JAGM: Joint Air-Ground Missile Again
June 6/16: The US Army has successfully fired Lockheed Martin’s multi-mode Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) from a UAV for the first time. Testing was conducted on an MQ-1C Gray Eagle at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah. The Gray Eagle test was the seventh flight test for the JAGM missile. The missile was previously tested on Apache attack helicopters and Marine Corps Cobra helicopters.
The AGM-114 Hellfire missile remains a mainstay for the US military and its allies around the world, and efforts to replace it have repeatedly stalled. The Joint Common Missile (JCM) was meant to offer new guidance options, and use on fast jets as well as helicopters and UAVs. It performed well, but was canceled. It returned from the procurement dead as JAGM, a program that has undergone several major changes within itself. While other air forces field fast-jet solutions like MBDA’s Brimstone, JAGM will initially be limited to helicopters and UAVs, as a dual-mode guidance upgrade to current model Hellfire missiles.
The JAGM Program
JAGM Missile Increments
Oddly, the problems faced by Hellfire’s JCM and JAGM successors have been largely unrelated to cost or to performance. Rather, the programs kept getting cut to pay for other things. The Hellfires were seen as good enough to equip American helicopters and large UAVs like the Predator. To compete, new entrants had to fit into a new category. Smaller guided 70mm rockets gained a foothold because more of them could be carried in the same space, while small multi-mode glide bombs found a niche by being launched from the back ramps of cargo aircraft. JAGM was a straight substitute, and that wasn’t interesting enough.
After enough JCM/JAGM missile program cancellations and resurrections to make even Lazarus give up, the US Army looked at its Hellfire stocks, and realized that they’d need something new anyway. In response, they decided to try squaring this circle using an incremental approach, one focused on replacing the most at-risk AGM-114L radar-guided missiles first.
Initial. The JAGM Continued Technology Development phase now aims to create dual-mode laser/radar guidance sections that can equip existing Hellfire II missiles. Essentially, JAGM Increment 1 would create a Hellfire III missile with dual-mode guidance, matched to the AGM-114R’s multi-role warhead and rocket. Initial Army platforms would include the AH-64E Apache attack helicopter, and MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAV. The USMC’s initial platforms will be the AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter and KC-130J Harvest Hawk armed tanker/ transport, for integration by FY 2019.
JAGM Increment 2. Intends to increase the maximum range to 12 km, and move to the full tri-mode seeker with semi-active laser, Imaging Infrared (IIR), and millimeter wave radar guidance modes. If Raytheon bids, they’d be offering the tri-mode seeker in Increment 1 as well.
JAGM Increment 3. This is the original JAGM concept, more or less. It would have a maximum range of 16 km that would likely force a new rocket motor, alongside other redesigns for carriage and launch from helicopters or fast jets. Initial fixed-wing platforms would include the USMC’s AV-8B Harrier and F-35B Lightning II STOVL fighters, but there’s no set schedule. The earliest F-35 integration slot involves Block 4 fighters, whose software isn’t likely to be ready before 2021-2023.
Timeline & Budgets
If JAGM can be delivered to the required cost targets, it may add the originally-planned tri-mode (imaging infrared + semi-active laser + millimeter wave radar) guidance set, and Increments 2 & 3 may revive interest in new rocket motor technology that would eventually allow safe launches from fighter jets. Those kinds of advances sit beyond the current timeline.
Budgets to date have included:
Scope and Scale
If the US Army and Navy have total current program numbers for JAGM, they aren’t disclosing them in recent documents. We do know that JAGM’s scope is much reduced, but it could still expand again.
The original Joint Common Missile (JCM) was seen as the next-generation, multi-purpose, air-to-ground precision missile that will replace AGM-114 Hellfire family, AGM-65 Maverick family, and airborne xGM-71 TOW missiles with a single weapon usable by the airplanes, helicopters and UAVs of the US Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. It was also being considered for use on some ground vehicles, and had naval potential. The original JCM had a goal of 54,000 missiles.
JAGM was revised lower, and a 2010 GAO document estimated the total 20-year program cost at about $6.4 billion: $1.64 billion for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation; and $4.74 billion to build 33,853 missiles. As of November 2011, the totals had reached $6.88 billion for 35,422 missiles.
Then the FY13 budget came in, grinding the program to a near halt as the Navy left. The program was restructured, and the USMC returned to the program in time for the FY15 budget submission, but the program’s scope has been reduced further.
Part of the reason involves fewer platforms. “Increment 1 & 2” versions of JAGM can’t replace the Mavericks on fixed-wing jets. Until at least 2019, the missiles will be limited to US Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, USMC AH-1Z attack helicopters, US Army MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAVs, and USMC KC-130J Harvest Hawk armed tanker/transports.
Meanwhile, the US Navy and USAF have a substitute. The Navy expects to follow the AGM-65 Mavericks on its jets with small GBU-53 SDB-II glide bombs, carrying a tri-mode IIR/laser/MMW radar seeker that may yet see derivative use in JAGM. The USAF will be doing likewise, instead of turning to JAGM or to similar missiles like MBDA’s Brimstone.
US Navy MH-60s can expect eventual JAGM integration, since AGM-114 Hellfire deliveries are set to end in 2017. Farther into the future, the USMC wants to equip its AV-8B and F-35B fighters with JAGM Increment 3. Note, however, that there’s no set schedule for missile upgrades. On the export front, if JAGM is added to F-35Bs, it will be competing with the MBDA Brimstone and SPEAR missiles that Britain plans to integrate into its own F-35B fleet.
Other opportunities exist. Vehicle-mounted options for Hellfire-class missiles are springing up, but competition from dedicated anti-armor weapons like the shorter-range Javelin, MMP, and Spike, or the longer range Spike-NLOS, will be fierce. Naval options may be even more promising for fire-and-forget missiles, where JAGM could replace the AGM-114L Hellfire on the USA’s Littoral Combat ships, or fit out other vessels who need a deadly fire-and-forget counter to small boat swarms. In that arena, MBDA’s laser/radar guided Brimstone and Raytheon’s GPS/laser/IIR guided Griffin C will be its main competitors.
Competition: MBDA’s Brimstone/ SPEAR
While the JCM/ JAGM program has churned specifications and burned time, a different program has already produced an interesting competitor with many of the same specifications, and some of the flexibility.
AGM-114P/R Hellfire missiles are now qualified for use at high-altitudes on UAVs like the MQ-9 Reaper, but they aren’t a solution for fixed-wing jets, and range limitations make Hellfire dangerous to use against even short-range air defenses. MBDA’s Brimstone 2 solves those problems.
