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AGM-114 Hellfire

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The U.S. Army-designed AGM-114 Hellfire missile is an air-to-surface missile used on attack helicopters and unmanned combat aerial vehicles. Originally intended as an anti-tank missile, it proved effective against a wide range of helicopter targets. It has also been used against terrorist targets by Central Intelligence Agency and Air Force MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper/Predator B unmanned aerial vehicles. While most versions are helicopter or UAV launched, the Army is working on a HMMWV launcher.

It has undergone numerous upgrades and variations. [1] Originally intended as a laser-guided antitank weapon for the AH-64 Apache, it started with a maximum range of 8000 m/8750 yd and minimum effective range of approximately 1500 m/1640 yd. The first version had an 8 kg/18 pound shaped-charge warhead

AGM-114 Hellfire production versions
Version User Features
AGM-114A Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopter Basic antitank warhead
AGM-114B Navy and Marine AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter SAD (Safing/Arming Device) for safe shipboard use. Thiokol TX-657 (M120E1) reduced-smoke rocket motor as well as some improvements to seeker and autopilot.
AGM-114C Army Thiokol TX-657 (M120E1) reduced-smoke rocket motor as well as some improvements to seeker and autopilot.
AGM-114F "Interim Hellfire" Army Dual warhead to defeat reactive armor; better guidance with slightly reducd range
AGM-114K "Hellfire II" All services; -KBF sold to Sweden Larger warhead; multiple attack flight profiles, fuzing options; range inproved over F model
AGM-114L Army Compatible with AN/APG-78 Longbow millimeter radar or AH-64 ApacheTarget Acquisition and Designation Sight (TADS)
AGM-114M Navy MH-60R Blast-fragmentation warhead; improved SAD
AGM-114N Navy Thermobaric warhead; while the exact filler composition is classified, it contains fluorinated aluminium powder layered between the warhead casing and the PBXN-112 explosive fill[2]
AGM-114P CIA and others Optimized for UAV high-altitude firing

Successors

For a variety of reasons, the Hellfire's technology is aging and not always appropriate, and several nations and consortia are seeking alternatives. The U.S. alternative, still in development, is the Joint Air-Ground Missile. Britain, and presumably some other European countries, have implemented the Brimstone missile, made by MBDA.

In some UAV applications, the Hellfire still has too large a warhead for engaging targets in populated areas, and other options are being explored, such as a guided 81mm mortar round.

References