Kongsberg will next year begin flight testing its new Joint Strike Missile (JSM) aboard a Lockheed Martin F-16 as it aims to complete the development of the munition by 2017.
The company is developing the long-range JSM, which can attack targets on land and at sea, to equip the fleet of 52 conventional take-off and landing F-35As that will be operated by the Royal Norwegian Air Force.
Fit checks have been performed on the Joint Strike Fighter, on the external hard points on all three variants and in the internal weapons bay on the A- and C-models.
Harald Ånnestad, president of Kongsberg Defence Systems, speaking at an Olso media briefing, said that the missile had been developed in parallel with the design of the weapons bay on the stealthy type.
It uses “every cubic inch” of space available, he says. “It is not possible to make a better weapon that fits inside the bomb bay and maintains the stealth characteristics of the F-35.”
Initial operational capability is expected in 2021, in line with the release of the Block 4 software load on the JSF, says Ånnestad, and further “integration and risk-reduction work” is ongoing in conjunction with Lockheed.
The company has received “quite large interest” from other countries potentially interested in acquiring the weapon, he adds, both F-35 customers and those operating other types.
Fit checks have also been conducted on the Boeing F-15 and F-18, but Kongsberg has previously said no integration work will be carried out without a confirmed customer.
In July this year, Olso’s Defence Logistics Organisation awarded Kongsberg a NKr1.1 billion ($177 million) Phase III contract to complete the development and integration of the JSM onto the F-35.