The Brimstone’s first combat use came in 2011 over Libya, where its man-in-the-loop option and attack profiles made it one of the few weapons that NATO commanders could use to attack enemy armor in urban areas. It has been integrated with Britain’s Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 strike aircraft and Harrier GR9 jump-jets, and is slated to add the Eurofighter Typhoon to that list. F-35 integration was scheduled for F-35B Block 3 in 2018, but overall F-35 development problems look set to push the British effort back to Block 4 in 2021-2023.
With combat credentials and a significant head start, MBDA can be expected to make more market inroads.
Nor is MBDA resting on its technical laurels. Their SPEAR project for Britain’s Complex Weapons program aims to take the Brimstone’s warhead and guidance, and mount it on a larger missile with a range of 75 – 100 km. SPEAR will be mounted in multiples on external hardpoints, or carried inside the weapons bay of Britain’s forthcoming F-35Bs.
Contracts and Key Events
The JAGM program will be managed by the U.S. Army’s Aviation and Missile Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL.
USMC back in the program; Raytheon out of CTD; Brimstone for MQ-9 Reaper UAVs?
June 6/16: The US Army has successfully fired Lockheed Martin’s multi-mode Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) from a UAV for the first time. Testing was conducted on an MQ-1C Gray Eagle at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah. The Gray Eagle test was the seventh flight test for the JAGM missile. The missile was previously tested on Apache attack helicopters and Marine Corps Cobra helicopters.
April 15/16: The Redstone Test Center is playing host to the engineering and development phase of the Joint Air to Ground Missile (JAGM). So far, the missile completed tests on its guidance section which included captive flight testing, tower testing, and environmental testing. The JAGM will now enter the Product Qualification Test (PQT) phase which will see the weapon carried on the Grey Eagle unmanned aerial system (UAS) and AH-64 Apache helicopter for flight testing.
FY 2013 – 2015
USMC back in the program; Raytheon out of CTD; Brimstone for MQ-9 Reaper UAVs?
Aug 3/15: Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $66.4 million contract to further develop the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) for the Army and Navy. The company submitted its bid for the program in April and successfully test fired two JAGMs in mid-July. The JAGM is intended to replace AGM-114 Hellfire, AGM-65 Maverick and BGM-71 TOW missiles currently in service.
July 14/15: Lockheed Martin reported on Monday that the company has successfully tested two Joint Air-to-Ground Missiles (JAGM) during recent testing over Elgin AFB in Florida. The company is bidding for its missile to win the Army’s JAGM competition, delivering its proposal in April.
Nov 3/14: USMC Plan. The USMC’s Aviation Plan to 2030 deals with weapons as well. JAGM is mentioned, and its 3 planned increments are fully outlined. Under current plans, JAGM Increment 1 will begin integration with AH-1Z attack helicopters in 2015, and will achieve Initial Operational Capability on the AH-1Z and on KC-130J Harvest Hawk armed tanker/ transport planes in 2019.
Beyond 2019, the USMC plans to field JAGM Increment 3 on the AV-8B Harrier II and F-35C Lightning II. Note that the earliest available integration slot for the F-35 would involve Block 4 software, around 2021-2023. Britain, is likely to add its competing Brimstone missile to the F-35B in Block 4, after original plans to feature it in Block 3 fell through. Sources: USMC, Marine Aviation Plan 2015 [PDF].
Oct 13/14: Lockheed Martin is preparing its expected JAGM bid with the current dual-mode laser/radar seeker, following successful tests.
Raytheon, whose solution was dropped at the same time as JAGM dropped to a dual-guidance mode because of funding shortfalls (q.v. July 18/13), is deciding whether to bid at all. If they do bid, they’re going to stick to their original plan and use the same tri-mode laser/IIR/radar seeker from the GBU-53 Small Diameter Bomb II. It’s a reasonable hedge against perceived risk, offering more capability for the same dollars. Of course, the level of perceived risk could be far more even if both designs had been funded through development.
Given the likely scope of future JAGM orders, and the tiny fraction of the procurement budget involved in JAGM development, there’s a legitimate policy question here re: the responsibility of the Pentagon to promote competitive tenders for significant weapon systems. Sources: Aviation Week, “Lockheed Martin Preparing JAGM Bid; Raytheon Unsure”.
May 13/14: FBO.gov, “14–JAGM ENGINEERING AND MANUFACTURING DEVELOPMENT”:
“The U.S. Army Contracting Command – Redstone (ACC-R) intends to issue a Draft Request for Proposal (DRFP), W31P4Q-14-R-0107, for the purpose of supporting a full and open competitive procurement to fulfill the requirements for the Joint Air to Ground Missile (JAGM) Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase with options for Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP)…. The JAMS project office plans to host a Pre-proposal Industry Day sometime in the June 2014 timeframe to present general unclassified information on the U.S. Army’s projected procurement strategy of the JAGM and the Army’s vision…”
March 4-11/14: Budgets. The US military slowly files its budget documents, detailing planned spending from FY 2014 – 2019. According to those documents, AGM-114 Hellfire orders stop in FY 2015 (USAF), and the last Hellfires will be delivered in April 2017. The Army’s documentation says nothing about JAGM production, except that the Milestone C decision for low-rate production is expected in Q2 FY17:
“The Army has depended on Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding to replenish [AGM-114] stocks since FY 2008. The Army continues to evaluate the transition strategy from HELLFIRE to Joint Air to Ground Missile (JAGM).”
Meanwhile, Navy documents indicate that they’re back in the program. They show JAGM integration on AH-1Z helicopters beginning in FY15, and orders beginning in FY19. JAGM will be re-using most of the AGM-114R Hellfire, which is already integrated on the AH-1Z, but Navy helicopters are used to the video interface that JAGM won’t have, and don’t typically carry fire-control radars. So, some changes will be necessary.
Feb 20/14: Lockheed Martin announces that its JAGM dual-mode guidance section has flown on a Hellfire missile and hit a moving laser-designated target. The missile was fired from 6km during an internally funded flight test at Eglin AFB, FL. Essentially, the missile acted like a normal Hellfire. Tests of the seeker in dual-mode are coming.
In a briefing, Lockheed Martin gives JAGM’s range as 8 km, whether launched low or high with its boost-only motor. The M299 launcher interface has a few changes from the basic Hellfire, and hews to the radar-guided AGM-114L Hellfire Longbow missile’s serial interface instead of a video interface. Otherwise, JAGM is basically an AGM-114R Hellfire missile with a new guidance section. System qualification is expected in Q4 2014, and JAGM will be integrated with the Army’s AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAVs. Sources: LMCO, “Lockheed Martin Demonstrates JAGM Dual-Mode Guidance Section in Recent Flight Test” | JAGM Media Briefing with LMCO VP Tactical Missiles/Combat Maneuver Systems Frank St. John.
