PTRK AGM-114 "Hellfire" with laser missile guidance system, was designed with the possibility of its use by various types of aircraft and mainly for the armament of attack helicopters. The development of the first version of AGM-114A missile was completed by Rockwell International in 1982 and since 1984, the complex is in service with the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. Based on test results and operational experience, it is characterized as a highly effective anti-tank weapon with high flexibility of use, which can be successfully used also to defeat other targets and various tactical tasks on the battlefield.
Following the application of the Hellfire anti-tank weapon during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, further upgrades were initiated. The program was designated HOMS (Hellfire Optimised Missile System), the upgraded version of the missile was designated AGM-114K "Hellfire-2". After successful testing by the U.S. Defense Department, a contract was concluded for the installation of a series of missiles AGM-114K. The first missiles were delivered to the troops in December 1994.
The modular design of the rocket "Hellfire" and the launchers practically removes restrictions on the implementation of improvements to the complex in accordance with growing requirements and its possible installation on various helicopters and aircraft, as well as on ground vehicles.
Originally developed for the AH-64 "Apache" helicopters, the Hellfire PTWC is increasingly being used as a weapon to combat tanks and other tasks. Its carriers, except helicopters, are aircraft, various ground combat vehicles and surface ships. The company "Rockwell International" has developed PU and on-board equipment for aircraft. The maximum range of the missile when it is launched from an aircraft, depending on the speed and height of its flight is 8 - 12 km. It is envisaged to use various NATO tactical aircraft as a carrier of the PTRK.
There is a self-propelled PTRK developed on the basis of wheeled vehicle of high cross-country ability HMWWV. The crew is two persons, the weight of the equipment of the complex is 680 kg, the PU is designed for two missiles ready to launch, the carryable ammunition stock of six missiles. Emerson" company offers the development of a complex to equip the BMP "Bradley". The complex includes two boxed armored boosters for two missiles each, installed on board the tower. Ammunition of four missiles is placed in the car body. The BMP fire control system is complemented by a laser designator.
PTUR AGM-114K "Hellfire-2" was completely redesigned, and despite the almost identical appearance with the AGM-114A, most of the internal systems were replaced.
The missile received a new CNS fairing, improved semi-active laser CNS, digital autopilot and guidance electronics, tandem cumulative power supply and power supply. The flight control system was replaced by a new unit consisting of platoon electronics, a thermal battery and a pneumatic accumulator. The new PALGSN is more resistant to electronic and optical interference, smoke and parasitic reflections from the water surface.
Digital autopilot, built on the basis of a microprocessor firm "Intel", with mathematical support based on the high level machine language Ada. The use of this language in rocket software is assessed as a significant achievement in the work on its improvement, which can find application in other products.
The autopilot provides:
- the ability to effectively use missiles from high-speed aircraft,
- improves the guidance of the missile at short range;
- improves guidance accuracy and stability, allowing the missile to rise above the edge of the clouds without losing "grip" on the target;
- enhances the missile's flight speed,
- allows for steeper flight paths and therefore increases the angle of encounters with the obstacle (i.e. the BC hitting ability).
During launch, when the engine thrust exceeds 227-273 kg, the rocket descends from the PU guides. When the acceleration of 10g is reached, a combat platoon takes place (approximately 150-300 meters from the launch vehicle).
Flexibility is achieved: the ability to launch missiles from the helicopter carrier (depending on the combat mission) alone, a series or volley on different targets, the autonomous action of the carrier or in conjunction with a helicopter scout designator, the possibility of launching missiles in different modes of flight of the helicopter. The missiles can be launched from the helicopter direct guidance on the trajectory on the deck in low cloudy conditions and with the capture of the target before the launch and not direct guidance on a hinged trajectory with the capture of the target after launch. In the latter case, the carrier helicopter may be concealed and target designation may be provided by another helicopter or by a ground target designation.
When target designation is used from the carrier, the interval between missile launches in the series is at least eight seconds. This interval can be significantly reduced with the use of remote (onboard or ground) target designation and reduced to a fraction of a second with the use of multiple remote designators with radiation coding. The use of the safest flight modes, combined with the ability to capture the target by missiles after launch, the considerable range and speed of the missiles provides high survivability of the helicopter.
The anti-ship version of the AGM-114K missile is equipped with a 12.5 kg shrapnel-flag warhead, in which case the starting weight of the missile increases to 47.9 kg.
|Range of fire, m||9000|
|Rocket velocity, M.||1.1|
|The weight of the rocket, kg||45.7|
|Body diameter, mm||178|
|Swing of stabilizers, mm||326|
The effectiveness of the missiles was demonstrated during test launches and under combat conditions. U.S. experts estimate that to disable an aircraft carrier (light aircraft carrier) will require five Harpoon PCRs, to defeat a cruiser - four, and the destroyer - two; one missile is able to produce serious damage when hitting a small ship or boat.
In March 1986, two Libyan missile boats were sunk by Harpoon missiles in Sidra Bay. Thus, March 25, a large Libyan missile boat "Ein Zagut", which was patrolling the Libyan coast, was suddenly fired by the American cruiser "Jordan Town" from a distance of only 11 miles. Two Harpoon RGM-84 missiles hit the boat, which sank 15 minutes later.
The second Libyan boat Vokhod was sunk on March 24 by a Harpoon ASM-84 missile launched from the U.S. attack aircraft Intruder A-6. The missile hit the superstructure of the 311 t displacement boat. The superstructure was destroyed and the commander of the boat was killed in it. The engines of the boat remained in service, but the crew decided not to extinguish the fire. One hour after the crew left, the boat sank.
Two more years later, two Iranian ships were sunk in the Persian Gulf by Harpoon missiles.
During the operation "Desert Storm" (17.01.1991-01.03.1991), Harpoon missiles were used against the Iraqi Navy according to the data of on-board carrier vehicles for guidance of external sources. The missile application distances did not exceed 40 km due to difficulties in detecting small targets by onboard radars. There were instances where the missile could not have been reduced enough to hit a low-borne small target and hit a lightweight superstructure. At the same time, the missile's warhead exploded after the target had passed and the effectiveness of the fire was thus reduced. At the same time, detected combat episodes related to the Harpoon's application indicates that the effectiveness of the onboard target guidance system for the missile at the end site was extremely high.