Orlando, USA: Lockheed Martin has received a $29 million production order from the US Army for its combat-proven, precision-strike Hellfire-II air-to-ground missile. The order, Lockheed says, represents the final option under the US Army's Hellfire-II Buy 13 contract, which at $305.9 million, is the largest single buy in the history of the Hellfire II programme.
The US Army's Buy 14 production order is to be executed in 2008, with quantities yet to be determined. Lockheed Martin will produce the missiles at its manufacturing facilities in Troy, AL, and Ocala, FL.
"This contract reaffirms Hellfire's proven position as the world's premier air-to-ground weapon system," said Ken Musculus, programme director, Air-to-Ground Missile Systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "Capable of launch from multiple platforms and available in three warhead variants, Hellfire-II continues its legacy as a highly lethal anti-armour and multi-purpose weapon that defeats a wide range of targets."
The Buy 13 order will sustain full-rate production through 2010, both in Troy and Ocala. Engineering, logistics and programme management support are based in Orlando.
The Hellfire-II production contract includes three variants: the high-explosive anti-tank missile (AGM-114K), used against armoured targets; the blast fragmentation missile (AGM-114M), effective against ships, caves, light armoured vehicles, buildings, bunkers and other urban targets; and the metal augmented charge missile (AGM-114N), which provides an enhanced blast fragmentation effect against enclosed structures and enemy combatants.
Lockheed says that US and UK forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have used all three-missile configurations, as well as the fire-and-forget, adverse-weather-capable, millimetre-wave radar, Longbow Hellfire (AGM-114L), successfully.
According to Lockheed, more than 6,800 rounds have been fired from several platforms, including the US Army's Apache and the Marine Corps' Cobra attack helicopters, the Kiowa scout helicopter, the US Air Force's Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles and the UK Army Air Corps Apache aircraft.
"Of particular importance is Hellfire's precision-strike capability," Musculus said. "This has allowed our forces to defeat insurgents in urban conflicts with minimal collateral damage and low risk of harm to friendly forces and civilians."
With more than 21,000 rounds produced for the US and 13 international customers, Hellfire II has been successfully integrated with every leading attack helicopter in the US and many Allied fleets.
It is also capable of surface launch from several ground vehicles, tripods and small vessels.
Hellfire II is approved for international sales both through the foreign military sales system and direct commercial sales.