That could change with Turkish firm Roketsan making a very serious pitch to sell us long-range stand-off missiles to be carried by the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
It’s not just Australia. The company is hoping other F-35 partner nations will buy their missile, a variant of the SOM (stand off missile) already in service with the Turkish Air Force aboard F-16 and upgraded F-4E aircraft.
“It has four variants. SOM-J is specifically designed for the F-35 internal weapons bay,” says Roketsan project manager Sevsay Aytar Ortac.
“We are hoping all JSF partners will use SOM-J to fill the capability gap of F-35.”
Turkey is also acquiring F-35s. Fitting the missile inside the weapons bay rather than placing it on a wing hardpoint means F-35 retains its full stealth capability.
SOM-J has a range of 250 kilometres with guidance by GPS, INS and terrain navigation. It also has link-16 capability for mid-course targeting update or mission abort.
Roketsan says SOM-J is a next generation precision missile designed to be low observable, precision and able to be used in all weather against defended high value, stationary and moving targets on sea or land.
Roketsan is an Ankara-based Turkish firm which was founded in 1988 to manufacture rockets and missiles for the Turkish armed forces.
Chairman of the Roketsan board of directors Emin Alpman said most of their products were combat proven, either by the Turkish military in the current fighting in Syria or by nations such as the UAE in Yemen.
That includes MAM-L, an unpowered laser-guided munition designed to be released from UAVs, and 2.75 inch laser-guided rockets. The company manufactures a diverse range of munitions, including a Hellfire equivalent and guidance kits for Mark 81 and 82 bombs.
Aytar Ortac said Roketsan formed a teaming agreement with Lockheed Martin missiles and fire control division in 2014, working together to develop, market and produce SOM-J.
“As far as we know the Australian Air Force would like to fill this capability gap. There are only two options and one of them is SOM-J,” she said.
The other contender for an F-35 standoff missile capability is Norwegian firm Kongsberg, with its JSM (Joint Strike Missile). Norway is also buying the F-35.