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US Air Force to buy JSM cruise missiles to arm F-35 Lightning II fighters.


| 2023
 

In 2022, bmpd.livejournal.com reminds, Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace (KDA) made huge strides with its NSM (Naval Strike Missile) cruise missile, which became the de facto replacement for Harpoon anti-ship missiles on surface ships around the world. In 2023, the victorious pace of the products of the Raytheon-Kongsberg consortium continued on the planet.

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US Air Force to buy JSM Joint Strike Missile cruise missiles to arm F 35 Lightning II fighters 1   Left: first JSM drop test with a US Air Force F-35A in February 2021. Right: the JSM test missile in its weapon bay (Picture source: FMA)


On March 11, 2023, it was reported that in the fiscal year 2024, the US Department of Defense would ask Congress for $4.311 billion for the purchase of missiles, but already on March 13, details appeared according to which the Pentagon wants to spend almost twice as much – more than 8 billion. Among other things, $161 million has been requested there for the purchase of 48 JSM (Joint Strike Missile) cruise missiles for F-35 Lightning II fighter bombers - the simplest calculation gives us $3.35 million per unit. And it is most likely that this is only an initial batch before the start of large-scale purchases.

Norway itself became the first customer of JSM: on June 29, 2018, the purchasing agency of the Ministry of Defense FMA (Forsvarsmateriell) signed the first contract with KDA worth 700 million kroner (84 million dollars) for the production of a batch of JSM, most likely pre-production for testing (84 Mn: 4 = 21Mn).

The second and first export customer of JSM was Japan, which in November 2019 and December 2020 signed contracts with Kongsberg for $49.5 million and $74.5 million, respectively. Thus, the total cost of the order amounted to 124 million dollars. Based on the above estimate of $3.35 million per unit, the JSM order for Japan could be as high as 37 missiles. In the fall of 2020, several reports from informed sources appeared in the Japanese media that they planned to receive the first JSMs as early as April 2021 for testing, evaluation and training of maintenance personnel.


US Air Force to buy JSM Joint Strike Missile cruise missiles to arm F 35 Lightning II fighters 2 Joint Strike Missile (JSM) in an F-35A bomb bay (Picture source: Raytheon)


On October 21, 2021, the FMA signed a second contract with KDA for NOK 3.95 billion ($480 million) for the purchase of JSM cruise missiles to arm the F-35A of their Air Force. The contract is a framework agreement that provides for the deployment of full-scale serial production at Kongsberg's Norwegian facilities and their delivery starting in 2023. Taking into account the fact that Norway is very fond of seven-year contracts, most likely the deliveries are calculated for 2023-2028. The volume of the ordered batch of missiles can be estimated at the level of 140 units at the unit cost of $3.35 million obtained above - JSM pre-production samples are clearly more expensive, but one must also take into account the gradual reduction in cost during mass production.

Refinement of JSM to the requirements of the Norwegian Armed Forces Kongsberg is carried out in cooperation with the Research Institute of the Ministry of Defense FFI (Forsvarets forskningsinstitutt). The country's Air Force plans to integrate JSM on its F-35A in 2022-2024, completing it in 2025 with the announcement that the aircraft has reached full FOC (Full Operational Capability).

In addition, Finland has officially announced its decision to purchase JSM for its F-35A. But the signing of firm contracts is linked to the rather distant prospect of the start of deliveries of these aircraft in 2026, so it will not soon become a fait accompli.

Australia has long shown great interest in purchasing or deploying licensed production of these missiles. KDA has been collaborating with BAE Systems Australia since 2015 to develop a four-channel passive radar seeker, as well as its integration on the JSM, in addition to thermal imaging. In 2017, the first contract was signed for $17.5 million, and in 2020, KDA placed an order with BAE Australia for the production of the first prototypes of such equipment. South Korea was ready to purchase JSM, but as a buyback in the event that Norway signed a contract for the supply of K2 Black Panther tanks. Alas, it did not work out, and how it will continue there is not yet clear.

It should be noted that so far only the F-16C/D, from which it was flight tested in the USA in 2015-2018, has been fully certified for the use of JSM. The integration of the missile with the F-35A began in July 2018, the first reset of the missile without turning on the engine was made in February 2021, and the completion of the certification program is expected in 2023, simultaneously with the start of deliveries of the first serial JSM samples and after the installation of the next one on the F-35 Block 4 software version.

The development of the JSM KR at Kongsberg began 20 years ago, as an adapted version of the NSM (Naval Strike Missile) class "ship-to-surface" for the F-35. Tellingly, four years remained before the first flight of the F-35. Currently, the project is being carried out by the Norwegian-American consortium Raytheon-Kongsberg, and JSM is the only type of long-range air-to-surface weapon that can be placed in the internal weapons bay of the F-35A/C with a launch weight of 416 kg, length 4.0 m, width with folded / open wings 0.48 / 1.35 m.

At the same time, the missile is made using low visibility technologies, and an intelligent dual-band optoelectronic guidance system with target image storage, an inertial satellite correction unit, a weather sensor, a laser altimeter allow hitting ground and sea targets with high accuracy at ranges up to 200 km along a low-altitude flight profile and up to 550 km combined. It is possible to correct the route and retarget the missile in flight from the carrier via a closed two-way data transmission channel in the Link 16 radio network. The armor-piercing high-explosive warhead weighing 226 kg consists of a 120-kg titanium case with a 100-kg explosive charge and a programmable fuse. Meanwhile, at present, the only potential competitor of JSM in the arsenal of weapons of this class for the F-35 Block 4 remains the UAB / UR AGM-154C-1 JSOW from the same Raytheon, bmpd.livejournal.com concludes.


US Air Force to buy JSM Joint Strike Missile cruise missiles to arm F 35 Lightning II fighters 3   First JSM drop test with a US Air Force F-35A in February 2021 (Picture source: FMA)


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