US Marine Corps AH-1Z Viper Complete Maritime Tests for Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM)
US Marine Corps AH-1Z Viper Complete Maritime Tests for Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM)

US Marine Corps AH-1Z Viper Complete Maritime Tests for Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM)

The U.S. Marines recently completed Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) operational testing on the AH-1Z Viper at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, demonstrating its maritime targeting capability. The team conducted multiple live-fire events in November testing all modes of the missile against realistic operational threats. AH-1Z pilots tested JAGM off the coast of Florida, hitting moving target boats up to seven kilometers away, using both laser and radars sensors for guidance. Over the next few weeks, the team will conduct land-based operational testing to support JAGM’s use on the AH-1Z at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona.

“The addition of MMW capability to the seeker allows a true fire and forget capability and increased flexibility for the operator on the battlefield,” said Maj. Chuck Smith, the Marines’ H-1 department head at Pax River who supported testing.

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“The team has worked tirelessly to conduct these rigorous test events. The successful event today gives us confidence that we can move into full rate production next year,” said Capt. Alex Dutko, Direct and Times Sensitive Strike (PMA-242) program manager.

The Marines' Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) impacts target during testing off the coast of Florida in November. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)
The Marines’ Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) impacts target during testing off the coast of Florida in November. (Photo by U.S. Marine Corps)

The AGM-179 Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) is an American military program to develop an air-to-surface missile to replace the current air-launched BGM-71 TOW, AGM-114 Hellfire, and AGM-65 Maverick missiles. The air-to-ground, precision guided missile is designed with a seeker that replicate and combine capabilities of the existing Hellfire missile variants. It combines a semi-active laser guidance and millimeter wave radar and is intended to hit vehicles and enemy combatants in the open. The designation AGM-179 was assigned to the JAGM program. JAGM will share basically the same objectives and technologies as JCM but will be developed over a longer time scale.

In 2015, the Army issued an RFP for a JAGM guidance section upgrade. All of the launches were successful under planned test conditions. Lockheed Martin was to offer its dual-mode laser and millimeter wave radar seeker, and Raytheon may submit its tri-mode seeker which adds imaging infrared if it chooses to compete. A Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract for JAGM was approved in 2018. The U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps plan to buy thousands of JAGMs. Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) has achieved initial operational capability on Army’s AH-64E Apache and is planned to reach this milestone on the Marines’ AH-1Z in 2022.

Marine Corps Cpl. Gabriel Halcomb, front, assigned to Marine Operational Test & Evaluation Squadron One (VMX-1) conducts an operational check on the M299 hellfire missile launcher attached to an AH-1Z Viper, Nov. 4, 2021.
Marine Corps Cpl. Gabriel Halcomb, front, assigned to Marine Operational Test & Evaluation Squadron One (VMX-1) conducts an operational check on the M299 hellfire missile launcher attached to an AH-1Z Viper, Nov. 4, 2021. (Photo by U.S. Marine Corps)
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