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USAF nears fielding JASSM-ER on B-2 bomber

A B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. (US Air Force)

The US Air Force (USAF) plans to field the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER) across its B-2 Spirit stealth bomber fleet following a successful test-firing of the cruise missile from the Northrop Grumman-built aircraft, according to a service spokesperson.

The USAF expects to begin the fielding in March 2023, Major Joshua Benedetti told Janes on 8 September in a written response to questions. The service has 20 B-2s in its inventory.

Northrop Grumman announced on 25 August that the bomber launched the JASSM-ER for the first time during a flight test in December 2021. The aircraft took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California before conducting the test-firing of the Lockheed Martin-built stealth missile. No additional flight tests involving the B-2 and the JASSM-ER are scheduled, Benedetti said.

While the B-2 can carry the baseline JASSM, the JASSM-ER will provide more reach, Northrop Grumman said. The JASSM-ER has a range of about 600 miles (966 km), or more than double that of the baseline JASSM, which has a range of about 250 miles.

Integrating the JASSM-ER onto the B-2 requires a software modification and is one of several ongoing modernisation initiatives for the bomber, Northrop Grumman said. The aircraft, which achieved its initial operational capability a quarter century ago, is also getting improvements in areas such as communications security and radar-aided targeting.

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