F-35 with AGM-158 JASSM ER (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles - Extended Range)
F-35 with AGM-158 JASSM ER (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles - Extended Range)

US State Department Approves Sale of JASSM ER Support to Royal Australian Air Force

The U.S. State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Australia of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles – Extended Range (JASSM ER) and related equipment for an estimated cost of $235 million. The Government of Australia has requested to buy eighty (80) Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles – Extended Range (JASSM ER) (AGM-158B with telemetry kits and/or AGM-158B-2 configurations). Also included are missile containers; support equipment; JASSM training missiles; weapon system support; spare parts, consumables, accessories, and repair/return support; integration and test support and equipment. The proposed sale will improve Australia’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing advanced, long-range strike systems for employment from Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) air platforms.

The AGM-158 JASSM (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile) is a low observable standoff air-launched cruise missile developed by Lockheed Martin for the United States Armed Forces. It is a large, stealthy long-range weapon with a 450-kilogram (1,000 lb) armor piercing warhead. It completed testing and entered service with the U.S. Air Force in 2009, and has entered foreign service in Australia, Finland, and Poland as of 2014. An extended range version of the missile, the AGM-158B JASSM-ER (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range), entered service in 2014. By September 2016, Lockheed Martin had delivered 2,000 total JASSMs comprising both variants to the USAF.

AGM-158 JASSM (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile)

The US Air Force studied various improvements to the AGM-158, resulting in the development of the JASSM-ER, which received the designation AGM-158B in 2002. Using a more efficient engine and larger fuel volume in an airframe with the same external dimensions as the JASSM, the JASSM-ER is intended to have a range of over 925 km (575 mi) as compared to the JASSM’s range of about 370 km (230 mi). The JASSM-ER has 70% hardware commonality and 95% software commonality with the original AGM-158 JASSM. The first flight test of the JASSM-ER occurred on May 18, 2006 when a missile was launched from a U.S. Air Force B-1 bomber at the White Sands Missile Range.

On 14 May 2015, the head of the Air Force Research Laboratory nominated the JASSM-ER as the optimal air vehicle to carry the Counter-electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) payload. CHAMP is an electronic warfare technology that fries electronic equipment with bursts of high-power microwave energy, non-kinetically destroying them. The JASSM-ER was chosen because it is an operational system, so CHAMP is to be miniaturized into the operationally relevant system. In September 2021, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australia would acquire the JASSM-ER for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)’s Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fighters. The principal contractor will be Lockheed Martin, Orlando, FL.

A B-2 launching a AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles – Extended Range (JASSM ER). (Photo by U.S. Air Force)