The 40th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin AFB, Fla., completed developmental flight testing of BAE Systems’ fixed-wing Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II on the A-10 ground-attack aircraft, according to a base release. The first of three shots of the 2.75-inch diameter, 35-pound, laser-guided rocket occurred in February, with the weapon impacting inches away from the target, according to the April 3 release. The Air Force is performing this testing under an Office of the Secretary of Defense-sponsored joint concept technology demonstration that aims to take the combat-proven APKWS, which Marine Corps helicopters have used in Afghanistan, and modify it for use on fixed-wing platforms. The lightweight rocket is designed to minimize collateral damage. “We don’t have a precision weapon out there now that can do that,” said Joe Stromsness, project manager. Operational testing on the A-10 and F-16 is slated to start in May at China Lake Test Range in California. The Navy in March tested this variant of APKWS on the AV-8B. This weapon could be ready for operational use by 2015, according to the release. (Eglin report by Samuel King Jr.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.