The introduction into Air Force service of an all-weather long-range air-to-surface missile passed another milestone recently when a test AGM-158A Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) was successfully released from an F/A-18 at the Jervis Bay range facility or the first time.
The test missile is designed to carry out carriage and release trials from F/A18 aircraft to determine safe release parameters. The test was coordinated by teams from the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), Air Force and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.
Project manager SQNLDR Michael Spencer said the purpose of the trial was to determine if the aerodynamic flow permitted safe separation of a missile from the launch aircraft. Test pilots released the missile under typical operational flight conditions and delivery manoeuvres.
"The trial was conducted using a JASSM Separation Test Vehicle (STV), which replicates the operational JASSM and transmits separation data to a telemetry ground station operated by the Ranges and Assessing Unit at Jervis Bay," SQNLDR Spencer said.
DMO is acquiring the missile for Air Force through Project Air 5418 Phase 1 - Follow-On Stand-Off Weapon under contracts with Lockheed Martin and the US Air Force. The DMO project office is teamed with the Hornet Weapons Integration Project Team, from the Tactical Fighter Systems Program Office, to integrate JASSM onto the Air Force 'classic' F/A-18A/B Hornet aircraft and achieve the Initial Operational Capability by the end of 2009.
SQNLDR Spencer said the trial's success was made possible with support from other key Defence units including the Development and Test Wing of AOSG that provided the aircraft compatibility engineering expertise, test aircraft and crews; Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control that provided the technical expertise on the missile and its testing; the Jervis Bay Range Facility personnel with their telemetry equipment; 81WG for logistics engineering support; 78WG that provided a Hawk chase aircraft; and DSTO that provided wind tunnel testing and risk analyses.
"More Australian JASSM flight trials are planned as part of an incremental test program," SQNLDR Spencer said.
"This program builds on the results from each test to progressively improve confidence that the missile can be launched and operated safely over the range of flight altitudes, speeds and manoeuvres required to be used by our Hornet aircrews."
Meanwhile, other upgrades to the Hornet continue on track following the successful trialling of the new Raytheon ALR-67(V) 3 radar warning receiver and acceptance into service of the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) missile.
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