Procurement: A Little Hellfire Goes A Long Way

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August 27,2008:  The U.S. Army has ordered another 5,000 Hellfire II missiles, at a cost of about $70,000 each. These will be delivered over the next three years. This will bring the total number of Hellfire IIs built to nearly 30,000.

The AGM-114 (Hellfire II) missiles use either an armor-piercing or blast/fragmentation (for use against non-armored targets and bunkers) warhead. The Hellfire II weighs 106 pounds, carries a 20 pound warhead and has a range of 8,000 meters. The missile is most commonly used by the AH-64 or AH-1 helicopter gunship. An AH-64 or AH-1Z can carry up to sixteen Hellfires at once. Predator and Reaper UAVs also use the Hellfire. The missile is popular for use in urban areas, because the small warhead (only a few pounds of explosives) reduces civilian casualties. The missile is accurate enough to be sent through a window (OK, you have to be really good, and lucky, to do this) because of its laser guidance. Hellfire is the most frequently used missile during the war on terror. But since it is a precision weapon, favored for use in residential areas, not a lot are used. Even during the peak of the Surge Offensive in Iraq last year, only 50-100 Hellfires a week were fired, and that high rate was rare.

 


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