July 18/13: LMCO only. IHS Jane’s, “US Army to move ahead with Lockheed Martin JAGM”:
“The US Army will not award Raytheon Missile Systems a contract for the remainder of the Technology Development (TD) phase of the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM)…. [but will] continue to execute the Lockheed Martin contract through the remainder of the TD phase, US Army Colonel James Romero, the project manager for the Joint Attack Munitions Systems, told IHS Jane’s during a 17 July interview at the Pentagon.
“A [$36 million] funding shortfall was the primary catalyst for the decision,” Col Romero said.”
JAGM is also being scaled back to a dual-mode MMW radar/ laser seeker at first. Raytheon and Boeing’s tri-mode guidance solution is already developed for the SDB-II bomb, so they remain in a position to compete for JAGM production orders if the US military wants to hold a competitive buy when the time comes.
TD now Lockheed Martin only
May 3/13: Brimstone for Reapers? With JAGM fielding still some way off, if ever, the USAF’s 645th Aeronautical Systems Group rapid acquisition office is reportedly interested in adding MBDA’s longer-range, dual laser/ MW radar guided Brimstone missile to the MQ-9’s arsenal. It’s real attraction is a ‘man in the loop’ feature that lets the firing aircraft abort an attack after launch, or correct a missile that locks on the wrong target. In Libya, those characteristics reportedly made it one of the few weapons NATO commanders could use to hit enemy armored vehicles in urban areas.
Brimstone already serves on RAF Tornado GR4 strike jets, and was an option for Britain’s Harrier GR9s before the entire fleet was sold to the US Marines. With Britain’s MQ-9s deployed, they’ve reportedly asked for tests using USAF MQ-9s, and also hope to interest American armed services in the weapon. Defense News | Defense Update.
April 10/13: FY 2014 Budget. The President releases a proposed budget at last, the latest in modern memory. The Senate and House were already working on budgets in his absence, but the Pentagon’s submission is actually important to proceedings going forward. See ongoing DID coverage. For JAGM, there isn’t a lot of near-term funding, and there are a lot of milestones to hit on the way to funding it as a Hellfire upgrade beginning around 2017. Budget figures to 2018 are compiled above.
Dec 11/12: CTD. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ receives a “$10 million” firm-fixed-price contract for JAGM’s continued technology development. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ with an estimated completion date of March 31/13. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received (W31P4Q-13-C-0080). It appears to have taken longer than expected (vid. Aug 17/12 entry), but Raytheon has its CTD contract.
Raytheon’s Dec 3/12 release places the total value of both CTD phases at $65 million, just like Lockheed Martin. During the next 4 months, Raytheon will update its design and complete a delta (design changes) Preliminary Design Review. During the next 24 months, the team will focus on a Critical Design Review, guidance section qualification and testing, and delivery of JAGM guidance sections. The CTD phase will culminate with the US Army integrating Raytheon JAGM guidance sections to Hellfire missiles. Based on current schedules, Raytheon’s SDB II tri-mode seeker will be in its 2nd year of production by the time JAGM CTD concludes.
JAGM CTD contract
Lockheed Martin CTD. Navy out.
Aug 17/12: CTD. Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control in Orlando, FL announces a $64 million extended technology development contract from the US Army, in order to keep the JAGM program one notch above dead. The Pentagon follows with an Aug 27/12 announcement for $32 million to continue developing the seeker & guidance unit, but “50% award announcements” are common, and Lockheed Martin’s figure remains authoritative.
Work will be performed in Orlando, FL, with an estimated completion date of Nov 28/14. Two bids were solicited, with 2 bids received (W31P4Q-12-C-0003).
Observant readers may notice that $64 million is about half of the $127 million the GAO was talking about for FY 2012 (vid. March 29/12 entry). Raytheon’s head of JAGM business development, J.R. Smith, says that their own CTD contract is currently in negotiation, and expected within the next several weeks.
JAGM CTD contract
May 31/12: A March 2012 presolicitation from the US Navy for JAGM integration on F/A-18E/F aircraft may have sent mixed signals, but its cancellation confirms the Navy’s intent.
March 29/12: GAO report. In its 2012 Selected Weapons Program assessment report, the GAO underlines the uncertain nature of JAGM’s future – not quite cancelled but close. It notes that Hellfires have been working well in theater, weakening the case for an expensive replacement.
According to the GAO, $127M in funding for the current fiscal year will allow a 27-month extension of the technology development phase to hopefully address affordability issues and reduce risk. The Pentagon’s comptroller sizes up the savings from stalling on JAGM at $300M in FY2013 and a total of $1.6B over the FYDP.
March 20/12: I’m Still Alive. Frank Kendall, undersecretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics, signs an Acquisition Decision Memorandum, granting new life to the JAGM program. Meanwhile, the Army has produced a JAGM affordability study, and provided it to the 2 teams. Can JAGM rise again, perhaps as the Joint Effects Strike Unified Sensors missile?
Raytheon’s head of JAGM business development, J.R. Smith, says that he believes there’s about $300 million in prior-year funding left over from FY 2011-12, which can be used to keep the program running. If this feels like a rerun, that’s because it is, as the Dec 30/05 entry shows. AOL Defense.
Feb 2012: Navy out. In the FY2013 Presidential Request, the US Navy estimates it is a “manageable risk to terminate the Navy’s and USMC’s investment in the JAGM program,” choosing to invest instead in SDB II and continued Hellfire procurement.
Unless this decision changes, it makes JAGM an Army-only program. DID therefore humbly suggests rebranding the program as AAGM, or possibly AAHAAGMM given the “living dead” JCM/JAGM history so far.
Analysis of Alternatives. Industry tests.
Aug 2011: JAGM AoA. The program office submits its Analysis of Alternatives, defending JAGM as a cost-effective solution. They will probably have to fight hard to make that case.
June 7/11: Testing. Lockheed Martin touts company-funded trials of a JAGM seeker mounted in a Sabreliner 60 executive jet flying at 20,000 feet, which was used to track small, fast naval targets in the Gulf of Mexico near Eglin AFB, FL. Targets included a Revenge Advanced Composites (RAC) state-of-the-art, low-signature, high-speed patrol craft performing evasive maneuvers.
The test was designed to highlight robust mid-wave infrared performance, fixed wing performance, high humidity performance, effectiveness against a challenging low-signature target, and EMD readiness – since captive flight isn’t required until the next stage.
