Lockheed Martin's submission for the US Department of Defense's Joint Air-to-Air Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) contest will soon undergo "captive-carry" flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Lockheed Martin and Boeing, which are competing to provide the US Air Force and US Navy with as many as 2,400 JASSMs worth $3 billion, continue to be secretive regarding their designs. Few technical details have been released and neither company has released photographs of its missile. On 10 September Lockheed Martin conducted a closed-door roll-out ceremony at the firm's Skunk Works in Palmdale, California. Only company and customer officials were invited.

During the captive-carry flights, vibration, acoustic and temperature profiles will be measured over a range of airspeeds and altitudes, including supersonic speeds and combat-representative manoeuvres.

The US firms are working under 24-month programme-definition and risk-reduction phase contracts. One of them will be picked in July 1998 to begin the 32-month engineering-and-manufacturing development phase.

The JASSM would be launched from a variety of US strike aircraft to attack high-priority targets at long ranges.

Earlier this year, the JASSM survived an attack by US Navy officials who instead favour procurement of the Boeing AGM-84H Stand-off Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response.

The Department of Defense has opted to delay any final determination the future of the JASSM until mid-1998.

Source: Flight International