More than a dozen years after the U.S. Army first set out to replace the Hellfire anti-tank missile, potential bidders have been briefed on the draft request for proposals for development and production of its successor, the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM).

What started as a requirement for a new missile has devolved into a new guidance section for the Lockheed-produced AGM-114R Hellfire "Romeo" to provide all-weather fire-and-forget capability against fixed and moving land and maritime targets with improved precision.

Longtime JAGM competitors Lockheed Martin and Raytheon were briefed on the draft RFP at an industry day on June 4. Lockheed has been funded by the Army to complete technology development of a dual-mode (radar/laser) seeker for the new missile.

Raytheon has been working on a tri-mode (radar/laser/infrared) seeker for JAGM, but the Army decided in July 2013 not to award the company a parallel technology development contact as planned, citing budget pressures.

Foreign companies are permitted to bid through a U.S. prime, but Europe’s MBDA has said its plan is to offer the Dual-Mode Brimstone missile, which is based on the Hellfire bus with a radar/laser seeker, as a complement to Hellfire and JAGM.

"I get to win it for a sixth time," jokes Rick Edwards, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control. Lockheed won the Joint Common Missile program in 2004, only to see it shut down in 2007 to save money and immediately replaced by the JAGM program.

Both Lockheed and Raytheon were awarded technology demonstration contracts in 2008 to develop a new missile, but in 2012 the Army dropped the requirements for a tri-mode seeker and new rocket motor, separating JAGM into increments beginning with a new guidance section for the Hellfire.

The requirement to launch JAGM from the Boeing F/A-18E/F fast jet was also shelved, and the missile is now required to be carried on any fixed- and rotary-wing, manned and unmanned platform currently compatible with the Hellfire.

The draft RFP does not call for a dual-mode seeker, but says "JAGM will use advanced seeker and guidance technologies combining multiple sensors to provide improved precision point and fire-and-forget targeting capability against fast moving and stationary targets."

The Army plans to award a 24-month, fixed-price incentive contract by mid-2015 for engineering and manufacturing development that includes options for the first years of low-rate initial production. Testing will be conducted on the Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter.

The draft RFP says the Navy will be responsible for funding qualification and testing of the JAGM on the Marine CorpsBell AH-1Z attack helicopter.

"We think the Army is very committed. JAGM addresses the ability to fully utilize the capability of the platform by engaging targets with a multi-mode seeker," Edwards says.

"The Army has not stopped investing in JCM and JAGM," he says. "Certainly there is a need, and the technology is ready. We have a very mature offering. And we can ramp up quickly as it is very compatible with the existing Hellfire."

The winning contract will be required to qualify an all-up round, including warhead, motor and electronics. If Lockheed does not prevail, it could be in the position of supplying missile buses to the winner, as "the RFP tells bidders to assume the Romeo bus," Edwards says.