JASSM Again Under Microscope

Production of the Air Force’s JASSM cruise missile may be terminated if its testing record does not improve, Bloomberg news wire service reported Tuesday. Lockheed Martin builds the missile and more than 600 of them have already been delivered to air bases for potential use, Bloomberg reported, citing an Air Force spokeswoman. And more than 1,000 have been ordered. But the performance of the missile in flight tests is still an issue, and an upcoming series of 16 test shots later this year could seal the missile’s fate. The Air Force wants end-to-end success (i.e., hitting the targets and detonating properly) in at least 80 percent of the upcoming flights. Pending those results, the Air Force has held off on awarding a contract in this fiscal year for the next JASSM production lot and did not ask for procurement funds for JASSM in its Fiscal 2010 budget request to Congress. This isn’t the first time JASSM has been in the hot seat. Performance reliability was an also issue back in 2007-08 when the missile program underwent an extensive review and had to be recertified for continuation.