Home Americas US Marines test JAGM-equipped Viper against land targets

US Marines test JAGM-equipped Viper against land targets

JAGM test on Viper attack helicopter
A US Marine with VMX-1 arms a joint air-to-ground missile (JAGM) during an operational test at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, Dec. 6, 2021. Photo: US Marine Corps

As US marines from Marine Operational Test & Evaluation Squadron 1 (VMX-1) continue to carry out operational tests of the joint air-to-ground missile (JAGM) that is being introduced on the AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter, they tested the missile against land targets in the most recent evolution.

The operational test and evaluation took place on December 6, 2021 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona.

The team observed the test of eight separate shots against armored and light armored vehicles in a variety of operational scenarios.

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 December test against land targets followed the evaluation of the effectiveness of the missile on maritime targets in November 2021 at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

Personnel from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two One (HX-21), Naval Air Systems Command Direct and Time Sensitive Strike program office (PMA-242), Marine Corps H-1 Light/Attack Helicopters program office (PMA-276), Army Program Executive Office Missiles and Space, as well as industry partners were on location to observe and analyze the data from the December test.

The service said test could lead to significant improvements in lethality of attack helicopters by arming them with newer munitions equipped with two sensor technologies and optimizes missile performance on land targets.

“I am proud of all the work and professionalism demonstrated by the joint team striving to hit major milestones of the JAGM initial operational test and evaluation,” said VMX-1 Commanding Officer Col. Byron Sullivan. “The analysts, coordinators, and controllers meticulously pour over all the data captured so this weapon system can bring the necessary firepower to the warfighter.”

“Watching the joint team perform the JAGM test is like observing a highly-skilled professional football team with seasoned offensive coordinators calling the right plays for an offense that flawlessly executes play after play,” said Maj. Thomas Hutson, the Assault Support department head at VMX-1 and member of the JAGM test team.

This test is part of a larger effort to upgrade the AH-1Z and UH-1Y aircraft, in alignment with the Commandant’s vision of force modernization to maintain a competitive edge against potential adversaries.

Once fielded, the JAGM will allow Viper pilots to engage targets that could not be engaged with the Hellfire missile. JAGM benefits from two new seekers that replicate and combine the capabilities of the existing laser-guided Hellfire Romeo and radar-guided Longbow Hellfire missiles.