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AGM-114 Hellfire Variants

The HELLFIRE weapon system consists of an AGM-114 HELLFIRE missiles, M272 launcher (used on AH-1W helicopter), M299 launcher (used on the SH/UH/HH-60 helicopters), HELLFIRE-peculiar avionics, and a remote laser target designator which can be hand-held or tripod-mounted by ground observers or used as a stabilized airborne device on a separate aircraft. The missile consists of four major sections: seeker, (AGM-114B), guidance (AGM-114K), warhead, propulsion, and control. The only difference between the Army and Navy basic HELLFIRE versions is that the Navy version has a safe and arm device in the propulsion section. There is no difference between the Army and Navy AGM-114K HELLFIRE versions. The safe and arm device, which has an out-of-line igniter, provides the additional safety required for shipboard use.

The M272 and M299 guided missile launcher were developed specifically for the HELLFIRE missile and provide the electronic and mechanical interface between the missile and helicopter. The launcher is capable of carrying one to four missiles on each launcher. The M272 launcher will only be carried on the outboard stations of the stub wing. The length, weight, and physical characteristics of the HELLFIRE II missile are the same as the basic missile allowing full compatibility with launch platforms, shipping containers and support systems currently in place.

The M-272 Guided Missile Launcher provides the electronic and mechanical interface between the missile and helicopter avionics. The launcher is a four-rail configuration capable of carrying and launching from one to four missiles.

The M-299 Guided Missile Launcher is an improved version of the M-272. The M-299 is part of the AGM-114 (series) Missile System for the HH-60H and SH-60B helicopters. The significant improvements over the M-272 are:

  • Operation with all versions of AGM-114 (series) missiles
  • Reduced system weight and complexity
  • Improved maintainability and configuration
  • Compliance with MIL-STD-1760 interface
  • Reprogrammable software
  • High output power supply

The Navy uses the CNU-448/E aluminum container to ship both the AGM-114B and AGM-114K All-Up-Rounds (AUR). The container is used to transport repairable AURs to and from the AUR depot and the Designated Overhaul Point (DOP), place Ready for Issue (RFI) AURs in storage, or transport RFI AURs back to the fleet.

The first generation of Laser HELLFIRE is used as the main armament of the US Army's AH-64 Apache and US Marine Corps' AH-1W Super Cobra helicopters. The second generation currently is available for deployment. Laser HELLFIRE homes on a laser spot that can be projected from ground observers, other aircraft, or the launching aircraft itself. This enables the system to be employed in a variety of modes: autonomous, air or ground, direct or indirect, single shot, rapid, or ripple fire.

The AGM-114A Basic HELLFIRE tactical missile is the originally designed Hellfire missile, which is no longer purchased by the Army. A total of 31,616 were produced by both Martin Marietta and Rockwell International since 1982. AGM-114As in the inventory are released for live-fire training when they are replaced with AGM-114Cs.

The AGM-114B, although primarily designed for Navy use, can be fired from Army aircraft. This missile has an additional electronic arm/safety device required for shipboard use.

The AGM-114C missile has an improved semiactive laser seeker with an improved low visibility capability. The AGM-114C has a low smoke motor and a lower trajectory than the 114A. Army missiles should be marked with either the A or C designation just behind the seeker. The largely outdated $25,000 Hellfire C loses its ability to acquire targets as it reaches higher launch altitudes.

The AGM-114F Interim HELLFIRE missile features two warheads [adding a precursor warhead to defeat vehicles equipped with reactive armor] a seeker and an autopilot similar to the C-model missile. Final delivery of the Interim HELLFIRE missiles produced by Rockwell was completed in January 1994. Production for foreign military sales continued.

The AGM-114K HELLFIRE II missile features dual warheads for defeating reactive armor, electro-optical countermeasures hardening, semiactive laser seeker, and a digital autopilot that can be reprogrammed in flight for new targets and trajectory shaping. Hellfire II and Longbow Hellfire missiles are complementary. The combination of Hellfire II's precision guidance and Longbow Hellfire's fire-and-forget capability will provide the battlefield commander flexibility across a wide range of mission scenarios, permitting fast battlefield response and high mobility not afforded by other anti-armor weapons. The $65,000 Hellfire K that can acquire targets from altitudes of at least 15,000 ft. The AGM-114K missile is capable of operating with either pulsed radar frequency or A-Code laser codes for those aircraft equipped with dual code capability. Hellfire II incorporates many improvements over the Interim Hellfire missile, including solving the laser obscurant/backscatter problem, the only shortcoming identified during Operation Desert Storm. Other improvements include electro-optical countermeasure hardening, improved target reacquisition capability, an advanced technology warhead system capable of defeating reactive armor configurations projected into the 21st century, reprogrammability to adapt to changing threats and mission requirements, and shipboard compatibility. The Initial Production Facilitation and Production Qualification Test contract was awarded to Martin Marietta in November 1992. The initial production contract was awarded in May 1993, and the second production contract was awarded in February 1994.

    Version:        Basic       Interim       HF II       Longbow
    Diameter:       7 in        7 in          7 in        7 in
    Weight:         100 lb      107 lb        100 lb      108 lb
    Length:         64 in       71 in         64 in       69.2 in
    

Blast-Frag Hellfire (AGM-114M) is intended to be a 'K' with a new warhead. Under developmen, it reached VX-9 in 2000. VX-9s effort will be to determine, among other things, if the missile will fly the same profiles, distances, and additionally look at what penetration capabilities it has. A number of different targets, which are the key to this test, are being considered. Of interest are bunkers, brick and concrete structures, APCs, Fast Patrol Boats (Tarantula, Houdong, and Boghammer), and other like targets in a variety of environments with different mission scenarios.

The M-36E1 Training Guided Missile [TGM] is an inert missile and training round with mass properties and external configurations representative of the AGM-114B and AGM-114K Tactical Missiles. It provides realistic captive flight simulations for training flight crews. The United States Army designated the M-36E1 as the TGM; however, it is also known as the CATM. For clarity in this document, the M-36E1 will be referred to as the TGM/CATM.

The tactical missiles are propelled by a single stage, single thrust, solid propellant motor. When thrust exceeds 500 to 600 pounds, the missile leaves the rail. Based on a 10g acceleration parameter, arming occurs between 150 to 300 meters after launch. Maximum velocity of the missile is 950 miles per hour. Maximum standoff range is a function of missile performance, launch platform altitude versus target altitude, visibility and cloud cover. Remote designation allows the launch aircraft to stand off at greater distances from the target. This standoff range can be out to the maximum missile effective engagement range.



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