June 6/11: Bids in. Deadline day for the JAGM RFP, and both Team Lockheed and Team Raytheon submit their bids. A single contract award for the program’s Engineering & Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase is expected during Q4 (summer) 2011. Lockheed Martin | Raytheon.
May 2/11: Testing. The Raytheon/ Boeing team follows up their Oct 23/10 firing, and completes the series of government-funded JAGM tests. The latest firing uses the new rocket motor, but only after subjecting it to thermal cycling from -45F to 160F degrees.
The test was whether the new motor would still work after 5-20 cycles of that treatment. It did, and Raytheon VP Advanced Missiles and Unmanned Systems Bob Francois gets to point out that “Every single test of the Raytheon-Boeing JAGM has been an unqualified success, even those using EMD motors.”
April 13/11: The US Army Aviation and Missile Command issues its JAGM Engineering and Manufacturing (EMD) and Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Request for Proposals. The scope of the JAGM EMD contract will be to “complete all major component and subsystem critical design reviews (CDRs), a system-level CDR, component and subsystem testing, design verification testing, engineering development tests and production prove-out tests on the six threshold JAGM platforms.” In addition to the EMD requirements, the RFP calls for 3 fixed-price LRIP production lot options, as well as 2 fixed-priced advance procurement clauses for long lead time components.
March 21/11: Test equipment. US NAWCWD announces its intent to hand WINTEC, Inc. of Walton Beach, FL a contract for 5 M299/310 Launcher and Missile Emulator (LME) systems, Part Number JLE00010-4. The LMEs are existing Special Test Equipment used to support the integration, test, and verification of Launchers and missiles at the MIL-STD-1760 interface to host platforms. The LMEs have traditionally been used for AGM-114 Hellfires, but new launcher models/simulations and missile model/simulations have been added, to support the JAGM program objectives for planned laboratory and platform integration testing.
The sole source award is being done in accordance with FAR 6.302-1. Anticipated award is May 2011.
March 7/11: US FedBizOpps notice #N00019-09-P2-PC041:
“The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) intends to issue a Cost Plus Fixed Fee Order under NAVAIR Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA) N00019-11-G-0001 for the engineering services of hardware integration analysis, wind tunnel tests, ground tests, flight test planning, aircraft/weapon system integration and instrumentation, ground and flight test technology support, data reduction, documentation, and reporting requirements for integration of the Prototype Joint Air to Ground Missile (JAGM) Systems on F/A-18E/F aircraft. NAVAIR intends to negotiate this Order on a sole source basis with McDonnell Douglas Corporation (MDC), A Wholly Owned Subsidiary of the Boeing Company, St. Louis, MO 63166-0516. MDC is the sole designer, developer, manufacturer and supplier of the F/A-18 Weapon System and MDC is the only known source capable of performing this effort within the required time frame.”
Feb 8/11: JAGM pre-solicitation #W31P4Q-11-Q-0006 issued:
“The Government plans to issue separate Request For Quotations (RFQ) W31P4Q-11-Q-0006 and RFQ) W31P4Q-11-Q-0007 to Lockheed Martin Missile Systems and Raytheon Missile Systems repectively [sic] to provide input, advice, and recommendations regarding JAGM System Engineering integrated product team activities… Solicitation from any other source is not feasible because only the recommendations and input from the two existing JAGM TD prime contractors Lockheed Martin Missile Systems and Raytheon Missile Systems can fulfill Government needs.”
Jan 3/11: Testing. Lockheed Martin has had some issues with its JAGM design so far, but continues to push to get where they want to be by the time a winner is picked. They announce successful flight tests aboard a Super Hornet from Oct 5/10 – Nov 2/10. This was a test of the missiles’ ability to handle conditions at various altitudes and speeds, as well as a test of the aerodynamic consequences of mounting the Lockheed Martin/ Marvin engineering JAGM triple rail at various points, with various load-outs.
Oct 23/10: Testing – rocket. A Raytheon/Boeing funded test fires a JAGM prototype equipped with the new Boeing-ATK rocket motor, which would be used on their production missile. The test is successful in collecting data to update the missile’s flight and simulation software, and allows the team to advance to engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) and a Preliminary Design Review.
This is the team’s 6th missile test, and the 3rd privately-funded test. All tests to date have met their objectives. Raytheon.
Oct 15/10: Testing. DoD Buzz reports that Raytheon isn’t using a production version of the JAGM missile in its firing tests, just the seeker. Raytheon replies that the tests’ terms are aimed at the seeker, and do not require production-ready missiles. DoD Buzz must concede the point:
“Here is what the RFP says: “The fly-off missile prototypes will represent PDR(Preliminary Design Review) level configurations using a Warhead Replacement Telemetry Unit. It will include a series of Tactical Missile Air-gun and/or Rail Test Firings with a Warhead integrated into a non-functional Tactical Missile to gain insight into Warhead /Fuze functioning.”
Lockheed Martin says that their JAGM test missiles have all been production ready configurations – but that will only help them in the short term if failings in their test firings are traceable to their missile design, rather than their seekers. Meanwhile, Raytheon & Boeing will continue component and higher-level testing of their missile design.
Preliminary Design Review.
Sept 10/10: Testing fail. DoD Buzz reports that the cause of Lockheed Martin’s missile failure in its second test-firing was a bracket that holds one of the rocket motors. Unfortunately, they’re going to have to delve into more root cause analysis, because…
“The day before the deadline for official government testing, Lockheed Martin’s Joint Air To Ground Missile prototype missed the target, leaving the defense giant with two misses out of three in the competition for the $5 billion program. Raytheon struck the target on its third test, a company source said, giving them their third successful shot of three.”
That doesn’t end the team’s chances, it just means that further firing tests would have to come out of Lockheed Martin’s pocket, as the team moves toward its final submission model. Given the huge future stakes involved, there’s no doubt that Lockheed Martin will finance any tests required.
Sept 1/10: Testing. Raytheon announces success in the 2nd of 3 government-sponsored JAGM firings. Their missile used its uncooled imaging infrared (IIR) guidance system to hit an armored vehicle target at 4 kilometers/ 2.5 miles. During the most recent test, all three guidance systems operated simultaneously and provided telemetry data that enabled engineers to conduct further analysis of the weapon. The test is significant, because Lockheed Martin’s matching test was an overshoot, and Raytheon’s uncooled IIR sensor s generally seen as a tradeoff between lower cost and maintenance, in exchange for lower performance.
This is actually the Boeing/Raytheon team’s 4th test firing, as the team funded 2 of its own tests in April 2010.
