The 100-pound (45kg) Hellfire precision missile is Apache’s primary weapon. Used by crews in Afghanistan, it also proved itself repeatedly during the Libya campaign when Apaches flew from the deck of HMS Ocean against Colonel Gaddafi’s forces.
Its successful use in Afghanistan and in training has reduced UK stocks of the missiles, which is why MOD has signed an order for more Hellfires.
Each Apache can carry up to 16 Hellfires, which are mounted in sets of 4 beneath the helicopter’s stub-wing pylons. Each missile has its own guidance computer, steering control and propulsion systems, which help to ensure precision targeting.
The air-to-surface missile can travel at up to 425 metres per second; which means it takes fewer than 20 seconds to reach a target 5 miles away.
Minister for Defence Equipment Support and Technology Philip Dunne said:
Hellfire has proved itself in Afghanistan and Libya, providing our Apache crews with state-of-the-art precision firepower. This order will ensure the Apache’s attack capability remains in place for current and future operations.
Colonel Andy Cash, Commander of the Apache Force, said:
The Hellfire missile has undoubtedly saved the lives of British and Afghan soldiers in Afghanistan and played an important role in the air campaign in Libya. It is an extremely reliable missile and without doubt the weapon of choice for the Apache pilot and ground force commander.