A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon successfully shot down a mock cruise missile over the Gulf of Mexico, marking the first airborne intercept of a cruise missile with a GR-20A Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System.

As missile technology continues to mature, a number of national militaries have made missile defense a high priority; the United States is chief among them. American armed forces maintain a variety of missile defense systems that are often used in an overlapping strategy in order to maximize their effectiveness. This compounding defensive strategy is essential, as fast-moving missiles are a small target against the backdrop of an awfully big world.

Now, the U.S. Air Force has another cost-effective tool in its arsenal for inbound missile intercepts: a relatively inexpensive guided rocket that can be deployed from fighter jets. The GR-20A Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System, or APKWS, is carried in a rocket pod under the belly of the aircraft. Once fired, it’s guided to its target by the F-16’s onboard targeting pod.