company Aramco located in the east of the country came under attack. As per reports, the raid began around 4 a.m
and drones as well as cruise missiles were used in the attack, there were 18 drones and
7 missiles. The world’s biggest oil refinery near the
city of Abqaiq and a refinery near Khurais, where Saudi’s second-largest oil field is
located were targeted. The damage was significant & this caused a
spike in global oil prices. This kind of scenario can occur in U.S Air
Force bases too. A swarm of cheap drone armed with small explosives
and short-range cruise missiles with high explosives could cause massive damage to multi-million
dollar warplanes, radars, etc. The adversary could potentially cause a lot
of destruction without having to put in significant resources. For example, a Lockheed Martine F 35 Lightning
II costs around $ 80 million apiece and could be easily disabled by a grenade sized warhead. John Rood, undersecretary of defense for policy
recently stated, “We’re seeing asymmetric investments in
things like swarming UAS technology, like unmanned aerial systems that really fly more
like the cruise missiles. It’s a serious problem.” Rood didn’t specifically mention the Saudi
attacks, but indications were clear. So, it is paramount that the U.S military
addresses the growing challenge of targeting small, basic but potentially lethal drones. U.S. Air Force Colonel Ryan Messer, commander
of the 53rd Wing, said in a statement, “The test was unprecedented and will shape
the future of how the Air Force executes CMD [cruise missile defense]. This is a prime example of how the 53rd Wing
is using resources readily available to establish innovative ways that enhance combat capabilities
for our combat units.” Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II (APKWS
II) 70mm rocket or AGR-20A was used for this experiment. It is to be noted that the Marine Corps first
fielded the laser-guided APKWS II in 2008. Since then a concerted effort has been made
to utilize this to counter different threats in a battlespace. The weapon can be used deployed from both
fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. The Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System
(APKWS) is a design conversion of Hydra 70 unguided rockets with a laser guidance kit
to turn them into precision-guided munitions (PGMs). The kit slots in between the standard 70mm
rocket motor and the warhead, allowing for the rapid conversion of existing Hydra 70
unguided rockets into low-cost precision-guided munitions. The U.S Air Force did not reveal what warhead
and fuze combination was used during the test. There are two basic options 1. An inert warhead for ‘hit to kill’ approach. The rocket will physically ram into the target
to destroy it. 2. A high explosive warhead with a proximity
fuze. The advantage is that even without a direct
hit, the target will be crippled. Images that the Air Force released show that
the aircraft taking part in the test were carrying rockets with yellow bands at the
front, which would point to a live warhead. The U.S Air Force has stated that the F-16C
had targeted the drone using an onboard targeting pod. Pictures show that the plane was carrying
an AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod during the test. Produced by Lockheed Martine, it provides
positive target identification, autonomous tracking, GPS coordinate generation, and precise
weapons guidance from extended standoff ranges. It significantly increases the ability to
engage low flying targets with small radar cross-sections As per U.S Air Force, the idea of using APKWS
II in the air-to-air role was the result of an effort to develop a low-cost weapon for
aircraft to use in the cruise missile or drone defense role. Currently, US Air Force trains to use AIM-120
Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) and AIM-9X Sidewinders to engage
cruise missile threats as well as drones. The unit price of AIM-120C is around $1.16
whereas that of AIM-120D is $1.3 million. AIM-9X Sidewinder costs $0.6 million each. Using these missiles for taking out inexpensive
drones and cruise missiles is not an effective solution. Secondly, a fighter can carry a very limited
number of these weapons. So, against a swarm attack, there is a possibility
to run out of missiles. Hydra 70 has a unit cost of $2,799
Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) which is used to convert Hydra 70 into precision-guided
munitions costs only around $25,000. So, the package of will not be more than $30,000
which is much cheaper when compared to AIM-120 variants and AIM-9X Sidewinders
Another important aspect is that an aircraft can carry many of these. A hardpoint that would hold a single AIM-120
can carry a pod that can carry 7 or 19 of these rockets. Threats from low-cost drones and cruise missiles
is real. Keeping this in view, the test with the APKWS
II 70mm rocket is significant. U.S military is also developing other techs
in parallel for this kind of scenario. One such system is Howler. Howler combines the capabilities of Raytheon’s
Ku band radio frequency system multi-mission simultaneous radar and Coyote® unmanned aircraft
system. To know more, check the video on the above
card. Another endeavor is the use of lasers. The U.S Air Force recently tested Lockheed
Martin’s Advanced Test High Energy Asset anti-drone laser. Advanced Test High Energy Asset, or ATHENA
– also the name of the Greek goddess of was used to take out drones. As per reports, the system shot down multiple
Class 1 and 2 fixed-wing and rotary drones. It can be said that the U.S military is moving
aggressively to counter the menace of drones and cruise missiles.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. This isn’t the stuff that you’re talking about some of us isn’t it classified or something I am ignorant about stuff but I don’t know every time I wash these videos I just wonder they’re good videos

  2. Great should work well..as long as there is no cloud, fog or mist. Look up the issues for using these systems outside desert conditions..its fascinating reading.

  3. Wondering the effectiveness of laser against hypersonic missiles. Seems it's the only thing fast enough to take that out but – can it track something moving at Mach 7 or 8? That's the big question.

  4. Could go cheaper and just get up on the missiles tail and go for a guns kill. And same for the drones so long as they don’t have a defensive maneuver protocol installed

  5. this vid makes me wonder why no nation has deployed free-fall GPS guided "lawn darts" stabbed through a grenade and carried on the pylons of unmanned aircraft. at least with a grenade attached to a lawn dart, the GPS margin of error will be compensated for in the absence of a kinetic energy kill against personnel. or you could drop multiple of these low cost darts in any direction you expect a target to flee should the first miss. also, drones are a poor man's cruise missiles despite lower speeds, more command and control difficulties, and smaller payloads. an insurgent force, however, doesn't really need the expensive features of the most advanced weapons to manipulate American/Russian public opinion and turn their people against a conflict. they only need effective sporadic means of maiming and killing boys.

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