WASHINGTON — The missile that will ultimately replace the US Army's Hellfire missile successfully destroyed a small remotely piloted boat from more than 4 kilometers away, according to the service.
In a Dec. 7 flight test at Eglin Air Force Base Maritime Range, Florida, the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) was launched by an AH-64D Apache pilot and was successfully guided to the target using both laser and radar sensors, Defense News has learned.
The Program Executive Office Missiles and Space and the Joint Attack Munition Systems Project Office along with the US Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center and Lockheed Martin — which is developing JAGM for the Army and makes Hellfire missiles — conducted the test.
The test, according to the Army, is the tenth successful JAGM flight test. The point of the test was to demonstrate JAGM's maturity and capability against different kinds of targets in a variety of environments.
The Army has been relatively quiet about JAGM, last announcing a test — its seventh — in May 2016 when the Army fired JAGM from a Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft system and hit a truck target going roughly 20 mph at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah.
In that test, the missile flew slightly longer than 8 kilometers at an altitude similar to where a Predator unmanned aircraft might fly.
The missile has also been tested on Apache attack helicopters and Marine Corps Cobra helicopters.
The $66 million JAGM missile engineering and manufacturing development contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin in the summer of 2015. The contract could ultimately be worth up to $186 million, as it includes two additional options for low-rate initial production valued at about $60 million each, the Army has said.
JAGM is intended to reach initial operational fielding in 2018.
At the end of 2017, the Army will conduct a limited user test with pilots firing JAGM missiles from Apaches in what is believed to be typical operational scenarios.
The JAGM missile’s threshold requirements are to fly on the Apache and Cobra, Romero said, but the Army is considering what other platforms on which to test JAGM’s capability — defined as "objective" requirements. Gray Eagle is an obvious candidate considering it carries Hellfire and also will be teamed with Apaches in reconnaissance missions.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.