Military Wiki

Question book-new.svg

This article does not contain any citations or references. Please improve this article by adding a reference. For information about how to add references, see Template:Citation.

File:Hellfire on display.png
An AGM-114 on display.

The AGM-114 Hellfire is an air-to-surface missile, developed primarily for anti-armor use. It can be launched from multiple air, sea, and ground platforms. It has multi-mission, and multi-target precision-strike capability. The Hellfire missile is the primary 100 lb-class air-to-ground precision weapon for the armed forces of the United States and many other nations.


The development of the Hellfire Missile System began in 1974 with the U.S. Army requirement for a "tank-buster", launched from helicopters to defeat armored fighting vehicles. The Development Test and Evaluation (DT&E) launch phase of the AGM-114B took place in 1984. The DT&E on the AGM-114K was completed in Fiscal Year (FY)93 and FY94. AGM-114M did not require a DT&E because it is the same as the AGM-114K except for the warhead. Most variants are laser guided with one, AGM-114L, being radar guided.

The Hellfire II, developed in the early 1990s is a modular missile system with several variants for maximum battlefield flexibility. Hellfire II's semi-active laser variants—AGM-114K high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT), AGM-114KII with external blast frag sleeve, AGM-114M (blast fragmentation), and AGM-114N metal augmented charge (MAC)—achieve pinpoint accuracy by homing in on a reflected laser beam aimed at the target from the launching platform.

An SH-60 firing an AGM-114.

The AGM-114L, or Longbow Hellfire, is a fire-and-forget weapon: equipped with a millimeter wave (MMW) radar seeker, it requires no further guidance after launch and can hit its target without the launcher being in line of sight of the target. It also provides capability in adverse weather and battlefield obscurants. Each Hellfire weighs 47 kg / 106 pounds, including the 9 kg / 20 pound warhead, and has a range of 8,000 meters. By late 2007, some 21,000 Hellfire IIs have been built since 1990, at a cost of about $68,000 each.

Operational History

The Hellfire has been deployed all over the world in many major conflicts. From 2001 to 2007, the U.S. military fired over 6,000 Hellfires in combat. It has found the missile effective in urban areas as the relatively small warhead reduces the risk of civilian casualties. The only known operational air-to-air kill with a Hellfire took place on May 24, 2001. A civilian Cessna 152 aircraft entered Israeli airspace from Lebanon, with unknown intentions and refusing to answer or comply with ATC repeated warnings to turn back. Fearing a terrorist attack, an Israeli Air Force AH-64A helicopter fired upon the Cessna, resulting in its complete disintegration and the death of Estephan Nicolian, a student pilot.

AGM-114's on an MQ-9 Reaper.

The Israeli Defence Forces have used them extensively against Palestinian targets.

On March 22, 2004, an Israeli helicopter fired a Hellfire missile to kill Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin, which also killed both his bodyguards and 9 bystanders.

The MQ-1/9 used the Hellfire extensively on its missions to kill high ranking Al-Qaeda fighters throughout the middle east by the CIA.

Compatible vehicles and systems


Fixed-Wing Aircraft

  • Cessna 208
  • Lockheed Martin KC-130 Harvest HAWK

    AGM-114's on a KC-130J.

Unmanned Aircraft

  • MQ-1B Predator
  • MQ-9 Reaper
  • MQ-1C Grey Eagle

Manned Boat

  • Combat Boat 90

Experimental Platforms

An HMMWV firing an AGM-114.

The system has been tested for use on the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) and the Improved TOW Vehicle (ITV). Test shots have also been fired from a C-130 Hercules. Sweden and Norway use the Hellfire for coastal defense, and Norway has conducted tests with Hellfire launchers on Protector M151 remotely-controlled weapon systems mounted on the Stridsbåt 90(Combat Boat 90) coastal assault boat.


AGM-114A Basic Hellfire

  • Target: Tanks, armored vehicles.
  • Range: 8,000 m (8,750 yd)
  • Guidance: Semi-active laser homing (SALH).
  • Warhead: 8 kg (18 lb) shaped charge HEAT.
  • Length: 163 cm (64 in)
  • Weight: 45 kg (99 lb)

AGM-114B/C Basic Hellfire

  • M120E1 low smoke motor.
  • AGM-114B has electronic SAD (Safe/Arming Device) for safe shipboard use.
  • Unit cost: $25,000

AGM-114D/E Basic Hellfire

  • Proposed upgrade of AGM-114B/C with digital autopilot—not built.

