GLOBAL DEFENSE MARKET
Turkish Missile Could Be Integrated on F-35
A new stand-off missile developed for F-35 joint strike fighters heading to Turkey could end up on U.S. aircraft as well.
Roketsan, an Ankara, Turkey-based weapons manufacturer, has developed the Standoff Missile-JSF, or SOM-J, made specially to fit the F-35’s weapon bay, said Ersin Dag, the company’s product engineer.
The latest variant of the country’s air-to-surface missile has a range of nearly 135 miles, weighs approximately 1,333 pounds and includes multiple guidance systems, including GPS, an imaging infrared seeker and automatic target acquisition, according to the company. It features a semi-armor piercing warhead and can be used to target ships, surface-to-air missile sites, strategic assets and exposed warcraft.
The missile could soon be certified to go on Turkish joint strike fighters. Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the F-35, expects to begin delivering 100 aircraft in 2018, with the jets expected in country in 2019, according to the company.
Lockheed partnered with Roketsan to provide certain aspects of capability development and integration of the SOM-J onto the Turkish F-35, including mission planning and data link information, said Alan Jackson, vice president of strike systems for Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control.
Jackson’s office is also working with the company’s aeronautics division on integration requirements that would later be made available to U.S. F-35s, he added.
“Although no U.S. Air Force or Navy requirements exist at this time, the U.S. government may benefit from Roketsan’s investment in SOM-J development and integration activities by providing additional flexibility and firepower to the F-35,” he said.
Roketsan is currently certifying the SOM-J to be placed on the future Turkish F-35s, Dag said. It has already been certified for use with the F-16, and multiple ground and flight tests have been conducted with that aircraft, he added. That way, the Lockheed-Roketsan team will have plenty of data to inform integration with the F-35, he noted.
The first variant of the stand-off missile, known as SOM-A, was developed in 2004 for Turkey’s F-4E fighter-bombers and F-16 fighters, Dag said, adding “there was a gap in the stand-off missile [capability] for Turkish air forces.”
He noted that there is international demand for the SOM-J. “Other JSF partners will need a stand-off missile [for] anti-surface warfare with a range of 100 or 200 nautical miles,” he said.