Aug 16/10: Lockheed PDR. Lockheed Martin and teammates Marvin Engineering and Aerojet announce successful JAGM component and system Preliminary Design Reviews (PDRs). The team completed PDRs on Aerojet’s JAGM propulsion solution, which uses Roxel UK’s minimum-smoke propellant grain, and on launchers that included the U.S. Navy’s quad-missile helicopter (AH-1Z, MH-60R) and tri-missile fixed-wing (F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet) launchers. The team continues to increase the severity of environmental testing in preparation for engineering manufacturing development. Lockheed Martin.
Aug 9/10: SDB-II win. Raytheon wins the SDB-II competition against Boeing and Lockheed Martin, and cites its tri-mode seeker as a key reason. It remains to be seen whether their use of the same seeker for JAGM proves helpful.
Aug 6/10: Testing. DoD Buzz gets information from Lockheed and Raytheon concerning their manufacturer-financed test shots to date.
To date, Lockheed Martin has had 2 flight readiness checks in June & July. A Lockheed-funded check had a pre-launch malfunction. A government-funded check failed when range instruments malfunctioned, but that missile was later used on Aug 2/10 for a successful test shot at White Sands Missile Range, NM. The Aug 2/10 laser-guided shot tested the tri-mode seeker, but used the laser for targeting, and scored a direct hit from 16km. An Aug 3/10 IIR test against a tank target at 4km led to an overshoot. Team Lockheed says they’re confident they’ll have their 3 successful tests by the deadline.
Raytheon paid for 2 missile test shots in April 2010 to see if they were on the right path, and met their objectives. Their next test shot on June 23/10 tested the tri-mode seeker, but used the laser for targeting, and scored a direct ht from 16km. A 4th test shot is scheduled for Aug 13/10.
July 26/10: Testing. The Raytheon-Boeing team announces that their JAGM design has successfully completed the 1st of 3 government-sponsored firings, using its laser guidance system to hit an 8×8-foot target board from a distance of 10 miles/ 16 km. All 3 guidance modes were used during the flight for telemetry data, but the laser was used to final targeting. This is actually the 3rd test firing of their design, following 2 company funded tests in April 2010.
May 5/10: Testing. Raytheon announces that their partnership has completed wind tunnel testing of the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile from the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet.
May 5/10: Testing. Lockheed Martin announces a successful end to JAGM wind tunnel tests involving the Navy’s F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet jet fighter.
The more than 200 hours of initial high-speed flying qualities wind tunnel tests were conducted at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA. The goal was to ensure minimal changes to the fighter’s handling characteristics with the missiles on board. After that, tests moved to 150 hours of work at the Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) wind tunnel in Tullahoma, TN. Those tests further refined the structural requirements of the launcher and JAGM, and included safe launch and separation tests involving Lockheed Martin and Marvin Engineering’s triple-rail JAGM launcher. A final set of tests at the Boeing Vertol wind tunnel in Philadelphia, PA, demonstrated and validated low-speed flight characteristics of the Super Hornet when loaded with JAGM.
April 20/10: Testing. Raytheon/Boeing team announce the 1st successful test of its Joint Air-to-Ground Missile at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The weapon, fired from a ground-based rotary-wing launcher, reportedly performed a series of pre-programmed maneuvers and flew to a predesignated location, validating the flight control software and Brimstone airframe. Raytheon-Boeing release
April 13/10: Testing. Lockheed Martin concludes a series of static, tower-based and captive-carry flight tests of its tri-mode JAGM seeker in a limited dirty battlefield/countermeasure rich environment at Redstone Arsenal, AL. The seeker was tested against both active and passive countermeasure systems including white and red phosphorous, fog oil, smoke, millimeter wave chaff, flares, camouflage netting and mobile camouflage systems.
This test series was preceded by an array of successful captive-carry tests conducted by Lockheed Martin in clean, non-dirty-battlefield flight environments, during both favorable and adverse weather conditions including sun, rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow. Hady Mourad, JAGM program director at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said that “the seeker performed precisely as designed.” Lockheed Martin release.
April 6/10: Testing – rocket. Lockheed Martin announces successful extreme temperature tests for its proposed JAGM rocket motor, developed in conjunction with Gencorp’s subsidiary Aerojet. The final completed tests were a series of cold temperature missile motor firings were conducted in Camden, AR, using the same rocket motor design planned for the tactical missile, with a composite motor case, with the system conditioned to -65F degrees in order to simulate high-altitude conditions.
The partners describe these tests as a “breakthrough,” which may not be an exaggeration. The rocket is one of the program’s most challenging technologies, because it has to do several things at once: smokeless/ low-smoke launch and flight, operation over a wide range of temperatures from searing deserts to extreme cold at fighter-jet altitudes, and a high enough turn-down ratio (flow variance from boost to sustain) to give the missile its required performance and range. The Raytheon/Boeing team is also working on this area, but their partner is ATK. Joint release: Lockheed Martin | Aerojet.
March 31/10: Testing. Lockheed Martin announces successful initial tests on the multi-mode seeker for its JAGM contender, demonstrating all of the sensor modes simultaneously. Program officials also recently held Kaizen events, or Structured Improvement Activity (SIA), to streamline the manufacturing process at Lockheed Martin’s seeker and electronics production facilities in Ocala, FL; and Troy, AL.
The Lockheed Team is a bit behind their competitors at this point. Upcoming captive-carry testing will verify performance in a flight environment, with thermal and vibration performance, and electromagnetic interference testing slated for later in 2010. Lockheed Martin release.
March 30/10: GAO Report. The US GAO audit office delivers its 8th annual “Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs report. With respect to the JAGM program, the GAO document is more an official fact sheet than an analysis, given the program’s early stages. Data from that document has been incorporated into this article.
The GAO adds that the program must also complete a “postpreliminary design review assessment” before it can be certified to enter engineering and manufacturing development.
Jan 29/10: Testing. Raytheon and Boeing announce the end of their captive flight tests for the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile competition, which test the missile’s ability to pick up targets, guidance, and ability to handle the stresses created by its platforms and their flight environments. The next step would be guided test shots.
Oct 6/09: Testing. Raytheon and Boeing announce that they’ve completed a series of captive-carry flight tests of their tri-mode JAGM seeker, within the same size dimensions as their planned JAGM missile. By demonstrating that the seeker fits, and will not be affected by the buffeting associated with carriage on a fast-moving aircraft, the way is clear for installation in prototype missiles and use in live firings.
Raytheon’s next-generation tri-mode seeker leverages technology used on their Small Diameter Bomb II (where Boeing is their main competitor) and the NLOS-LS/NETFIRES improved Precision Attack Missile.
