US will soon test Laser HELLFIRE air-to-ground missile
WASHINGTON — The US government is looking for a contractor to test and evaluate the capabilities of the expected laser-guided Hellfire II air-to-ground missile, often referred to only as Laser Hellfire, in the coming months, BulgarianMilitary.com has learned, citing information from the SAM.gov website.
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Laser Hellfire is an air-to-ground missile currently being developed by Lockheed Maltin. In addition to testing and evaluating the capabilities of the missile, the future contractor will have to propose and manage several engineering activities, logistics and configuration, and other engineering support. SAM.gov emphasizes that this order is not a duplication of tasks already performed under current contracts.
BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that in September 2021, Lockheed Martin received a contract to develop the next generation of Hellfire air-to-ground missiles, with a contract value of $ 101 million.
At the beginning of this decade, Laser Hellfire is expected to play a significant role in the armament of the US military. Pentagon sources say Laser Hellfire will replace the BGM-71 TOW and AGM-65 Maverick missiles in the next decade to launch attack helicopters AH-64 Apache, UAV MQ-1C Gray Eagle, helicopter MH-60R, and Navy 1Z Marine Corps Helicopter Viper.
According to sources at BulgarianMilitary.com, the Laser Hellfire will be the joint Lockheed Martin AGM-179 [JAGM] air-to-ground missile with a semi-active laser and millimeter-wave radar. Laser Hellfire will be able to launch from any aircraft, such as drones, helicopters, airplanes, fighters, including surface boats, ships, drones, and more.
According to unconfirmed information, Laser Hellfire will have a new warhead that will be able to destroy targets that previously required two or three AGM-114 Hellfire. Currently, the closest to the Hellfire Laser used by the US military is the AGM-114R Hellfire II [Hellfire Romeo].
AGM-114R Hellfire II [Hellfire Romeo] can be launched from high altitudes. It is equipped with a semi-active laser homing, which must search, intercept and destroy the enemy target. AGM-114R Hellfire II has a multi-function warhead, reduced net explosive weight for low collateral damage [R-9E and R-9H]. This missile weighs 49 kg and flies at a maximum speed of 1.3 Mach.
Multi-purpose tandem warhead
A multi-purpose tandem warhead needing only a single initiation has a casing that forms front, middle and rear portions. A shaped charge is positioned in the rear portion of the casing and a fragmentation charge is positioned in the front portion of the casing. The middle portion between the front and rear portions is an open area that serves as a jet formation region.
An impact switch is positioned at the front of the warhead. Upon impact with a target the impact switch sends a detonation signal to a detonator positioned at the rear end of the warhead causing the shaped charge to initiate. Upon the detonation of the rear shaped charge, a high-speed shaped-charge jet forms into the hollow jet formation region, penetrates into and initiates the forward fragmentation charge, and continues through the fragmentation charge.
The residual shaped charge jet provides lethality against light armored targets while the fragmentation from the forward charge provides lethality against personnel and other soft targets.
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