24 July 2007

More JASSM Shenanigans

Aviation week has an article, USAF Needs A Year to Assess Jassm's Progress(subscription Required), in which the USAF says that the JASSM needs more time.

The Pentagaon will wait until at least spring 2008—a rare yearlong pause—to certify that its newest cruise missile is ready to move forward following myriad technical problems and a 42% failure rate this year.

The Lockheed Martin Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff (Jassm) missile fell under scrutiny again this year after the Air Force informed Congress it had breached cost expectations by more than 25%. USAF and company officials are still trying to assess how high the amount will soar above the current $5.8-billion mark. The program’s goal in the mid-1990s included a $400,000-per-unit charge.

Senior Pentagon officials had been considering terminating Jassm because of the escalating price. The technical problems, including a GPS dropout issue brought on by an interface with the Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (Saasm) in the missile, have only increased the level of scrutiny facing the effort. In recent tests, the GPS problem contributed to three missiles missing targets by nearly 200 ft.

Because of the 25% cost increase, the Nunn-McCurdy law dictates that the Defense Dept. must certify to Congress the program is sound on several points before proceeding. These include: the program is deemed critical for national security; no alternatives providing equal or greater capability exist for equal or lesser cost; new program estimates are reasonable, and management for the program is adequate to control cost.


Meanwhile, Taurus Systems GmbH. is working with its new U.S. partner, Textron, on how to market its KEPD-350 missile to the Pentagon. So far, Germany, Spain, Sweden and South Korea are either purchasing the missile or in discussions. The Taurus pitch for a niche in the U.S. market—offering the German/Swedish KEPD-350 for the hard and deeply buried target set—is already underway. Taurus can penetrate through concrete more than twice as far as Jassm. Some officials in the combatant commands have begun to show an interest in Taurus as a Jassm alternative, according to industry sources.

This is not about making the missile work. This is about Air Force Generals who want to work at Lockheed after they retire.

The system does not work. It's over budget. There is an alternative. This is throwing a defense contractor a lifeline so that the defense contractor can throw some lucrative consulting or executive gigs to the people supervising the program.


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