The battle to replace the Hellfire

The battle to replace the Hellfire

You know about the Joint Strike Fighter and Britain’s “joint strike frigate” — well there’s also a “joint strike missile” in the works. DoD wants the Joint Air to Ground Missile to replace three long-serving, near-legendary weapons: The Tube-Launched, Optically Tracked, Wire-guided missile known as TOW; the Maverick; and, probably best known, the AGM 114 Hellfire. Like the F-35, the JAGM continues the Pentagon’s trend of  super high-stakes competitions where all the marbles are on the line, holding the promise of thousands upon thousands of missiles, and billions of dollars, for whichever corporate giant can get the deal to build it.

The giants in question are Lockheed Martin, which builds the Hellfire, and a team comprising Boeing and Raytheon. And as Richard Burnett of the Orlando Sentinel writes, if Lockheed gets the JAGM contract it could be an economic boon to Central Florida for decades — but it, and the other two companies, are worried that the missile might not survive in Austerity America. As such, Lockheed is trying to rally the hometown crowd in support of the new weapon:

Lockheed Martin Corp. is playing the “jobs card” as it seeks to counter the budget-cutting climate in Washington. Earlier this month, the nation’s largest military contractor brought a contingent of company executives to its missiles unit in south Orlando to tout the economic benefits of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program in Central Florida (525 jobs and $800 million annually).


At a record cost approaching $1 trillion (a congressional figure that Lockheed disputes), the F-35 stealth jet is the frequent target of congressional budget-cutting proposals. Lockheed has been fending them off by focusing on the jobs the program creates amid the country’s persistently high unemployment. Now Lockheed is angling for another lucrative contract that has been threatened by budget cuts. Last week, it bid on the Army’s Joint Air to Ground Missile, successor to the Apache helicopter’s Hellfire missile.

Long a staple of Lockheed’s missile unit in Orlando, the Hellfire has generated hundreds of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue through the years. Winning JAGM would extend and expand that work, Lockheed says.

But Boeing and Raytheon would probably hasten to point out that Lockheed’s submission had some trouble in a live-fire test last year, Burnett reports, whereas their missile scored three hits on three tries — see one of them here. They want those billions, and those jobs, just as much.

 

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Text excerpt: “At a record cost approaching $1 trillion (a congressional figure that Lockheed disputes), the F-35 stealth jet is the frequent target of congressional budget-cutting proposals. Lockheed has been fending them off by focusing on the jobs the program creates amid the country’s persistently high unemployment.”

“In February 2011, the Pentagon put a price of $207.6 million for each of the 32 aircraft to be acquired in FY2012, rising to $304.15 million (…) if its share of RDT&E spending is included“
http://​en​.wikipedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​F​-35 (top of page, third paragraph, last phrases)

And 2.443 F-$$s x times 304,15 million $ apiece = 743.038.450.000 $ . Not quite one trillion $ … yet.

(Continued)

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OK, it’s weekend, it’s hot, I’m incoherent, so I’m gonna let my phantasy fly away a bit: For (less than?) that astronomic sum BOTH the ailing
1) U.S. steel industries
AND
2) the U.S. ship industries
could even build and lay a medium-length, underwater North-South pipeline across the (very) shallow North Sea, linking the Arctic to North Africa, melt the polar ice with windmill farms on the North Pole (or with solar power sent from the Magreb northwards) and pump all the freshwater down to the desert, instantly becoming epic heroes in the Muslim World (including in the victorious Libyans’ eyes), and even charge them something for the water, like every regular investment in large, commercial infrastructures does (e.g. dams and other irrigation projects). Or they could build something similar from Alaska across Canada for themselves, for their hot, Southern states! (I deeply believe in the usefulness of large civil construction projects, even when they don’t represent huge short-term profits)

(Continued)

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But no, piling up 2.443 dysfunctional, ineffective, obsolete, unwanted, SHORT-LIVED F-$$s anywhere with 0,00 $ return on them make more sense to them… allegedly “because of the crisis”, on top of that!!!!!!!

I believe that U.S. politicians already lack ANY visionary and missionary sense to ever make themselves useful and popular again to anyone, while they still can – even to their own population! – despite their relative ease for that, only to lobbies, to paymaster “israel” and to British lickspittles.

FFB — The $1T is the life cycle cost estimate, which includes operations & maintenance costs out to 2060 or so. Probably even includes pay and benefits for pilots, maintainers, and support personnel. It’s a red herring. Better to attack F-35 using: behind schedule, RDT&E cost overruning, producing before adequate testing, and likely unreliability (size of software is ridiculous) due to excessive arguments.

To the poster “Engineer Economist”

You wrote: “The $1T is the life cycle cost estimate”

You mean the F-$$‘s UNIT price is finally stable now at “only” 156 million $ ( = more than each F-22 – more than ANYTHING ) ?

Hi FFB — no I mean that the $1T is for 2400+ jets and includes all the development, procurement, and operations & maintenance (fuel, training, spare parts, probably pilot, maintainer, and support personnel costs, maybe even ordinance) out to 2060+. There are a lot of Government costs involved, so we should all be careful about what costs and to whom we hold people accountable to. LM may be accountable for not completing satisfactory development in time, but we shouldn’t blame them if the Fed Govt lets military & civilian personnel costs out of control — and we shouldn’t blame DoD if fuel costs skyrocket outside of DoD’s control. You have a point that costs & prices are not stable, and everyone involved is accountable for not properly accounting for, and being honest about, uncertainty & risk.

I hope they don’t forget to make the new JAGM backwards compatible with platforms that can launch the legacy missiles. It would get quite expensive to re-engineer & re-qualify everything.

Thanks for the answer.

Still, I can’t keep wondering if 1.000 F-22s for the price of ~ 900 F-$$ wouldn’t be more than sufficient for offensive and defensive air-to-air. And if it’s true that A-10s cost only 11,8 million $ , you could even build 13.220 (!) of them for air-to-ground, instead of just (another) 1.000 F-$$ s!

Even if you only built half as many of those HIGHLY SPECIALIZED jets, WHO ON EARTH would really want to mess with an U.S.A.F. that’s
1) 500 F-22s
and
2) 6.610 A-10s
strong?!
And you would still have half a trillion $ of “pocket change” left for other weapons (e.g.: New carrier planes), for other branches or for other State Departments (or to pay your debts back to other countries) !

And even if you spent the F-$$s’ ENTIRE trillion $ only on F-22s and A-10s instead, at least you WOULD NEVER have to look embarassed at them, nor doubt your own strength!

there are infinite number of possibilities for better defense force structure in the future than committing to the “too big to fail” F-35. A-10 has been out of production forever though. You’d have to reverse/re-engineer it, at unknown cost. Any course of action has uncertainty & risk, that’s why in our major defense acquisitions we should pursue a lower risk incremental improvement strategy. Your argument that no one would mess with USAF is point taken. I argue no one will mess with us in a conventional sense given our nuclear and stand off attack weapons (subs & heavy bombers). So the enemy will simply find other ways to adapt, camoflague, and conceal, and take us down in other ways. From a strategic perspective, we are fools to commit to F-35, when we have so many other underfunded requirements. But stupid thinkers like pfcem and SMSgt Mac are quite tenacious. I don’t blame Lockheed for wanting to do what’s in their strategic interest (playing the jobs card). I blame our senior political and defense leaders who make horrible decisions at the expense of our national security & economy.

Question EE, are you either?
Because arguing that MAD is a suitable replacement to convention weapon superiority IS mad…
heavy bombers with stand-off cruise missiles do nothing if they cant find the target (hence FLIR for f-35), and 300km stand-off is to far for both SAR and FLIR (not that B-52s have em any way but hell F-15Es and F-16s then).
That 300km balloons too over 800km if you can’t block interceptors because you’re running rickedy teen series buckets waiting for retirement…
The –35 is worth it, so stop being a hater.

hey fight pickin hater. I’m both. And I’m not making the straw man argument that you think I’m making. You’re misunderstanding. And we don’t need F-35 for either FLIR or SAR — we’ve already got those capabilities. I’m not arguing against tacair modernization, I’m considering a much bigger picture.

what kind of seekers will it have? same as the brimstone 2 (radar + ir i think)?

The Republicans state that Government Spending does not create Jobs???? What is up with that… LOL… Looks like Florida and those morons in Texas will have to find another Job. They have ripped the American People off long enough. Kill JSF, F-22, NGB, and Let’s MOVE ON…

Good Afternoon Folks,

While I do enjoy ffb’s rants and prodding the butternuts, the F-35 is not the topic here.

