Hellfire Missile Scores In NavAir Tests
The Lockheed Martin Corp. Thermobaric Hellfire missile completed two shots at the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) land test ranges in southern California.
Both air launches were executed from an AH-1W aircraft based out of NAVAIR China Lake test squadrons.
The tests were performed to evaluate recently modified flight control software, which allows the missile to fly a flatter trajectory and impact targets at a near zero obliquity angle.
The launches were thirty minutes apart, and from the same mission. Each missile impacted separate targets, both of which were simulated hardened, urban targets. The impacts of both shots were near dead center of the target and appeared to match the predicted impact angle.
The launches are part of the trajectory shaping study, which is a software enhancement to the Thermobaric Hellfire Missile (AGM-114N).
This work began in late 2005, and is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research and Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
The goal is to flatten out the Hellfire trajectory in order to improve its use against buildings, concealed targets, caves, and a broad variety of military operations in urban terrain. This capability will be fielded on all Thermobaric Hellfire missiles delivered after October 2007. The Navy, however, expects to begin retrofitting its inventory of Hellfire missiles sooner
The thermobaric warhead upgrade to the Hellfire missile began in 2002, and was a science and technology effort to develop and field an improved lethality capability to legacy Hellfire missiles.
After a series of developmental and operational tests, the AGM-114N was deemed operationally effective and suitable by the service test and evaluation force in February.
Two months later, the Navy received approval for full shipboard operational use.
Manufactured by Lockheed Martin in Orlando, Florida, the Hellfire program began in 1972 from an Army Material Need.
Today, with the Army as the lead service, the Hellfire missile is fielded on Navy and Marine Corps helicopters including the AH-1 and H-60. The Army currently employs Hellfire weapons on the AH-64, OH-58 and the AH-6.