A missile specifically designed for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was successfully tested at the Utah Test and Training Range in the West Desert in the Western United States last week.
Norwegian defense contractor, Kongsberg, which is jointly developing the Joint Strike Missile (JSM) with Raytheon, revealed through a press release that the missile was launched from a F-16 at 22,000 feet and successfully performed several challenging flight maneuvers.
Designed to fit inside the F-35A’s Joint Strike Fighter’s missile bay is a fifth generation, long range, precision guided, stand-off missile system that allows the jet to maintain its stealth capabilities. The system can also be put to great effect in anti-surface warfare and naval fire support missions.
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Kongsberg leading the way in missile technology
Kongsberg claims that the recently concluded test has showcased that the technology used for the missile is completely mature and is ready to be deployed in the near future.
“This is a major accomplishment for the JSM program, and in addition several critical capabilities beyond the scope of the test were verified. The test demonstrates that we are on track with the qualification of JSM, which brings critical capability to F-35 and the warfighter,” says Harald Ånnestad, the president of Kongsberg Defense Systems.
Mike Jarrett of Raytheon Missile Systems revealed that the flight tests of the JSM, derived from the Naval Strike Missile (NSM), are going to continue into 2016 and 2017 before stating that once the tests are completed, the JSM will be the only anti-ship missile that can be accommodated by the F-35’s weapons bay.
“This successful flight test further validates that JSM will be an ideal solution for the medium-range anti-ship and land attack mission,” said the vice president of Air Warfare Systems.
It should be noted that this is not the first time Kongsberg have introduced something new and unique to air-warfare. Earlier this February, it signed a co-operative agreement with BAE Systems Australia to work on the development of an independent missile sensor to detect and identify hostile radars.
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Missile – Raytheon features
Raytheon says that the missile includes several game changing features such as an advanced engagement planning system which allows it to exploit the geography of an area, accurate navigation system for flight close to terrain, high maneuverability in order to allow flight planning in close proximity to land masses, discriminating seeker with imaging infrared technology; two-way networking datalink (compliant with standard military equipment) offering target-update; as well retargeting and mission-abort capabilities.
Need for a new missile system
Initially, the US expected the precision-guided air-dropped Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II) to fit onto the JSM Marine Corps. However, it was later discovered that the SDB would never fit in the weapon’s bay without modifications to it. Now however, the weapon’s bay will be kept intact and by the end of 2017, F-35A would be fully armed to the teeth and will also prove to be a big help during close air support (CAS) platforms where adversaries and friends are in close proximity.