Lockheed Martin has signed a contract with Turkish company Roketsan to jointly develop the SOM-J air-to-surface standoff cruise missile for integration into the F-35 internal weapons bay.
With the new contract, both the companies will be able to ahead with their technical assistance agreement that will enable the SOM-J missile available to international customers.
Roketsan board chairman Emin Alpman said: "This contract signing, and subsequent approval of the Technical Assistance Agreement, continues our strong relationship with Lockheed Martin.
"Offering SOM-J to the international F-35 marketplace will bring critical business to Turkey and provide an important capability to allied nations."
With development starting in 2006, the SOM missile entered service with the Turkish Air Force in 2011.
The new generation SOM-J is a smaller version of the subsonic SOM missile, which employs a 500lb warhead and has a required range of more than 100nm.
SOM-J, which uses global positioning system as its primary guidance, features inertial, terrain-referenced and image-based navigation systems, as well as an imaging infrared seeker.
It is claimed to be highly effective against moving land / surface targets, high-value stationary targets, strategic assets, shelters, exposed aircraft, aircraft hangars, and command and control centres, as well as sea surface threats.
The integration of SOM-J into the F-35 is scheduled for Block 4 and early live flight testing is expected to be conducted on Turkish F-16s.
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control vice-president Frank St. John said: "SOM-J integration on the F-35 will enable pilots to engage targets from long ranges while maintaining the aircraft’s critical stealth capabilities."
In October last year, both the companies signed a teaming agreement on the development of SOM-J for internal carriage on the F-35 or external carriage on other aircraft. The first stage of SOM-J is scheduled for completion in 2018.
Image: A SOM cruise missile mock-up exhibited in MSPO 2014 at Kielce, Poland. Photo: courtesy of Noblemouse.