Last $5B Tac Missile Competition

Last $5B Tac Missile Competition

UPDATED: Lockheed Details Test Results; Raytheon Faring Better So Far

Put $5 billion on the table, factor in shrinking budgets, add the fact that you are competing for what is likely to be the last tactical missile competition for the next quarter of a century and you’ve got one hell of a fight for the Joint Air to Ground Missile (JAGM).

The weapon system that results will replace the Maverick on F/A-18 E/F, as well as the Hellfire and missiles on the Army’s AH-64D Apache attack helicopter, the Army’s Extended Range Multi-Purpose Sky Warrior unmanned aerial system, the Marine’s AH-1Z Super Cobra attack helicopter, and the Navy’s MH-60R Seahawk. On top of that, it may be used for the Joint Strike Fighter program. IOC is scheduled on the AH-64D, AH-1Z and F/A-18E/F for 2016. If all goes as currently planned, the program will produce 33,000 missiles over the next 20 years. For those who follow acquisition closely, this is the successor program to the deeply troubled  Joint Common Missile.

On one side of the missile corral stands mighty Lockheed Martin. Facing the largest defense company in America is a team of Raytheon and Boeing. JAGM is a test for the companies, as well as the Pentagon, being the first of two programs set up by former head of acquisition John Young as a test of his prototyping approach: prove to the Pentagon that you can actually build what you say you can build by building a few successful models that can meet some test requirements.

The importance of a success for a significant joint program can’t be overstated. One after another of programs called joint have disappointed, failed or been cancelled. “Joint programs have not enjoyed a great deal of success in the past,” said Mike Riley, head of JAGM business development at Raytheon.

Raytheon paid for two missile test shots in April to see if they were on the right path. On 23 June, they fired the first test shot supervised and scored by the government at White Sands Missile Range.  A second shot is coming Aug. 13.

So far, the Raytheon team has scored, well, “perfectly,” according to Riley.

The technical challenges are daunting for both competitors. The rocket motor must be able to operate in temperatures up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and operate without a contrail that might blind a helicopter pilot and, for fixed-wing aircraft; it must remain operational at minus 65 degrees. This is, as they say, rocket science.

One advantage Raytheon boasts is an infrared seeker that does not depend on a cooling system to help it distinguish targets. That should mean substantially less maintenance and weight.

Lockheed has not fared as well in the test shots. Here’s what the company sent in response to questions.

To date, Lockheed Martin has fired 2 of the 3 shots, the SAL and I2R.

The SAL shot was Monday, August 2:

Lockheed Martin’s Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) testing is ongoing, with a highly successful test flight of its semi-active laser (SAL) seeker on August 2 at White Sands Missile Range, NM. The 16-kilometer shot was the first flight test under the JAGM Technology Development contract, testing the three JAGM sensors in the missile’s tri-mode seeker. The JAGM missile scored a direct hit on the target board in the test.

The I2R shot was Tuesday, August 3:

Lockheed Martin conducted a JAGM flight test on August 3 at White Sands Missile Range, NM, against a tank target at 4 km to test the missile’s imaging infrared (I2R) seeker. The missile launched successfully and indications are that the missile initially guided to the target but overshot it. We are analyzing the flight test data to isolate the precise cause of the anomaly. We will then take immediate corrective action so we can proceed to validate the performance of the I2R and subsequently the millimeter wave (MMW) sensors during our next round of testing in September.

Lockheed Martin is confident we will meet the government’s requirement for the three successful test firings with intercepts within the schedule.

Lockheed Martin also conducted two Flight Readiness Checks during the months of June/July:

A government check which was declared a no-test due to a range instrumentation malfunction. (That missile was scheduled to August 2 and produced the successful SAL shot mentioned earlier)

A Lockheed Martin-funded effort which was a no-test due to a pre-launch malfunction.

