The JSM, JSOW-ER and AARGM-ER are set to become the internal bay compliant Stand-Off weapon options on Blk 4 F-35A and C variants.
The JSM is being developed by Norwegian company Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace (KDA). This test launch took place as part of the JSM integration program into the F-35 fighter and is carried out in close cooperation with the F-35 Joint Program Office and US authorities.
The first phases of the JSM integration work are contracted directly with US authorities. The program started in 2020, and was carried out with drop from aircraft parked on the ground, and down into a foam mug encoder. The last launch in February was the first to be carried out airborne.
“With this first airdrop, we checked that JSM was separated from an F-35A in a safe manner. We used an instrumented aircraft for this test,” said Brigader Jarle Nergård, head of the F-35 department at FMA. This is an aircraft with a number of sensors for speed, movement, and vibrations, as well as recording of the data bus traffic in the aircraft and communication to the weapon.
“This aircraft is also equipped with three cameras inside the bombs bay and has a separate camera pod on the wing with another three cameras. In order to analyze exactly what is happening, both the aircraft and the JSM missile are marked with special photo blocks that are accurately positioned on both aircraft and missile. And based on it, through the videos, we can see exactly how the JSM missile behaves on the way out of the bay on F-35A,” continued Nergård.
In addition, Kongsberg developed an instrumented missile so that all movements in it are recorded and sent on a computer link to the ground. The F-35A aircraft has similar instrumentation so that you know exactly how the aircraft behaves for the same time period, and these data are also sent to the ground. It is also flying with a partner aircraft, in the form of a two-sitting F-16 with a cameraman in the back seat which records everything that happens.
All data and videos will be further analyzed by the Norwegian team (FMA, KDA, FFI). Data will also be anayzed by the Edwards Air Force Base test squadron and the US Air Force Seek Eagle Office (AFSEO), in charge of approving JSM integration on the F-35A. These data are compared to the models that have been previously made by both KDA and AFSEO.
“We start simply, and then we build on so that conditions around separation from the plane are becoming more and more challenging. The missile has already been tested extensively throughout its ‘flight envelope’,” added Brigader Jarle Nergård.
JSM is an air launched variant of the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) with ability to attack sea and land based targets. The JSM is the only long-range sea- and land-target missile that can be carried internally in the F-35 and thus ensuring the aircraft’s low-signature (stealth) capabilities. Using a combination of advanced materials, ability to fly low, while following the terrain and using advanced passive seekers, the missile is extremely difficult to detect and stop even for the most advanced countermeasures and defence systems.
The JSM is in development for the Norwegian Armed Forces and will complete the qualification program in 2018. JSM will have unmatched operational capabilities enabling the F-35 to fight well-defended targets across long distances. The missile will be integrated on the F-35A but can also be integrated on other types of aircraft. KONGSBERG and Raytheon are partnered to provide the JSM for US and international customers. Japan signed several JSM procurement contracts for its future fleet of F-35 aircraft.