Procurement: Hellfire For France

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February 9, 2008: France is buying U.S. Hellfire II missiles for its new Tiger helicopter gunships. This is an open order, which could result in anything from a few hundred, to a few thousand, missiles being bought. Eight missiles can be carried on a Tiger helicopter. France, and other European nations, have been impressed with the performance of Hellfire in combat. In the last seven years, the U.S. has fired over 6,000 Hellfires in combat, and 21,000 of the Hellfire II have been built since 1990. The original Hellfire entered service in 1982.

Costing about $68,000 each, 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 helicopter gunship. An AH-64 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.

 


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