The USAF has recently conducted a series of testing phases with the Kongsberg Joint Strike Missile (JSM) at Edwards AFB.
Designed as an air-launched derivative of the surface launched Naval Strike Missile (NSM) specifically to be carried in the internal weapons bay of the F-35A and C models, the JSM trials were conducted using Edwards-based F-16s from the 416th Flight Test Squadron at the Utah Test and Training Range.
The F-16 campaign involved ground testing, captive carriage testing, and live-drop testing with unpowered and powered missiles to verify the weapon’s release parameters and autonomous functions. All variants of the JSM dropped were inert until the final test events where a target was hit using a round fitted with full mission systems software and guidance.
“As a mature platform with certified interface standards, the F-16 makes a perfect carriage platform for weapon development while the eventual host aircraft is still under test,” Edwards’ 416th FLTS JSM project engineer Collin Drake said in a statement. “It made it a lot more efficient and effective to use F-16s to be able to test mid-cycle a new type of weapon.”
Norway will likely be the first operator of the JSM from its F-35, and with Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35As and personnel based at Edwards AFB with the Integrated Test Force (ITF), that facility’s extensive resources and ranges were a logical choice for the air-launched test phase of the JSM’s development program. The JSM is also under consideration by the RAAF to equip its F-35As with a stand-off precision anti-ship weapon.
Following an evaluation of the F-16 air-launched program, the test program will move on to the F-35A. The JSM feature a low observable airframe and can fly pre-programmed nap-of-the-earth courses before striking specific maritime or land targets using multiple sensors and an extensive recognition library.