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Report | Dec. 7, 2017

Joint Air-to-Ground Missile Program (Redacted) DODIG-2018-038


The JAGM is the next generation of aviation-launched, air-to-ground, self-guided missiles that will replace the Hellfire family of missiles, including the Hellfire Longbow and Hellfire Romeo. The Hellfire II missile is the primary air-to-ground missile for rotary-wing and unmanned aerial vehicles for all U.S. armed services and 16 other countries. Since the 1970s, the Army has developed multiple variants of the Hellfire air-to-ground missile, each with varying capabilities, as an equalizer against enemy tanks. The Hellfire missile has been used in several wars and has numerous operators, including France, Greece, India, and Iraq.


The Hellfire Longbow is the only air-to-ground missile in the Army inventory with self-guided capability. It uses radar to track targets by transmitting pulses of low-frequency electromagnetic waves that are reflected off the target and returned to the source. The Army began producing the Longbow in 1995, stopped production in 2005, and estimates that the inventory will be used up by 2025. In 2010, the Army began producing he Hellfire Romeo. The Hellfire Romeo uses a laser to identify and maintain the target until impact and provides precision point targeting.


The Army is developing the JAGM as a multipurpose missile to replace all Hellfire missile configurations (12 variants). The JAGM is designed to have a multipurpose warhead and targeting capabilities to exceed that of individual variants of the Hellfire.  The Army needed an air-to-ground missile with self-guided capability to replace the Hellfire Longbow.


The JAGM is an Army-led program with joint requirements from the Navy and the Marine Corps. The JAGM program (formerly the Joint Common Missile) started development in 1999. The Joint Common Missile and original JAGM program was developing a three-mode guidance section (third seeker mode, laser, and radar), multi-mode warhead, and a new, longer-range rocket and launchers for fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. In addition, the JAGM is intended to allow the user to strike targets day or night in adverse weather and blurred battlefield conditions from a safer distance (farther away) than current missiles. See Appendix B for a table comparing the major traits of the JAGM, Hellfire Romeo, and Hellfire Longbow.

This report is a result of Project No. D2016-D000AE-0198.000.