The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency has approved a request by the UK to purchase 1,000 Hellfire missiles.

The £120m sale covers 1,000 AGM-114-R1/R2 Hellfire missiles with logistics support services and ‘other related support’.

According to the agency:

“The proposed sale improves the UK’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing close air support to counter enemy attacks on coalition ground forces in the US Central Command area of responsibility and other areas, as needed.

The UK already has Hellfire missiles in its inventory and will have no difficulty absorbing these additional missiles.”

The system provides heavy anti-armour capability for attack helicopters and Remotely Piloted Air Systems, the missile has a range of 8km and a 9kg warhead.

Since being fielded, the missiles have been used in combat around the globe and have been been fired from Apache and Super Cobra attack helicopters, Kiowa scout helicopters, and Predator and Reaper unmanned aircraft.

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Bit of a surprise this one.

Why are we not using Brimstone instead. It seems to be a similar and in most ways better product and Hellfire is a direct competitor.

If we are serious about exporting – then these kind of decisions need to be taken more carefully.

Other than that – good to see the UK buying a good stock of missiles.

David Stone

Not sure but don’t think Reaper is carrying Brimstone operationally yet. Last I had read was that it was being tested. Happy to be corrected on that though


As David said, Brimstone isn’t integrated into the old Reaper.

Mr Bell

Also hellfire is what is integrated into the tank busting apache longbow. 16 hellfire represent a full weapons load. So 1000 missiles is actually not that many. The apache fleet will quickly use those up in any high intensity conflict.


Gents, Understood, and that’s kind of the point – we are now running 2 missiles that are essentially the same, which equals inefficiency. Yet another example of lack of foresight – if we are going to spend loads of money developing brimstone then realistically we need to buy in large volumes and standardise our fleet onto it, to go with the (at the time) inferior hellfire as it is part of US based combat systems we are purchasing. Again – we are caught in the middle and perhaps we should work with LM to have a missile facility in the… Read more »


“we are now running 2 missiles that are essentially the same, which equals inefficiency.” Very true. Sure, even the very name “Hellfire & Brimstone” articulate that the two missiles share a common heritage. Open to correction, but I think the UK wanted a more sophisticated all-weather ability so integrated the millimeter wave radar into it, (laser guidance being very weather dependent). However now that Hellfire also now has this ability then there really seems little difference between the two products so it does seem like a bit of a duplication. So much so with the advent of the long-range ‘Spear… Read more »


Costs are a bit of a slippery one in this matter I think. It has taken quite some time and cost to incorporate Brimstone even into the Typhoon fleet which I believe isn’t fully integrated yet but will be before the Tornados go out of service. Work is also taking place with the F35 so plenty of work is is already under way. As the drones were made to take Hellfire, integrating those would be more costly no doubt than buying off the shelf Hellfire for the sake of some extra flexibility in action. From what I read a lot… Read more »


There are some major differences: – Brimstone 2 is IM compliant, not all Hellfire are. – Brimstone’s MMW targetting mode is much more sophisticated than the L variant of Hellfire. Killboxes, safe modes and targeting algorithms are all more advanced. – Brimstone is either MMW (legacy) or dual mode (MMW or SAL). No Hellfire variant has dual mode. Dual mode makes targeting a lot easier, and safer, due to latency issues from UCAV’s in particular. – Brimstone can be fired from fast jets. Hellfire can’t. Brimstone will eventually be used on all platforms, Hellfire will never do that. – Range… Read more »


There’s another article on this site about Spear 3 and the same could be said about that, great product but if we aren’t willing to go full tilt on it and get it into the F35b and everything else then why not go with the Norwegian missile or some of the other proposed solutions. It does amaze me how the Nordic countries seem able to do this stuff on a small scale and make it work. We should probably go down that route, but I must admit that I am looking at this through a cost lens and do not… Read more »


I think Spear 3 is still intended to be integrated with F-35B for internal carriage (4 per weapon bay, 8 in total) in the block 4 software update (block 3F is the one currently being worked on) so it is being given pretty high priority. As long as things don’t slip then Spear 3 & F-35B plans seem pretty good to me. Always with the caveats that something doesn’t change and politicians don’t meddle but right now Spear 3 does look like a program that is solid and heading in the right direction at at least a somewhat acceptable speed… Read more »


NSM / JSM sorts out a lot of problems for the RAF and RN. We’re best mates with the Norgies so for me its a no-brainer. We should do a deal with them. They buy Meteor and Spear 3 we then buy NSM/JSM. We’ll be pushing at an open door with Meteor and Spear 3 as it was the Norwegians who have had issues with Amraam’s in cold weather Spear 3 helps address their concerns around Russian AD systems. For the UK NSM/JSM makes a lot of sense. It addresses the Harpoon withdrawal on surface vessels with additional land attack… Read more »