Raytheon says its Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW) will be cleared to fly on the F-35A within days.
The certification is expected following the conclusion of operational test flights of the missile on the F-35C earlier this year, which generated sufficient data for weapon integration to be pushed beyond the carrier-optimized variant of the jet.
The development was revealed during the recent Dubai Airshow.
“Airworthiness certification was for the F-35C first, and that was accomplished by the U.S. Navy,” says Mark Borup, Raytheon’s business development lead for medium-range strike. “Because of the success of those operational tests, the U.S. feels very comfortable with completing that airworthiness certification to include the F-35A this year. Lockheed Martin has already submitted the package–it’s just awaiting signature. So we’re just days away from the airworthiness certification to be released for the A as well, which is a significant international platform.”
Although Raytheon declines to name export customers, the U.S. Defense Department said two Gulf Arab countries as both requesting exports of JSOW in 2013. There, the weapon is flown on fourth-generation fighters–F-15s and F-16s. According to Borup, these two may soon be joined by others in the Middle East.
“We have two existing customers in the region,” he says. “We have already made deliveries and they have employed the weapon in training as recently as last month. And we have four other nations that are in varying stages of acquisition.”
The capabilities Borup believes are particularly well-suited to Gulf region requirements are the weapon’s standoff range and its ability to resist electronic attack.
“One of the things I would suggest is of high concern in the Middle East is the increased presence of GPS jamming capability,” he says. “JSOW is a weapon of choice in that type of environment. It’s very, very difficult to jam, so it can get through almost any tactical situation.”