Lockheed Finishes Integrating Hellfires On Eurocopter Platform
Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] finished a four-year program to integrate its precision-strike Hellfire II missile system, including the M299 “smart launcher,” with its first international helicopter launch platform, Eurocopter’s Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopter (ARH).
The work was performed for Australia.
Hellfire scored seven target hits in seven shots in a test series that spanned more than six months, and demonstrated its capability in multiple flight/launch scenarios against different targets, according to Lockheed.
Based on those successes, an eighth planned flight test was canceled by the customer.
The series of tests began in May 2005 for Australian Aerospace and with the cooperation of Australia’s Defence Materiel Organisation, the Australian Army, Eurocopter and Sagem (manufacturer of the sight), and the U.S. Army.
It was conducted in two phases at Woomera, South Australia, using multiple launch scenarios and various targets to test approaches, ranges, altitudes and speeds, during daylight and nighttime conditions.
“We met all of our objectives to qualify Hellfire on the Tiger,” said Andy Marshall, international program manager for air-to-ground missile systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Orlando, FL.
“The missile’s 100-percent performance engaging, launching and impacting targets gives the Tiger a capability it has not had before and that no other weapon system can give it.”
The first firing, on May 28 last year, demonstrated successful separation of an inert warhead missile from its platform, which, in lock-on-before-launch (LOBL) mode, scored a bulls-eye on the target, a simulated armored personnel carrier (APC).
During the second phase, which began in November, two more successful LOBL firings were conducted using inert warheads, with launches from different angles, heights and speeds.
Continuing into December, four LOAL firings demonstrated performance day and night, from 6 to 8 km, with self- and remote-designation.
Two of these flights included live warheads; three were against simulated APCs, and one target was a simulated building.
The Hellfire II Modular Missile System family provides multi-mission, multi-target capability with precision-strike lethality and fire-and-forget survivability, according to Lockheed, which said this is the primary air-to-ground precision weapon for the U.S. military as well as the armed forces of 16 other nations.
The Hellfire family includes three precision-strike variations using a semi-active laser seeker to home in on the target:
- The metal augmented charge, or “thermobaric” Hellfire (AGM-114N), which defeats enclosures and enemy personnel housed therein, with minimal collateral damage.
- The millimeter-wave (MMW) radar Longbow Hellfire (AGM-114L), which provides fire-and-forget and adverse weather capability.
- The blast fragmentation missile (AGM-114M), which defeats “soft” targets such as buildings, bunkers, light-armored vehicles and caves
- The high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) missile (AGM-114K), which defeats all known and projected armored threats
All four Hellfire II variants have been used successfully in Afghanistan and Iraq, with more than 1,000 missiles fired to date, according to the company.