Army asks Lockheed Martin to ramp-up Hellfire II air-to-ground smart missile production

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala., 1 July 2015. U.S. Army missile experts are asking Lockheed Martin Corp to ramp-up production of the AGM-114R Hellfire missile, which can be launched from manned and unmanned aircraft, surface ships, and military ground vehicles.

Army asks Lockheed Martin to ramp-up Hellfire II air-to-ground smart missile production
Army asks Lockheed Martin to ramp-up Hellfire II air-to-ground smart missile production
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala., 1 July 2015. U.S. Army missile experts are asking Lockheed Martin Corp to ramp-up production of the AGM-114R Hellfire missile, which can be launched from manned and unmanned aircraft, surface ships, and military ground vehicles.

Officials of the Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., awarded a contract modification last week to the Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control segment in Orlando, Fla., to increase Hellfire II missile production from 500 all-up rounds per month to 550 and 650 per month.

The contract covers non-recurring engineering tooling, test equipment, and labor necessary to ramp-up production of variants of the Hellfire II air-to-ground missile.

The AGM-114R is the latest Hellfire II variant, and is equipped with semi–active laser seekers to defeat many kinds of targets. The AGM-114R can be launched from several different kinds of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, surface ships, and military ground vehicles.

Related: Lockheed Martin to provide Hellfire airborne missile launchers to militaries of four Asian countries

Hellfires also are the missile of choice for several kinds of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) such as the MQ-1B Predator, MQ-9 Reaper, and MQ-1C Grey Eagle. Eventually these missiles may arm U.S. military unmanned helicopters.

The AGM-114R Hellfire II Romeo RX missile will use a semi-active laser guidance system and an integrated blast fragmentation sleeve warhead to engage targets that previously needed several Hellfire variants to destroy.

These missiles can seek out their targets autonomously or with designation from remote laser designators. The missile has a three–axis inertial measurement unit to enable it to attack targets from the side and behind.

The AGM-114R can be launched from higher altitudes than previous variants because of its enhanced guidance and navigation capabilities. With its multi–purpose warhead, the missile can destroy hard, soft, and enclosed targets.

Related: Army and Lockheed Martin prepare for production of advanced laser-guided Hellfire missile

Originally developed as an anti-tank missile for the Army's AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, the Hellfire missile has become one of the most versatile munitions in the U.S. arsenal. It can launch from fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, UAVs, surface vessels, and land-based sites.

The AGM-114R will be guided by homing in on the reflected light of a laser designator. Other versions of the Hellfire are radar-guided fire-and-forget weapons. The Hellfire missile weighs 106 pounds, and has high-explosive variants designed to destroy tanks and other armored vehicles, and blast fragmentation versions designed to destroy trucks, antenna sites, concentrations of enemy troops, and other soft targets.

Development of the AGM-114R Hellfire missile became necessary after the Pentagon cancelled the Joint Common Missile (JCM) project, which was to replace Hellfire, as well as the AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missile.

On this contract modification Lockheed Martin will do the work in Orlando, Fla., and should be finished by November 2016. For more information contact Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control online at www.lockheedmartin.com/us/mfc, or the Army Contracting Command-Redstone at www.acc.army.mil/contractingcenters/acc-rsa.

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