Longbow Hellfire (LBHF)
The Longbow Hellfire missile will provide an adverse weather, fire-and-forget, heavy anti-armor capability for attack helicopters.The Longbow Hellfire missile is a millimeter wave radar fire-and-forget version of the Hellfire missile. The Longbow development program also includes development of a fire control radar system and numerous modifications to the helicopter. The Longbow fire control radar system will locate, classify, and prioritize targets for the Longbow Hellfire missile. The Longbow system is being developed for integration into the Apache attack helicopter and the Comanche armed reconnaissance helicopter. Longbow is planned for integration into the entire fleet of Apache aircraft and into one-third of the Comanche fleet.
Longbow Hellfire incorporates a millimeter wave radar seeker on a Hellfire II aft section data bus. The primary advantages of the Longbow missile include adverse weather capability (rain, snow, fog, smoke, and battlefield obscurants); millimeter wave countermeasures survivability; fire-and-forget guidance, which allows the Apache Longbow to launch and then remask, thus minimizing exposure to enemy fire; an advanced warhead capable of defeating reactive armor configurations projected into the 21st century; and reprogrammability to adapt to changing threats and mission requirements.
Damage to 19 of 43 Apache Helicopters was detected following Hellfire missile firing during the USAREUR training exercise VICTORY STRIKE in Poland 06-18 October 2000. Damage to AH-64A Helicopter horizontal stabilators was initially attributed to ground debris then later to the Hellfire missile. Two Apache units fired 385 AGM-114C model missiles and numerous 2.75 inch rockets and 30MM rounds without incident. PEO Aviation System Safety Risk Assessment (SSRA) assigns a Category I-A risk (Catastrophic Probable) if missiles are fired from any position other than position number 4 on right outboard pylon. The SSRA applies only to the AH-64D Helicopter. SSRA for other helicopters is a "due-out" from PEO Aviation. AMCOM IMMC worldwide suspension of Hellfire missiles with the deficient Alliant/Hercules motors remained in place as of mid-2001. All Hellfire missiles with this motor were in CC-N, emergency combat use only. This included the entire inventory of the Longbow Hellfire Millimeter Wave (AGM-114L) missile, and nearly 90% of the latest Laser production assets (AGM-144 K &K-2). TURBO CADS (TC) is a TRANSCOM administered, JCS funded, MACOM supported, joint live ammunition containerization exercise. TC involves the relocation, retrograde, and call forward of theater ammunition stocks.
TURBO CADS 01 arrived Chinhae Korea on 07 June 2001 and Hellfire missiles (720 Longbow Millimeter Wave (MMW) and 280 Laser Hellfire (HFII)) were off-loaded from the MAERSK ALASKA and were enroute to storage areas at Chunchon and Uijongbu. Missiles will support the FUE in EUSA for 1st BN/ 2nd AVN. The Longbow Hellfire MMW remained in Condition Code N (CC N) - Emergency Combat use only, until modified by the PM ARM. EUSA will retrograde a total of 1,000 Laser Hellfire missiles (AGM-114 C) in CCA, which enables continuation of CONUS annual service practice training into FY02. PM ARM will design, develop and qualify a replacement ring grain spacer for Alliant-TECH/Hercules missiles. However, qualification and testing must be completed before the new design motors will be manufactured and inserted into the on-going Longbow Hellfire missile production line currently scheduled in Jan 02. An Unfinanced Requirement (UFR) of $35.718 million in FY02 Missile Procurement Army (MIPA) funds for retrofit of the ring grain spacer into extant inventory restricts the retrofit start date until 2QFY03. Only Longbow and HF II missiles will be retrofitted with a projected completion date for FY 05. This leaves some 45 percent of the remaining inventory of 12,000 missiles (AGM-114 A, C and F model) to remain unmodified for either consumption in training or to become DEMIL candidates. Commander 101ST AASLT Division is in process of requesting release of Longbow missiles for storage at FT Campbell, KY for the Division Ready Brigade aviation elements.
As of November 2002 about two-thirds of the Army's Hellfire missiles -- about 10,000 weapons -- had flawed rocket motors that needed to be retrofitted, and most of the missiles had yet to be fixed. The problems affect only Hellfire rocket motors made by a particular contractor, Hercules Aerospace Co. A second contractor's motors are fine. About 4,800 Longbow Hellfires and 5,200 Laser Hellfires are affected -- all the Longbows and half the Lasers. The Navy does not need to fix its Hercules Hellfires, because its helicopters are configured differently from the Army's and the risk is low.
The missile is being upgraded through the Home-on-Jam/Anti-Jam (HOJ/AJ) and Counter-Active Protection System (CAPS) programs. The HOJ/AJ upgrade is a software revision that changes the guidance logic to improve effectiveness against self-screening and standoff jammers. The CAPS upgrade includes hardware and software to provide active counter-countermeasures for the missile.
The Army conducted ten Hellfire missile flight tests in FY03 to support the HOJ/AJ software regression testing and determine its effectiveness in countermeasure environments. Analysis of this testing is ongoing with results expected during 2QFY04. For the CAPS upgrade, pre-qualification testing was conducted in FY03 to address the radome design, antenna design, effective radiated power, guidance section performance, and radar cross-section. Because the CAPS is added to the exterior of the existing missile, aerodynamic impacts of the upgrade are being studied; sub-scale wind tunnel testing was proposed for FY04.
Four missile flights in FY03 supported software regression testing and evaluation under benign conditions while six additional missile flights provided data to demonstrate HOJ/AJ performance under electronic countermeasure (ECM) conditions. Analysis is ongoing to reconcile differences between pre-flight predictions and actual flight-test results for at least one of the six ECM flights. A test report and simulation verification and validation report are expected in early CY04. "Rocket Ball" testing, a series of contractor-run engineering tests, reportedly confirmed good radio frequency performance of three CAPS prototype systems. This series of tests also showed that there was no discernable difference in performance due radome-to-radome variability. There was a small increase in baseline radar cross section with the addition of CAPS to the missile. The ERP test showed that the design has sufficient radio frequency performance margin.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|