News story

Apache Hellfire missiles restocked in £15 million deal

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The MOD has signed a £15 million contract to replenish the Army's stock of supersonic Hellfire missiles used by Apache helicopters.

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.

A British Army Apache helicopter fires a Hellfire air-to-surface missile
An Apache attack helicopter of 656 Squadron Army Air Corps fires a Hellfire missile during an exercise (library image) [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Guy Pool, Crown copyright]

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.

A vehicle is destroyed by a Hellfire missile fired by a British Army Apache helicopter
A vehicle is destroyed by a Hellfire missile fired by a British Army Apache helicopter during operations in Libya in 2011 (library image) [Picture: Crown copyright]

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.