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.
“Lockheed Martin conducted a JAGM Technology Demonstration flight test September 10 at White Sands Missile Range, NM. The test was designed to demonstrate the missile’s millimeter wave radar sensor capability. During the test, an anomaly was detected causing the missile to impact outside of the target. A post flight analysis is currently underway to determine the cause. The millimeter wave and imaging infrared tests will be rescheduled and conducted once range time is available," a Lockheed Martin spokeswoman said in an email.
The company defended its performance thus far. "The goal of the flight test portion of the Technology Demonstration phase is to collect sensor data and technical information, which was successfully accomplished during all three tests. We look forward to conducting the FA-18 captive carry data collection flight tests later this year,” the spokeswoman said. Lockheed had another test set for today but I understand that has been postponed. The company is likely to pay for more tests and submit data from those to the government.
The Raytheon-Boeing team had no further comment on their final test.
Lockheed knows what caused the missile in the second government test to miss the target. As often happens with high-tech weapon systems, it was a simple part that failed. “You’re going to think this is silly, but it’s a mechanical bracket that holds one of the rocket motors. It wasn’t a design issue. We are confident the design is sound,” Frank St. John, head of Lockheed’s JAGM’s effort, told me Sept. 1.