Joint Strike Missile Production Nears

by Larry Dickerson, Missile Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Since the 1990s, demand for precision-guided munitions has grown with usage rates reaching 100 percent during certain combat operations.  This market will generate over $17 billion in revenues through 2028.  Kongsberg Gruppen aims to use its Joint Strike Missile (JSM) to secure a share of the long-range strike missile market.

The Norwegian government wants to bolster its defense sector and is eager to see new export contracts arrive.  This effort could benefit from Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, which is driving European defense spending higher, as are the international operations in Syria and Iraq, which feature the heavy use of PGMs.

The Joint Strike Missile will arm the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.  Norway sees integration with the JSF boosting the marketability of the JSM.  Lockheed Martin will build over 1,500 JSFs during the next decade, and the number will climb as time passes.  At present, Lockheed Martin has won orders from clients in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.  Additional countries will be added to the JSF customer list in the future.  And even if only a small number of JSF customers select the JSM, it will be very good news for Kongsberg.

Australia is mentioning an interest in this missile, and so is Japan.  Tokyo wants to acquire new long-range strike missiles.  These missiles will allow Japanese combat aircraft to hit targets deep inside North Korean territory without having to penetrate its airspace (or limiting penetration).  Tokyo has a number of foreign options but could also develop a system on its own.

The Joint Strike Missile could enter production before the end of 2019.  Norway will be the first customer to field this missile.  The Royal Norwegian Air Force plans to reach an initial operating capability for the JSM in 2023.  Kongsberg is confident it will win an “unspecified number” of JSM export orders over the life of the program.  Certainly, the integration of the JSM with other combat aircraft would help to increase the missile’s marketability.

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