US Hellfire Missile Orders, FY 2011-2014Dec 20, 2012 16:26 UTC by Defense Industry Daily staff
Hellfire I/II missiles are the USA’s preferred aerial anti-armor missile, and are widely deployed with America’s allies. They equip America’s helicopter fleets (AH-64, AH-1, OH-58D, MH-60S/R), AH-64 and S-70 helicopters flown by its allies, and even Australia and France’s Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters. Range is officially listed as 9 km/ 5.6 miles.
While Hellfires lack the fast-jet launch capabilities – and correspondingly extended maximum range – of the UK’s MBDA Brimstone missiles, Lockheed Martin’s missile has made big inroads as the world’s high-end helicopter-launched missile. It has also carved out unique niches as tripod-launched coastal defense assets, as the guided missile integrated into American UAVs like the MQ-1 Predator family, and even as a missile option for transport aircraft like the C-208B Caravan and C-130J/W Hercules.
Lockheed Martin’s Hellfires
Hellfire II missiles comes in several variants. The AGM-114K is the basic Hellfire II missile, with the standard semi-active laser guidance that allows for flexible designation of targets, and flexible missile attack profiles. It uses a shaped-charge HEAT(High Explosive Anti-Tank) warhead that can destroy armored vehicles, or punch into buildings.
The recently-introduced AGM-114K-A variant adds a blast fragmentation sleeve to the HEAT warhead’s anti-tank capability, giving it added versatility against unarmored targets in the open.
The AM-114M version was originally developed for the Navy; its warhead is solely blast fragmentation, which is effective against boats, lightly armored vehicles, etc.
The AGM-114N variant uses a thermobaric (“metal augmented charge”) warhead that can suck the air out of a cave, collapse a building, or produce an astoundingly large blast radius out in the open.
The AGM-114Q model is a training round, with everything except a warhead.
A new AGM-114R “multi-purpose” Hellfire II is headed into production/ conversion. It adds some guidance and navigation improvements, and goes one step further than the K-A variant: it’s intended to work well against all 3 target types: armored vehicles, fortified positions, or soft/open targets. The “Romeo” will become the mainstay of the future Hellfire fleet, used from helicopters and UAVs, until and unless Hellfire itself is supplanted by the JAGM program. Hellfire systems product manager US Army Lt. Col. Mike Brown:
“One of the most noticeable operational enhancements in the AGM-114R missile is that the pilot can now select the [blast type] while on the move and without having to have a pre-set mission load prior to departure… This is a big deal in insurgency warfare, as witnessed in Afghanistan where the Taliban are fighting in the open and simultaneously planning their next attacks in amongst the local populace using fixed structure facilities to screen their presence.”
Two more Hellfire variants feature key changes that aren’t related to their warheads.
The AGM-114L “Longbow Hellfire” adds a millimeter-wave radar seeker, which makes it a “fire-and-forget” missile. It’s integrated with the mast-mounted radar on AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters, and AH-1 Cobra family attack helicopters have been tested with different add-ons that would give them similar capabilities.
The AGM-114P variant is modified for use from UAVs flying at altitude. That requires greater environmental tolerances, as the difference between temperature at launch altitude and near the target can be well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The AGM-114P’s 3-axis inertial measuring unit (IMU) also gives it a 360-degree targeting capability, making it easier to fire from UAVs that lack a helicopter’s swivel and point maneuverability. Its unique features will also be present in the new AGM-114R, which will succeed it.
Contracts and Key Events
Unless otherwise noted, orders are issued by the U.S. Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL, to Hellfire Systems, LLC in Orlando, FL – a Lockheed Martin/ Boeing joint venture.
The overall contract has now reached $730.5 million.
Oct 4/12: Finalized. A $403.5 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to buy various models of Hellfire II missiles. Work will be performed in Orlando, FL with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/14. One bid was solicited, with one bid received (W31P4Q-11-C-0242).
Looks like they’ve finalized the underlying contract.
Jan 5/12: A $53.9 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to buy more Hellfire II missiles, type and numbers unspecified. Inquiries reveal that the underlying contract, announced on Aug 1/11, still hasn’t been finalized.
Work will be performed in Orlando, FL, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/14. One bid was solicited, with one bid received by US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W31P4Q-11-C-0242).
Aug 1/11: A $159 million firm-fixed-price, unfinalized contract begins procurement of 3,097 AGM-114N/P/Q/R Hellfire II missiles in containers; 16 Hellfire II guidance test articles to verify production lot performance; and engineering, equipment, and production services. The new multi-year contract’s final terms and number of missiles remain under negotiation, but this contract allows production to continue while those details are hammered out. FBO.gov sets the contract’s limits as:
“HELLFIRE II FY11-14 production contract requirements for a maximum total quantity of 24,000 HELLFIRE II missiles in containaers, conversion of a maximum total quantity of 1,800 HELLFIRE II missiles from one model to another HELLFIRE II model, and production of a maximum total quantity of 5,832 HELLFIRE II spare parts, consisting of 40 different national stock numbers (varying quantities).”
Work will be performed in Orlando, FL, with an estimated completion date of Sept 30/14. Since the missiles have only 1 owning manufacturer, 1 sole-source bid was solicited, with 1 bid received (W31P4Q-11-C-0242).
- Lockheed Martin – Hellfire II Missile
- Boeing – History: Rockwell International AGM-114 Hellfire
- Global Security – AGM-114 Hellfire Modular Missile System (HMMS)
- Designation Systems – Boeing/Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire
- DID – JAGM: Joint Common Missile Program. JAGM will replace AGM-114 Hellfire, *GM-71 TOW, and AGM-65 Maverick missile variants on Army and Navy helicopters, UAVs, and fighter aircraft… if the program is not cancelled first.