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AGM-114 Hellfire

AGM-114 Hellfire is a United States of America air-to-ground missile system designed to defeat tanks and other individual targets while minimizing the exposure of the launch vehicle to enemy fire. Hellfire uses laser guidance and is designed to accept other guidance packages. It is used on helicopters against heavily armored vehicles at longer standoff distances than any other Army missiles now in the inventory. The Hellfire II is the optimized version of the laser family of Hellfire missiles. The Longbow Hellfire Modular Missile System is an air-launched, radar aided, inertially guided missile that utilizes millimeter wave radar technology. The AGM-114 is a fire and forget weapon. The weapon can be launched and it can successfully hit its target without the launcher being in line of sight of the target.

Current launch platforms include the AH-64 Apache helicopter and the Navy AH-1W. The system is also qualified for use on the UH-60 Blackhawk, and has been tested for use on the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) and the Improved TOW Vehicle (ITV). Prime contractors for the system are Rockwell International Corporation and Martin Marietta Corporation. The cost per missile is about US$58,000. Sweden uses the Hellfire for coastal defense, and both Israel and Egypt have purchased the system.

The first shots of Operation Desert Storm occurred on January 17, 1991 when eight AH-64 Apache helicopters used Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rockets to destroy two Iraqi early-warning ground control radar sites. However, this was not the first time that Hellfire missiles had been fired in combat. Over a year before, U.S. Army troops successfully used Hellfire against seven targets during Operation Just Cause in Panama. In early 2002, RQ-1 Predator UAVs were armed with Hellfires and used in combat.

The Ground/Vehicular Laser Locator Designator (G/VLLD) was used for designating moving or stationary targets for use with laser-homing weapons such as Hellfire. The G/VLLD could also provide accurate target information for use with conventional artillery. The system was issued to selected field artillery battalions, tank battalions, armored cavalry units, and selected infantry units. Hughes Aircraft Corporation and Optic Electronic Corporation, prime contractors for the system, manufactured the G/VLLD at a unit cost US$164,485.