The Production Of AGM-179 JAGM For 21st-Century Warfare

With a forward-looking approach to 21st-century warfare, The Production Of AGM-179 JAGM For 21st-Century Warfare has been meticulously developed to significantly enhance accuracy while prioritizing cost-effectiveness, ensuring its longevity in our arsenal. The Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) stands as an unparalleled weapon system, meticulously crafted to offer unparalleled versatility in the dynamic landscape of modern warfare.

This multi-purpose missile is intended for deployment across various branches of the United States Armed Forces, including the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, with plans to procure thousands of JAGMs. The JAGM serves as a formidable force, enabling precise engagement of an extensive array of ground targets, ranging from heavily armoured vehicles to fortified bunkers, and hostile personnel.

Photo Credit: Aeroflap / The Production Of AGM-179 JAGM For 21st-Century Warfare
Photo Credit: Aeroflap / The Production Of AGM-179 JAGM For 21st-Century Warfare

The AGM-179 Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) program is developed to create an advanced air-to-surface missile that will replace the current air-launched BGM-71 TOW, AGM-114 Hellfire, and AGM-65 Maverick missiles. The project started in early 2007 following the failure of the AGM-169 Joint Common Missile (JCM). The missile’s design incorporates advanced guidance systems, enabling it to navigate challenging terrain and engage both mobile and stationary targets.

It utilizes a combination of laser guidance, inertial navigation, and global positioning systems (GPS) to accurately home in on its intended target. This guidance system allows the JAGM to operate effectively in all weather conditions, day or night. The JAGM is equipped with a powerful warhead optimized to penetrate heavily armoured targets and deliver enhanced lethality against a broad range of adversaries.

Moreover, the JAGM incorporates advanced technologies to minimize collateral damage and maximize the safety of friendly forces and non-combatants. Its advanced target discrimination capabilities enable it to effectively differentiate between legitimate targets and potential civilian or friendly assets, significantly reducing the risk of unintended casualties.

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The Production History of AGM-179 JAGM as of 2022

The program underwent several years of development, aiming to modernize the air-to-ground missile capabilities of the U.S. military. Here, we provide a general overview of the production history of the AGM-179 JAGM missile.

The development and design phase: of the AGM-179 JAGM missile encompassed various stages and activities. In June 2007, the US Defense Department initiated the process by releasing a draft request for proposals (RFP), effectively launching a competition for the Joint Air to Ground Missile program. During this phase, extensive efforts were dedicated to identifying operational needs, exploring technological advancements, and establishing comprehensive performance specifications.

In 2008, significant progress was made as Raytheon and Boeing formed a partnership under a $125 million contract, while Lockheed Martin secured a $122 million technology development contract for the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile system. These 27-month contracts, awarded by the U.S. Army’s Aviation and Missile Command, focused on a competitive risk-reduction phase. Both teams diligently worked on their respective proposals, and by spring 2011, they submitted their finalized submissions.

Initially, the contract award was anticipated to take place in the first quarter of 2012. However, an unexpected turn of events occurred when the Army and Navy requested the termination of the JAGM program in September. Despite this setback, JAGM managed to overcome budget reductions in 2012, albeit with reduced funding.

Photo Credit: turbosquid
Photo Credit: turbosquid

Engineering and Testing: Following the initial design phase, engineering work began to refine the missile’s systems and components. Extensive testing and evaluation were conducted to ensure the missile’s performance, accuracy, and reliability. This phase included laboratory tests, computer simulations, and live-fire testing to validate the missile’s capabilities.

Manufacturing and Production: The AGM-179 JAGM program progressed from the design and testing phases to the crucial stage of manufacturing and production. In 2012, as the program advanced, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon were awarded contracts by the U.S. Army to extend the JAGM technology development program. These contracts encompassed the design, testing, and demonstration phases for the JAGM guidance section.

However, in 2013, the Army made an announcement that it would not award Raytheon a contract for the remaining portion of the Technology Development phase. Instead, it would proceed with Lockheed’s contract. This decision involved crucial tasks such as establishing production lines, developing tooling, and refining manufacturing processes to facilitate large-scale production of the AGM-179 JAGM.

During this phase, the various components of the missile, including the guidance system, propulsion system, warhead, and control surfaces, were meticulously manufactured and carefully assembled to create complete missiles. Attention to detail and precision were paramount to ensure the reliability and effectiveness of each unit.

