Posted by John McHaleHUNTSVILLE, Ala., 9 April 2011. The first test launch of the U.S. Army's AGM-114 Hellfire missile at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., fired a missile a modified Avenger weapon system. The test evaluated the feasibility of adding the Hellfire missile and Hydra 2.75-inch rocket capabilities to the Army's Avenger system. Boeing designed, built and installed the mechanical integration equipment to mate the Hellfire and rocket launchers to the Avenger, and supported the live firing at the test site.The Avenger weapon system is part of Boeing's continuing development of the Avenger-derived Adaptive Force Protection System (AFPS). "The Avenger turret's ability to launch Hellfire missiles offers the warfighter another choice of weapon, one with significant ground firepower," says Phil Hillman, Avenger program manager for Boeing Network & Tactical Systems. "We continue to integrate and test additional capability on this system. Since Avenger is already in the Army inventory, upgrading Avengers instead of developing and fielding new systems has obvious cost advantages -- something that we believe is critically important in the current budget environment."Avenger was originally designed as an air defense system, but other ground defense capabilities, such as Hellfire, are being considered to expand the system's range and versatility. The Avenger turret can be mounted on a variety of vehicles, including Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, or used as a stand-alone, fixed-mounted weapon station.