Lockheed Martin announced Monday that it was awarded a contract for multi-year production of precision missiles for the U.S. Army and international customers that could total up to $4.5 billion over the next four years.
The contract covers acquisitions of both Hellfire missiles and Joint-Air-to-Ground Missiles (JAGM) for the U.S. Army and international partners. It will provide Lockheed Martin with $439 million in the first year of the program and offers three follow-on awards that would take the total contract value to $4.5 billion.
“Not only does this contract award support sustained production, but this is the first joint production contract award from the U.S. government for JAGM and Hellfire,” said Joey Drake, Lockheed Martin’s program management director for air-to-ground missile systems. “This contract award, along with last year’s JAGM full-rate production decision, shows the Army’s confidence in our product’s combat effectiveness and defensive capabilities, including its potential for longevity due to the support for increased production.”
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Lockheed Martin noted in a press release that the contract “provides maximum flexibility to facilitate the procurement of both systems to multiple domestic and international customers, allowing for the future expansion of both Hellfire and JAGM’s global footprint.” The company added that it expects a “significant increase in international demand” for the JAGM weapon system, which is expected to eventually replace legacy variants of the Hellfire missile.
Hellfire and JAGM missiles have both been used by the U.S. Army’s fleet of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters.
The Hellfire missile has been integrated into more than 15 of the military’s platforms – including manned and unmanned aircraft, helicopters, ships, and ground vehicles – and has been purchased by over 30 countries through the foreign military sales process. Foreign operators of the Hellfire include more than half a dozen NATO member countries plus Australia, Japan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, Ukraine, and more.
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Similarly, the JAGM can be used by several types of military helicopters, drones, jets, and naval vessels. The United Kingdom and the Netherlands have previously announced plans to acquire the JAGM to be used with their Apache helicopters.
The decision to boost the production of these precision missiles comes as the U.S. military and defense industrial base look to boost the output of key weapons systems that would be needed in a conflict with a near-peer adversary like China.
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A recent report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies noted that the U.S. could run out of such munitions in around a week based on wargames of a potential conflict with China over Taiwan. The report noted that production lead times for JAGM are around 24 months.
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