The Army and Navy have proposed terminating the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile program, which if approved by the Pentagon would halt the $8.3 billion new missile program just as DOD is poised to select a winner in a competition between Lockheed Martin and a Raytheon-Boeing team.
In revised budget plans that reflect guidance to cut spending in accordance with an August debt-ceiling accord between the White House and Congress, the Army and Navy last month submitted fiscal year 2013 spending proposals and accompanying five-year investment blueprints that did not include funding for the JAGM program, according to government personnel familiar with the proposals.
The previously unreported proposal to terminate JAGM -- being developed to replace the Hellfire missile, the air-launched variant of the TOW and Maverick missiles -- is subject to review, along with all FY-13 spending proposals, by the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Sources said OSD has signalled its intent to carefully scrutinize the Army and Navy proposal to terminate JAGM -- capability that many in the department believe is critically important to the future force and a model of joint-service acquisition. The Army requirement is for more than 20,000 JAGMS; the Navy and Marine Corps want 15,000 under current plans, according to Pentagon documents describing the program.
JAGM, armed with a trio of seekers that allow it to operate effectively in adverse weather, at night and against countermeasures, is designed to be used against "high-value" targets -- stationary and mobile -- and fired from combat helicopters, fighter aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles.
The Defense Department may also closely examine the impact of JAGM's termination on industry. A Pentagon report sent to Congress last month raised questions about the health of the domestic missile industrial base highlighting the significance of the fledgling program.
"The Joint Air to Ground Missile (JAGM) is currently the only new missile development program," states the Annual Industrial Capabilities Report To Congress, dated September 2011. "This lack of new missile program development limits our ability to fully exercise the industrial capabilities necessary in the missile industrial base -- from design concept, system development, and production -- to meet our current and future national security needs."
If OSD does not concur with the Army and Navy's proposal to kill JAGM, it can direct the services to reinstate funding for the program.
While the two services were preparing plans to end the JAGM program, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council in late September revalidated the need for the missile, according to a Pentagon official.
On Sept. 21, the JROC -- the Defense Department's high-level requirements panel -- updated a key performance parameter for JAGM interoperability with joint and fixed-wing aircraft, according to Joint Staff spokeswoman Maj. Catie Hague.
Notwithstanding the Navy and Army proposal, the Pentagon is continuing with its source-selection process for JAGM, deciding whether Lockheed or the Raytheon-Boeing team should be awarded a JAGM engineering and manufacturing development contract.
Earlier this summer, the Army planned for the Defense Acquisition Board to select a winner in the first quarter of FY-12, a delay from earlier plans for source selection in the third quarter of FY-11 (DefenseAlert, July 18).
In total, the Pentagon plans to spend $1.7 billion to develop the new missile and another $6.5 billion on procurement over the life of the program, according to Army documents. Under a planned 48-month EMD phase, the winning contractor would be required to integrate JAGM in FY-15 with the Navy's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft, as well as the Marine Corps' AH-1Z Super Cobra and the Army's AH-64D Apache attack helicopters. Next, the Defense Department wants JAGM incorporated on the Navy's MH-60R SeaHawk helicopter, the Army's Extended Range Multi Purpose UAV, the MQ-1C unmanned system and upgraded OH-58 Kiowa helicopters.
This spring, Lockheed and the Raytheon-Boeing team submitted their bids to develop the JAGM missile. The two teams previously competed against each other for the Joint Common Missile program, an effort aimed to deliver a similar capability. Lockheed won, but the program was terminated during its infancy following Pentagon-wide budget cuts in 2005. -- Jason Sherman