TOKYO, JAPAN – The US F-35 fighter with a key role in policing the Asia Pacific will be armed with a new anti-ship missile. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force [JASDF] will mount the Norwegian Joint Strike Missile [JSM] on their F-35s at external or internal stations.

The JSM is a rocket manufactured by the Norwegian company Kongsberg. Information about such integration became known years ago when Japan agreed to order this type of missile.

 Tokyo signed a contract to acquire the JSM in two stages: in 2019 and 2020. It is known that Japan will pay about 42 million dollars for this purchase. On March 16, it was officially confirmed that deliveries of the JSM will begin this year. The JASDF currently flies 34 F-35 fighters. 

However, Tokyo ordered 123 fighters, so Lockheed Martin has more deliveries for the Asian country. F-35 operators generally avoid using outposts. This would disturb the stealth capabilities of the aircraft. 

The F-35 has four internal and six external stations. The total payload of the external stations, available on both wings of the F-35, is 6,800 kg [15,000 lbs]. The four internal stations can handle a payload of up to 2,600 kg [5,700 lbs].

The use of the Norwegian JSM as part of the F-35’s armament is nothing new. In principle, this anti-ship missile is included in the basic model of the F-35. It is the only anti-ship missile in the standard stealth fighter armament. 

The F-35A first fired the Norwegian anti-ship missile in April 2021, and both tests were successful. This was the beginning of the integration of this rocket.

Japan to equip its F-35 fighters with JSM missiles.
F-35A Lightning II

Japan will increase the combat capability of its F-35s. Only Australia’s F-35 fleet is currently more capable in the region than Japan’s. Let’s remember that just one or two weeks ago, it was announced that the “kangaroos” had reached their fighters’ final full operational readiness. This stage in the life of an F-35 is called “ready to kill” in the jargon.

Information is circulating among Japanese military experts that the JSM and its integration into the F-35 is only the beginning. It is claimed that Japan will try to integrate the Norwegian cruise missile into its old F-15J aircraft. Japan is currently modernizing the F-15J.

The Norwegian JSM is the aviation version of the Norwegian Naval Strike Missile [NSM]. The JSM weighs 416 kg [917 lb] and carries an explosive fragmentation warhead. The warhead weighs up to 120 kg. The firing mechanism is of the delay and impact type. The rocket develops a speed of Mach 0.9 provided by a single small Williams International F-415 turbofan engine.

The JSM has an operational range of between 185 km and 550 km, depending on whether it is fired hi-hi-lo or lo-lo-lo. The missile is used to destroy ground targets and ships.

The Japanese defense highly anticipated the Norwegian missile. However, the global coronavirus epidemic has also affected its production and delivery. Tokyo was scheduled to receive the JSM in 2021. Like many other international shipments worldwide were delayed, this one was also delayed. This missile is new for Japanese fighters since they have not been armed with it until now.