Pentagon’s newest air-to-ground missile will soon get a long-range update. This will allow reaching targets at a farther distance. The JASSM-XR cruise missile will give US tactical aircraft the ability to strike targets which are more than a 1000 miles away. This means that a bomber present in Manhattan will be able to hit targets present in Minneapolis, Minnesota or Jacksonville, or Florida with complete accuracy. The Pentagon’s Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile is a subsonic cruise missile. It flies low to avoid detection in the enemy radar.
The missile also uses jam-resistant GPS and an internal navigation system to follow a predetermined route to reach its target. Before the impact, the missile switches on a nose-mounted imaging infrared seeker which identifies the target and then hit it. JASSM’s 1000-lb warhead has a hard target smart fuse which allows it to penetrate earth, rock, or concrete.
NATO strike on Syria in 2018 in retaliation for the Syrian Government’s use of chemical weapons on the ground saw the US Air Force launch 19 JASSM missiles against the regime attacks. The missiles were launched from B-1B Lancer bombers, but B-2s, B-52Hs, F-15Es, and F-16s can also carry the missiles. The original JASSM was powered by a Teledyne CAE J402-CA-100 turbojet and had a range of 230 miles. JASSM-ER increased its missile’s range to reach 500 miles using a more fuel efficient Williams International F107-WR-105 turbofan engine and huge fuel tanks.
The Pentagon awarded Lockheed Martin a $51 million contract to develop a new version of the missile. JASSM-XR or Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile-Extreme Range is expected to cover a range of more than 1000 miles. This will involve an even larger fuel tank and improvements to the inertial navigation system to the missile on track as well. The longer range will make for more flexible missions and greater aircraft survivability. JASSM-XR can strike targets which are deeper in the enemy territory. It can also use a significant portion of its range to fly around the enemy defenses so that it can strike from an unexpected direction. This means that a non-stealthy carrier aircraft like the B-52 heavy bomber can unload its payload of missiles without threatening enemy air defenses.