In the January 7, 1991, edition of the Los Angeles Times, in an article entitled “U.S. Military Muscle,” Pentagon officials boasted that the Hellfire delivers “pinpoint” accuracy. In the twenty years since then, the U.S. Air Force has obtained funding for more than a half dozen upgraded versions of the Hellfire. In each case, U.S. officials argued that the new version was more accurate than the prior version. Thus, the Hellfire is now apparently six times more accurate than pinpoint accurate.
If the existing Hellfire version is so fantastically accurate, then what is the need for the “Romeo II” upgrade?
In the December 2006, edition of the Air Force Times, Pentagon officials boasted once again that the Hellfire delivers “pinpoint” accuracy. It is, of course, per se disingenuous to assert pinpoint accuracy because such is simply not possible. No missile can consistently hit a target the size of a pin. That would require accuracy to within an inch from an aircraft flying at 25,000 feet and firing at a moving target 8,000 meters away under all types of weather conditions.
On March 6, 2008, USA Today published a story by Tom Vanden Brook entitled: “Air Force Seeks More Fighter Drones.” Air Force Lt. General Gary North is quoted as describing the Hellfire as “very very accurate” (which, again, is nothing more than puffery sans facts). This puffery apparently masks still further undisclosed problems. The Air Force has indirectly acknowledged that even “Version R” will not fix all the defects in the Hellfire. As a result, the Pentagon is moving forward with development on a replacement for the pinpoint accuracy of the Hellfire. The new program is called JAGM, which stands for Joint Air to Ground Missile.