The US State Department has tentatively approved a sale of 800 Hellfire missiles to Australia at an estimated $108 million.
The potential sale of the AGM-114R2 includes technical assistance, associated equipment, and spare parts, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency revealed, adding that the deal would support Washington’s foreign policy and national security objectives by ensuring peace and economic stability in the region.
The decision comes months after the State Department approved a $3.5 billion sale of 29 Apache helicopters to Australia in June, a possible platform for the anti-tank missiles.
The Lockheed Martin missile was initially developed for the Boeing attack helicopter in the 70s as an anti-tank weapon. However, many more platforms, such as fixed-wing aircraft, drones, ground and sea vessels, and land-based sites, now use it.
Inducted in 2012, the 114R utilizes a warhead to work around tanks’ explosive reactive armor that explodes on the point of contact, dispersing the warhead and significantly reducing damage. The missile uses a two-charge warhead that sets off the tank’s defensive armor initially, then pierces the vehicle.
The missile flies at a speed of Mach 1.3 with a maximum range of 8 km (5 miles). It’s 5 feet 11 inches long (1.8 meters) and weighs 49 kg (108 lbs).
According to the agency, the sale’s intended purpose is to enhance the Australian Army’s armed reconnaissance and anti-tank warfare mission capabilities. The Royal Australian Navy already uses the missile on its MH-60R Seahawk helicopters.