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Successful First Flight for Lockheed Martin's New HELLFIRE II Missile Design

27th October 2009 - 09:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


Lockheed Martin's new multi-functional AGM-114R HELLFIRE II missile scored a direct hit during its first proof-of-principle (POP) flight test recently at Eglin Air Force Base, FL.

The HELLFIRE II design, now entering the qualification phase, features a new multi-purpose warhead that enables a single missile to cover all of the target sets of the current laser-guided HELLFIRE II variants.

The POP 1 flight test featured a lock-on-before-launch engagement of a stationary target board at 3.2 miles (5.1 km). The team used a ground-based laser designator to illuminate the target.

The inert missile, which was ground-launched, was equipped with an enhanced telemetry package. In addition to proving out the new components and software, the flight also verified backward compatibility with HELLFIRE II platforms that cannot provide targeting information to the missile.

"The multi-functional HELLFIRE II missile is one missile for many missions," said Ken Musculus, director of Air-to-Ground Missile Systems Programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

"Its multi-functional warhead enables the AGM-114R to neutralize a broad set of targets previously covered by four different warhead models - everything from armor and air defense systems to patrol boats and enemy combatants in SUVs or caves. Warfighters won't have to decide ahead of time what they might encounter and load the appropriate combination of missiles; with the multi-functional HELLFIRE II, they can meet many contingencies with a single missile."

Prior to the first POP flight test, Lockheed Martin completed a battery of warhead tests, including 10 precursor warhead tests, four main warhead tests and five tests of tandem warheads within the HELLFIRE guidance section. The next two POP flight tests, scheduled for early next year, will feature live warheads.

"This new HELLFIRE II can be fired from both rotary-wing and unmanned platforms," Musculus said. "A new inertial measurement unit enables properly equipped platforms to launch missiles at targets behind them without first having to turn the aircraft around. Getting the missile on target that much quicker gives the enemy less time to react or escape."

Musculus said many of the new improvements are software-driven. "We've replaced a host of circuit boards, transistors and other hardware components with software," he added. "Turning hardware into software contributes to the modular design of the missile and offers an efficient path to future upgrades."

With more than 25,000 rounds produced for the U.S. and 14 international customers, HELLFIRE II has been successfully integrated with attack helicopters in the U.S. and many Allied fleets. It is also capable of surface launch from ground vehicles, tripods and small vessels. More than 10,000 HELLFIRE missiles have been successfully fired in combat.

Lockheed Martin performs all work on behalf of the HELLFIRE Systems, Limited Liability Company and will produce the missiles at its manufacturing facilities in Troy, AL, and Ocala, FL.


The Shephard News Team


The Shephard News Team

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