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Eglin F-16 downs drone with laser-guided rocket

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The 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron shot down a subscale drone using an AGR-20A Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System laser-guided rocket on Dec. 19.  The test provided a proof of concept for using rockets queued from an F-16 targeting pod as viable munitions to perform cruise missile defense.

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EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — The 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron shot down a subscale drone using an AGR-20A Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System laser-guided rocket on Dec. 19.  The test provided a proof of concept for using rockets queued from an F-16 targeting pod as viable munitions to perform cruise missile defense.

“The test was unprecedented and will shape the future of how the Air Force executes CMD,” said Col. Ryan Messer, 53d Wing commander. “This is a prime example of how the 53d Wing is using resources readily available to establish innovative ways that enhance combat capabilities for our combat units.”

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Originally developed as a low cost, low collateral damage air-to-ground weapon for use in Afghanistan and Iraq, adapting the AGR-20A for counter-air use is momentous. The AGR-20A is a fraction of the cost of an AIM-120 missile commonly used for cruise missile defense. Additionally, the AGR-20A can be loaded faster than an AIM-120 and an aircraft can carry two-to-three times the number weapons.

 Finding a more cost-efficient CMD weapon was the #2 of 76 Tactics Improvement Proposals following the January 2019 Weapons and Tactics Conference, known as WEPTAC. The 85th TES planned and conducted the test with support across the Air Force and contract partners ensuring efficacy and potential prior to execution.

“This proof of concept can have implications for homeland defense missions, Combined Defense of the Arabian Gulf, and beyond,” said Messer. “I am exceptionally proud of the efforts of the 85th TES and the units across the 53d Wing that made this possible.”

PHOTO (ABOVE): A group of F-16s from the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron and the 40th Flight Test Squadron, return to Eglin Air Force Base after a successful test mission Dec. 19, 2019. This test successfully demonstrated shooting a small drone at low altitudes (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. John Raven)

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