Air Force News

New missile contract comes in at low price

Released: Apr 17, 1998

by Senior Master Sgt. Jim Katzaman
Air Force News Service

WASHINGTON -- A new contract will bring the Air Force a state-of-the-art missile, and hard-ball negotiating has knocked off a third of its price tag.

Acting Secretary of the Air Force F. Whitten Pete rs announced the contract April 9 for the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, the linchpin of the service's plan to provide modern weaponry for its bombers. JASSM will be used on both Air Force and Navy fighters and bombers.

Lockheed-Martin Integrated Systems at Orlando, Fla., won the contract, agreeing to charge the Department of Defense no more than $400,000 per missile, marked down from an originally expected $700,000 per copy.

"I congratulate the entire JASSM team for a competition resulting in an extremely high performance missile with a 15-year 'bumper-to-bumper' warranty," Peters said.

The warranty and lowered price -- an overall program reduction from $3 billion to $2 billion -- was the result, Peters said, of "an aggressive acquisition approach ... this program uses key facets of our Revolution in Business Affairs that brings down the cost of our ongoing Revolution in Military Affairs."

From the start of the contracting process, the Air Force and Navy worked together from a joint program office at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. There they conducted an open-source selection with what Peters called "unprecedented amounts of feedback with the competitors."

The acting secretary hailed the JASSM program as "a radical departure from 'business as usual.'" He explained how the Air Force and Navy entered into a partnership to identify only those key requirements essential for the missile system, the payoff being a winning bid "dramatically under" the planned $700,000 cost per missile.

Ultimately, Peters said, JASSM's precision system also promises more bang for the buck.

"JASSM is another step toward truly revolutionizing the way aerospace assets find, fix, track, target and engage entire classes and ranges of targets," Peters said. "Thanks to technologies embedded in weapons like JASSM, we will have stand-off precision capability that will allow us to destroy high-value targets without putting aircrews at risk."

Peters said the JASSM announcement reinforces the Air Force's investment strategy to upgrade the "effectiveness, versatility and lethality of our bomber fleet. Since 1988, we have invested $43.9 billion in our bomber force, with another $14.1 billion planned in the next few years."

With another $1.3 billion spent and $5.1 billion more allotted for precision munitions, Peters added, "we can say with confidence that today's smaller bomber fleet will provide commanders 10 times the aerospace power our bombers had at the end of Cold War."

Those factors have changed the formula for modern warfare, according to Peters. He said, "We have gone from the number of sorties that it used to take to destroy a single target to the number of targets we can destroy on a single sortie."

In that scheme of things, Peters said the joint Air Force-Navy JASSM holds "many characteristics one associates with the aerospace forces of the 21st century -- stealth, long range, versatility and precision. JASSM is the lethal linchpin that will usher in the seamless integration of air and space assets to meet our nation's vital security interests."


* Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
* F. Whitten Peters
* U.S. Navy
* Department of Defense