Raytheon, appearing to put to rest questions about technical and production risks face by its missile, has tested a production-representative version of its Joint Air To Ground Missile (JAGM). The company, working with Boeing, has also successfully tested the missile on an F/A-18 E/F.
Raytheon’s missile was fired last week. It included the rocket fuel the EMD version of the system will use, said Mike Riley, Raytheon business development manager for JAGM. Also, the company was able to test one of the key aspects of the JAGM design, the ability for the three different seekers to share information and to hand off the targeting from one to the other. Raytheon's use of a different rocket in earlier tests had raised questions about whether the company might face difficultieintegrating the rocket, fuel and seekers.
Raytheon and Boeing officials believe their system now meets the requirement to be at Technical Readiness Level 6-plus, meaning it is effectively ready for production.
The Raytheon-Boeing JAGM features a tri-mode seeker with semiactive laser (SAL), uncooled imaging infrared and millimeter wave guidance. The test required the millimeter wave sensor to hand off to the infrared sensor. That then handed off to the SAL sensor, triggered by a targeting laser used to paint the target. The system is designed so that if the laser no longer paints the target then SAL will hand back to the other sensors. This should allow ground operators the flexibility of changing targets, if for example, a target is suddenly surrounded by a group of civilians or the strike on the target is called off for other reasons.
Riley said their JAGM successfully shared data among the three sensors. When the millimeter wave sensor handed off to the IR, the IR sensor did not latch on to the heat source but continued to target the aim point, thanks to the data from the millimeter wave.
JAGM, estimated to be a $5 billion program, is meant to work on a wide variety of platforms, the Army’s AH-64D Apache attack helicopters, ARH-70 Arapaho scout helicopters and MQ-1C Sky Warrior unmanned aerial vehicles, Marine Corps AH-1Z Super Cobra helicopters; and Navy MH-60R/S Seahawk helicopters and the F/A-18E/F.
Raytheon and Boeing issued a press release earlier Wednesday saying that they had successfully tested JAGM on a Super Hornet. Here's what they said: "During the tests, the JAGM launcher and IMVs were loaded on the Super Hornet's outboard wing station. The aircraft then flew representative mission profiles that a JAGM-armed Super Hornet might experience during a combat mission. As a necessary requirement for full envelope qualification, the test subjected the system to the harsh F/A-18 E/F flight environment: transonic speed, extreme cold and extreme vibrations."