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AGM-114 Hellfire and Brimstone

Started by Aircav, March 19, 2010, 10:48:42 AM

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Aircav

Hi,
Does anyone know if the development costs of Brimstone is worth the improvements over Hellfire ?
Steve
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pyro-manic

It's a completely different missile. It uses a stretched Hellfire airframe, but AFAIK the guts are all new. And Brimstone can be carried on fast jets, unlike Hellfires.
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Aircav

If its so different wonder why they started with the Hellfire body.
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Jschmus

Why can't the Hellfire be used on fast jets?  I checked a couple of different sites, and the only fixed-wing aircraft I saw as compatible platforms are various UCAVs and the Cessna 208, with test firings carried out from a C-130.  A book on the A-10 I had in high school showed the Hellfire as a compatible weapon, but I imagine that the laser-guided Hellfire with its 18 to 20-lb warhead was a poor substitute for the similar Maverick, with a 100-lb warhead.
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ChernayaAkula

Quote from: Jschmus on March 19, 2010, 04:19:08 PM
<...> A book on the A-10 I had in high school showed the Hellfire as a compatible weapon <...>



This one's from Spick/Gunston's "Modern Air Combat" (of early 1980s vintage), but I believe it was used in A-10 book from the Aviation Fact File/Modern Fighting Aircraft series (also of early 1980s vintage) as well.
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#5
Quote from: Jschmus on March 19, 2010, 04:19:08 PM
Why can't the Hellfire be used on fast jets?  I checked a couple of different sites, and the only fixed-wing aircraft I saw as compatible platforms are various UCAVs and the Cessna 208, with test firings carried out from a C-130.  A book on the A-10 I had in high school showed the Hellfire as a compatible weapon, but I imagine that the laser-guided Hellfire with its 18 to 20-lb warhead was a poor substitute for the similar Maverick, with a 100-lb warhead.

Well given that an entire Hellfire weighs less than the Maverick's warhead, and can still take out any known tank, the answer is combat persistance: if tanks are the target, then you get more Hellfires per aircraft than you do Mavericks. A Tornado or Typhoon can carry twelve Hellfire-sized Brimstones, whereas I've never seem more than six Maveriks on any aircraft and usually fewer than that. Of course, the Hellfires need target designation whereas most Maverick versions don't, but in a CAS situation with FACs present, that may not be a problem. Operating further behind the lines, without FAC support and looking at bigger, more "leveraged" targets like bridges, command posts etc., Maverick comes into it's own.

I think the reason for the new motor in Brimstone is to adapt it to fast jets: it probably needed more energy to get clear of the aircraft quickly. Ironically, given the amount of effort expended on the MMW version, the latest version, cooked up in a hurry to an Afghanistan UOR, has a laser seeker just like Hellfire, although it does also have INS, allowing the weapons to lock-on after launch.
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Hobbes

Hellfire is laserguided, which means it needs the target to be designated until impact. That goes for Maverick as well (but with TV guidance instead). Brimstone is fire-and-forget, and a huge step forward in the intelligence of the onboard systems: you can basically point it at a kill zone and tell it to attack any target it finds in there.

Mossie

Range is also a factor, Brimstone's is half that again over Hellfire (12km vs 8km).  Fast jets need more over helicopters & slower aircraft because they are travelling much quicker themselves.  Brimstone gives slots in to a niche somewhere between Hellfire & Maverick.  It's got greater range than Hellfire & can be carried on a faster platform.  It's got half the range of Maverick but is cheaper & many more can be carried, making it a better option in lower risk scenarios.

As for Brimstone being completely new, I've always wondered why it shared the Hellfire platform too.  It does save the costs from having to develop the airframe, but being a competitors product, MBDA are going to have to pay for some licensing.  You never know what corporate deals are going on either, there might have been a trade off for access to research or potential collaboration in the future for example.
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Jschmus

Quote from: Hobbes on March 20, 2010, 02:16:20 AM
Hellfire is laserguided, which means it needs the target to be designated until impact. That goes for Maverick as well (but with TV guidance instead). Brimstone is fire-and-forget, and a huge step forward in the intelligence of the onboard systems: you can basically point it at a kill zone and tell it to attack any target it finds in there.

Not to be too nit-picky, but only the early versions of Maverick were TV-guided.  The AGM-65D/F/G are all IR-guided, and the AGM-65E (developed for the Marines) is laser-guided.  Also, the Longbow version of Hellfire uses a MMW targeting system, similar to Brimstone.  Oddly enough, most of the Longbow Apaches deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan went into the field without their radar sets.
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Aircav

Quote from: Jschmus on March 20, 2010, 08:35:25 AM
  Oddly enough, most of the Longbow Apaches deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan went into the field without their radar sets.

I think the fact that it weighs about 1000lbs and the high attitude have something to do with that in Afghanistan.
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rickshaw

Quote from: Hobbes on March 20, 2010, 02:16:20 AM
Hellfire is laserguided, which means it needs the target to be designated until impact. That goes for Maverick as well (but with TV guidance instead). Brimstone is fire-and-forget, and a huge step forward in the intelligence of the onboard systems: you can basically point it at a kill zone and tell it to attack any target it finds in there.

Actually, to be picky, Hellfire isn't laser-guided in the normal sense that such a term is used.  Its laser-seeking.  RBS-70, OTOH, is laser-guided (as an example).  If the weapon was laser-guided, it would rely upon the laser beam to transmit guidance signals.  It doesn't.  Unfortunately, the popular press got hold of the idea that Hellfire was "laser-guided" and the myth has persisted ever since.

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Weaver

Depends what you mean by the "normal sense". Most layman's idea of "laser-guided" is more precisely described as semi-active laser homing, i.e. the system that Paveway and Hellfire use, where the weapon homes in on light scattered from a target designated by a laser. RBS-70 is a laser beam-rider and Starstreak is command-guided with a laser command link.
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rickshaw

Quote from: Weaver on March 23, 2010, 04:50:30 AM
Depends what you mean by the "normal sense". Most layman's idea of "laser-guided" is more precisely described as semi-active laser homing, i.e. the system that Paveway and Hellfire use, where the weapon homes in on light scattered from a target designated by a laser. RBS-70 is a laser beam-rider and Starstreak is command-guided with a laser command link.

Couldn't agree more.  I once had to ghost write an article for Time-Life in their series of books about "Australians at War" on "21st century weapons" (back in about 1987 IIRC).  The editors chopped the section on explaining the difference between "laser-homing" and "laser-guided".   Bastards.   In the end what I wrote did not resemble what was published.   They declared it was "too technical".  Problem was, they'd asked for technical explanations on the terms and so I supplied them.
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Aircav

Thanks for all your answers, I've decided on fitting Hellfire on the helicopter I wanted the info for.
All the best
Steve
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"Sophistication means complication, then escallation, cancellation and finally ruination."
Sir Sydney Camm

"Men do not stop playing because they grow old, they grow old because they stop playing" - Oliver Wendell Holmes

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anthonyp

Quote from: Hobbes on March 20, 2010, 02:16:20 AM
Hellfire is laserguided, which means it needs the target to be designated until impact. That goes for Maverick as well (but with TV guidance instead). Brimstone is fire-and-forget, and a huge step forward in the intelligence of the onboard systems: you can basically point it at a kill zone and tell it to attack any target it finds in there.

Don't forget the Millimeter Wave Radar guided versions that are used in conjunction with the Longbow Radar.  The Hellfire is a fire and forget weapon in that system combo.
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