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Four JASSM Test Failures Cast Doubt On Program's Future


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Four JASSM Test Failures Cast Doubt On Program's Future

 

The U.S. Air Force's Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) proved ineffective during four recent flight tests, which were conducted as the Pentagon weighs whether to terminate the new stealthy cruise missile program due to cost increases.

 

During the tests, which took place Apr. 30 - May 1, three of the cruise missiles impacted "well outside the target area," at distances greater than 100-200 feet, according to a preliminary Air Force report on the mishaps. These missiles failed to cause damage to the intended targets. Developers attribute the misses to a GPS "dropout problem" that affected the missile's ability to navigate to the impact point.

 

The final missile flew its intended flight profile and impacted the target, but experienced a fuzing problem that prevented "high-order detonation," as planned. JASSM is designed to destroy land targets in protected areas.

 

One missile each from Lockheed Martin's Lots 1-4 were tested as part of a Weapon System Evaluation Program. Each missile accomplished expected launch and flight profiles early on. Two of the missiles were dropped from B-52s with the other two released from B-2s. The tests took place at the Utah Test Range.

 

JASSM manufacturer Lockheed Martin declined to discuss the errant tests. Developers at the Air Armament Center, which manages the program, were unable to comment by press time.

 

These tests come at a critical time for the $5.8 billion program. Officials at the Pentagon are in the midst of a full review of JASSM along with a handful of other Defense Department programs, all of which have breached expected costs by 15 percent or more and violated Nunn-McCurdy caps.

 

In April, the Pentagon reported to Congress that JASSM's cost had increased from $4.3 billion, a boost greater than 25 percent. This requires the Pentagon to conduct a full review, assess whether other solutions may be available to meet the requirement and, if other options are not present, affirm that the program's management is sound enough to proceed without further problems.

 

That assessment is under way, and results from the four problematic tests will be included in that review. In 1998, the Pentagon decided to extend JASSM's development period due to concerns it was too aggressive. At that time, the Navy proposed an alternative, the Standoff Land-Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM-ER). This could be an option if the Pentagon decides to terminate JASSM.

 

In its report to Congress, the Pentagon attributed the most recent cost spike to "engineering increases" resulting from work on the extended-range variant, a data link and maritime interdiction capabilities as well as reliability improvements for the weapon. JASSM's predecessor program, the Tri-Service Standoff Attack Missile was cancelled in the 1990s due to escalating cost.

 

Adding to the complexity of the Pentagon's decision on JASSM is interest from allies in buying the weapon. Australia is helping bear the burden of developing a JASSM variant suitable for maritime targets, and a Pentagon termination would affect that country's ability to meet its own weapons needs.

 

JASSM's recent test failures aren't the program's first. The Air Force has halted flight testing twice since the program began for various reasons. Lockheed Martin has been working to improve the missile's reliability and company officials say they are committed to continuing the program.

 

-- Amy Butler

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There is a body of opinion that believes the similar British Storm Shadow (and, by extension, perhaps, since they are very closely related, the French SCALP) cruise missile is vastly superior to the American JASSM.

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There is a body of opinion that believes the similar British Storm Shadow (and, by extension, perhaps, since they are very closely related, the French SCALP) cruise missile is vastly superior to the American JASSM.

 

Interesting. I'm quite certain that there was an article in one of the last few Harpoon Naval Review which at least mentioned the deployment of the Storm Shadow, and in another, an article on the JASSM. I'll have to double check.

 

Would anyone like to propse a small scenario that would involve the the JASSM and Storm Shadow on an identical target array for H4? wink-wink, nod-nod

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Afaik, the H4.1 data for JASSM and Storm Shadow/SCALP is virtually identical.

 

Well then, bah-humbug! :P

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What then are some of the assumed differences by that body of opinion, would it be perceptible as far as how capabilities are represented in H4. pH I suppose?

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H4.1 represents both systems as having third generation guidance systems, with identical speed and maximum range (Storm Shadow/SCALP has a better minimum range). JASSM's warhead is somewhat heavier, and gets better DP (76 vs 67), but I'm not terribly convinced of that. Despite the heavier warhead, JASSM has a slightly lower hang weight.

 

Storm Shadow/SCALP is a bit more mature than JASSM, having undergone system qualification trials in Summer 2002. I think deliveries started late that year, and although it initially appeared doubtful that the missile would be ready for Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003, it did in fact go to war. I think they fired something like 27 missiles, and were "very pleased" with the success rate. JASSM was cleared for operational use in late 2003, but did not enter full rate production until December 2004.

 

Storm Shadow/SCALP has enjoyed some export successes, particularly in the Middle East, with the UAE (Black Shaheen variant) and may go to Saudi Arabia. IIRC, only Australia has plans to buy JASSM.

 

I think the perceived differences are probably buoyed by Storm Shadow's proven combat record, and probably not perceptible by H4.1 rules standards.

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I also usually maintain the H4 rules and data annexes in my car, but that space is currently reserved for the 3.25m of pubs, as the Marines like to call them, relating to my effort to complete the Command & Staff Distance Learning Program. An hour a day during lunch. While it keeps me away from Harpoon, at least I can replace it with subjects such as "Marine Air-Ground Task Force Operations" B)

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From DefenseNews

 

Posted 05/17/07 11:20

USAF May Kill JASSM

By GAYLE S. PUTRICH

 

The U.S. Air Force may kill the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) program in the wake of failed tests, the U.S. Air Force’s assistant acquisition secretary said May 17.

“Termination is one of the things on the table for that program,” Sue Payton said. “But I think there are some options there.”

Three of the four missiles tested in Utah between April 30 and May 1 missed their targets by more than 200 feet after losing contact with GPS satellites, she said. The fourth reached the target but did not detonate due to fuze problems.

The Air Force is working with the Joint Staff to determine the next move on the program, which she called “relevant and needed.” The Joint Staff is to determine whether these problems are fixable and announce the program’s fate within 30 days.

The $5.8 billion program has seen costs increase more than 25 percent, Air Force officials told Congress last month, putting it in violation of Nunn-McCurdy price-inflation caps. The addition of an “extended range” element to the JASSM program was a big factor in the ballooning costs, Payton said.

The Lockheed Martin weapon is designed to destroy well-defended targets from a long distance, keeping aircrews safe from an enemy’s anti-aircraft measures. Should JASSM be terminated, the Navy’s Standoff Land-Attack Missile Expanded Response, a Boeing-built over-the-horizon all-weather precision strike missile, is in the wings as an alternative.

At a Capitol Hill breakfast, Payton also highlighted the Air Force’s five top acquisition programs: the KC-X tanker, the CSAR-X combat search and rescue helicopter, the TSAT space communications system, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and a next-generation long-range bomber. But she refused to comment on tankers or the contentious CSAR-X program, citing restrictions by the Procurement Integrity Act. Requests for proposals are out on both programs, with the original contract award for CSAR-X under protest.

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...Should JASSM be terminated, the Navy’s Standoff Land-Attack Missile Expanded Response, a Boeing-built over-the-horizon all-weather precision strike missile, is in the wings as an alternative...

 

SLAM-ER

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