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J C Menon

The U.S. will sell 395 Lockheed Martin built AGM-114R2 HELLFIRE missiles to the U.K. for an estimated cost of US$46m in a possible Foreign Military Sale which will also include technical assistance, publications, integration support and other related elements of logistics and programme support.

This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the U.S. by improving the security of a NATO Ally which is an important force for political stability and economic progress in Europe. It will also improve the U.K’s ability to meet current and future threats by replacing expiring and unserviceable missiles and maintaining capability to execute missions across a full range of military operations.

Asked about any offset conditions, a State Department official, which has approved the sale, informs that the purchaser typically requests offsets.  “Any offset agreement will be defined in negotiations between the purchaser and the contractor,” he adds.

The HELLFIRE(R) II Modular Missile System family provides multi-mission, multi-target capability with precision-strike lethality and fire-and-forget survivability. It is the primary air-to-ground precision weapon for the U.S. military as well as the armed forces of 16 other nations.

The HELLFIRE family includes three precision-strike variations using a semi-active laser (SAL) seeker to home in on the target:

  • the high- explosive anti-tank (HEAT) missile (AGM-114K), which defeats all known and projected armoured threats
  • the blast fragmentation missile (AGM-114M), which defeats “soft” targets such as buildings, bunkers, light-armoured vehicles and caves
  • the metal augmented charge (MAC), or “thermobaric” Hellfire (AGM-114N), which defeats enclosures and enemy personnel housed therein, with minimal collateral damage.
  • the fourth variant is the millimeter-wave (MMW) radar Longbow Hellfire (AGM-114L), which provides fire- and-forget and adverse weather capability.

All four variants have been used successfully in Afghanistan and Iraq, with more than 1,000 missiles fired to date.