While an official decision on the selection of Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) Hellfire II to equip the French Army Tiger Attack Helicopter (HAD) has not been publicized yet, Eurocopter is moving forward with full integration of the missile and its all-digital M299 “smart” missile launcher on the helicopter. Under a contract awarded through the multi-national European Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) to Lockheed Marin, the company will provide training missiles, inert missiles, 80 M299 missile launchers and test equipment. The 54-month program be conducted at Eurocopter’s facility in Marignane, France; Ground tests are planned to begin in October this year culminating in flight tests by March 2008.
HELLFIRE II is operational on a number of attack helicopters, primarily the AH-64 Apache (AH-64A, -D and British AH-MK1). It is also operational on the U.S. Marine Corps’ Cobra (AH- 1W and AH-1Z); the U.S. Navy’s Seahawk armed reconnaissance helicopter (SH-70B); the U.S. Army’s Kiowa Warrior scout helicopter (OH-58D); and the U.S. Air Force’s Predator unmanned aerial vehicle.
HELLFIRE II is already successfully integrated and qualified on the Australian Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) Tiger helicopter. In a comprehensive flight test program at Woomera Testing Range in South Australia, from May to December 2005, HELLFIRE was 7-for-7 over a wide spectrum of engagement scenarios. In August 2006, France’s Delegation Generale pour l’Armement (DGA) launched HELLFIRE from an Australian Tiger at the Woomera Range. The first-time gunner, a French pilot, employing a lock-on-before- launch technique, scored a direct hit with the HELLFIRE II missile on a target six kilometers away.