Marine Corps AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters fired the new Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) at land targets in an operational test, according to a press release.
The Marine Operational Test & Evaluation Squadron fired eight shots against armored and light armored vehicles to demonstrate strike operations and close air support. The tests were conducted in December 2021 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona.
“Ultimately, the data collected is analyzed to determine overall system effectiveness and refine the tactics, techniques and procedures of employing this weapon in expeditionary advanced base operations, such as strike operations and close air support,” the release said.
The JAGM is built with an advanced, high-tech seeker technology enabling multiple targeting methods on a single weapon, to include semi-active laser targeting, radio frequency guidance, and all-weather millimeter wave sensors. It’s expected to replace some air-to-ground missiles currently in service, including the AGM-114 Hellfire and AGM-165 Maverick.
The concept behind JAGM is to employ an air-launched weapon capable of destroying enemy tanks and armored vehicles on the move by painting targets with laser designators despite poor visibility due to bad weather with millimeter wave targeting. A single weapon capable of using multiple targeting and guidance systems reduces redundancy and enables helicopter crews to multiply attack options with fewer missiles. This increases efficiency, decreases the logistical footprint, and offers new tactics for attack helicopters needing to strike ocean, land, and air targets.
This latest test came just after the Marine Corps test-fired the JAGM on maritime targets in November 2021 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
The Marine Corps sees the JAGM as a versatile, multi-domain weapon, given the many uses of the current Hellfire missile. The Hellfire can be used to attack targets in the air, on the ground, and at sea. It can be fired from a stationary position and on the move. The Hellfire missile has also been fired by the Army from the ground at enemy helicopters to provide short-range air defense against enemy drones, helicopters, and fixed wing targets.
The Hellfire missile is now also fired from the deck of the Littoral Combat ship to improve surface lethality. All of this suggests that the Marine Corps intends for its new JAGM to operate within a wide range of combat scenarios.
Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master's Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.