Norwegian company Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace announced on 11 March that it has signed a contract to provide “the initial deliveries” of precision-guided Joint Strike Missiles (JSMs) for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s (JASDF’s) growing fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters.
“The international F-35 user consortium is showing great interest in the JSM and Kongsberg is very proud to have been selected by Japan to provide the JSM for their F-35 fleet. This is a major milestone for the JSM programme, entering into the production phase”, Eirik Lie, president of Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, was quoted in a company statement as saying.
No details were provided about the value of the contract, the number of missiles set to be supplied, or the delivery schedule.
Development of the stand-off JSM, which is the only long-range sea- and land-target missile that can be carried internally in the F-35, began in 2008 and was completed in mid-2018 after a series of validation test firings.
Japan, which already operates 11 conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35As from Misawa Air Base, plans to eventually field a total of 105 F-35As, along with 42 short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35Bs. In December 2011 Tokyo ordered 42 F-35As for about USD20 billion, including maintenance, repairs, and the establishment of local facilities, but recently decided to expand its F-35 fleet.
The JASDF plans to equip each of its F-35As with the JSM. The service secured JPY7.9 billion (USD71 million) for fiscal year 2019 to acquire an undisclosed number of JSMs.
The missiles have a range of 500 km, according to officials at the Japanese Ministry of Defense.
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