03 Agustus 2011

200km Range Air to Ground Missile Set for Hornets

03 Agustus 2011

A JASSM is loaded onto ARDU’s F/A-18B test aircraft for testing and separation trials over the Jervis Bay weapons range in 2008. (photo : Aus DoD)

RAAF Hornet fighters to be armed with Joint Air to Surface Stand-off Missile

THE fleet of RAAF Hornet fighters will soon be armed with a potent new weapon following a successful test firing last week at the Woomera test range.

The Joint Air to Surface Stand-off Missile has a range of more than 200 kilometres and was selected in 2006 by the former Howard government to equip the F/A-18 Hornet fleet pending the retirement of the F-111 fleet.

The JASSM has been listed on the federal government's "projects of concern" watch list, but makers Lockheed Martin are optimistic the successful Woomera test will mean its removal.

"A second successful firing of the JASSM baseline missile off a RAAF F/A-18 Hornet was achieved at the Woomera test range in South Australia last week," a Lockheed Martin spokesman told The Australian.

"This now sets the RAAF up to achieve Initial Operational Capability (IOC) by the end of the year, and full entry into service in 2012."

RAAF chief Geoff Brown yesterday confirmed the semi-stealth missiles would soon enter service.

It is understood the missile tests involved the destruction of hardened concrete bunkers.

JASSM is in service with four other air forces including the US Air Force which has ordered more than 3000 of the semi-stealthy cruise missiles each worth about $700,000.

Experts say JASSM will give RAAF a leading weapons capability edge within the Asian region.

In related developments, RAAF, will get its first batch of 10 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters delivered to Williamtown Air Base for test and conversion flights in late 2017, a Lockheed Martin spokesman said yesterday.

(The Australian)

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