With the announcement of the successful testing of a sophisticated Pneumatic Cooling System (PCS) by Lockheed Martin and industry partner Marotta Controls in December 2011, the very capable Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) is a step closer to deployment in the field.
The JAGM is a highly versatile weapons system which builds on the technology of the widely-deployed Hellfire, Longbow and Javelin missiles. It can therefore be said that the elements which have lead to JAGM have been very rigorously tested, including extensive battlefield use. The JAGM is intended for use on a range of platforms for the US Army, Navy and Marine Corps. The missile fits standard US Navy triple rail launchers and is suitable for use on rotary and fixed wing aircraft, ranging from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to the fast moving Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
The PCS makes use of a miniature compressor and air filtration system to cool the missile's infrared sensor. This enables US aircraft to passively acquire and track targets at safe standoff range before the missile is launched. The cooling system is based on Marotta's M-PACT® (Pure Air Compression Technology) of which 1,000 units have already been delivered for use in cooling the Navy's AIM-9M Sidewinder missiles.
The fact that the system is able to passively acquire and track targets has far reaching implications for US aircraft and crew survivability: users are able to detect threats to the aircraft such as surface-to-air missiles well outside their lethal engagement envelope.
Lockheed Martin's Tri-Mode seeker for JAGM, now in its 4th generation, has undergone some 8,600 hours of testing over the last decade. Lockheed Martin claims the seeker offers "unmatched performance in adverse weather and robustness against countermeasures."
In addition to its ability to acquire and track targets passively, its increased range and "fire and forget" capability, the JAGM also features a reduced smoke rocket motor, making it more difficult to visually acquire the source of the launch. JAGM is suitable for use against both moving and stationary ground targets.
Perhaps most importantly, JAGM's modular design, based on tested and mature technologies, allows for upgrades in response to changing threats. This allows for greater operational flexibility, especially considering the diverse range of targets able to be defeated by the systems multi-purpose warhead.
Source: Lockheed Martin.