Breakup, Interrupted: JASSM Missile Back on Track
The AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) program waged a difficult battle to survive with proposed Congressional cuts that would have eliminated its procurement budget. This would have forced the USAF to go with the Navy’s choice for this mission: the SLAM-ER. Yet the FY 2006 budget ended up going with the US Senate’s approach, appropriating the requested $67 million for continued research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) and another $98.7 million from the $150 million requested for procurement of 75 missiles. eDefense Online notes that $165+ million in funding, plus two recent test flight successes, appear to have put JASSM back on track. Meanwhile, Lockheed has found innovative approaches re: mating the missile to its strike aircraft systems, as its efforts morph toward a Universal Armaments Interface (UAI) that would lower costs and development time.
eDefense [ed: link no longer available] notes that Lockheed Martin is recommending an allocation of $70 million to continued JASSM production in FY 2006. The other $30 million would be put towards reliability improvements such as replacing obsolete subsystems et. al., and making upgrades based on operational experience with the B-1 “Bone” and B-52 bombers. Meanwhile, longer-endurance versions (JASSM-ER, JASSM-XR) are under R&D development; and $20 million has been earmarked for a weapon datalink that would allow in-flight updates of the missile status and targeting, plus the transmission of weapon position data up to the time of impact.
To date, some 330 JASSMs have been delivered to the Air Force. The FY 2007 US defense budget request includes $187.2 million for 234 more JASSMs, plus $40.4 million for continued R&D.