The second flight test of the stealthy Lockheed Martin Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missile (JASSM) has been delayed by up to two months. Technicians are working to ensure that the electrical problem which probably caused the 8 April unpowered test flight failure has been eliminated.

The first flight test ended when the missile's wings and tail surfaces failed to deploy because of electrical current leakage. The AGM-158 prototype hit the ground 40s after cleanly separating from a Lockheed Martin F-16.

Terry Little, JASSM programme director, says the missile's wings and tail surfaces are activated by small explosive devices. A safety circuit prevents them firing until after separation. The missile was deployed, but the sensor probably continued to detect current because of leakage from the missile's thermal batteries, which power the weapon until the engine starts.

Corrective actions include isolating the battery, decreasing the sensitivity of the safety switch and software logic changes.

The next JASSM flight test was to have included engine startup. The first test schedule will now be repeated in late July or early August after ground testing is completed. A third test set for September will include powerplant ignition.

Little believes the technical problem has been fixed, adding there should be little impact to the programme schedule if the next two test firings are successful.

Source: Flight International