In 2015, the Army initiated a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a JAGM guidance section upgrade. Lockheed Martin planned to offer its dual-mode laser and millimetre-wave radar seeker, while Raytheon had the option to submit its tri-mode seeker, which included imaging infrared capabilities. Subsequently, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $66 million engineering and manufacturing contract to integrate its laser and millimetre-wave seekers into the Hellfire Romeo missile body, further enhancing the capabilities of the JAGM system.

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Photo Credit: war thunder
Photo Credit: war thunder

Initial Operational Capability (IOC): The AGM-179 JAGM program aims to achieve Initial Operational Capability (IOC), a significant milestone indicating that the missile system is ready for limited operational deployment. IOC involves the delivery of a specific quantity of missiles to military units and the establishment of necessary training and support infrastructure. In 2018, a Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract for the JAGM was approved, signalling progress in the program.

The AGM-179A variant of the missile successfully achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC) with USMC AH-1Z helicopters in early 2022, demonstrating its readiness for operational deployment. This milestone marked a significant step forward in the JAGM program.

On August 30, 2022, the JAGM was officially declared ready for full-rate production. By February 2022, approximately 1,000 missiles had already been produced, with manufacturing operations operating at the minimum sustainment rate during the low-rate production phase. Ongoing efforts are being made to enhance the JAGM, including the development of a medium-range variant capable of reaching distances of up to 16 kilometres (10 miles) without altering the missile’s dimensions.

In a flight test conducted by Lockheed Martin on November 16, 2022, the JAGM-Medium Range (JAGM-MR) variant was successfully evaluated. This upgraded version incorporates a tri-mode seeker, including an imaging sensor. Originally, the inclusion of an imaging sensor was deemed too costly, leading to its omission. However, as seeker technology became more affordable, it was reintroduced in the JAGM-MR variant. Lockheed Martin asserts that this enhanced capability can be provided at a cost similar to the baseline JAGM.

The continuous development and improvement of the AGM-179 JAGM program demonstrate its commitment to delivering a highly capable and versatile air-to-surface missile system for the evolving needs of 21st-century warfare.

Open-source illustrative image
Open-source illustrative image

Current Operators of the AGM-179 JAGM Missile as of 2022

In addition to the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have also chosen the JAGM to equip their AH-64E Apache Helicopters, demonstrating its international recognition.

Moreover, the JAGM was originally designed to serve all branches of the U.S. military, including the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. This versatile missile configuration is compatible with various platforms such as the MQ-1C Gray Eagle, MQ-9 Reaper, AH-64 Apache, MH-60R/S Sea Hawk, Black Hawk, AH-1Z Viper, OH-58F Kiowa, AH-6 Little Bird, and even the F-35 Lightning II stealth aircraft. Furthermore, the JAGM is also compatible with naval ships equipped with the Mk 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS). By offering enhanced operational flexibility and reduced logistics support costs, the JAGM has proven to be a highly effective and efficient solution for modern warfare.

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Technical Specifications Of The AGM-179 JAGM Missile

  • Weight:  49 kg ( 108 lb )
  • Length:  70 in ( 1.77 m )
  • Diameter:  7 inches
  • Wingspan:  13.4 inches
  • Estimated Warhead:  High-explosive anti-tank / Shaped charge / Tandem-charge anti-armour / Metal augmented charge / Blast fragmentation warhead weighing 9 kg (20 lb), based on variants
  • Detonation: Various impact fuze options
  • Engine:  Solid propellant rocket motor
  • Propellant:  Solid propellant
  • Range:  8 km / JAGM-MR variant: 16 km
  • Estimated Speed:  Mach 1.5 ( 1151 mph )
  • Guidance system:  Semi-active laser homing and Millimeter-wave radar seeker
  • Launch Platform:  Helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft

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In conclusion, the AGM-179 JAGM is an advanced air-to-ground missile that has undergone rigorous development and testing. The JAGM represents a significant advancement in precision and effectiveness. With its advanced guidance systems and potent warhead, it offers enhanced capabilities to engage various ground targets while minimizing collateral damage. As the AGM-179 JAGM progresses towards operational readiness, it holds the potential to provide a decisive edge in 21st-century warfare.

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