JASSM’s Latest Test Failures

This is what happens when you combine a low-cost ($400k/missile) weapon with high-cost requirements (stealth, standoff, precision guidance). The air force has to learn that they can’t wage precision warfare on the cheap and also expect to buy high reliability.

There are two ironies in this situation:

1) JASSM used to be the poster-child for the late-1990s version of acquisition reform, which also gave us the now-discredited C-130J commercial contract and, (drum-roll …) the scandal of the KC-X tanker lease deal.

2) The JASSM program was launched after the Tri-Service Standoff Attack Missile, or TSSAM, was canceled because of its (drum-roll… ) high-cost.

It’s also become evident that the baseline JASSM missile’s 250-mile-or-so range means that the launching aircraft must come within the engagement zone of the S400 surface-to-air missile system, meaning that the act of launching the missile may become something of a suicide mission for the lucky pilot.

The S400 is the latest version of Russia’s robust SAM technology.

The JASSM-ER is necessary to ensure that a strike on a target protected by the S400 is a success.

That doesn’t mean the JASSM is useless, but merely limited — in addition to having what appears to be a chronic reliability problem.


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