May 13/09: TD. Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corp. in St. Louis, MO received a $7.4 million time and material delivery order against a previously issued Basic Ordering Agreement (N00019-05-G-0026) for wind tunnel testing of JAGM prototypes on their F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (92%); and Philadelphia, PA (8%), and is expected to be complete in March 2011. About $5.8 million in contract funds will expire on Sept 30/09, at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD will manage this contract.
Oct 8/08: TD. Lockheed Martin announces and details its JAGM team.
Oct 2/08: TD. The US military announces the initial contracts under the JAGM program, within each contracting team’s limit per earlier entries. Bids were solicited via the Web, and 2 bids were received by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL.
Raytheon Co. in Tucson, AZ receives an $18.7 million fixed price incentive firm target contract, for 27 months of technology development for the Joint Air Ground Missile Program. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (Boeing) and Tucson, AZ (Raytheon) with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/10 (W31P4Q-08-C-A789).
Lockheed Martin Corp. in Orlando, FL received an $18.7 million fixed price incentive firm target contract, for 27 months of technology development for the Joint Air Ground Missile Program. Work will be performed in Orlando, FL; Ocala, FL; and Troy, AL, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/10 (W31P4Q-08-C-A123).
Raytheon/Boeing and Lockheed Martin Technology Development.
Sept 22/08: The Raytheon / Boeing team announces a 27-month, $125 million Technology Development contract for the JAGM program. The contract funds a program to develop and fire 3 prototype missiles with fully integrated tri-mode seekers.
Sept 18/08: Lockheed Martin announces that it has won a 27-month, $122 million competitive risk-reduction phase for the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) system. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control VP Rick Edwards:
“Our extensive risk-reduction tests have significantly mitigated risk on the three critical subsystems [seeker, warhead, rocket motor], our software and simulations are mature and proven, and we have made significant strides in developing low-risk platform integration solutions.”
See also the Orlando Sentinel: “Lockheed’s $122M missile contract could create 200 jobs in Orlando area.”
JAGM TD contracts
April 14/08: Competition. Raytheon Company and Boeing announce a teaming agreement to pursue the U.S. Army-U.S. Navy Joint Air to Ground Missile program, which has an intended in-service date of 2016. Raytheon will be the prime contractor within the team, and the move is significant in that Boeing will not be teamed up with Northrop Grumman this time around.
Raytheon makes existing TOW and Maverick missiles, and the team-up with Boeing creates commonality on a different level: integration with the manufacturer of many USAF and Navy aircraft, an area that Lockheed Martin covers on its own. Boeing is also part of the MBDA-led team that developed the Brimstone missile, Britain’s answer to the JCM program. Raytheon release.
Feb/March 2008: JAGM RFP. JAGM RFP re-issued, for May 19/08 turn-in.
Up to FY 2007
Program start. JCM terminated.
Sept 26/07: Jane’s Missiles & Rockets reports that:
“A new Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) programme is expected to become the successor of the Lockheed Martin AGM-169 Joint Common Missile (JCM) programme. As with the JCM, the JAGM is to be a multiservice weapon able to replace all versions of the Lockheed Martin Hellfire, Raytheon Maverick and Raytheon TOW missiles that currently equip fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles in US service…”
September 2007: Original JAGM RFP rescinded.
June 17/07: Original draft of JAGM RFP issue.
June 15/07: JCM Terminated. Official termination of the Joint Common Missile program.
Feb 21/07: The Lexington Institute think-tank wades into the controversy with “Joint Common Missile: Why Argue With Success?“:
“Here’s a fantasy. Imagine three military services agreed on the need for a versatile air-to-ground missile that could precisely destroy a wide range of elusive targets — everything from camouflaged armored vehicles to terrorist speedboats. Imagine they found a low-cost design that could do those things day or night, good weather or bad, even when enemies were trying to jam the missile. Imagine the services selected a company that developed the missile on time and on cost, meeting all of its performance objectives. And imagine the missile was fielded expeditiously, replacing four cold-war missiles with an easy-to-maintain round that saved military lives while minimizing unintended damage.
You’d have to be pretty naive to believe the Pentagon’s dysfunctional acquisition system could deliver all that, wouldn’t you? That’s right, you would — because the military actually has a program matching that description, and senior officials have been trying to kill it for two years. Why? Well, nobody really knows why…”
Jan 26/07: Inside Defense, “Pentagon OKs Funding For Hellfire Replacement Effort”:
“The Pentagon comptroller has directed the Army and Navy to pony up $68.5 million to fund missile research and development in an account that could be used to revive the Joint Common Missile — or something like it — more than two years after the Office of the Secretary of Defense moved to terminate the program…”
Dec 30/05: Inside Defense reports that when US House and Senate conferees reconciled the details of the FY 2006 defense appropriations bill, they restored $30 million to the Army-led JCM program to continue the missile’s development ($26 million in research, development, test and evaluation funding from the Army, and $4 million from the Navy).
They have also required a report by Jan 30/06 explaining how the Pentagon plans to fill the future gaps created by the missile’s demise, and a cost analysis of continuation vs. termination and buying existing missiles. Depending on what that study says, the JCM program could rise again.
Appendix A: The JAGM Missile – Original Concept
Technical Desires & Challenges
The stakes have always been very big for the JCM/JAGM. Pentagon planners expected that standardization from the TOW, Hellfire, and Maverick families of missiles to 1 variant of JAGM would keep maintenance and supply costs lower. Integration with the F-35 fighter family was possible in future, and so were international contracts if the missile makes it through development to become a program of record. In industrial terms, that made JAGM the last big American missile competition for some time. So the stakes were huge, the genesis was long, and progress remains slow because of budgetary pressure.
The US military was looking for a missile that’s about 110 Lbs, 70″ long, and 7″ in diameter, with a range of 0.5 – 16 km when fired from helicopters, and 2 – 28 km if fired from fixed wing aircraft. The seeker would be multi-mode: active designation via semi-active laser or millimeter wave radar will duplicate all Hellfire variants in a single variant, and a passive imaging infrared option would add additional insurance and versatility.
On the seeker side, the program isn’t actually breaking a lot of new technical ground. The various seeker modes requested (laser, IIR, radar) have all been implemented on other missiles, and Raytheon’s GBU-53 Small Diameter Bomb II has already pioneered an accepted tri-mode seeker. Performance enhancements are always possible, but this will be a matter of refinement and integration, rather than groundbreaking development.
Instead, the big challenges involved the missile and its propulsion system, which was envisioned as a single rocket motor solution to be used on all platforms. That meant it had to have minimum smoke, in order to avoid smoke inhalation by by helicopter engines or easy tracking of the missile’s origin. It would also need to handle a much wider temperature range than Hellfire, from the hottest desert sun beating down to nap-of-the-earth helicopters to the Antarctic-class temperatures at high fighter jet altitudes. Just to make things interesting, it also had to meet the Navy’s unique requirements for insensitive munitions, in order to be safe enough for use in naval combat.
