Lockheed Martin has been authorised by the US Air Force (USAF) to start full rate production of its joint air-to-surface standoff missile-extended range (JASSM-ER).

The missile completed a USAF initial operational test and evaluation flight testing programme in 2013, with a 95% success rate, scoring 20 successes in 21 flights.

Approximately 100 JASSM-ER missiles were also ordered under Lots 11 and 12 contracts in December 2013.

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control long-range strike systems programme director Jason Denney said: "The full rate production decision demonstrates that our customer, at all levels of the US Air Force, has confidence in JASSM-ER.

"JASSM-ER provides warfighters with a first day, first strike capability in an anti-access, area-denial environment."

A long-range version of the baseline JASSM, the AGM-158B JASSM-ER features a new engine and greater fuel load capability, and can also function in heavily degraded GPS environments.

The autonomous, long-range, air-to-ground, precision missile is solely employed by the USAF B-1B Lancer bomber, unlike the AGM-158A JASSM, which is mounted on the service’s four additional fighters and bombers.

"JASSM-ER provides warfighters with a first day, first strike capability in an anti-access, area-denial environment."

Armed with a dual-mode penetrator and blast-fragmentation warhead, 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 in the battlefield.

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 fleet.

The two missiles are manufactured at Lockheed’s manufacturing facility in Troy, Alabama, US, and employ an infrared seeker and global positioning system receiver to aim specific targets.

To date, the company has assembled more than 1,500 JASSM missiles for testing and operational use toward a total USAF objective of 4,900.

Image: A USAF personnel receives a joint air-to-surface standoff missile-extended range from a separate munitions lift truck at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, US. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Peter Thompson/Released.