The top of the article is the replacement of the AIM-114 Hellfire II and the BGM-71 TOW-W missiles. The quest– ion that the article didn’t answer is why?

Both missile have recently been up graded, the results of the CIA Drone attack on al Qaeda and Taliban that have killed over a 1,000 terrorists this years alone with the AIM-114 Hellfire II’s indicates that they are at the very least one of the most productive weapons in the US arsenal. The BGM-71 Tow has served well since the 1960’s and in its current form as wireless is certified for use over water which give the USN another option for the LCS.

A fortnight ago the AIM-114 Hellfire II was certified by the Royal Navy for use in the anti shipping mode (re Pyracy) when it was fired over water from a a AH-64 Apache and hit it targets. The AIM-114II has sense been deployed by the Royal Navy to Libya and is doing its job nightly from the HMS Home with out any complaints.

Why do we need a JSM to replace these two systems that are serving so well, oh yea, I for got the equity return for the stockholders of of Lockheed/Martin. I’m sure that the JSM would be five times or more expensive then either of these current weapons.

I’m all for killing the bad guys a cheaply as possible.

ALLONS,
Byron Skinner

Byron as far as I know the requirement for this new missile to replace the TOW was dropped when JCM (AGM-169) was canceled and JAGM was started. These days USMC Super Cobras are all using Hellfires in place of the TOW anyway.

In some aspects JAGM will be a further development of the Hellfire II family, rather than a new missile entirely. Just look at the airframe both missiles use. The biggest difference is likely to be new electronics and tri-mode seeker, as well as a new motor.

I recall seeing photos of the Hellfire being tested on the A-10 many years ago, but it seems nothing ever came of that. JAGM will be used by the F-35, F/A-18 and other aircraft, hopefully including the A-10C and F-15E. It will provide a capability similar to the Brimstone used by RAF Tornados. The Brimstone has been praised in Libya and supposedly the French are considering purchasing some.

JAGM will also replace the Hellfire on our UAVs and helicopters, providing greater range, more targeting options, and reduced vulnerability to countermeasures.

“Like the F-35, the JAGM continues the Pentagon’s trend of super high-stakes competitions where all the marbles are on the line, holding the promise of thousands upon thousands of missiles, and billions of dollars, for whichever corporate giant can get the deal to build it.”

Should read…

“Like the F-35, the JAGM continues the Pentagon’s trend of HAVING to have super high-stakes competitions where all the marbles are on the line, holding the promise of thousands upon thousands of missiles, and billions of dollars, for whichever corporate giant can get the deal to build it becasue Congress won’t provide the funding necessary for multiple separate programs.”

Except that the unit cost of the next LRIP will be less & the one after that less still and so on with full rate production (where the VAST majority of aircraft will be procured) being more-or-less (depending on which set of cost projections you choose to use) HALF that.

You can’t get 1,000 F-22 for the price of 900 F-35 — more like HALF that (possibly as many as 600 if there wasn’t any break in production).

No A-10s do not cost $11.8 million. IF they were in production today they would easily cost 3 times that much.

The same reasons we aren’t still fighting with P-51s or F-86s…

To the poster “Engineer Economist”

You wrote: “There are infinite number of possibilities for better defense force structure in the future than committing to the ‘too big to fail’ F-35.”

Are we the only ones to realize that?

nope. realizing it is the easy part, though. changing things (especially people) is much more difficult.

JAGM is smaller in scope and a “smarter” program than JCM however. At least that’s something.

Are you in drugs????

Australia uses the Hellfire on its Tiger Attack helicopters and has recently ordered the Sikorsky Romeo for its navy in which it will copy USN systems such as hellfire. The problem is that the short range of the Hellfire on the Romeo and that it is not a ship killer makes its pretty useless as a frigate,destroyer helicopter and not likely to be ever used on swarms of small ships or coastal targets. The longer range, more effective Penguin which once equiped the Seahawks is no longer used by the USN and the Kongsberg penguin replacement Joint Strike Missile is still further developing to meet the anti shipping capabilities of the F-35. Carrier groups have lots of assets to throw at variety of threats small non carrier groups do not! A common missile design with a variety of warhead types would be fantastic. Hellfire has certainly grown and the thermoboric version is awesome. The weakness of one system fits all (basic missile design different warheads) is that one counter system makes them all useless

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