F-16 aircraft

The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded a foreign military sale (FMS) contract to Lockheed Martin to support installation of the joint air-to-surface standoff missile (JASSM) onto the Finnish Air Force’s (FiAF) F-18 C/D Hornet aircraft.

Valued at $5.1m, the FMS contract is the first phase of a six-year software development and aircraft integration support programme.

Additional contracts covering integration support, missile procurement and post-production support activities are expected to be awarded in the next few months.

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control business strike systems director Alan Jackson said: ”JASSM plays a critical role in giving allied warfighters the operational flexibility, reliability and effectiveness necessary to complete their missions.”

Aligning with the latest JASSM Production Lot 10 procurement contract, seeking cost reduction for both the US government and Finland, the order also coincides with the FiAF’s F-18 aircraft Mid-Life Two upgrade programme.

JASSM integration is expected to help Finland fulfil its regional defence operations, in addition to its European community and Nato’s Partnership for Peace responsibilities.

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Integration activities will be led by the US Navy in collaboration with the USAF, FiAF and Lockheed, and are scheduled to be carried out at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, California, US.

Equipped with an infrared seeker and GPS receiver to aim specific targets, the JASSM is a 2,000lb autonomous, long-range, air-to-ground, precision standoff missile, designed to destroy high-value, well-defended, fixed and re-locatable targets.

Currently installed aboard the USAF’s F-15E, B-1, B-2, B-52, F-16 aircraft, the missile is also certified for use on the Royal Australian Air Force’s F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets.

Lockheed has to date assembled more than 1,100 JASSMs at its manufacturing facility in Alabama, US, for testing and operational use with a total objective of 4,900 JASSM missiles.

Image: a Finnish Air Force’s F-18C Hornet aircraft. Photo: courtesy of D2180s.