This is intended for people interested in the subject of military guns and their ammunition, with emphasis on automatic weapons.
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"Unless they've changed something without telling me (disgraceful!) the APKWS relies on semi-active laser homing. In other words, the target must be illuminated by a laser throughout the missile's flight. That means a self-contained system must (a) be able to see the target initially, and (b) maintain a line-of-sight to the target thereafter. This works very well in a totally flat desert landscape, less well when the topography is varied or there are buildings or vegetation.
I suppose it would be possible to send a separate illuminator aloft to designate the target, but that requires the added complication of having to operate a UAS in conjunction with the missile system."
I suspect that it would work best in tandem with infantry scouts / forward observers.
MLRS is dropper off in one helicopter, with driver and gunner. 2nd helicopter drops off the infantry vehicle with a squad of 8-9 troops.
Vehicles drive together toward to target location.
Then the MLRS is parked somewhere within 5km of the target, while the infantry either drive or walk closer to the target. Then they laze the target, radio the MLRS, and they launch.
For regular infantry use, a similar situation. Infantry get into contact, they laze the enemy location, and then call fire support to the MLRS parked within 5km.
Since the Mini MLRS is so mini, its much more likely that it can be included in close fire support then larger systems like artillery. That, and it only requires 1-2 minimally trained men to fire, vs having dedicated trained artillerymen.
Or a medium helicopter can carry several UGV (such as Milrem THeMIS) with that weapon station, and positioning them on a perimeter or in formation
"Or a medium helicopter can carry several UGV (such as Milrem THeMIS) with that weapon station, and positioning them on a perimeter or in formation."
Absolutely. I expect APKWS will be a main armament for UGV's once they start to come onto line.
Unlike an Autocannon, these don't require any weapon stabilization, or require a vehicle large enough to handle recoil forces.
The flat, thin nature of the MLRS would go well with these low, little UAV's:
gatnerd said...Then the MLRS is parked somewhere within 5km of the target, while the infantry either drive or walk closer to the target. Then they laze the target, radio the MLRS, and they launch.
I think that Tony pointed out that the rocket is not "lock after launch", so you need to park your mini MLRS in direct view of the target so the rocket "see" the laser point before launch.
But maybe they included some inertial guidance capability so the rocket can be fired in an indirect fire fashion, then lock on target during the descending part of the trajectory (lock after launch)?
OTOH M230 and a good enough stabilization system would not weight so much and it could offer more shots and certain capability of indirect fire. Consider also a 81mm mortar self-loaded, of course
My point is that a Chinook could carry internally 4 THeMIS armed with different stations and offer an immediate support fire to a platoon
That's a good point; I'm not exactly sure. There are numerous mentions of the laser seeker having a range of 14km. I took that to mean that it can detect a laser from 14km away.
The DASALS seeker is actually 4 seekers, one on each fin. So presumably at least one is pointing towards the ground. And the seeker does not activate until 0.5 seconds after launch.
So I figured that so long as the rocket is pointed in the correct direction of the target, once it gets airborne it should be able to "look down" with one of its wings sensors and pick up the laser and fly towards it.
However I don't know if that is the case.
All four "seekers" view forward (none of them "look down"), probably better to consider them segments of one assembly.
The spread of ground launching the APKWS isn't quite the game-changer its vendors are advertising, though it will place a premium on detecting and destroying designators (as opposed to counter-battery fires). It seems to me that given an adequate laser-warning system, software-only modifications to the APKWS would make it a dandy anti-designator weapon.
autogun said...I suppose it would be possible to send a separate illuminator aloft to designate the target, but that requires the added complication of having to operate a UAS in conjunction with the missile system.
I imagine the designator will be with the troops being supported.
ZailC said...The spread of ground launching the APKWS isn't quite the game-changer its vendors are advertising, though it will place a premium on detecting and destroying designators (as opposed to counter-battery fires). It seems to me that given an adequate laser-warning system, software-only modifications to the APKWS would make it a dandy anti-designator weapon.
Well the US has been flogging this ground launched rocket package for decades now without getting very far. For use from airborne platforms it obviously will work quite well, but in the ground role a 81 mm or 120 mm mortar would be a better candidate. The rocket will need drogue fins for its minimum range to be much less than its effective range.
Looking at the burn rate for the 70mm rocket motor:
The APKWS Seeker doesn't activate until 0.5 seconds after launch, at which point the rocket is already traveling 1000fps.
As such, I imagine the seeker must have a fairly broad 'cone of detection' with some ability to look downward, as any type of upwardly angled launch (as we see in the previous Fletcher design) would place the rocket 300'+ in the air pointing upwards before the seeker activates.
But, the Fletcher seems to work:
The FLETCHER 70mm rocket launcher system test firing took place late in May 2018 at an undisclosed location in USA at the specific request of an, also undisclosed, group of end users. The aim of the test-firing was to prove the concept of FLETCHER when used as a ground-based weapon system and to demonstrate the capability to a range of interested specialist users from across the globe. The test firing was a huge success, achieving a 100% target hit rate at ranges between 2 km and 5 km.