Defense Industry Daily reports that the war in Iraq has been using up the country’s supply of Hellfire missiles. These laser-guided missiles are produced by Hellfire Systems LLC, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin. Iraq has been firing them from its fleet of AC-208B Combat Caravan prop planes, but may be requesting a large order of Hellfires in anticipation of the delivery of its Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters. The Defense Industry Daily staff writes:
As Iraq’s civil war heated up, the country found itself running out of laser-guided Hellfire missiles by mid-June. That prompted emergency shipments from the USA, but it also prompted a July trial balloon about shipping Iraq several thousand Hellfire missiles. By the end of July, the State Department felt confident enough to go ahead with an official notice to Congress.
The size of the 5,000 missile authorization plus the 500 missiles in Iraq’s AH-64E request, plus the hundreds of missiles delivered prior, illustrates the scope of Iraq’s request. The question is whether the size of the request foreshadows near-term contracts and delivery for AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, which would begin using the missiles at a higher volume than their tiny fleet of AC-208B Combat Caravan prop planes.