There is a new cruise missile being tested at White Sands Missile Range. It is called the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile or JASSM and it recently completed its first engine-powered test flight over the range.
Developed by the Air Force and Navy, JASSM has stealth characteristics and costs less than half as much as current cruise missiles. The JASSM is the next generation long-range cruise missile and will use advanced global positioning system/inertial navigation system guidance.
This was a very successful step for the JASSM program here at White Sands, said Tom Tullius, Air Force Chief of Engineering for White Sands.
The successful test verified the system´s anticipated aerodynamic performance by maneuvering 9,500 feet above the missile range desert under control of its onboard computer for approximately 22 minutes.
The missile was launched from an Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon flying at Mach .7 about 15,000 feet above the ground.
When launched, the advanced cruise missile deployed its wings and tail and flawlessly performed a series of maneuvers similar to those required during an actual attack mission. The test also demonstrated engine start and operation of the navigation system.
Three prior tests at White Sands demonstrated safe separation of the missile and unpowered flight. This test did not require the missile to fly to an actual ground target.
This win is strategically important because it successfully demonstrated a number of critical processes, said Dick Caime, Lockheed Martin´s Vice President of Strike Weapon Systems.
I´m confident that the same talented industry/customer team that got us this far will deliver the first production model of this extraordinary weapon on schedule, said Terry Little, Director of the JASSM Joint Program Office.
Still in development, the missile is set to be operational in 2003.
JASSM will be flown aboard Air Force and Navy fighters and bombers. The Air Force and Navy S;elected Lockheed Martin Integrated Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems in April 1998 to develop and build the JASSM.
Plans call for significant testing of JASSM at White Sands during 2001.