Joint Strike Missile final flight test to take place in 2018

The final flight test is the culmination of a two-year flight-test campaign to qualify Joint Strike Missile for integration with the F-35A

Jane’s reported that Kongsberg will conduct the final flight test (FTM-5) of the Joint Strike Missile (JSM) in early 2018 as part of the integration of the weapon aboard Royal Norwegian Air Force’s (RNoAF) F-35A Lightning II multirole stealth fighter.

Noteworthy FTM-5 is the culmination of a two-year flight-test campaign to qualify the missile for integration with the F-35A.

In a first end-to-end flight test for the missile, a JSM equipped with a live warhead will be launched from a U.S. Air Force (USAF) F-16C/D Fighting Falcon belonging to 445th Flight Test Group against a ‘realistic’ land target at the Utah Test and Training Range in the U.S.

“The ongoing effort of qualifying the JSM missile includes a small number of test-firings using a legacy F-16 as launch platform. The objective is to prepare and qualify the weapon for the subsequent integration on the F-35A. We have so far completed five events and have one remaining test-firing in the qualification programme, planned for March 2018. These activities are funded as part of the JSM Development Phase 3 as approved by Parliament in 2014,” a Norwegian Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesperson told Jane’s.

Kongsberg conducted the first flight test (FTM-1) of JSM in October 2015. In October 2016 the company conducted the first long-range powered flight test (FMT-2) of the missile over the Utah Test and Training Range – although FMT-2 was a re-run of an earlier failed flight test. In the May–June period of 2017, the company conducted the FTM-3/FTM-4 trials, with the missile flown without a seeker capability in both tests. “The tests were designed to measure the missile flight in real life and compare it to simulations to check that both correspond, and to measure fuel consumption at different altitudes. Actually, the fuel consumption measured a little better than in the modelling,” Hans Kongelf, vice-president of Kongsberg’s Missile Systems division said.

The Joint Strike Missile – or JSM – is a long-distance anti-ship missile designed to take on high value, heavily defended targets. The long standoff range (distance from the aircraft to the target) ensures that the aircraft and pilots remain out of harm’s way.

JSM has sophisticated target acquisition capability that uses Autonomous Target Recognition, made possible by an imaging infrared seeker. Currently it is the only fifth-generation cruise missile that will be integrated on the F-35 and also available for integration on other aircraft intended for offensive anti-surface warfare (OASuW) applications.

Joint Strike Missile final flight test to take place in 2018
A Joint Strike Missile is pictured on the wing of a Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16 during a fit check in July 2013.

Photo credit: Kongsberg and Raytheon

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