Two versions of the HELLFIRE family of missiles are used on the British Army's Apache helicopter: the Longbow HELLFIRE version and the HELLFIRE II version. These missiles are the primary air-to-ground weapon systems of the WAH-64 Apache helicopter, which will provide the British Army with the widest target set spectrum in the field today.
In 1996, Lockheed Martin was awarded a contract to deliver missiles to the UK MOD as part of the UK Apache programme. To this end, Lockheed Martin transferred its state-of-the-art, anti-armour missile production technology to the UK, working closely with UK based Hunting Engineering Ltd and Shorts Missile Systems.
The Longbow version of HELLFIRE is a radar-guided, fire-and-forget, adverse weather anti-armour missile system. This, together with the Longbow Fire Control Radar, transforms the Apache attack helicopter into a highly lethal dominating battlefield system. The missile is capable of locking onto targets before or after launch, thus allowing the WAH-64 to launch missiles from defilade, which increases survivability. The HELLFIRE II version of the missile incorporates a semi-active laser (SAL) guidance system. This gives the system a man-in-the-loop, precision-strike capability that minimizes collateral damage and which, along with the Longbow version, has sustained HELLFIRE's reputation in peace and war as the world's most accurate and reliable helicopter-launched anti-tank weapon. An upgraded version, HELLFIRE II, is designed to counter ground and naval threats well into the 21st century.
HELLFIRE Missile Family
The combat-proven HELLFIRE family of missiles is the primary air-to-ground precision weapon for the Army’s Apache and Kiowa Warrior, Marine Corps’ Super Cobra and AH-1Z, Special Operations Blackhawk, Navy’s Seahawk, and the French and Australian Tigers.
The HELLFIRE family consists of multiple guidance systems, multiple warhead configurations, multiple trajectories, multiple firing modes, multiple designation methods, as well as the longest standoff ranges, to provide the widest target set spectrum (target type, environmental conditions, and tactical situations) in the field today - and tomorrow.
The family consists of the radar guided Longbow missile and the semi-active laser guided HELLFIRE II missiles. Integrated with the Apache millimetre wave fire control radar, the Longbow system provides unmatched accuracy and survivability in all-weather conditions. HELLFIRE II missiles provide a precision, man-in-the-loop capability and come in two versions, High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) for anti-armour requirements and the Blast Fragmentation (BF) for naval targets, buildings and bunkers.