Air Weapons: March 16, 2004


The U.S. Air Force has ordered the AGM-158 JASSM (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile) into full production. The 2,300 pound missile has a 1,000 pound warhead and a range of 350 kilometers. The missile can be carried by the B-1, B-2, B-52, F-18 and F-16. Costing $412,000 each, the air force plans to buy 4,900 of them eventually. Production will be increased from current eight a month to 40 a month. In 2003, 100 JASSM were produced, with 240 to be manufactured this year and 360 next year. The navy will start receiving the first of 453 JASSM in 2008. Meanwhile, the Navy has a similar, but older (and more expensive, at $500,000 each), missile, the SLAM-ER, that can do most of what JASSM can do. The 1,500 pound SLAM-ER also has a smaller warhead (500 pounds). JASSM is stealthy and uses GPS and terminal (infrared) guidance to zero in on heavily defended targets (like air defense sites.) If there were a war with North Korea, JASSM would be essential to taking out enemy air defenses, or any other targets that have to be hit early in a war (before air defenses can be shut down.) An advanced version of JASSM (with longer range of up to 1,200 kilometers, and even more accurate guidance) is being developed. JASSM was designed to handle the most modern Russian surface to air missiles, which are being sold to China. North Korea has older stuff, and cant afford the newer Russian SAMs. 


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