A new air-to-ground missile developed by Norway successfully completed a flight test over Utah. The missile is designed to be carried internally by the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, preserving its stealthy profile for high-risk missions.
The Joint Strike Missile (JSM) is a new long range anti-ship and anti-surface missile. Derived from Norwegian defense contractor Kongsberg’s Naval Strike Missile, JSM is capable of being carried in the internal weapons bays of the F-35 fighter. This helps preserve the F-35’s carefully designed stealth characteristics for dangerous missions against advanced enemy air defenses. It can also fit on the external launch rails of existing aircraft—in the test over Utah, the JSM was launched from an F-16 fighter.
The test, carried out over the Utah Test and Training Range, involved a safe separation of missile from aircraft, long range flight, and alternating speed and altitude. JSM is a highly maneuverable missile that conducts high-g maneuvers to avoid anti-missile systems such as the Phalanx CIWS.
The JSM is a subsonic missile driven by a turbojet engine. It uses an imaging infrared sensor to identify its target, and carries a 276 pound blast fragmentation warhead. JSM isn’t just useful against land targets. Over the ocean it can fly low over the wavetops in order to stay off enemy radars as long as possible. The missile is capable of picking out specific targets—such as an aircraft carrier—from a battle group and then targeting specific features, such as the ship’s bridge.
Another plus for Joint Strike Missile—designing it to fit inside the F-35 also made it compatible with the Mk.41 vertical launch missile silo built into American and allied warships. This ability to integrate with an existing launcher—and not bolting a new one onto a ship’s superstructure—makes it a lot easier to adopt with a minimum of difficulties than some alternatives.
The Joint Strike Missile comes at a time when Russia and China’s aggressive use of naval power has the U.S., NATO, and other allied navies are looking to upgrade their anti-ship missile arsenals. The ability of the missile to fit inside the F-35 and Mk. 41 makes it a pretty compelling choice.