Air Defense: January 16, 2002

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The Pentagon has approved the start of production for the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM). The initial contract will cover 95 missiles for delivery in 2003 and a second contract will cover 100 missiles in 2004, at which point full-rate production will begin. The Air Force plans to buy 3,700 and the Navy 700. This weapon (with a 2,000-pound high explosive warhead) will have a range of 200 nautical miles. It is extremely accurate with jam-proof GPS for the flight and infra-red scanners for the terminal attack maneuver. The Air Force feels that launched from a stealthy aircraft, this will be enough to destroy the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile launchers as that missile has a range of 250 miles. An extended range version to be developed later will replace the turbojet engine with a turbofan, pushing the range to 500 or perhaps 700 nautical miles (enough to defeat the S-400 and S-2500 missiles being developed by Russia). JASSM will first go into service with the B-52 (carried externally) and then with the B-1 (24 on three internal rotary launchers) and B-2 (16 on two internal rotary launchers). It will later be carried externally by the F-16, F-35, and F-18E.--Stephen V Cole

 


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