WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin's Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) won the company a $66.3 million development contract to eventually replace the venerable Hellfire and air-launched TOW anti-tank missiles on rotary wing and unmanned aircraft for the US Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

Lockheed was the lone bidder, according to the Army's announcement Monday. The service's Program Executive Office, Missiles and Space awarded the contract, which includes two additional options for low-rate initial production valued at approximately $60 million each.

The missile, which is scheduled to reach initial operational capability in 2018, would be placed on the Army's AH-64 Apache and Marine Corps' AH-1Z helicopters. Lockheed says it is also compatible with the MQ-1C Gray Eagle and MQ-9 Reaper drones.

The design's dual-mode seeker combines an onboard radar and a semi-active laser sensor with the AGM-114R Hellfire Missile body. According to Lockheed, the laser- and radar-guided engagement modes allow JAGM users to strike accurately and reduce collateral damage. It has an advertised range of five miles.

Lockheed has touted the fire-and-forget mode as increasing user survivability against threat defenses in GPS-denied and austere communications environments, and its ability to engage multiple stationary and moving targets, through bad weather, obscurants and advanced countermeasures.

After achieving all required objectives, the JAGM program completed a 27-month technology development pPhase in May 2015, according to the Army. Both Lockheed and Raytheon participated in competitive prototyping.

The Army had released a request for proposals in 2011, then announced the following year, as it was on the verge of moving into production, that would restructure the program to look for more affordable options.

Based on comparison of Lockheed and Raytheon's preliminary designs, the Army elected in 2013 to continue with Lockheed.

The Army released a request for proposals in February and reported that it received one bid.

Had Raytheon entered the competition, it was expected to offer is a product based on its offering for the Air Force's Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II), an Air Force program. The SDB II That product has a tri-mode seeker, and according to the company, a range of 45 miles. The Air Force and Navy are expected to integrate the SDB II onto the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft.

Lockheed announced in July that JAGM engaged two laser-designated stationary targets during recent gGovernment-led flight tests at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

In the first test, the missile flew four kilometers, engaged its precision-strike, semi-active laser and hit the stationary target. During the second flight, the missile flew four kilometers, acquired the target using its precision strike, semi-active laser while simultaneously tracking the target with its millimeter wave radar, and hit the stationary target.

Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, authorized the program to enter the engineering and manufacturing development phase, and awarded award the contract via a July 29 acquisition decision memorandum.

From here, the EMD phase includes a critical design review in January, initial missile deliveries in and March, followed by various tests and demonstrations into 2018. The work will be performed in Orlando, Florida.

JAGM, the successor to the canceled Joint Common Missile program, had been intended to replace Hellfire and Maverick missiles for the Army and Navy, targeted for rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft, to include the Navy's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, it's MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and the Army's Extended Range Multi Purpose unmanned aircraft system.

Email: jgould@defensenews.com

Twitter: @reporterjoe

Joe Gould was the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He had previously served as Congress reporter.

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