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Australian Army scores Bulls-Eye with first Hellfire II launched from a Eurocopter Tiger ARH

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August 10, 2005

Australian Army scores Bulls-Eye with first Hellfire II launched from a Eurocopter Tiger A...

Australian Army scores Bulls-Eye with first Hellfire II launched from a Eurocopter Tiger ARH

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August 11, 2005 The Australian Army scored a first when it performed the first successful firing of a HELLFIRE II missile from Australia's Eurocopter Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopter (ARH), at the Woomera test range in Australia's southern desert earlier this week. The Tiger is the first non-U.S. platform to integrate the HELLFIRE II missile. The missile was equipped with an inert warhead and was launched in the lock-on-before-launch mode by a Eurocopter test pilot, targeting a simulated armored personnel carrier (APC) target six kilometers downrange. The target was designated by the launching ARH helicopter. The missile struck dead center, leaving a gaping hole in the target.

The successful live firing of the HELLFIRE II missile from Australia's Eurocopter Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopter (ARH), verifying the weapon's integration with the aircraft. The first of six firings paves the way for the ARH to carry the HELLFIRE II family of missiles, and provides an opportunity for European versions of the Tiger, now flown in France, Spain and Germany, to utilize the HELLFIRE missile and realize the benefit the weapon system provides.

"The new Tiger is the most advanced helicopter of its type in the world and will be a huge boost to our Army's capability," said Australian Defence Minister Robert Hill in a statement on the Australian Department of Defence web site. "We never have had a helicopter with this sort of capability - including a 30mm cannon, rockets and HELLFIRE missiles."

The Australian Army performed the first successful firing of a HELLFIRE II missile equipped with an inert warhead from the ARH at the Woomera test range in Australia's southern desert. A team representing the Commonwealth of Australia (CoA), Australian Aerospace, Eurocopter, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Army witnessed the milestone event.

The missile was equipped with an inert warhead and was launched in the lock-on-before-launch mode by a Eurocopter test pilot, targeting a simulated armored personnel carrier (APC) target six kilometers downrange. The target was designated by the launching ARH helicopter. The missile struck dead center, leaving a gaping hole in the target.

"This test demonstrated HELLFIRE's precision-point accuracy against an armored target," said Jim Gribschaw, director of Air-to-Ground Missile Systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "HELLFIRE will give Australian Tiger pilots the firepower they need to prevail in the defining moments of battle."

An additional round of five firings is planned for later this year to complete ARH certification. Upon successful completion of these tests, the HELLFIRE system on the ARH will be fully qualified and cleared for use in operational missions.

Previously, Lockheed Martin and Eurocopter successfully completed a series of launcher and platform integration tests, validating the interface of the precision-strike semi-active laser-guided HELLFIRE II missile and the all-digital M299 "smart" launcher system with the ARH.

The first two Tiger ARHs, equipped with the Lockheed Martin's HELLFIRE II missile and M299 launcher, were delivered to the Australian Army in 2004. The Australian ARH Eurocopter Tiger is derived from the Franco-German Tiger variant. It is armed with 70mm (2.75-inch) rockets, HELLFIRE II air-to-ground missiles and a turreted 30mm gun, as well as an Australia-specific communications and data transmission system.

HELLFIRE II includes four variations: the high-explosive anti-tank missile (AGM-114K), (video 1 - video 2) which defeats all known and projected armored threats; the blast fragmentation missile (video 1 - video 2) (AGM-114M), which defeats "soft" targets such as buildings, bunkers, light-armored vehicles and caves; the millimeter-wave (MMW) radar Longbow HELLFIRE (AGM-114L), which provides fire-and-forget and adverse weather capability; and the "thermobaric" HELLFIRE (AGM-114N), with a metal augmented charge (MAC) warhead, which is devastating against enclosed structures but minimizes collateral damage. All HELLFIRE II variants have been used successfully in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), with more than 1,000 missiles fired to date.

With more than 18,000 missiles produced for the U.S. and 14 international customers, HELLFIRE has been successfully integrated with every leading attack helicopter in the U.S. and many Allied fleets. Availability of specific Hellfire variants for export is contingent upon U.S. Statement Department licensing.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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