After meeting all of those requirement, it had to deliver the requested missile range, which is almost 2x the advertised range for its AGM-114 Hellfire predecessor when fired from a similar platform. The ability to fire from fast jets would extend that range even further, which is extremely important against defended targets.
If the US military could get all that, it would have an extremely valuable weapon system.
The Road Less Taken – JCM/JAGM’s Program History
In May 2004, Lockheed Martin was picked over Raytheon and a Boeing-Northrop Grumman team to conduct the Joint Common Missile’s (JCM) 4-year system development and demonstration (SDD) phase, which was to be worth as much as $1.6 billion. The long-term U.S. production estimate of 54,000 missiles would have brought the program to $5 billion, and the United Kingdom had expressed interest in the new weapon and participated in the development process.
The JCM program had made heavy use of modeling & simulation in its early phases, and was the first missile program ever to reach a Milestone B decision without conducting a live test. Subsequent live tests, including live fire tests against simulated urban targets, were also successful.
The missile reported less success on the budget front, however. In 2005, the Pentagon cut the Joint Common Missile (JCM) program in order to fund operations in Iraq. Canceling the Army-led JCM was estimated to save about $2.4 billion over the next 6 years ($928 million Army, $1.5 billion Navy). This triggered a counter-campaign by Congressional representatives, and created a controversy over the future of the program that never really went away. In June 2007, JCM was formally cancelled.
The UK ended up developing its own system. In November 1996, the UK had given MBDA the Brimstone contract, in order to create a fire-and-forget anti-armor missile that could be fired by fast jets as well as helicopters. Brimstone uses inertial guidance plus millimeter-wave radar, and has a terrain following mode as well. In October 2003, a successful series of test firings were carried out, and the missile entered service with the RAF in March 2005.
The Lazarus Missile: JAGM
The need for a capability similar to the JCM remained clear even to the Pentagon, and so the U.S. Department of Defense’s Program Budget Decision (PBD) No. 753 directed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to commission a study for a very similar weapon system in time for the 2008 budget review. Meanwhile, the Alabama Congressional delegation and other members of Congress kept lobbying to keep something like JAGM going. It still made a great deal of sense, the program hadn’t suffered from cost overruns or major technical difficulties, and Britain’s fielding of the Brimstone missile offered external validation.
The original JCM requirements were really designed for the RAH-66 Comanche scout helicopter, however, and they were written before the Army’s Future Combat Systems mega-program. The new Joint Air-Ground Missile (JAGM) competition updated those requirements, and attempted to re-start the competition in 2008 under a new competitive approach, and with the planned number of missiles lowered to around 34,500. Pentagon acquisition czar Young introduced a prototyping requirement for JAGM as part of a wider-ranging set of acquisition reforms, hence the September 2008 Technology Development contracts to 2 teams.
By fall 2010, the JAGM program had wrapped up in a 27 month “risk reduction” development phase, leading up to a competitive flyoff between the 2 contractor teams. Program Management Reviews were held in Q2 of FY 2009, and a Milestone B decision that would begin full-scale System Design and Development for the winner was planned for Q1 of FY 2011 (November 2010). That deadline slipped, and for a while the next phase seemed likely to start at the end of Q4 2011 instead.
Instead, the program stalled again, and became an Army-only effort in 2012. A Continued Technology Development phase will carry it to 2014, at which point JAGM technologies may begin showing up in the next generation of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.
JAGM: Original Plans & Platforms
Under the original plan, JAGM would begin supplementing – and eventually replacing – Lockheed Martin’s GM-114 Hellfire family of missiles on the Army’s AH-64D Apache attack helicopters, its scout helicopters, and its MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAVs. The Navy would make the same substitution on their new MH-60R/S Seahawk helicopters, and US Navy and USMC F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets would carry them in place of Raytheon’s AGM-65 Maverick missile. The Marines’ AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter would carry them in place of Hellfire missiles, or Raytheon’s xGM-71 TOW family.
Platform integration would occur during the 48-month Engineering & Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase, and 2016 would have marked Initial Operational Capability (IOC) on USMC AH-1Z Viper and Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, as well as Navy F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets. IOC on the Army’s MQ-1C Predator-family Gray Eagle UAV, and the Navy’s MH-60R helicopter, was expected in FY 2017. This second wave of platform integrations would begin during the EMD phase, but continue into Low-Rate Initial Production.
The roster of platforms had a lot of expansion potential, since Hellfire missiles are already slated for a wide array of future UAVs, including the MQ-8 Fire Scout and A160 Hummingbird. Hellfires are even equipping some C-130J Hercules transport aircraft, thanks to modular quick-fit programs like Harvest Hawk. Existing foreign helicopters like the UAE’s AH-60M Battlehawks, French Tiger HAD, and Australia’s Tiger ARH helicopters would be another JAGM opportunity, alongside air force jet fighters like the F-15 Strike Eagle, F-16 Falcon, JAS-39 Gripen, etc. that have been qualified with AGM-65 Mavericks. Suitability for naval use, and extended range compared to existing Hellfires, could even make a full JAGM round a potential replacement for existing Griffin-B missiles on board patrol boats, and on the Littoral Combat Ship.
JAGM’s backers hope that success as a front-end bolt-on will eventually lead to contracts that would improve the missile as well, and restore the missile’s original concept.
The challenge is cost.
A role as a Maverick missile replacement is fairly straightforward, but the real volume and money is found in TOW and Hellfire replacement orders. Unfortunately, that’s also where the specifications for JAGM are significantly more challenging than the missiles they’d replace. A JAGM that’s more expensive than TOW or Hellfire won’t be a bargain for the US military, and would have a harder time selling abroad into the large helicopter and UAV markets.
Appendix B: JAGM’s Competing Industrial Teams
After JAGM rose from the dead, previous JCM incumbent Lockheed Martin came back with a team, in order to compete against the Raytheon/ Boeing team. In Team Lockheed’s design, The JAGM’s body and tri-mode sensors built on the existing body designs and sensors from Lockheed Martin’s AGM-114 Hellfire missile family, with its options of Hellfire II semi-active laser or millimeter wave Hellfire Longbow missiles. They also build on the cooled sensors used by the Lockheed/Raytheon Javelin imaging infrared (IIR) missile to add extra fire-and-forget insurance. Lockheed Martin will also push to leverage its incumbent status for both the current Hellfire missile family, and the M299 missile launcher that equips most helicopters.
