A US Marine Corps attack helicopter fired off a new 'fire and forget' missile for the first time in the Pacific, striking a moving vessel

A US Marine Corps attack helicopter fired off a new 'fire and forget' missile for the first time in the Pacific, striking a moving vessel
  • A US Marine Corps attack helicopter fired a new missile towards a moving sea target in the Pacific.

  • It marked a first for the AGM-179 Joint Air-to-Ground Missile.

  • The JAGM faced earlier testing challenges, but it is considered key to boosting the lethality of US attack helicopters.

A US Marine Corps attack helicopter fired off a new missile in the Pacific earlier this week, striking a moving target vessel and marking a first for the weapon.

The test is a notable moment in the development of the precision missile, which faced struggles in its initial testing.

The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit announced the strike exercise on Friday, revealing that two days earlier, an AH-1Z Viper "fired a live AGM-179 Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM), striking a towed moving training vessel during a training mission at sea." The training occurred in the Philippine Sea, off the coast of Okinawa.

A video shared by the unit showed the test, beginning with preparations and the crew loading ammunition onto the attack helicopter.

Then, the AH-1Z flies off from Okinawa Air Base toward the Philippine Sea, where it fires the JAGM at a moving sea vessel. The JAGM then hits the target, destroying it on impact.

During this week's exercise, a UH-1Y also participated, at one point unleashing a hail of bullets from a door gun at other moving targets, such as something that looked like a fast boat, before returning to base.

A screenshot from a US Marine Corps video showing a grey targeting screen, with a sea vessel in the middle.

According to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, "this EXPO strike launched the first live JAGM from an AH-1Z in the Indo-Pacific region, and employed a variety of munitions against a high-speed towed target."

The JAGM is a precision-guided munition able to be used against both stationary and moving land and sea targets. Determined to be an upgrade from other missiles, like Hellfire and Maverick, the weapon's initial development and testing was slightly troubled, including a year-long delay for full-rate production approval and several failed operational tests.

It achieved initial operating capability with the Marines in 2022.

The Marines' initial tests in 2019 went south when two missiles fired didn't reach their targets. And the Army's first trials with the JAGM featured a host of problems, including munitions missing their targets and failing to detonate. Across the board, both the Marines and the Army have said that they were able to resolve these issues in subsequent testing.

The JAGM features a dual-mode seeker and guidance system providing precision strike and "fire and forget" capabilities, meaning the launcher doesn't need to intervene or dictate the missile's flight towards its target once it's been fired. The JAGM can also strike multiple targets and features better precision strike capabilities in varied weather conditions.

When the Marines achieved initial operating capability with the weapon, Col. Vasilios Pappas, the Marine Corps H-1 Light/Attack Helicopter program manager, said that "incorporating systems such as JAGM on the AH-1Z is essential in keeping the platform at the forefront of warfighting capabilities."

Correction: June 28, 2024 — An earlier version of this article misidentified the other participating helicopter. It was a UH-1Y.

Read the original article on Business Insider