America Arming Itself with $4.5 Billion Worth of Brand New Attack Helicopter Missiles

Attack helicopter firing JAGM missiles 6 photos
Photo: Lockheed Martin
Attack helicopter firing JAGM and Hellfire missilesAttack helicopter firing JAGM and Hellfire missilesAttack helicopter firing JAGM and Hellfire missilesAttack helicopter firing JAGM and Hellfire missilesAttack helicopter firing JAGM and Hellfire missiles
Although at some level one could say it's business as usual in the world, there's a palpable tension in the air. It is constantly spreading from the two major conflicts in Europe and the Middle East, slowly engulfing everything and everyone.
Proof of that is the increased pace of military rearmament in nations across the globe, and the constant development of new weapons. And under these circumstances, even modernization efforts that started long ago and are not connected to Ukraine or Gaza seem to take a nefarious meaning.

Equipping American and allied forces with new and more weapons like the Joint-Air-to-Ground Missiles (JAGM) and Hellfires is, however, connected to the two wars. It's an effort that started back in March 2023 with a multiple-year contract award to the maker of these missiles, defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

Since a year ago, the U.S. Army has granted the company two follow-on awards, and a third one was announced this week. It is in fact a contract worth $483 million for the supply of these weapons to the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and a series of allied partners. In all, the contract has thus grown to a total of $4.5 billion through 2025.

The JAGM is, as its name says, an eir-to-ground missile. Equipped on the U.S. Army AH-64E Apache and Marine Corps AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters, among other aerial platforms (including drones), the weapon has a range of five miles (eight kilometers) and uses a semi-active laser and millimeter-wave radar to lock on its target. In service since 2022, the missile is meant to eventually replace the Hellfire and Maverick missiles.

The Hellfire is perhaps one of the most famous American missiles. Introduced in 1984, it used by roughly the same aerial platforms as the JAGM. It can strike at a maximum distance of six miles (10 km), guiding itself by using the same kind of hardware.

The Hellfire is presently in use in the hands of some 30 customers, many of them, naturally, foreign. As per the details of this most recent contract, Poland will be joining the list of countries that use it.

Both kinds of missiles are made by Lockheed Martin in Orlando, Florida. Ever since the introduction of the Hellfire and taking into account the short life of the JAGM, a total of over 140,000 missiles were produced there over the years.

To give you an idea of how huge the total $4.5 million contract is, consider the fact that Hellfire has a price of $150,000, while the JAGM is going for $319,000. Huge prices to pay for pretty much anything, but given the current state of the world, prices that just might be worth paying - not to use, hopefully, but to deter.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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