Hellfire Also on the Chopping Block
By Harold Hutchison
The BGM-109 Tomahawk and the AGM-114 Hellfire are both on the chopping block in the latest proposal. Both munitions have been proven in conflicts like the War on Terror and Operation Desert Storm.
According to a report by the Washington Free Beacon, the Hellfire is expected to be zeroed out in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget, while the Tomahawk will be cancelled the next fiscal year, with a final 100 missiles being purchased in 2015. To put that last purchase into perspective, the final 2015 purchase of 100 missiles represents less than half the total number of Tomahawks fired during the NATO intervention in Libya (220). The decision has come under fire from Congress and from outside experts.
“The administration’s proposed budget dramatically under-resources our investments in munitions and leaves the Defense Department with dangerous gaps in key areas, like Tomahawk and Hellfire missiles,” Rep. Randy Forbes (R., Va.), a member of House Armed Services Committee, told the Washington Free Beacon. “Increasing our investment in munitions and retaining our technological edge in research and development should be a key component of any serious defense strategy.”
“The opening days of the U.S. lead-from-behind, ‘no-fly zone’ operation over Libya showcased how important this inventory of weapons is still today,” Mackenzie Eaglen, a former DOD staffer said, labeling the decision “short-sighted.” The Pentagon’s replacement program, the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile, has been underperforming despite an expensive R&D effort.
“You have to ask yourself: An anti-ship missile is not going to be something we can drive into a cave in Tora Bora,” retired Army Lt. Col. Steve Russell, who is running for Congress, said. “To replace it with something not needed as badly, and invest in something not even capable of passing basic tests, that causes real concern.” Russell described the proposed halt of production as devastating to the United States military, which is now running a “huge risk” since “our national policy is contingent on an immediate response with these missile and we’re not replacing them.”
Seth Cropsey, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for American Seapower, told the Free Beacon that someone seeking to “reduce the U.S. ability to shape events” around the world “couldn’t find a better way than depriving the U.S. fleet of Tomahawks.”