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USAF getting ready to induct new cruise missile

The Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff missile. A Lockheed photo

DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, TEXAS (BNS): An advanced version of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) system is getting ready for final-phase of operational testing by a US Air Force squadron later this month ahead of its operational deployment next year.

The Lockheed Martin-built Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER) is scheduled to complete the final-phase of operational testing with the USAF's 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES) on August 30.

The JASSM-ER is an upgraded version of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) autonomous, long-range, conventional, air-to-ground, precision standoff cruise missile.

With an operational range of 370 kilometres, the JASSM flies at subsonic speed and carries 450 kg penetrator/blast fragmentation warhead. It has been test launched from numerous platforms including the B-1, B-2 bombers and the F-16 fighter aircraft. Its future platforms include F-15E, F/A-18 and F-35 fighters.

The new JASSM-ER missile shares the same powerful capabilities and stealthy characteristics of the baseline JASSM, but with more than two-and-a-half times the range (over 900 km).

The enhanced range will allow aircraft to deploy JASSM-ER against high-value, well-fortified, fixed and relocateable targets, while remaining clear of highly defended airspace and long-range surface-to-air missiles, the Air Force said.

The USAF is scheduled to complete the final live JASSM-ER flight test on August 30 with the B-1 Lancer bomber.

"The B-1 is the very first aircraft to get it, so we will be the only JASSM-ER platform for years to come," Capt. Philip Atkinson of the 337th TES, said.

"As we shift our emphasis from the Middle East to the Pacific, as heavily defended as that region is, the JASSM combined with the B-1 presents a top choice for combatant commanders," the official said.

The JASSM-ER will be officially fielded late next year, when B-1s can be called upon for operational use, the Air Force said.


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