AGM-114F Interim Hellfire

  • Target: Tanks, armored vehicles.
  • Range: 7,000 m (7,650 yd)
  • Guidance: Semi-active laser homing.
  • Warhead: 9 kg (20 lb) tandem shaped charge HEAT.
  • Length: 180 cm (71 in)
  • Weight: 48.5 kg (107 lb)

AGM-114G Interim Hellfire

  • Proposed version of AGM-114F with SAD—not built.

AGM-114H Interim Hellfire

  • Proposed upgrade of AGM-114F with digital autopilot—not built.

AGM-114J Hellfire II

Proposed version of AGM-114F with lighter components, shorter airframe, and increased range—not built.

AGM-114K Hellfire II

  • Target: All armored threats
  • Range: 8,000 m (8,749 yd)
  • Guidance:
  • Semi-active laser homing with Electro-optical countermeasures hardening
  • Digital autopilot improvements allow target reacquisition after lost laser lock
  • New electronic SAD
  • Warhead: 9 kg (20 lb) tandem shaped charge HEAT
  • Length: 163 cm (64 in)
  • Weight: 45.4 kg (100 lb)
  • Unit cost: $65,000
  • Essentially the proposed AGM-114J w/ SAD

AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire

  • Target: All armored threats
  • Range: 8,000 m (8,749 yd)
  • Guidance:
  • Fire and forget Millimeter wave radar seeker coupled with Inertial guidance
  • Homing capability in adverse weather and the presence of battlefield obscurants
  • Warhead: 9 kg (20 lb) tandem shaped charge high explosive anti-tank (HEAT)
  • Length: 176 cm (69.2 in)
  • Weight: 49 kg (108 lb)

AGM-114M Hellfire II

  • Target: Bunkers, light vehicles, urban (soft) targets and caves
  • Range: 8,000 m (8,749 yd)
  • Guidance:
  • Semi-active laser homing
  • Warhead: Blast fragmentation/incendiary
  • Weight: 48.2 kg (106 lb)
  • Length: 163 cm (64 in)

AGM-114N Hellfire II

  • Target: Enclosures, ships, urban targets, air defense units
  • Range: 8,000 m (8,749 yd)
  • Guidance:
  • Semi-active laser homing
  • Warhead: Metal augmented charge (MAC) (Thermobaric)
  • Weight: 48 kg (105 lb)
  • Length: 163 cm (64 in)

AGM-114P Hellfire II

  • Version of AGM-114K optimized for use from UCAVs flying at high altitude.

AGM-114Q Hellfire II

  • Practice version of AGM-114N with inert warhead.

AGM-114R Hellfire II

  • Version optimized for use from UCAVs (increased engagement envelope)
  • Target: Bunkers, light vehicles, urban (soft) targets and caves
  • Range: 8,000 m (8,749 yd)
  • Guidance:
  • Semi-active laser homing
  • Warhead: Integrated Blast Frag Sleeve (IBFS) (combine blast fragmentation and fragment dispersion).
  • Weight: 50 kg (110 lb)
  • Speed : Mach 1.3

AGM-114S Hellfire II

  • Practice version of AGM-114K with a spotting charge instead of a warhead.

Rocket motor

Contractor: Alliant Techsystems

Designation: M120E3 (Army), M120E4 (Navy)

AGM-114's on an AH-1W.

Main features:

  • Qualified minimum smoke propellant
  • Rod and tube grain design
  • Neoprene bondline system


  • Operating temperature: -43 °C to 63 °C (-45 °F to 145 °F)
  • Storage temperature: -43 °C to 71 °C (-45 °F to 160 °F)
  • Service life: 20+ years (estimated)

Technical data:

  • Weight: 14.2 kg (31.3 lb)
  • Length: 59.3 cm (23.35 in)
  • Diameter: 18 cm (7.0 in)
  • Case: 7075-T73 aluminum
  • Insulator: R-181 aramid fiber-filled EPDM
  • Nozzle: Cellulose phenolic
  • Propellant: Minimum smoke cross linked double based (XLDB)

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).