What can the Russians or Chinese learn with a pristine Hellfire missile in their hands?

See hed. One was shipped to Cuba (oops) and presumably is out of Cuban hands by now.

So the question is twofold: of the limits of reverse engineering for that particular thing and about their comparable technology to which any new information derived from that new info can be added.

Both countries operate and manufacture their own class of laser guided missiles, the Vikhr for the Russians and the HJ10 for the Chinese.

What they will be more interested in will be seeing performance and ability upclose. For instance how to develop countermeasures for the seeker (to jam it) and to protect the armour.

It was only a training missile that went to Cuba.

“The Hellfire training missile contains an incomplete guidance section and has no operational seeker head, warhead, fusing system or rocket motor” according to the DoD.

Anyway the hellfire has been sold to dozens of countries. I’d assume China and Russia have already got hold of one from espionage or bribery.

… and one has to wonder just how much of the Hellfire manufacturing has already been outsourced to Chinese factories …

What does it have, then?

Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, high-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist and intelligent high-beam headlamps. 15-Speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio System, high-resolution 8.0-inch LCD multi-information display. Navigation System with voice activation, and high-resolution 8.0-inch LCD multi-information display. Perforated leather trim, genuine wood accents, heated and ventilated front seats. Genuine wood accents and power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel. Panorama glass roof, perforated semi-aniline leather trim, genuine wood accents, and ambient interior lighting.

Pretty standard stuff, actually.

If its for training it probably just has the necessary working parts so it can be attached / detached from an aircraft and maybe a few test circuits so that the aircraft can detect that its attached correctly. It sounds like this is a trainer for the ground crew rather than a training missile thats actually fired (which might have everything except the warhead).

I don’t know for sure, but here’s some speculation based other missiles.

There are trainers for loading & handling, trainers for maintenance, and trainers for firing.

A loading trainer will look & weigh just like the real thing, but that’s about it. Guys practice attaching them to the carriers and transferring them to the aircraft & back. They’re also sometimes carried on some training sorties to balance the load of a smaller number of actual fireable training rounds.

Maintenance trainers will simulate the various parts you can hook test gear to. These are often subassembly trainers that don’t look like real missiles.

There are also munitions handling trainers that let folks practice connecting rocket, guidance packages, and warheads together. Most missiles are modular at that level, with several choices of the various modules and specific procedures for hooking each combo together.

Firing trainers will have live seeker and guidance kits but no motor or warhead. Pilots can carry them, aim them, lase targets for them, lock them onto targets, etc. But pushing the fire button does nothing.
From the sounds of the press release, it seems the Hellfire sent to Cuba was a loading trainer. Or at least so the folks in total CYA mode are saying.

That was last years model.

Also on the list of countries that the US has sold them to is Pakistan. I have a sneaking suspicion that the US does not sell any arms to Pakistan that they’re not happy to fall into Chinese / Russian hands. Apart from the fact that the Pakistan military is notoriously corrupt, China and Pakistan also have a very strong relationship.

This modularity is functional when not being used in training, yes? Are mix and match decisions made, and performed, at an airbase or carrier before a mission?


Pakistan has had a rather adversarial relationship with the SU and until recently Russia. Its unlikely to give such weapons to them. As for the corruption but, the Pakistani military can be accused of many thing, rightly in most cases, but corruption is not one of them, they have no problem cashiering senior officers on this charge.

As it is the U.S has had no problem in selling very high tech weapon systems to Pakistan, from fighters, to guided missiles and PGMs. Any weapons the U.S does not want in foreign hands, they don’t sell it…period.

The main point of modularity is to be able to have multiple choices for employment.

If you’re going after tanks today screw on the anti-armor warhead. If you’re going after pickup trucks of bad guys disguised as wedding parties mount the blast / frag warhead, etc.

Sometimes the environment or equipment dictates which modules are available or compatible. So your munitions management folks may well build up all the munitions in one particular configuration in advance of a campaign.

e.g. if there are three versions of guidance system but all your aircraft or launchers are only compatible with the version 2 guidance package there’s no point in stocking any v1 or v3 packages or assembling any missiles containing them. But if the firing unit rotates back stateside and a new unit with v3 compatible aircraft comes out, they’ll reassemble the munitions to match.

You probably also don’t believe that Pakistan sold nuclear technology to North Korea. Pakistans Military may be slightly less corrupt than their politicians, but its still corrupt. Any country in which the military owns businesses en-masses like Pakistan is going to have this problem.


And I notice you didn’t bother denying Pakistans relationship with China.

LSL, just to be clear: you mention “campaign,” which I suppose includes having a carrier head out and cruise for months. So, within that mission load, staff will mix and match before each jet takeoff?

Sure, sure but does it have Best in-class Towing Capacity?

No, the TOW missile is another weapon.

We know that it should be only that,
but the idea is they are trying to be tough on EACH step in the process,
so that TWO MISTAKES dont occur together,
eg its sent to Cuba AND it contains the latest developments in a chip that is debugger (eg JTAG) readable …

They do make CPU’s that have inbuilt ROM with ROM access disabled to external / JTAG gaze… (to debug, you have to load a ROM image to your debugger…) but I guess its just a matter of opening up the package carefully in a clean room to be able to get at the ROM …

Is it possible that you actually, truly believe this? That Pakistan’s armymen and its generals haven’t, on a large scale, used their public office to privately enrich themselves and their families? To borrow a horrible Chinese phrase which I always thought doesn’t make sense, I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry.