The U.S. Army is testing the latest Army aviation missile, known as the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) from AH-64 Apache attack helicopter at the Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona.
The complex JAGM test was a collaborative team effort between the West Fort Hood, Texas-based Aviation Test Directorate (AVTD) of the U.S. Army Operational Test Command (
JAGM is a U.S. military program to develop an air-to-surface missile (ASM) to replace the current air-launched BGM-71 TOW, AGM-114 Hellfire and AGM-65 Maverick missiles. The U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps plan to buy thousands of JAGMs.
AVTD coordinated multiple efforts to assure a successful test as JAGM moves towards its next major milestone, a low-rate initial production (LRIP) decision.
“The close cooperation between YTC and the Operational Test Command during the short duration was critical,” said Lt. Col. Karsten Haake, Chief of the AVTD Rotary Wing Test Division.
Participating pilots give the new weapon’s versatility high marks. The JAGM boasts the ability to use semi-active laser or radio frequency as a means of guiding it to target. Moreover, the crew can switch modes within seconds as a combat scenario evolves.
More capable in adverse weather conditions and boasting a longer range than the older Hellfire, the JAGM can now be fired and aircrews can retreat to a safer standoff distance, but also can be aimed without pointing the laser directly at the target.
YPG’s vast ranges and variety of realistic targets is a great location and allows the Apache equipped with JAGM to operate in a variety of situations and altitudes that resemble an operational environment. To make the testing as realistic as possible, YPG personnel installed remote-control kits on four separate target vehicles, allowing pilots to fly scenarios where they engaged multiple moving targets at once.
YPG’s natural desert environment also contributed significantly to the test’s realism.
Information gathered during the operational test not only validates the weapon, but also contributes new insights for training pilots on how to use the JAGM for maximum effect.
Though the operational test is now complete, further developmental testing, including integrating new software to support the JAGM into the Apache, will continue at YPG. Yuma Proving Ground has nearly 2000 square miles of restricted airspace, a vast and precious asset used to test manned and unmanned aircraft –and their weapons — in all stages of the development cycle.
The clear, stable air and extremely dry climate — which makes inclement weather a rarity — as well as YPG’s isolation from urban encroachment, makes it highly coveted for this type of testing. YPG can conduct multiple tests concurrently and without having to compete for runway and airspace with manned fighter jets, a limitation at other installations.