Type Air-to-surface and surface-to-surface missile
Place of origin United States
Manufacturer Lockheed Martin
Weight 100–108lb (45.4–49kg)
Length 64 in (163 cm)
Diameter 7 in (17.8 cm)
Warhead High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT); 20 lb (9 kg) tandem anti-armor
Metal augmented charge (MAC); 18 lb (8 kg) shaped-charge
Engine Solid-fuel rocket
Wingspan 13 in (33 cm)
range 546 yd – 5 mi (500 m – 8 km)
Speed Mach 1.3 (950 mph; 425 m/s)
system Semi-active laser homing
millimeter wave radar seeker
platform Rotary- and fixed-wing platforms, Unmanned combat air vehicles, tripods, ships, and ground vehicles
The AGM-114 Hellfire is a multi-platform, multi-target United States modular missile system. The name comes from the fact that it was originally intended to be a helicopter-launched fire-and-forget weapon (HELicopter FIRE-and-forget). Initial problems with the TV-based guidance system forced designers to consider a laser-tracking system.
The development of the Hellfire Missile System began in 1974 with the U.S. Army requirement for a "tank-buster", launched from helicopters to defeat armoured fighting vehicles. Production of the AGM-114A started in 1982. The Development Test and Evaluation (DT&E) launch phase of the AGM-114B took place in 1984. The DT&E on the AGM-114K was completed in Fiscal Year (FY)93 and FY94. AGM-114M did not require a DT&E because it is the same as the AGM-114K except for the warhead. The early variants were laser guided with recent variants being radar guided. The Hellfire has matured into a comprehensive weapon system, one that can be deployed from rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft, naval assets, and land-based systems against a variety of targets.
Hellfire II, developed in the early 1990s is a modular missile system with several variants for maximum battlefield flexibility. Hellfire II's semi-active laser variants—AGM-114K high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT), AGM-114KII with external blast frag sleeve, AGM-114M (blast fragmentation), and AGM-114N metal augmented charge (MAC)—achieve pinpoint accuracy by homing in on a reflected laser beam aimed at the target from the launching platform. Predator and Reaper UCAVs carry the Hellfire II, but the most common platform is the AH-64 Apache helicopter gunship, which can carry up to sixteen of the missiles at once. The AGM-114L, or Longbow Hellfire, is a fire-and-forget weapon: equipped with a millimeter wave (MMW) radar seeker, it requires no further guidance after launch and can hit its target without the launcher being in line of sight of the target. It also provides capability in adverse weather and battlefield obscurants. Each Hellfire weighs 47 kg / 106 pounds, including the 9 kg / 20 pound warhead, and has a range of 8,000 meters. As of late 2007, some 21,000 Hellfire IIs have been built since 1990, at a cost of about $68,000 each.
The Joint Common Missile (JCM) was to replace Hellfire II (along with the AGM-65 Maverick) by around 2011. The JCM was developed with a tri-mode seeker and a multi-purpose warhead that would combine the capabilities of the several Hellfire variants. In the budget for FY2006, the U.S. Department of Defense canceled a number of projects that they felt no longer warranted continuation based on their cost effectiveness, including the JCM, although some military and industry sources have produced data showing JCM is the most cost-effective way of adding performance on a timely basis across multiple platforms to meet projected threat growth. A possible new procurement for a JCM successor called the Joint Air to Ground Missile (JAGM) is under consideration. Due to the U.S. military's continuing need for a proven precision-strike aviation weapon in the interim until a successor to the JCM is fielded, as well as extensive foreign sales, it is likely the Hellfire will continue to remain in service for many years to come.
 Combat history
Since being fielded, Hellfire missiles have proven their effectiveness in combat in Operation Just Cause in Panama, Operation Desert Storm in Gulf, Operation Allied Force in Yugoslavia, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and most recently, Operation Iraqi Freedom—where they have been fired successfully from Apache and Cobra attack helicopters, Kiowa scout helicopters, and Predator unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs). The Israeli Defence Forces have used them extensively against Palestinian suspected terrorist targets.
Between 2001 and 2007, the U.S. has fired over 6,000 Hellfires in combat. The US military has found the missile effective in urban areas as the relatively small warhead reduces the risk of civilian casualties. The laser guidance allows a skilled operator to put a missile through the window of a building.
On March 22, 2004, an Israeli helicopter fired a Hellfire missile to assassinate Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin.
In 2008 the usage of the AGM-114N variant caused controversy in the United Kingdom when it was found out that these thermobaric munitions were added to the Royal Air Force (RAF) arsenal in secrecy. Thermobaric weapons have been condemned as "brutal" by human rights groups. The British Ministry of Defence circumvents this by calling the AGM-114N an "enhanced blast weapon".
 Launch vehicles and systems
Hellfire loaded onto the rails of a United States Marine Corps AH-1W Super Cobra at Balad Air Base in Iraq in 2005.
* AH-1W SuperCobra
* AH-1Z Viper
* AH-64 Apache
* Agusta A129 Mangusta
* Eurocopter Tiger ARH
* Combat Boat 90
* SH-60 / MH-60R / MH-60S Seahawk
* OH-58D Kiowa Warrior
* RAH-66 Comanche
* MQ-1B Predator
* MQ-9 Reaper
* AH-6 Little Bird
* UH-60 Blackhawk
* Westland WAH-64 Apache
* Cessna 208
* MQ-1C Warrior
The system has been tested for use on the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) and the Improved TOW Vehicle (ITV). Test shots have also been fired from a C-130 Hercules (see photos below). Sweden and Norway use the Hellfire for coastal defense, and Norway has conducted tests with Hellfire launchers on Protector M151 remotely-controlled weapon systems mounted on the Stridsbåt 90 coastal assault boat