JASSM Eyed For Multiple New Modes

Sept. 17, 2015: Lockheed Martin sees the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile vehicle as a stealthy “truck,” delivering a variety of effects—including non-kinetic ones—in addition to its primary mission as a unitary warhead weapon, company strike systems director R. Alan Jackson said in an interview with Air Force Magazine.

Speaking at ASC15, Jackson said the basic JASSM has already evolved into the extended-range variant (JASSM-ER), and into the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), but its combination of stealth, range, and internal volume could make it easily adaptable to other roles.

It could function as a dispenser, Jackson said, releasing “individually targeted submunitions” similar to Lockheed’s Low Cost Autonomous Attack System (LOCAAS) mini-unmanned aerial vehicle. Lockheed also is in talks with the AIr Force about the JASSM-ER serving as an electromagnetic kill vehicle following up Air Force Research Laboratory’s success with the CHAMP high-powered microwave vehicle, which was hosted on an AGM-86C Conventional Air-Launched Cruise Missile. The missile may even be able to generate enough onboard power to deliver disabling laser effects.

Moreover, the company is exploring ways the missile might be recovered, flying it back to friendly territory, deploying a parachute, and “catching” it with a C-130 equipped with something like the Fulton recovery system, Jackson said.

“We don’t have to do the payload,” Jackson said, mindful that USAF is “looking for modularity” in future systems where the elements could be separately competed.

The Navy and Air Force are planning to acquire 110 LRASMs, to be deployed first on B-1Bs and F/A-18E/Fs. Lockheed has demonstrated that it can be ship- and land-launched as well, flying it to altitude on an Anti-Submarine Rocket booster. Although Jackson would not comment on overseas sales potential, Australia, Finland, and Poland are already JASSM customers, and with USAF and Navy, orders are already in excess of 4,900 units. Quantity increases will lower unit costs, Jackson said.

The company has expanded its Troy, Ala. manufacturing facility by about 60 percent to keep up with orders and could grow it even more, he noted.