Lockheed Martin has secured a $66.3m contract from the US Navy and US Army for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the joint air-to-ground missile (JAGM) programme.

The 24-month EMD phase comprises JAGM production, test qualification and integration on AH-64 Apache and AH-1Z Cobra attack helicopters.

In addition, the phase establishes an initial low-rate manufacturing capability in support of two follow-on low-rate initial production options.

"The EMD contract validates the merits of our mature, modular and proven JAGM design."

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control tactical missiles and combat manoeuvre systems vice-president Frank St John said: "The EMD contract validates the merits of our mature, modular and proven JAGM design.

"We will continue to work closely with the army and navy as we move through the EMD phase and into low-rate initial production, ensuring we meet initial operational capability in 2018 on budget and on schedule."

With a multi-mode seeker, the missile will be able to offer precision strike and fire-and-forget capabilities against moving targets in all weather conditions.

According to Lockheed Martin, the JAGM will be manufactured on existing production lines.

Recently, Lockheed secured a contract to continue to modernise Aegis hardware and software onboard the US navy vessels.

With the new configuration, the US vessels will be able to simultaneously defend against airborne threats, while also targeting and intercepting ballistic missiles.