Lockheed Martin’s JAGM cooled-seeker technology provides superior resolution and performance unmatched by alternative solutions. The open architecture and modular design enable future capabilities to be seamlessly inserted into our JAGM system, and we have an extensive legacy of proven platform integration experience. As the world’s leading provider of precision engagement systems, we look forward to providing this critical capability to the nation’s Warfighters.

Join the Conversation

Good Evening Folks,

This contract may be the last of the large air frame AGGM’s. The number of 30,000 production most likely will be cut. The trending is for smaller weapons like GBU-44/B Viper Strike (currently being used in Pakistan on MQ-6 Reaper UAV/RPV’s with some outstanding results) and the Zuni 70 Laser Guided Missile (the old WW II, Korea and Vietnam eras Hydra 2.75″ for us old guys) to be used in Afghanistan before the end of 2010 by the Marines on the AH-1Z Cobra, is the trend in AGGM’s. Precision hits with smaller warheads to reduce collateral damage to property and reduction in the killing of “non-combatants”.

In the smaller airframes Raytheon has the edge over either Lockheed Martin or Boeing.

Byron Skinner

Last $5B Tac Missile? what about JDRADM, JSSAM-ER, JSOW-ER, and CKEM? Byron there will always be room for AGMs of this size, APKWS won’t do much to a MBT or well fortified bunker, nor can it decimate a formation of armor like a JSOW.

Regarding the JAGM itself, this could be a very good development. The tri-mode seeker should prove very useful at assuring an excellent hit rate and defeating enemy “soft-kill” countermeasures. Hopefully it will provide the best of the AGM-65 Maverick and AGM-114 Hellfire with savings in commonality. Perhaps later JAGM could be expanded to start replacing TOW missiles like it’s predecessor JCM was planned to do.

That said, it will be a shame to see the Maverick (which is quite larger with a bigger warhead) go. But I am sure there will be plenty in storage.

JAGM, JCM, JDRADM, JSOW, JSSAM, CKEM, damn the military loves it’s acronyms…

Don’t put the Maverick out to pasture yet. IOC for the JAGM is 2016. There will be a lot of insurgents in the cross hairs of a Maverick between now and then. The laser-guided Mavericks in particular are in demand by the USAF and the Marines for precision heavy firepower, even against moving targets.

Laser Zuni is dead. MBDA is trying for a hell of a time to get it accepted. It hasn’t even had one test shot yet. The picture they do show of a F/A-18 shooting it isn’t even guided! MBDA admitted that to me directly. Take a close look at it.

I agree with William… Though with budgets being cut, there are still adversaries to stock up against as a deterrent. The future will be China breathing down are necks and “water wars.” Water is more precious than oil and there is getting to be less and less of it. You can live without your car, but you can’t do without a drink of water!

Bryon posts that Raytheon has the edge over LM and Boeing. I thought Raytheon and LockMart were partnering on the JAGM? And Boeing and ATK were buds. Need a scorecard to know the players in this arena. And where is the news of ATK’s background work on this weapon?

Zuni is too big for the Army little birds, and there is no way the Army is going to buy a new launcher for KW for a laser Zuni.

The future in that class of weapon is the JAGM. Why buy a replacement for Hellfire with same or less capability than Hellfire? JAGM and APKWS complement each other. Laser Zuni is a Navy science project.

We only have one enemy that we need to focus to finish the war in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq and that is hunting for Osama in Ladin, Al-Sawari and their high ranking Al-Quida leaders. Instead for building multi trillion dollars worth of armaments to use against terrorist, by hunting them, finding them and holding them accountable to the crimes they have done in USA and the entire world.

The Zuni 70 LGM is most certainly not a Hydra 2.75″ rocket. It is an adaption of the Zuni 5″ rocket with an upgrade similar to the Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System developmental program for the Hydra 70.

It looks like this competition is working.
Hopefully the winner will be the best product delivered and not the best paper work. LM delivered a letter in wich they claim they have the best missle with the best seeker head, but failed the test!!! (does politics pop up again.…)

nuke em!

