Republic of Korea Army Boeing AH-64 Apache
Republic of Korea Army Boeing AH-64 Apache

Republic of Korea Army to Buy 288 AGM-114 Hellfire Missiles

The U.S. State Department has approved the sale of Hellfire missiles to South Korea for $36 million. The Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) intends to use these Hellfire missiles to supplement its existing missile capability and current weapon inventory for its AH-64E aircraft. The Hellfire missile is the primary 100-pound (45 kg) class air-to-ground precision weapon for the armed forces of the United States and many other nations. The contract covers 288 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles, AGM-114R spare parts, and related support. The principal contractor will be Lockheed Martin Corporation, Orlando, FL.

In 2009, South Korea showed interest in the Apache, potentially related to plans to withdraw many U.S. Apaches from the country. On 21 September 2012, the U.S. Congress was notified of the possible purchase of 36 AH-64E, along with associated equipment and armament. It competed against the Bell AH-1Z Viper and the TAI/AgustaWestland T-129; in April 2013, South Korea announced plans to buy 36 AH-64Es. The South Korea Defense Acquisition Procurement Administration (DAPA) signed a $1.6 billion contract with the U.S. in to buy 36 AH-64Es, an upgraded model of the AH-64D Longbow. The first four AH-64Es were delivered in May 2016, and all 36 were deployed by January 2017.

The AGM-114 Hellfire is an air-to-surface missile originally intended for anti-armor use, but later expanded for other precision-strike missions.

The Boeing AH-64 Apache is an American twin-turboshaft attack helicopter with a tailwheel-type landing gear arrangement and a tandem cockpit for a crew of two. It features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems. The AH-64E features improved digital connectivity, more powerful T700-GE-701D engines with upgraded face gear transmission to accommodate more power, capability to control unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs), full IFR capability, and improved landing gear. The Guardian variant is fitted with one 30 mm M230 chain gun. Its four hardpoints can carry wide range of rockets and missiles, such as Hydra 70 70 mm rocket and AGM-114 Hellfire missile.

The AGM-114 Hellfire (AGM stands for air-to-ground missile) is an air-to-surface missile (ASM) first developed for anti-armor use, but later models were developed for precision drone strikes against other target types, and have been used in a number of actions aimed to “destroy high-value targets.” It was originally developed under the name Heliborne laser, fire-and-forget missile, which led to the colloquial name “Hellfire” ultimately becoming the missile’s formal name. It has multi-mission, multi-target precision-strike ability, and can be launched from multiple air, sea, and ground platforms, including the Predator drone.