A U.S. Army AH-64E Apache helicopter assigned fires Hydra 70 rockets during a combined arms live-fire exercise at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
A U.S. Army AH-64E Apache helicopter assigned fires Hydra 70 rockets

BAE Systems Awarded $81 Million Munitions Contract for MK 90 Propellant Grain

BAE Systems Ordnance Systems Inc., Radford, Virginia, was awarded an $81,089,341 modification (000828) to contract for MK 90 propellant grain. The MK 90 propellant grain is the propulsion component of the Hydra 70 family of rockets used by the U.S. military and several allied nations to support overseas operations. In the U.S. Army, Hydra 70 rockets are fired from the AH-64A Apache and AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters using M261 19-tube rocket launchers. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Dec. 30, 2022. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, is the contracting activity.

The MK 90 propellant grain is manufactured at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant in southwestern Virginia, where BAE Systems has been serving as the managing operator since 2012. The facility is a leading producer of military-grade propellants and is currently the primary supplier of solventless propellants. The production process for the MK 90 grain involves more than 300 people in five manufacturing areas at the plant. BAE Systems began producing MK 90 propellant grains in October 2012, with the first delivery occurring in August 2013. To date, approximately 500,000-grain units have been delivered to the U.S. Department of Defense.

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BAE Systems MK 90 Propellant Grain
BAE Systems MK 90 Propellant Grain

The Hydra 70 rocket is a 2.75-inch (70 mm) diameter fin-stabilized unguided rocket used primarily in the air-to-ground role. It can be equipped with a variety of warheads, and in more recent versions, guidance systems for point attacks. The Hydra 70 is derived from the 2.75-inch (70 mm) diameter Mk 4/Mk 40 Folding-Fin Aerial Rocket developed by the United States Navy for use as a free-flight aerial rocket in the late 1940s. The Mk 40 was used during the Korean and Vietnam wars to provide close air support to ground forces from about 20 different firing platforms, both fixed-wing and armed helicopters.

The family of Hydra 70 (70 mm) 2.75-inch rockets perform a variety of functions. The war reserve unitary and cargo warheads are used for anti-materiel, anti-personnel, and suppression missions. The Hydra 70 family of folding-fin aerial rockets also includes smoke screening, illumination, and training warheads. Hydra 70 rockets are known mainly by either their warhead type or by the rocket motor designation, Mk 66 in US military service. The AGR-20 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) is a design conversion of Hydra 70 unguided rockets with a laser guidance kit to turn them into precision-guided munitions (PGMs).

The APKWS rocket exceeds program requirements as the most accurate precision guided weapon in its class. It is utilized by all four U.S. armed forces, with deliveries to numerous allied countries.Fired from more than 20 different fixed- and rotary-wing platforms
The APKWS rocket exceeds program requirements as the most accurate precision guided weapon in its class. It is utilized by all four U.S. armed forces, with deliveries to numerous allied countries.Fired from more than 20 different fixed- and rotary-wing platforms

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