U.S. Marines with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 252 equip a KC-130J Hercules with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Christian Cortez)

Sandbox has a good overview of the Hellfire missile’s replacement, the AGM-179 JAGM (Joint Air Ground Missile–Despite the acronym, this missile will be used surface to surface and even surface to air, as well as air to surface.)

I have for a long time pointed to the Hellfire as a missile that could provide much needed firepower if any of our vessels, down to and including patrol boats, encounter a situation where they need to forcibly stop a vessel, regardless of size, with a near 100% prospect of success against small, fast highly maneuverable targets and at least some chance of success against large ships. All with minimal chance of collateral damage.

The post notes that the AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire, the version used in vertical launchers as part of the anti-surface module on Littoral Combat Ships has been out of production since 2005, but the new missile will include the capabilities of the Longbow Hellfire as well as Semi-Active Laser Homing.

The Missile:

JAGM shares many components with the Hellfire. It has the same dimensions:

  • Length: 70″ (1,800mm)
  • Diameter: 7″ (180mm)
  • Weight: 180 pounds (49 kg)
  • Warhead: 20 pounds
  • Range: 8 km (almost 9,000 yards)


There are a number of ways the missile could be integrated into the various cutter classes.

There are stand alone single round launchers.

Launch tubes could be attached to existing Mk38 gun mounts.

We could use small vertical launch systems.

Textron Systems’ CUSV with Surface Warfare payload including a Hellfire vertical launch system, the box in the center, at SAS 2019

These weapons will be made in huge numbers, thousands per year, and in the meantime, there are thousands of Hellfires in inventory that could meet our needs. This is a weapon based on the Hellfire’s history of success and with a promising long term future. It has a small foot print, and requires minimal maintenance and training while providing the punch of a 6″ naval gun. Range is expected to be extended to 16 km.

This is doable, at modest cost, and the Navy should pay for most of it.



  1. It would be great to have these for the many reasons you have mentioned previously. It’s a wonder that we haven’t needed them yet, as our current platforms are under prepared to stop a vessel.

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