BAE Systems Australia (BAES) has won a full rate production order from Norway’s Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace for passive radio frequency (RF) sensors that will significantly enhance the capability of the precision-guided, stand-off Joint Strike Missile (JSM).
This initial order is part of a broader cooperation agreement under which Kongsberg and BAE Systems have been successfully operating for the past five years, BAE Systems said in a 23 October statement.
The order followed a set of flight trials that had demonstrated the successful integration of the electronics systems into the missile, which can engage targets on sea or land at ranges of up to 200 km.
The trials are understood to have taken place in Norway in the past few months. Some sensors are known to have been delivered to Kongsberg by BAES in late 2018 for integration and qualification purposes.
The JSM is being considered by the RAAF under JP 3023 Maritime Strike to equip its F-35A Joint Strike Fighters and other platforms, and is the only anti-ship and land target cruise missile that can be carried internally by the F-35As being acquired by both Australia and Norway.
The missile, evolved from Kongsberg’s Naval Strike Missile, is expected to first enter service with the Royal Norwegian Air Force in 2023 and has already been ordered by Japan.
BAES received funding in 2013 under the Priority Industry Capabilities programme to support development of the seeker technology, and a government to government agreement in 2015 formalised Australian-Norwegian collaboration on the JSM program.
Although the BAES release did not provide any details of the capability improvements, the company disclosed in April 2017 that an electronic support measure (ESM) receiver being provided to Kongsberg for incorporation on the JSM “will feature an additional land-attack and littoral attack capability.”
Kongsberg revealed at the same time that in addition to the missile’s existing advanced imaging infrared seeker, the RF seeker sensor would enable the JSM to locate targets on the basis of their electronic signature.
Both companies’ comments followed Defence’s 2017 signature of a 150 million Krone ($A11.6) contract with Kongsberg to continue the integration and qualification of the sensor into the JSM.
The miniaturised sensor is understood to weigh less than 2.5 kg and operate up to 18 gigahertz in the High Frequency range.
Recent development has been funded jointly by Kongsberg and BAES.
Apart from the manufacture of one small processor card, design, development and production of the sensor is understood to have all been undertaken in Australia, with Intellectual Property held by BAES.