US approves nearly $1 Bn JAGM Joint Air-to-Ground Missile sale to United Kingdom

The United States Department of State has granted authorization for a potential arms sale to the United Kingdom, involving nearly one billion dollars worth of Joint Air-to-Ground Missiles (JAGM). The decision was disclosed on October 23 by the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

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United States Approves Nearly 1 Billion JAGM Missile Sale to United Kingdom 925 001  Marines conducted an operational test and evaluation of the joint air-to-ground missile (JAGM) from an AH-1Z Viper (Picture source: US DoD)

The proposed deal encompasses the supply of up to 3,000 AGM-179A Joint Air-to-Ground missiles, with an estimated total value of $957.4 million. In addition to the provision of the missiles themselves, the sale also includes dummy units, technical assistance from the United States, documentation, integration support, and other related logistical and programmatic support items.

The sale aims to serve U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives by strengthening NATO's security, which in turn contributes to political stability and economic progress in Europe. The acquisition of the AGM-179A missiles is expected to enhance the United Kingdom's ability to counter current and future security threats.

The AGM-179A missile is designed to replace existing air-to-ground missiles in the UK's arsenal, specifically the AGM-114 Hellfire and AGM-65 Maverick, with a basic range of 8 kilometers. An advanced version of the JAGM, known as the JAGM-Medium Range (JAGM-MR), is currently under development in the United States, with a range extending up to 16 kilometers and equipped with a three-mode seeker head. The enhanced variant was tested in November 2022.

The AGM-179 Joint Air-to-Ground (JAGM) missile is manufactured by Lockheed Martin and was officially commissioned into service with the U.S. Marine Corps on March 1, 2022. With a unit cost of approximately $324,805 for fiscal year 2021, the missile offers a blend of advanced capabilities and cost-effectiveness.

Physically, the AGM-179 JAGM is fairly compact, weighing less than 50 kg and having a length of 177.8 cm with a diameter of 17.8 cm. Despite its relatively small size, it has an operational range of up to approximately 8 kilometers.

One of the missile's most distinctive features is its advanced guidance system, combining semi-active laser and millimeter-wave radar technologies. This dual-mode seeker ensures high accuracy and allows for greater flexibility in various combat scenarios. Whether the sky is clear or weather conditions are challenging, the missile's guidance system maintains a consistent level of performance, thus enhancing its utility across a range of operational settings.

Designed to be launched from helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, the AGM-179 JAGM offers a high degree of adaptability. It can be integrated onto various platforms, making it a valuable asset for different branches of the military. Overall, the AGM-179 JAGM stands as a powerful and flexible weapon, capable of meeting the diversified challenges posed by modern warfare.

In related news, as of April 2023, the U.S. Army had concluded a contract with Lockheed Martin for the supply of JAGM and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, both for the U.S. Army and for foreign customers under the Foreign Military Sales program. The contract is valued at $439 million, with options that could extend the contract's value to $4.5 billion over the next four years. The missile installation works are expected to be completed by September 30, 2025.