A Marine helicopter crew sank a moving training vessel near Okinawa, Japan, using a newly acquired “fire and forget” missile for the first time in the Indo-Pacific region.

The two Marine crew of an AH-1Z Viper attached to the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262 Reinforced with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit fired the missile Wednesday in training mission in the Philippine Sea in which another vessel towed the target.

Marines used the newly acquired AGM-179 joint air-to-ground missile for the first time in such a strike mission, according to a press release.

“The missile can be used to defend key maritime terrain against a wide range of targets from armored vehicles to maritime patrol craft during conflict,” wrote Capt. Pawel Puczko in the release.

As part of the training, a UH-1Y Huey helicopter accompanied the Viper on a forward arming and refueling, or FARP, which is how the Marines plan to resupply aircraft across the Pacific in any future conflict.

The missile replaces both the radar-guided Longbow missile and the laser-guided AGM-114, according to manufacturer Lockheed Martin. The missile can be fired from fighter jets, ground vehicles or helicopters.

It combines features of both the Longbow and AGM-114, according to Lockheed Martin.

The missile weighs about 114 pounds, is nearly six feet long and 7 inches in diameter, according to the company’s website. It uses a solid rocket motor and can carry a multipurpose warhead with a shaped-charge package inside a fragmenting case, according to the U.S. Navy Air Systems Command.

The weapon can be used on combat vehicles, air defense equipment, launchers, buildings, bunkers, patrol craft and command and control nodes, according to the command.

In 2022 the company announced that it had doubled the range of the AGM-179, showcasing a 10 mile strike in testing at the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California, Marine Corps Times sister publication Defense News reported.

The Marine Corps did not provide distances or target speed of the recent target strike near Okinawa, Japan.

The company also added a tri-mode seeker that pairs a low-cost imaging sensor with the seeker’s semi-active laser and millimeter wave sensors.

Those capabilities allow the shooter to fire the weapon and fly away, increasing survivability and accuracy.

The sensors and range give users greater stand-off distances from enemy air defenses, Lockheed Martin program director for air-to-ground missile systems told Defense News at the time.

The Army also purchased the new missile to arm its Viper equivalent, the AH-64E Apache helicopter, Defense News reported.

A Viper crew with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367 used the missile during Exercise Steel Knight off the California coast on Dec. 5, 2023, according to a I Marine Expeditionary Force release.

In that exercise, targets were marked with a laser designator from a U.S. Navy MH-60R Seahawk helicopter, used to guide the missile to the objective, according to the release.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

More In Your Marine Corps