The Joint-Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile is a new class of stealth weapon that is coming into service with several U.S. military aircraft.
New Cruise Missile
The Joint-Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile is commonly known by the acronym "JASSM." It is essentially a long-range cruise missile that weighs 2,000 pounds and is classified as being "semi-stealth," which means that it is hard to detect by radar at a distance. The JASSM has been designed by Lockheed Martin Corp.
Development of a next generation stealth cruise missile began in 1995. However, technical issues delayed the project several times during the development phase. The new missiles entered service with the U.S. Air Force in 2009. The Joint-Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles are now being used on a number of military aircraft, including the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and the B2 Spirit Bomber.
Several foreign militaries have taken an interest in the Joint-Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile and begun using it with their military aircraft. These include Australia, the Netherlands, and the Republic of Korea. Each missile costs $700,000 to produce, and the U.S. military has spent about $3 billion on the weapon’s development and testing – including resolving the technical problems.
Each Joint-Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile is 14 feet long and has a wingspan of almost eight feet. The missiles can travel at subsonic speeds and are guided by an internal navigation and global positioning system. The missiles can travel as far as 500 nautical miles – close to 1,000 kilometers. Each warhead weighs 1,000 pounds, making it equal to half the missile’s total weight.