The return of light air-ground munitions

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The US Marines Corps announced that it has completed the qualification campaign for APKWS system, for Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System, on F-18 aircraft. Already qualified on Harrier AV-8B, this system is based on a 2,7-inch laser-guided rocket, with very high precision in order to reduce collateral damage, and increasing the number of possible shots per device, face to face traditional missiles or bombs. This system will also be mounted on Marine Corps helicopters.

At the same time, Raytheon announced that it had completed testing for the development of its light bomb, called Small Diameter Bomb II, a lightweight precision Air-Ground munition, of which a single F-35 can carry 44 examples.

With technological development, Air-Ground munitions have gained in precision and range, but also in weight and price. To the point that today, it is not uncommon for ammunition costing several hundred thousand euros to be used to destroy a 4×4 costing a few thousand euros.

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Furthermore, while in the 80s and 90s the number of munitions dropped was relatively low, with the exception of the Gulf War, air support has today become an integral part of modern tactics. As such, countries intervening in the Levant and/or the Saharan zone, such as France and the United States, have faced ammunition stock levels reaching critical thresholds, and restocking capacities that are too low.

In fact, while light munitions had almost disappeared from the inventories of modern armed forces, they have made a comeback in recent years, through laser-guided rockets, or light guided and/or intelligent munitions.

This is the case in France of the company Thales, which simultaneously developed a laser-guided rocketand induction firing, intended to equip ALAT helicopters, as well as the BAT120 bomb, a 35 kg laser-guided bomb, which a Mirage 2000 can transport in 9 copies, or the SmartGliderfrom MBDA, a 120 kg glide bomb carrying more than 100 km, 18 of which can be transported by a single Rafale.

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