Kongsberg is reportedly set to start flight testing of its new joint strike missile (JSM) aboard a Lockheed Martin-built F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft in 2015.
Capable of attacking land and sea-based targets, the long-range missile is being developed to arm the Royal Norwegian Air Force’s (RoNAF) fleet of 52 F-35A conventional take-off and landing aircraft, as reported by Flightglobal.
Kongsberg has already performed fit checks on the external hard points of all three F-35 joint strike fighter variants, and in the internal weapons bay on the A- and C-models.
Kongsberg Defence Systems president Harald Ånnestad was quoted by the publication as saying the missile had been developed in parallel with the design of the weapons bay on the stealth aircraft.
"Further ‘integration and risk-reduction work’ is ongoing in collaboration with Lockheed, and the missile will achieve initial operational capability in 2021, in line with the release of the Block 4 software load on F-35," Ånnestad said.
According to Ånnestad, several other countries, both F-35 customers and those operating other aircraft, have expressed interest in the purchase of JSM.
Despite completing fit checks on the F-15 and F-18 fighters, Kongsberg indicated earlier that integration work will not be carried out without a confirmed customer.
The company received a NKr1.1bn ($177m) Phase III contract from the Norwegian Defence Logistics Organisation in July to complete the development and integration of the JSM onto the F-35 fighter.
Developed in collaboration with the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, the JSM is a long-range anti-surface missile primarily designed to be integrated within the F-35’s internal weapons bay, enabling engagement of both land and naval objects protected by advanced defence systems.
The production of the missile, which features an advanced engagement planning, a navigation system and an automated target recognition with imaging target seeker for discrimination between red, white and blue ships, is expected to be completed by 2017.
Image: JSM is a long-range anti-surface missile designed to be integrated within the internal weapons bay of the F-35 JSF aircraft. Photo: courtesy of KONGSBERG.