The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has announced that the US State Department has approved the possible sale of up to 800 Lockheed Martin AGM-114R2 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles for Australia.
The potential US$108m (A$150m) contract includes up to 800 missiles, program office technical and security assistance, technical publications, spare parts, storage, and logistics support.
The Australian Army currently employed Hellfire missiles from its 21 Airbus ARH Tiger helicopters, and the Royal Australian Navy from its 23 Sikorsky MH-60R Romeo Seahawk helicopters. The Government announced in January 2021 that the Tigers will be replaced by the Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopter from 2024, while the RAN has plans to order an additional 12 MH-60Rs.
“This proposed sale will improve Australia’s capability to meet current and future threats by enhancing the Australian Army’s armed reconnaissance and anti-tank warfare mission capabilities,” the December 20 notification reads.
The Hellfire will likely also be employed from the RAAF’s forthcoming General Atomics MQ-9B SkyGuardian RPAS being acquired through Project AIR 7003.
The AGM-114R entered service in 2012 and features a new multi-function warhead designed to reduce collateral damage. The 1.8m long 50kg missile has a range of about 8km and a speed of M1.3, and a semi-active laser homing sensor.