Lockheed Martin and Turkish missile house Roketsan signed a contract to co-operatively develop the SOM-J autonomous, long-range, low-observable, all-weather precision air-to- surface cruise missile for integration into the weapons bay of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II multirole fighter. A development of the SOM missile, SOM-J is intended for internal carriage on the F-35 A and C variants aircraft.
Roketsan’s SOM missile development began in 2006 and it entered service with the Turkish Air Force in 2011, although a full-rate production contract was only later issued in July 2013. SOM-J is a smaller version of the subsonic SOM missile, with a 500 lb warhead and a range of more than 100 nautical miles. The SOM-J missile uses GPS as its primary guidance and is aided by inertial, terrain-referenced and image-based navigation systems, as well as an imaging infrared seeker.
The contract, signed at DSEI on 16 September, builds on an earlier technical assistance agreement signed in October 2014 and enables both companies to progress with making the SOM-J missile available to international customers. SOM-J integration into the F-35 is scheduled for the Block 4.2 software release in the 2018-19 timeframe.
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control executive vice-president, Rick Edwards, said: ‘‘This contract will enable us to exchange our technical data and bring our integration expertise to the project, along with helping with subcontractor selection. As the F-35 prime, we can help get SOM-J to market for other customers using the things we learnt from [the] JASSM [Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile].
‘‘We are confident that this is the weapon of choice for the F-35, and we will help market this to the USA.’’
Edwards added that discussions are ongoing with Roketsan with regard to alternative warhead options to address target sets in different threat environments.
The contract also includes some early integration work on the Turkish Air Force F-16, which will be used for early flight testing of the SOM-J airframe. Edwards said test firing of SOM-J from an F-35 platform is expected within a 24-month timeframe.