2009: AGM-158 JASSM Faces Cancellation – Again
Lockheed Martin’s AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) was intended as a stealthy, inexpensive cruise missile that would let American aircraft attack well-defended targets – without putting themselves in the crosshairs of new long-range surface to air missile systems. The missile has been produced in quantity, and chosen by Australia.
The program has also enjoyed a very rocky development history. In 2005 it was threatened with cancellation, following a series of poor test results. By the end of 2007, the program was on an ongoing roller coaster of ups and downs with sharp media criticism and Lockheed Martin’s substantive reply to it. Reuters reports that the program is facing cancellation once again, in the wake of FY 2010 budget cuts that left only $82.2 million in funding to address reliability issues.
While the JASSM program was continued on the basis of military necessity, an alternative has emerged. Raytheon’s AGM-154 JSOW precision glide bomb has become a big success, adding new capabilities and new variants over time. A new AGM-154C-1-ER version adds a flush inlet to preserve its radar signature, and a small turbojet taken from their MALD decoy, in order to extend its range to 300 nautical miles/ 575 km. The JSOW-ER is considered to be less stealthy than JASSM, but it has definitely positioned itself as a reliable low-budget competitor, and a “good enough” alternative if JASSM fails.