The USMC recently completed joint air-to-ground missile (JAGM) testing on the AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
These tests were to demonstrate the helicopter’s maritime targeting capability. Throughout November the Marines conducted multiple live-fire test missions against realistic operational threats at sea.
Capt Alex Dutko, Direct and Times Sensitive Strike (PMA-242) programme manager said: “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.”
The pilots involved tested the JAGM off the coast of Florida, firing at moving target boats with a range of 7km away. Utilising both laser and radar sensors for target guidance all the launches were successful.
Throughout the next few weeks, the Marines will carry on the test stage, conducting land based operating tests at the Yuma proving ground in Arizona.
The JAGM is designed with a seeker that replicates the existing capabilities of the Hellfire missile variants. It combines both semi-active laser guidance and a millimetre wave (MMW) radar to hit enemy vehicles and combatants.
Maj Chuck Smith, the Marines’ H-1 department head at MCAS Pax River [who supported testing] said: “The addition of MMW capability to the seeker allows a true fire and forget capability and increased flexibility for the operator on the battlefield.”
Initial operational capability for the JAGM capability on the AH-1Z is expected in 2022. This capability milestone has already been reached on the US Army AH-64E Apache.