Dec 18, 2014
USAF approves AGM-158B JASSM-ER Full Rate Production
The USAF received the autonomous, stealthy cruise missile into its arsenal early this year following Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) flight testing in 2013. The low-rate initial production (LRIP) lots 11 and 12 of the JASSM contract awarded in December 2013 included 100 ER missiles; LRIP 13 and 14 are still being negotiated but are expected to include more than 100 ER missiles. Lockheed Martin's production line can accommodate up to 360 missiles per year and is expected to begin doing so in 2017.
JASSM-ER has more than two-and-a-half times the range of the baseline AGM-158A JASSM, meaning it can be launched from outside of defended airspace and the coverage of long-range surface-to-air missiles, and is intended for use against high-value, well-fortified, fixed and re-locatable targets.
The baseline JASSM is integrated on the Boeing (Rockwell) B-1, the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, the Boeing F-15E Eagle, and internationally, on the Royal Australian Air Force's Boeing F/A-18A/B Super Hornet. The JASSM-ER is integrated only on the B-1B Lancer, but there are efforts under way for F-15E, F-16, and B-52 integration.
As the Pentagon shifts emphasis from the Middle East to the Pacific, the JASSM-ER combined with the B-1 is seen as a crucial weapon for providing combatant commanders the ability to hold at risk targets behind sophisticated air defences from long ranges. The stealthy, supersonic B-1 will be able to carry up to 24 JASSM-ERs; twice the number of baseline JASSMs carried by the B-52. JASSM releases can be either mission planned against fixed targets or retargeted dynamically in flight with waypoints, a feature unique to the B-1.