The M299 launcher recognises and launches all HELLFIRE variants. Credit: James Emery/Flickr (Creative Commons).


In October Lockheed Martin was awarded a $25.9 million dollar contract to buy new launcher for the M-299 “All Up Launchers” (AULs) along with spare parts and support for the US Army and its customers overseas.

As the press release said at the time, “The M299 Launcher provides an affordable multi-platform, multi-mission capability for the HELLFIRE and Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM). It operates in severe flight environments, with a digital design that allows interface with a variety of platforms. The M299 Launcher has the unique ability to recognize and fire all HELLFIRE variants and JAGM in any sequence plausible.”

Norway announced that it would begin sending Hellfire missiles to Ukraine in September.  The unit cost of the launchers is about $35,000  copy so the size of the contract at $25,9 million suggests a lot of new launchers are being ordered.  The M-299 launcher system can be mounted on helicopters and even drones like the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper.

This upgraded and all-digital launcher system is designed to launch the Hellfire II system in all its variants and will replace the current launcher system on US Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force helicopters and drones.

The AGM-114R is the latest Hellfire II type,  equipped with a semi-active laser seeker to hit many kinds of targets. The AGM-114R can be launched from fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, surface ships, and military ground vehicles. It’s also a very smart missile capable of maneuvering to the side or rear of a target like a tank to hit the weak spots in its armor.

The part about ground vehicles able to fire the M-299 is interesting.  Ukraine really doesn’t have many helicopters to carry these launchers but it’s not lacking in ground vehicles to mount them on.