JAGM Scores Moving Target Kill

U.S. Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael Brawn, aviation ordnance officer, Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 (VMX-1), loads a joint air-to-ground missile (JAGM) onto an AH-1Z Viper during an operational test at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, Dec. 6, 2021.

The US Marines announced the successful engagement of a moving watercraft target by one of its AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters using the AGM-179 Joint-Air-To-Ground Missile (JAGM).

The JAGM, developed by Lockheed Martin, is a replacement for multiple air-to-ground missiles including not only for the Hellfire AGM-114, but also the AMG-65 Maverick and BGM-71 TOW. The engagement was conducted by aircraft of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) off Okinawa Japan during the INDOPACOM exercise Expo Strike. This is the first firing of the missile by an operationally deployed AH-1Z in the Pacific Theatre against a moving target. An official released video of the engagement shows a precise hit on a rapidly moving towed target vessel with complete destruction of the target.

The JAGM is a “fire-and-forget” missile using dual-mode seekers including a Semi-Active Laser (SAL) and also has a Millimetre Wave (MMV) radar sensor. The missile employs a shaped charge warhead and is capable of engaging stationary and moving ground, naval or even airborne targets at ranges beyond either Hellfire or TOW. The missile is compatible with M299 Hellfire launchers and can be utilized on multiple platforms including the AH-1 Cobra, AH-64 Apache, MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAS, F-35 and the Vertical Launch System (VLS). The current missile configuration with a range of 8 km entered full production in August 2022. The JAGM is employed by the US Army, Navy, and Marine Corps as well as Poland, the Netherlands, and United Kingdom.

AGM-179 Joint-Air-To-Ground Missile (JAGM).

The combination of its significantly extended range, fire-and-forget seekers and multi-capable warhead provides enhanced strike capability and lethality while enhancing aircraft survivability. Lockheed-Martin has subsequently demonstrated an improved medium-range JAGM with a range of 16 km without changing the missile’s dimensions which incorporates an additional imaging sensor thereby providing a tri-seeker capability. These features are of particular importance given the recognition of the increasing importance of achieving stand-off in future engagements. This is driven not only by lessons being identified in the current conflict between Russia and the Ukraine but also reflects the recognition of the vast expanses that will be encountered in any future conflict in the Pacific region.

by Stephen W. Miller