Air Weapons: Poland Order Hellfire Missiles And AH-64E Helicopters


June 12, 2023: Poland has ordered 800 AGM-114R2 Hellfire missiles for its helicopters, which will arm the 96 AH-64E helicopter gunships Poland is purchasing from the United States. These missiles are widely used to arm many types of helicopters. Hellfire weighs 47 kilograms (104 pounds), including the 9 kilograms (20 pound) warhead, and has a range of 7.1–11 kilometers depending on trajectory. The AGM-114R "Romeo" Hellfire II entered service in late 2012. It uses a semi-active laser homing guidance system and a K-charge multipurpose warhead to hit targets that formerly needed multiple Hellfire variants to destroy. It will replace AGM-114K, M, N, and P variants in U.S. service

The AH-64E made its first flight in 2008 and the U.S. Army received its first ones in 2011. The AH-64E showed up in Afghanistan during early 2014 for field testing. There the 24 AH-64Es with an aviation battalion performed as expected. The E model benefits from three decades of operational experience. The first AH-64 entered service in 1986 and the last of these AH-64As was taken out of service in 2012 for the upgrade to the AH-64D standard. The AH-64B was an upgrade proposed for the early 1990s but was canceled, as was a similar “C” model upgrade, because of Cold War budget cuts. Some of these canceled improvements were in great demand. Thus the “B” and “C” model upgrades were incorporated in the AH-64D Block I (1997). The AH-64D Longbow (because of the radar mast, making it possible to see ground targets and flying obstacles in all weather) models began appearing in 2002. By 2020 at least 634 army AH-64Ds will be upgraded to the new AH-64E standard.

AH-64Es have more powerful and fuel-efficient engines, as well as much improved electronics. AH-64Es also have Internet-like capabilities enabling these gunships to quickly exchange images, video, and so on with other aircraft and ground troops. Each AH-64E can also control several UAVs and launch missiles at targets spotted by these UAVs. The AH-64E radar has longer range and onboard computers are much more powerful than earlier ones. The electronics are easier to upgrade and maintain. The combination of improved fire control and Internet capabilities greatly increases the combat effectiveness of the AH-64E.

The 10 ton AH-64E carries a pilot and a weapons officer, as well as up to 16 Hellfire missiles (plus the 30mm automatic cannon). Sorties average three hours. The AH-64 can operate at night and has a top speed of 260 kilometers an hour.

In addition to the U.S. Army, the AH-64E is in service with many foreign nations. Neighboring Saudi Arabia ordered 70. Israel, Kuwait and the UAE also bought in. Many of these are being upgraded to the “E” standard. There are about 1,100 AH-64s (mostly American) in service and most are being upgraded to the E standard.

Poland is the 18th country to receive the AH-64. Flight crews and maintainers are already undergoing training in the United States and Poland. Poland is currently using 30 Russian Mi-24/35 helicopter gunships. Poland is rapidly upgrading its armed forces with Western weapons. This was prompted by war next door in Ukraine. Until that war broke out, Poland was content to continue using a lot of Russian made weapons and equipment. Poland has long manufactured Russian weapons and is now doing the same for Western systems like the Patriot air defense system and F-16 fighters.




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