Air Force used “Dog Doo” transmitter in Vietnam

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U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jon Soles


Ongoing drone, helicopter and aircraft attacks by the United States and its allies against ISIS have led the military to massively increase its production of air-launched HELLFIRE missiles, a weapon routinely used to destroy Islamic State buildings, bunkers, armored vehicles, combat positions and equipment.

The war on ISIS has depleted the existing weapon inventory and generated rapidly growing domestic and international demand for HELLFIRE missiles, military officials told Scout Warrior.

“HELLFIRE production has increased for the quantities ordered in FY14 and FY15,” said Dan O’Boyle, spokesperson for the Missiles and Space Program Executive Office, in a statement. writing.

As the leading manufacturer of HELLFIRE missiles, the military supplies the weapon to national and international entities to include Marine Corps, Air Force, and Navy arsenals, among others. Overall, up to 15 or more international customers use HELLFIRE missiles, many of which are US-led coalition partners to destroy ISIS.

While military officials have not provided specific numbers of production increases or plans to deliver HELLFIREs to particular allied countries, the Pentagon has requested $ 1.8 billion in its 2017 budget for them. ammunition, bombs and missiles necessary to replenish or maintain stocks and support attacks against ISIS.

As part of a separate effort, the Air Force requested and received $ 400 million in reprogrammed dollars to deal with a shortage of air-to-surface munitions, particularly with Hellfire missiles.

“The Air Force has worked with the Army to re-prioritize HELLFIRE missile deliveries to the Air Force, requested additional funding for HELLFIRE missiles, reduced crew training expenses and is working on a supply plan to increase production to replenish ammunition stocks as quickly as possible, ”an Air Force official told Scout Warrior.

While precision-guided air-to-ground weapons are generally required during aerial bombardments, they are of particularly urgent value in ongoing attacks against ISIS. ISIS fighters routinely hide among civilians and sometimes use women and children as human shields, making the need for precision all the more pressing.

Air Force used
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Bryanna poulin

In service since the 1970s, HELLFIRE missiles were originally 100-pound armor-piercing and armor-piercing weapons designed to fire from helicopters to destroy enemy armored vehicles, bunkers and other fortifications.

In recent years, the emergence of new sensors, platforms and guidance technologies have allowed the missile to launch strikes with greater precision against a wider envelope of potential enemy targets.

HELLFIRE missile technologies and platforms

Nowadays, the weapon is mainly fired from attack drones such as the Air Force Predator and Reaper and the Army Gray Eagle; of course, the HELLFIRE is also used by the Army’s AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, OH-58 Kiowa Warriors, and AH-1 Marine Corps Super Cobras, among others. While not much is known about when, where, or who, HELLFIREs are also routinely used in US drone strikes using Air Force predators and reapers against terrorist targets around the world.

The HELLFIRE missile can use radio frequency, RF, guidance – called “shoot and forget” – or semi-active laser technology. A ground target can be designated or “painted” by a laser point from the aircraft firing the weapon, another aircraft, or a ground observer illuminating the target in order for the weapon to be destroyed.

There are several types of HELLFIRE warheads, including a High Explosive Anti-Tank Weapon, or HEAT, and an Explosive Cluster Explosive as well as several others. The HEAT cartridge uses what is called a “tandem bullet” with both a smaller and larger shaped charge; the idea is to get the required initial effect before detonating a larger explosion in order to maximize the damage to the target.

The “Blast-Frag” warhead is a laser-guided penetrating weapon with a hardened steel casing, incendiary pellets designed for enemy ships, bunkers, patrol boats and things like communications infrastructure, explain the documents from the army.

The “Metal Augmented Charge” warhead enhances the “Blast-Frag” weapon by adding metallic fuel to the missile designed to increase blast overpressure inside bunkers, ships and multi-room targets, according to reports. of the Army. Metal Augmented Charge is penetrating, laser guided and also used for attacks on bridges, air defenses and oil platforms. The missile uses blast, fragmentation and overpressure effects to destroy targets.

The AGM-114L HELLFIRE is designed for the Longbow Apache attack helicopter platform; the weapon uses millimeter wave technology, radar, digital signal processing, and inertial measurement units to “lock in” to a target before or after launch.

Air Force used
US Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Spike Call

The AGM-114R warhead is described as a “multi-purpose” explosive used for anti-armor, anti-personnel and urban targets; The weapon uses a micro-electromechanical system inertial measurement unit for additional flight guidance as well as a delayed fuse to penetrate a target before detonating to maximize damage within an area.

The AGM-114R or “Romeo” variant, which is the most modern in the arsenal, incorporates a few additional technologies such as all-weather millimeter wave guidance technology and a metal sleeve increasing fragmentation configured around the exterior of the missile. .

The “Multi-Purpose” warhead is a dual-mode weapon capable of using both a shaped charge and a fragmentation sleeve. The additional housing is designed to further disperse “blast effects” with greater fragmentation to be more effective against small groups of enemy fighters.

“The ‘Romeo’ variant is an example of how these efforts result in a more capable missile that will maintain fire superiority for the foreseeable future,” said O’Boyle.

Additional uses of HELLFIRE

Although the HELLFIRE started out as an air-to-ground weapon, the missile has been fired in various ways in recent years. The Navy fired a HELLFIRE Longbow from a Littoral Combat Ship, or LCS, to increase its lethality; The Navy’s 2017 budget request calls for the Longbow HELLFIRE missiles, starting with the LCS ground-to-ground mission module, Navy officials told Scout Warrior. In addition, the military fired the weapon at drone targets in the air from a ground truck-mounted multi-mission launcher and U.S. international allies fired the parked tripod-mounted HELLFIRE. on the ground.


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