There's one thing every American soldier, every war fighter on the ground, appreciates. It's the fact that the weapons used to protect them, work. The Hellfire missile for example.
Development on it began way back in 1974. It became operational in 1984. ""It is absolutely the most lethal and most versatile weapon in its class in the world," says Col. James Romero, the Joint Attack Munitions Systems Project Manager.
The Hellfire is an air to ground missile, and has what the Army calls multi-mission, multi-target capability. That's a big advantage in modern warfare. "It can go into places and spaces that no other weapon can do, and assure that we are able to prosecute the targets without hurting civilians. Or also to keep U.S. soldiers safe if they're close to that target," says Col. Romero.
Helicopters are the main delivery system for the Hellfire in the Army. It can, however, be fired from fixed wing aircraft, or even unmanned aircraft. Originally, the Hellfire was developed as an anti-tank weapon, but the mission these days is as varied as the forces that use the system. One thing to note is that the most up-to-date version, the Hellfire Romeo can do all missions. "Instead of having four or five variants at higher cost and having to manage pilots and users having to manage their inventory carefully...now they have one weapon that does all those things," says Col. Romero.
There is a replacement for Hellfire in development. It's the Joint Air To Ground Missile, JAGM. Like the Hellfire its development being managed at Redstone Arsenal. It will add even more versatility and accuracy. "What that means is, more efficiency for the taxpayer. In other words, firing less missiles to destroy targets that are on the battlefield," says Col. Romero.
The JAGM is expected to be operational in 2018. Until then everyone at Redstone Arsenal is confident that the Hellfire will do just fine.