Air Weapons: Turkish Hellfire

Many countries are now making clones of the Hellfire missile and Turkey is one of them. Recently, tests were conducted by Turkey of the clone of the Mizrak-U. The test was successful and has proved that the weapon has a range of approximately 8 kilometres and employs an infrared system that facilitates imaging guidance and has a laser homing device. Other nations that have produced clones include Britain with the Brimstone that can b fired from jets, primarily and that makes it somewhat unique. China also produces a clone missile that mimics the Hellfire in its size, abilities and weight. Turkey is just jumping on the bandwagon with its Mizrak-U.

The AGM-114 Hellfire was produced in American and was introduced into service in the mid 80’s. The weapon has been one of the tools that are used in mitigating the war on terror that the U.S. has had an area of focus over the last 30 years. An iterated version was produced in 1994, the Hellfire II, and manufacturers have produced over 30,000 so far. The latter version has a weight of approximately 106 lbs or just over 48 kilos. It carries a warhead weighing about 20 pounds and can travel a range of 8,000 meters. These missiles have been the most popular ones for usage in the last 10 plus years and training exercises as well as combat missions have seen more than 15,000 fired since 2001. Many of these have been produced for other countries outside of the U.S. and each one can cost a buyer about $100,000 based on the selection of guidance classifications and warhead size.

Originally, the missile was designed for the use against Russian tanks in the Cold War era on helicopter gunships. This use never quite manifested, however, with the exception of the use in 1991 Kuwait when it was deployed against Iraqi tanks that had been originally produced by the Russians. The Hellfire missile was extremely successful in the handling the situation in Kuwait at that time. At the end of the Cold War, it was suspected that the Hellfire would simply be retired and be considered another missile that was seldom used in the U.S. arsenal. In 2002, however, the CIA decided to use the Hellfire in eliminating an elusive terrorist and it then became a safeguard weapon against other terrorist attacks, used primarily by the CIA. The US Air Force was not interested in pursuing these kinds of attacks and so the missiles were sold to the CIA for use on their Predator UAVs. The army saw the success that the Hellfire had for the CIA and also adopted its use to support its troops in urban areas or in terrorist strikes.

The Mizak-U that Turkey now has will be planned for use on their own helicopter gunships the T129s which are replicas of the Italian versions that mimic the US upgraded AH1s. Italy’s A129s were the built in Western Europe in the early 80’s and has undergone many upgrades since then. They are produced by Agusta/Westland who were seeking a foreign consumer and were happy to make the deal with Turkey to manufacture more than 100 T129’s.

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