The Marine Corps said last week the AGM-179A Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) attained Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for use with the Bell Textron [TXT] AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter.

The JAGM aims to replace the Hellfire missiles on all aircraft that currently fire Hellfires. This air to surface precision-guided missile uses both semi-active laser guidance and millimeter-wave radar for use with rotary wing, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and fixed-wing platforms to destroy land and maritime stationary and moving targets. It is a joint program with the Army with a focus for being used on the Army Apache AH-64 and Marine Corps AH-1Z.

“IOC marks a major milestone for the JAGM program and significant increase in capability for the AH-1Z. This accomplishment is a true testament of the tireless efforts made by so many across DoD and our industry partners to support the warfighter,” Cmdr. J. Reid Adams, deputy program manager for precision-guided missiles, said in a statement. The Marine Corps said IOC was effective March 1.

JAGM previously completed the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation period with a recommendation to field the missile. In November, AH-1Z pilots tested the JAGM off the coast of Florida with moving target boats up to seven kilometers away using both laser and radar sensors and in December 2021 conducted land-based testing at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz. (Defense Daily, Dec. 10, 2021).

In 2018 the JAGM achieved a Milestone C decision, clearing it for low-rate initial production (Defense Daily, June 27, 2018).

The Marine Corps said now the JAGM has achieved IOC with missiles, training and support equipment delivered to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267, which will support an upcoming deployment with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

The service noted the JAGM is part of the effort to upgrade AH-1Z and UH-1Y helicopters in alignment with the Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger’s vision of force modernization “to maintain a competitive edge against potential adversaries.”

According to a Navy product website, the JAGM leverages the fielded and proven AGM-114R Hellfire II Romeo  propulsion, warhead and control sections with the precision sensors and targeting. JAGM is expected to be compatible with all joint rotary wing and fixed wing aircraft already compatible with the Hellfire II.