The U.S State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of France of AGM-114R2 Hellfire Missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $203 million. The Government of France has requested to buy up to one thousand five hundred fifteen (1,515) AGM-114R Hellfire II (Hellfire Romeo) missiles. Also included is technical assistance; non-standard books; publications; other Hellfire publications; integration support; and other related elements of logistical and program support. The proposed sale will improve France’s capability to meet current and future threats by building its long-term defense capacity to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity in order to meet its national defense requirements. The prime contractor will be Lockheed Martin Corporation, Orlando, FL.
The AGM-114 Hellfire is an American air-to-ground missile (AGM) first developed for anti-armor use, later developed for precision drone strikes against other target types, especially 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. 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. It has a multi-mission, multi-target precision-strike ability and can be launched from multiple air, sea, and ground platforms, including the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper. The Hellfire has also been fielded on surface platforms in the surface-to-surface and surface-to-air roles.
The latest Hellfire variant is the AGM-114R Hellfire II (Hellfire Romeo) missile. The Hellfire Romeo consolidates the capabilities of all previous Hellfire missile variants. It is equipped with semi–active laser (SAL) seekers into a single missile capable of defeating a broad range of targets. The new features a three–axis inertial measurement unit, which enables properly equipped launch platforms to engage targets to the side and behind without maneuvering into position. The AGM-114R Hellfire II can be launched from higher altitudes than previous variants due to its enhanced guidance system and improved navigation capabilities. A new multi–purpose warhead enables the missile to defeat hard, soft and enclosed targets, which allows pilots to engage many targets with a single Hellfire loadout.
The AGM-114R Hellfire II missiles will be deployed on Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters. The Eurocopter Tiger is a four-blade, twin-engine attack helicopter which first entered service in 2003. It is manufactured by Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter), which arose from the merger of Aérospatiale’s and DASA’s respective helicopter divisions. On 18 June 1999, France publicly placed orders for an initial batch of 80 Tiger helicopters. It is equipped with the Hellfire II and the Spike ER anti-armour missiles for attack, escort and ground fire support. France selected the Lockheed Martin AGM-114R Hellfire missile in 2007 and the new order is described by the State Department as supporting ‘the foreign policy and national security objectives of the US by helping to improve the security of a NATO ally’.