US Air Force Reveals Hellfire Missile With Threefold Range

The US Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Command Test Center recently tested the new AGM-114 R-4 long-range Hellfire missile, revealing it for the first time.

A 174th Attack Wing MQ-9 Block 5 drone test-fired the missile during an exercise, clocking the longest Hellfire shot to date. 

The R-4 boasts three times the range of its predecessor, the AGM-114 R, which can hit targets from around 7 miles (11 kilometers) under optimal conditions, the developers claim.

Increases MQ-9’s Potency

A longer Hellfire range enables the MQ-9 to take out targets from a stand-off range, enhancing its survivability against enemies’ integrated air defenses.

The Creech Air Force Base test also assessed the missile’s associated weaponeering software.

The missile’s development has been kept under wraps and comes months after another Hellfire derivative, the AGM-179A Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM), achieved initial operational capability in March.

Soldiers load an AGM-114 Hellfire missile onto an AH-64E Apache helicopter before a mission in Kunduz, Afghanistan, May 31, 2017. Photo: US Army.

Increased Range to Help JAGM Development

The Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire is a family of short-range air-to-ground missiles, initially developed as an anti-armor weapon in the 1980s. It has since evolved as a weapon against a broad range of targets.

The JAGM has been developed as an intended replacement for the AGM-114 R, BGM-71 TOW, and AGM-65 Maverick missiles. 

The JAGM uses a multi-mode seeker (laser guidance for precise targeting and millimeter-wave radar for day, night, and adverse weather operation capability), unlike the sole semi-active laser homing capability of the AGM-114 R.

The AGM-114 R’s increased range could also reflect on the JAGM, according to The War Zone.

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