Seeker improvements beyond the tri-mode features include extended range, “safing” that would allow carrier landings with live weapons instead of forcing planes to jettison their loads, and greater “fire and forget” capability. A single insensitive-munition rocket motor provides the required propulsion. Once it reaches the target, a multi-purpose warhead similar to the Hellfire II’s packs a shaped-charge designed to defeat the most advanced armored threats, along with a blast fragmentation capability to defeat ships, buildings, and bunkers with a two-phase warhead punch.
Team Lockheed included:
- LM Missiles and Fire Control (lead integrator, tri-mode seeker)
- Honeywell in Minneapolis, MN (inertial measurement unit)
- L3 in Cincinnati, OH (focal plane array infrared detector)
- EMS technologies in Atlanta, GA (millimeter wave antenna)
The following firms were also included, but aren’t likely to have much of a role under the new program structure:
- Aerojet in Camden, AK (rocket motor)
- Alliant Techsystems in Woodland Hills, CA (aircraft integration)
- General Dynamics OTS in Niceville, FL (multi-purpose warhead)
- Roxel in Summerfield, UK (propellant)
- Marvin Engineering in Inglewood, CA (JAGM launchers)
- Moog in Aurora, NY (control fin actuators)
- and Perkin Elmer in Miamisburg, OH (warhead firing module).
Raytheon & Boeing
Raytheon and Boeing are working with rocket-maker ATK on their own offering, which leverages a variety of existing technologies. Some algorithms from Raytheon’s XM1111 Medium Range Munition guided tank shell were helpful, and the tri-mode laser/radar/ uncooled imaging infrared seeker would leverage Raytheon’s existing Common Tri-Mode Seeker (CTMS) program. For the full JAGM offering, MBDA and Boeing’s Brimstone missile is already designed and tested for use on fast jets like the Harrier, Tornado, and Eurofighter. It would serve as the body. The challenging specs for a new rocket motor would be addressed by ATK.
Raytheon’s uncooled infrared seeker currently offers less resolution than Lockheed’s cooled seeker, but it’s more reliable, lighter, and cheaper to maintain. The CTMS is already part of the NETFIRES NLOS-LS PAM, and helped Raytheon win the GBU-53 Small Diameter Bomb Phase II competition – against Boeing, no less – in 2010.
Despite all of this re-use, component assembly wasn’t the team’s focus. Raytheon’s Senior Business Development Manager Michael Riley flew AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters for 10 years. “What this is, is not a missile program,” he says. “It’s an integration program,” because that’s where many of the costs and challenges typically lie. To make this point, he drew a whiteboard picture of the Apache and of the F-18 during a planning session. “Who builds the helicopter? The black boxes that go in it? Who builds the fighter? Who performs missile integration for these platforms? Is there anything else I need to tell you?” The answer to these questions was “Boeing,” and discussions soon brought the firms together under a common vision.
Chief Engineers Emil Davidoff and Andy Hinsdale saw the F/A-18 Hornet as the toughest integration engineering problem, because of the conditions it faces: -65C temperature at altitude, shock, vibration and impact from carrier landings, plus supersonic buffeting underwing. All for a missile that was supposed to be similar in size and weight to the Hellfire, but with 2x range, a tri-mode seeker, and a similar cost target.
Even so, the most difficult challenges in these kinds of efforts are not technical, but human. “Coopetition” between firms that are competing on related projects is a difficult process at the best of times, and can feel like an arranged marriage even when it succeeds. Trust-building over time, a firewall between co-operating and competing teams, and other standard measures are always useful; but they do not guarantee success.
In business, as in rocket motors, there is such a thing as chemistry. The relationship between Chief Engineers Davidoff and Hinsdale has been part of that, and so has a joint belief that this competition is ideally suited for their partnership. Win or lose, therefore, the JAGM partnership between Raytheon and Boeing is flourishing, and may have long-term effects. Before the verdict on their main effort has even been rendered, both teams have said that they are looking for synergies in other areas, and other programs.
JAGM’s 2012 program shifts have changed the competition, so that integration is no longer the overriding focus it once was. Fortunately, the Raytheon/Boeing Team made a number of technical decisions that will keep them in the game.
So far, the team has managed “good enough” performance that has tested successfully and met specifications. They believe their uncooled infrared technology’s cost advantage could become important, and that fixed-price GBU-53 SDB-II orders will raise seeker and guidance production volumes to a level that can meet the Army’s new cost targets. Raytheon’s head of JAGM business development, J.R. Smith, notes that by the time the JAGM CTD phase is done in 2014, their SDB-II will be 75% of the way through Engineering & Manufacturing Development, with 2 years of production underway.
Raytheon remains partnered with AH-64 manufacturer Boeing, and has told DID that they still consider ATK to be a team member, even though their rocket motor isn’t currently a priority for the US military.
Additional Readings & Sources
DID thanks the personnel at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson for their time and cooperation in clarifying their JAGM bid.
- Defence-Update.com: JCM – Joint Common Missile.
- GlobalSecurity.org: Joint Common Missile.
- Boeing All Systems Go Magazine (Vol. 1 #6, 2003) – The Next Generation Weapon: Joint Common Missile.
- Lockheed Martin – JAGM. 2011 snapshot. See also Feb 20/2014 media briefing [PDF].
- Raytheon – Joint Air-to-Ground Missile. It’s interesting to look at this 2009 snapshot, then fast-forward to 2011 and 2013 snapshots.
- Boeing – Brimstone Precision Guided Missile. Britain’s answer to the JCM’s demise; development was led by MBDA. Brimstone’s missile body was initially part of the Boeing/Raytheon team’s JAGM bid, when it was an entirely new missile.
- MBDA – Brimstone. The current version offers dual-mode laser and millimeter-wave radar guidance, just like the forthcoming JAGM Increment 1. Unlike JAGM, it can be fired from jet fighters.
News & Views
- DoD Buzz (Aug 6/10) – Last $5B Tac Missile Competition.
- AFCEA Signal (June 2009) – Multipurpose Missile Program Accelerates.
- Lexington Institute (Feb 21/07) – Joint Common Missile: Why Argue With Success?
- Huntsville Times (Mar 24/05) – Battle stepped up to save Redstone missile project.
- Spacewar.com (Mar 17/05) – Lockheed Martin Joint Common Missile Destroys Urban Targets.
- Aerospace Daily & Defense Report (Jan 05/05) – Joint Common Missile’s Demise Spurs ‘Capability Needs’ Study.
- Battle Command, Simulation & Experimentation Directorate (July 30/03) – SMART Lessons Learned Case Summary.