The Army successfully completed a Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) flight test in which it exercised the weapon’s active fire and forget capability for the first time, the service’s program manager announced Aug. 27.

The Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) hits a stationary vehicle during tests on Aug. 25 at Eglin Air Force Base,  Fla.
The Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) hits a stationary vehicle during tests on Aug. 25 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Unlike its predecessor the AGM-114 Hellfire, which uses a laser to engage a target, JAGM was designed with a dual mode guidance that combines a semi-active laser and millimeter wave radar. During the test on Aug. 25 at Eglin AFB, Fla., the missile received targeting information and guided itself to a stationary armored target using only its radar—the first time it had used that capability during the five flight tests conducted so far, said Lt. Col. Phil Rottenborn, the Army’s JAGM product manager.

The test also marked the first JAGM shot against an armored target, he said.

Compared to legacy missiles, JAGM will give operators more flexibility in a high-threat scenario, said Col. James Romero, project manager of joint attack munition systems for the Army’s Program Executive Office Missiles and Space.

“In high intensity conflict, we might have a helicopter being shot at by either smaller fire or other anti-aircraft missiles or any variety of threats,” he said. “This allows the helicopter to pop up into an engagement posture, fire the missile and then fly away or protect itself out of the sight of any threat,” he said.

During the test, the missile was launched from a ground platform, flew 6.4 kilometers, and hit its intended target. The demonstration proved that JAGM  can use its radar to hit a stationary vehicle, a task so difficult that Romero said he could not think of another radar-guided missile that can accomplish the feat.

JAGM—which was developed by Hellfire manufacturer Lockheed Martin [LMT]—combines a purpose-built dual-mode guidance with the back end of a Hellfire Romeo missile, which includes a motor, warhead and electronics. The missile can be fired by fixed and rotary-wing aircraft to engage moving and stationary targets, according to the company.

Earlier this month, the service awarded Lockheed Martin a $66.3 million contract for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase. It also includes two options, each worth about $60 million, that would take the contract into low-rate initial production (LRIP).

The Army has two goals during the missiles EMD phase, Romero told reporters earlier this month (Defense Daily, Aug. 3). It needs to certify the missile’s safety and performance after being integrated with the Army’s AH-64 Apache and the Marine Corps’ AH-1Z Super Cobra, which will be the first two aircraft to use the weapon. The service will also certify Lockheed Martin’s production line during this time.  

However, the service also is making moves to start testing the weapon on other aircraft. Early next year, the Army will conduct a demonstration shot using the MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aerial system, Romero said on Thursday.