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Test squadrons reach rocket launch milestone

Fire away

Maj. Nathan McCaskey, 40th Flight Test Squadron test pilot, fires an APKWS SBVU rocket from his F-16 Fighting Falcon near Eglin Air Force Base, Fla, Nov. 3. The APKWS SBVU was being tested against a ground based stationary target. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. John Raven)

Fire away

An F-16 Fighting Falcon is flown by Maj. Nathan McCaskey, 40th Flight Test Squadron test pilot, during a test of the APKWS SBVU rocket near Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Nov 3. The 40 FLTS mission is to execute exceptional fighter developmental test and support to deliver war-winning capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. John Raven)


The 96th Test Wing answered the warfighter’s call once again, completing developmental testing for the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II Single Variant Block Upgrade. 

This month, the 780th Test Squadron and 40th Flight Test Squadron successfully accomplished five rocket launches off of the F-16 Fighting Falcon.  These tests utilized a laser-designated target and two different shot profiles, one at high altitudes and another at low altitudes.

This was done to collect data for the analysis of new software and hardware upgrades made to the APKWS and autopilot system.  These tests were focused on combining warhead capabilities into a universal product capable of being employed by numerous service branches. 

APKWS transforms a Hydra-70 unguided rocket into precision-guided munition by adding a laser guidance kit.  The ground and airborne tests evaluated multiple warheads, including a multi-purpose penetrator that can be used to engage moving and fixed light-armored vehicles. 

“The combined efforts from the 780th Test Squadron, 40th Flight Test Squadron, BAE Systems, Redstone Arsenal and the Armament Directorate’s APKWS Program Office demonstrated the ability to work across services and deliver advanced munitions at the speed of relevance,” said Jacob Warye, 780th TS test engineer for the project.