Lockheed Martin has conducted the first fit check of Kongsberg’s new joint strike missile (JSM) onboard an F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) aircraft at its facility in Fort Worth, Texas, US.
Performed as part of phase two of the missile’s development programme, the fit check involved JSM integration on the F-35‘s external pylon, confirming its ability to be installed for external carriage of the aircraft.
Similar external fit checks are scheduled to be conducted by Lockheed on all three F-35 variants, in addition to an internal fit check to confirm missile’s ability to fit into internal weapons bay of the F-35A conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) versions of the Royal Norwegian Air Force in late 2013.
Norwegian F-35 programme director Anders Melheim said the fit check confirms that the JSM development programme is moving forward, even though its operational use is still far away.
"We are working hard to ensure that Norwegian F-35s receive the operational capabilities we need, and therefore we believe that JSM is very important," Melheim added.
Developed in collaboration with the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, the JSM is a long-range anti-surface missile primarily designed to integrate within the F-35’s internal weapons bay, enabling destruction of the objects protected by advanced defence systems.
The missile’s critical design review (CDR) will be carried out in the summer of 2013, which will confirm its maturity and suitability for integration onto the F-35.
Norway is planning to procure up to 52 F-35 aircraft for a total cost of NKr62.6bn ($10.9bn), and had placed orders for first four aircraft for training purposes in 2011.
The initial two fighters will be delivered in 2015, followed by the remaining two in 2016, whereas deliveries under the main batch are scheduled to start in 2017.
Image: A joint strike missile test missile mounted on the F-35 BF-24 aircraft at Fort Worth, Texas, US. Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin.