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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Hellfire and Brimstone

See, my problem is that this: [ missile]
Is not [one of these]. While the two are similar, the unknown missile does not have several characteristics of the Hellfire family. First, the canards (forward fins) are missing and do not appear to have been broken off. In the photo at least the attachment points for the canards should be visible. Second, the seeker head is not that of electro optically guided missile. While there are hellfire variants for use with the Longbow radar on the AH-64D that use radar guidance, the nose radome is not at all shaped like this one. If this missile was in fact launched by a Predator, the only way to guide it would be via laser (electro optical) or satellite, since the Predator canít carry the correct type of radar to guide an AGM.
So this represents some new kind of capability. A new missile has been developed and deployed, likely to be used specifically for this kind of mission. Judging by the dimensions and markings, it seems to be the same size as the Hellfire and may be a new variant. In the past 4 years there have been at least two new Hellfire variants fielded specifically for the kinds of targets Predators engage. The fact that this new missile seems to lack an electro optical seeker is potentially significant. It may represent a push for an all-weather capability, though that would imply striking targets that the firing aircraft cannot see unless it is using a SAR (likely only the case on the GlobalHawk, not Predator).

It is strange that the mass media is not pursuing this. There are legal and other issues that would arise from using such a weapon for surgical strikes in populated areas.

1/31/2006 04:21:00 PM ] [  ]
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