DoD Orders Thousands More JASSM Cruise Missiles

On August 1st, the US Department of Defense released its Comprehensive Selected Acquisition Report which details changes in acquisition project costs based on the FY 2020 defense budget compared to the previous year. This included in total $101 billion in additional acquisition costs spread out across all the DoD branches. Of particular note was a staggering 113% increase in program cost for the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM). This jumped the total program cost from $4.67 billion to nearly $10 billion. Most of this added cost comes from increasing the planned procurement from 2,866 missiles (4900 reported in FY 2019) to a staggering 7,200 in FY 2020.

JASSM is the premier cruise missile of the USAF, its extended range variant being able to accurately strike a target at 1,000 km. The weapon had its combat debut striking Syrian targets in 2018. JASSM plays a key role in being the USAF’s only weapon capable of outranging all existing air defense systems.

The underbelly of AGM-158 JASSM. The stealthy inlet for the turbojet can be seen immediately behind where the wings connect to the missile body. Image and model property of Akela Freedom.

This program expansion comes following an announcement in May that Lockheed Martin would construct a factory strictly to produce additional JASSMs with production opening in 2022. Current annual production ranges between 300-400 with 430 expected in 2020. At that rate, JASSM would remain in production until the early 2030s. How the new factory will affect this production rate is not yet known. Other interesting things to note is that this quantity includes JASSM-XR (extreme range) which is expected to increase the missile’s range beyond 1,500 km. AGM-158C LRASM production is not included in this number, depending on the scale of that program AGM-158 procurement as a whole may be close to 10,000 units.

The AGM-158 in its stowed configuration with tail and wings collapsed (except the top right model). Image and model property of Akela Freedom.

While 7,200 JASSMs seems like a stunning number its important to remember that nearly 9,000 Tomahawks have been procured by the USN. The Cold War demanded such numbers and it would seem the Second Cold War once again demands large stocks of cruise missiles.