JASSM Recertified

The Air Force announced May 2 that the joint air-to-surface standoff missile program has been recertified. This means essentially that Pentagon acquisition czar John Young has told Congress that JASSM remains vital to national security and, therefore, the program should continue despite the challenges that it has faced—in particular, a less-than-stellar test record. “The Air Force is confident that the JASSM is a very capable, reliable, and cost-effective missile,” reads USAF’s statement. With the new certification now in hand, the Air Force said it is poised to award Lockheed Martin the next JASSM production contract, lot 7, in June for approximately 115 missiles. It said it has also negotiated a not-to-exceed price for Lot 8 with the company. Further, development and testing activities for the extended-range variant of the missile, JASSM-ER, are scheduled to resume in June, with a production decision scheduled for Fiscal 2010. Also scheduled to start in 2010 is the development of the maritime interdiction version of JASSM. Last year, the JASSM program ran into trouble due to a string of consecutive failures of production missiles in flight tests. These performance anomalies came right around the time that the program’s total projected costs rose significantly, triggering Congressionally imposed cost-monitoring thresholds. The cost increases had to do with the significant changes that USAF made to the scope of the program, such as a hefty increase to the number of missiles that it intends to procure. Per Nunn-McCurdy laws, the Office of the Secretary of Defense had to conduct a review to determine whether continuation of the program was warranted. Young’s predecessor at the time, Kenneth Krieg, said he would only make the recertification if Lockheed Martin and the Air Force could present a viable and low-risk plan to overcome the missile’s reliability and performance issues.