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BAE Systems uses laser-guided rockets to take out pesky drones

With drones increasingly utilized as common warfare and surveillance technologies, a number of government contractors and agencies have funded projects that look into new ways to knock the aerial vehicles out of the sky. The latest among them is BAE Systems, which has tested a modified rocket featuring a laser guidance system to shoot down drones without the cost of existing missile options.

The recent testing took place at Yuma Proving Grounds, BAE Systems announced on Monday. The test involved APKWS laser-guided rockets used to take down airborne drones, which can be tricky to target due to their extensive movement capabilities. BAE explains that its rockets were paired with the Mk66 motors and M151 warheads, a new proximity fuze, and the APKWS guidance kits.

In particular, these newly tested rockets are ideal for shooting down the small tactical drones used for military purposes, according to the company. BAE says the aforementioned fuze is the key to this new capability, bestowing the rockets with point detonation and proximity detection; the newly developed fuze replaces the M423 fuzes previously used.

With this tech, the rockets don’t need to hit the drones in order to take them out — they can be deployed within the proximity of drones to destroy them instead. The system is cheaper than using C-UAS missiles, according to the company, plus they come with another benefit: the laser guidance system means the rockets don’t need to lock onto the target drone before they’ll launched.

The APKWS guidance kits will allow the military to use existing rockets to address a new type of threat, making them a more economical choice. BAE Systems says its recent engineering tests and test fires are part of a larger mission to develop an anti-drone system for the US military and the nation’s allies.