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.
(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.