North American Rockwell's Autonetics Division (later part of Rockwell International) began a technology demonstrator designated as AGM-64 Hornet from 1963 to 1966 to investigate the feasibility of homing systems against armor on the battlefield. Hornet was normally guided by a stabilized television guidance system, which locked on prior to launch and allowed homing without further control from the launch aircraft, (this was the beginning of the concept of "Lock-on-before-launch").
Hoping to capitalize on their Hornet experience, in 1965 Rockwell bid on development work for the Maverick. By 1968 they had lost out to Hughes Aircraft for the Maverick production contract. However, their experience was of use to them in 1970 when the Hornet was used as the Terminal Homing Flight Test Vehicle (THFTV) for development of seekers for the next generation of anti-tank missiles. These tests can be considered as the beginning at Rockwell of what became the HELLFIRE program.
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