JASSM Gets Off Ground Successfully

By Jake Swinson, AAC Public Affairs, Eglin AFB, FL

A successful flight test of Eglin’s Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile was conducted Aug 12 at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The flawless unpowered test indicates that the problem with the electrical system experienced during the missile’s first flight test on April 8 has been remedied.

During the Aug 12 test, the missile was launched from an Eglin F-16 flying at Mach .7 at 15,000 feet. Its wing and tail surfaces deployed, and it conducted several maneuvers as it guided 8 to 10 miles during the 90-second flight.

JASSM is the next generation long range cruise missile that uses the advanced Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System guidance. The Air Force is committed to buy 2,400 JASSMs from prime contractor Lockheed Martin, Orlando, Fla., but intends to purchase up to 4,000 if funding can be obtained. The Navy has expressed interest in purchasing JASSMs for its F-18 Hornets, but to date has not committed funding. The stealthy missile is expected to become operation during fiscal year 2003.

The next JASSM flight test is scheduled for October or November and will be the first powered test. “The two missiles that have been launched, and the next one, are prototype designs,” explained Terry Little, director of Eglin’s JASSM Systems Program Office. “They are about 80 to 90 percent faithful to our design that will be tested in Engineering and Manufacturing Development and go into production. The reason for doing this early testing is to see that the basics are okay. Our flight test will begin in earnest in about 11 months.”

The JASSM’s cost is well below the $700,000 per unit predicted by DOD officials at the program’s offset.

“Its cost is one of the things we’re proudest of,” Little added, who pioneered acquisition reform in DOD. It will be under $400,000 a copy, which means the Air Force will be able to by enough of these to make a difference. This is not like the current day cruise missile that cost in excess of $1 million each. This is something we worked really, really hard on. It is one of our top priorities and greatest successes. The price also includes a lifetime warranty.”

The current phase of JASSM testing is designed to collect data and reduce risk, according to Dale Brides, JASSM technical director. “We are not producing tactical hardware and software for the user. The significance is we have less risks when we enter development testing next year,” he said.

The JASSM will be carried on the B-1, B-2, B-52, and F-16. The B-1 will carry 24 JASSMs; the B-52 will carry 16, while the B-52 will carry 12 externally under the wings. The F-16 can carry two JASSMs.