KILLEEN (May 15, 2012)--Fort Hood officials are investigating after an inert Hellfire training missile fell into from an AH-64 Apache helicopter late Tuesday night into a Killeen residential area.
A soldier’s children saw the missile as it fell into the field and told their father who called Fort Hood.
The missile burrowed about 4 feet into the ground in an open field adjacent to Aquarius Drive and Trimmier Drive in Killeen at around 8:15 p.m. Tuesday.
About 100 homes in the area of the Trimmier Estates neighborhood were evacuated as a precaution.
Residents were allowed to return to their homes around 9 p.m.
Fort Hood's Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team was dispatched to the area and determined the missile was an M36 training device, which has neither a warhead nor a propulsion system and isn’t intended to be launched.
The missile was removed from the field at around 11:45 p.m.
"Safety is always our number one concern, and we regret the inconvenience to the families affected in the area. We want to reassure the public that our military aircraft never fly off the installation with live munitions," said Col. Howard Arey, III Corps aviation officer.
"An investigation is underway, even as we review our safety and other procedures to ensure we understand why this happened and how to prevent it from happening in the future. We won't know the cause until the investigation is complete, but we believe at this time that it is not a systemic issue," added Arey.
The Hellfire is an air-to-surface missile that was developed primarily for anti-armor use.
The missile can be launched from a variety of platforms and serves as the primary 100-lb-class air-to-ground precision weapon for U.S. forces.
“Hellfire” is a condensation of the weapon’s original name, “Helicopter launched fire-and-forget weapon.”