Well the purpose of such testing is to find failures and fix them. LM isn’t doomed by one missile failure, yet if they keep encountering the same problem, then they are in trouble.

Raytheon’s got this — slam dunk! What ever happened to gamma ray burst technology?

Ray and Lock are together for GMB (Ground Based Missile Defense)

Ray / Boeing are together for JAGM.

Don’t know how Raytheon Firing one missile leads the competition? This is about verifying you can get 3 hits on a target. So far each company has one.

Right now we don’t know if there’s a problem, or if LM has a more aggressive testing and shakedown schedule. Remember much of this is about firing “theoretical” designs. It’s easy to do it once, repeating it is the real test.

Good Afternoon Folks,

To Shell, I will stand corrected. Of interest, yesterday General Dynamics received an Army contract for $278 million with extensions for the Hydra 70 (what ever that is) the contract could go over a $billion.

The article also noted that GD is currently producing 2,000+ rocket motors a day for other contractors of the Hydra Rocket.

The Marines have on order, 10,000 of the laser guided version of Zuni. The first deliveries are due this fall for deployment in Afghanistan next Spring.

I would say that these smaller rockets/missiles will be around for a long time to come in the American combat arsenal.


Byron Skinner

Byron, no offense but,
twice ya said it, twice ya got it wrong, and twice nobody corrected you.
Zunis are NOT 70mm (2.75″) rockets, nor is it a “Zuni 70″ as you’ve suggested.
They are about 5″ (closer to 130mm).
(you can check out the entry at http://​www​.designation​-systems​.net/​d​u​s​r​m​/​a​p​p​4​/​5in
The Mighty Mouse and Hydra families are the 70mm’s: they are not Zunis.

MBDA has demo’ed the laser-guided Zuni in cooperation with the US.
Several other countries’ defense contractors (Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, etc) have been pursuing guided 70mm rockets for some time (past decade),
but only recently (past couple years) has the Zuni program been underway
(using mostly off-the-shelf components, not proprietary new systems like so many have tried, and failed too often because they got too complex,
with 70mm rockets).

You are right, but I was fed up with LM for the moment. But that has more to do with the F35 failings and lack of confidence.
But oke, the missle competition is another and they can have a go.

What are you talking about????

Raytheon has always seemed a bit more successful when it comes to missiles so I think they have the edge. Either way this seems to be one competition that is actually working right.

Pennst98 and others,

Thought I might add my thoughts regarding the on-going JAGM competition.

There have been rumors flying around the industry for some time that LMT has been struggling with their tri-mode seeker, particularly the IR seeker, which is not LMT’s specialty (they would call themselves the MMW specialists, while RTN would call themselves the IR specialist.).

This industry belief is reinforced by LMT’s JAGM testing issues detailed in the above article.

Further– let me pose a thought to the fine people commenting here: I assumed that the Boeing/LMT team had the inside track with SDB-II, with a perceived cost advantage and the incumbent status on the program. When RTN ended up winning SDB-II, the only reason I could deduce was that there was a problem with LMT’s tri-mode seeker. If this is indeed true, I would certainly agree with Colin’s statement that Raytheon is faring far better in the JAGM competition.



Too big means too heavy. A laser Zuni weights 150 pounds. A hellfire ( that the Army already has) only weighs a hundred…with better capability. A 2.75″ rocket only weights 20 pounds. These numbers are a big deal for an overweight little bird like KW, an interim aircraft that keeps soldiering on. Army isnt likely to invent a whole new guided weapon for that type, when what they have works just fine. Even by your own definition regarding comparability of 19 shot 2.75″ pods to the Zuni pod…KW cant carry a 19 shot pod. That guided Zuni is developed as a FW solution, not for RW.

We just need to catch Bin Ladin and Al-Sawari. They are the authors of al-quida. You break the head of the snake you crash its organization. Placing more deaths and casualties will just create more enemies.


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