The U.S. Army’s Hellfire missile replacement, the Lockheed Martin [LMT] Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM), achieved a milestone C decision and has been cleared for low-rate initial production (LRIP).

The JAGM is scheduled to eventually succeed the Army’s use of Hellfire missiles on all rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft that currently fire Hellfires. The older missiles were also made by Lockheed Martin.

JAGM combines two sensor technologies: a semi-active laser and millimeter wave radar in a single seeker and guidance system. Those sensors are put on a Hellfire Romeo warhead, flight control system, and motor.  

Hellfire Firing Photo: Lockheed Martin
Hellfire Firing
Photo: Lockheed Martin

JAGM completed 10 Limited User Test flights leading up to it passing the Defense Acquisition Board review. The tests occurred over months and across the performance envelope and target requirements.

The test results demonstrated the system’s combat effectiveness and technical maturity,” Lockheed Martin said in a statement.

The decision also means the JAGM program successfully conducted prime contractor and supplier production readiness reviews, proving its readiness to move into LRIP.

The LRIP decision came after the Army and Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a 24-month engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) contract phase that included JAGM production, test qualifications, and integration on the AH-64E Apache and AH-1Z Viper helicopters.

The EMD phase also established the initial low-rate manufacturing capability for three follow-on LRIP options. Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the Army is expected in early 2019.

The company noted the JAGM hardware demonstrated more than 95 percent reliability in flight tests.

However, a DoD Director of Operational Testing and Evaluation (DOT&E) report released in January found some problems with the program. Of the 20 Integrated Test and Evaluation shots of JAGM from an Apache with four including live warheads, two of the 20 did not hit the intended targets and one warhead did not function.

However, the report said preliminary results of warhead characterization tests found JAGM lethality is equivalent to the legacy Hellfire systems.