AGM-158: The deadliest stealth missile, with a maximum range of 925 kilometers

AGM-158 stealth missile
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It is a ghostly kicking weapon and the most advanced stealth cruise missile in the world. It not only has precision strike and stealth penetration capabilities, but also its extended-range strike range is close to 1,000 kilometers. AGM-158 can be described as long-range anti-ship missile. So what kind of performance does this missile have?

The AGM-158 missile, also known as the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JSSM), is a new generation of general-purpose air-to-ground missiles developed by Lockheed Martin for the U.S. Navy and Air Force in 1994. The AGM-158 missile is mainly used from Accurately strike highly fortified high-value targets such as command & control, communication, HQ from outside enemy air zones.

Moreover, the AGM-158 missile can also complete combat tasks with its own independent decision-making ability in a highly confrontational battlefield environment. In future wars, The U.S. military hopes to first use the AGM-158 missile as a door-kick weapon to destroy important nodes of the enemy, and then carry out further strikes by combat aircraft carrying ammunition.

Recently Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense has also intended to purchase this stealth missile to deal with China. After all, the AGM158 missile is superior in range and autonomous strike capability. If this missile can be purchased, the anti-ship missile capability of Taiwan will be greatly improved. At present, the AGM158 missiles are divided into four types: ABCD. 

The story of the AGM-158 missile begins in 1995. Due to poor program management and development cost overruns, the United States canceled the technical research and development of the AGM137 missile and turned to the development of new standoff attack weapons. When the U.S. military solicited opinions from real estate in various countries, Lockheed Martin and McDonnell Douglas each put forward their concept of designing missiles, and finally the military adopted Lockheed Martin’s design, which is the original AGM158A type.

AGM-158ER
AGM-158ER

After many failures and setbacks since 1995 finally, the improved AGM-158A missile proved its strength in the evaluation test in 2009. A total of 16 missiles were used in this test, and 15 missiles hit the target, far exceeding the previously assessed hit rate of 75%. The missile also officially entered service in 2009.

The weight of the AGM-158A missile is 1023 kg, the length of the bomb is 4.26 meters, the width and height are 0.5 meters and 0.45 meters respectively. The maximum speed of the missile flight can reach subsonic speed, capable of launching from outside the enemy’s air defense area to kill targets in the air defense area. The AGM158A missile has the characteristics of stealth flight, precision strike and general weapons. It adopts the inertial navigation system assisted by the global positioning system. It has strong anti-jamming ability and is accurate enough to destroy high-value targets. There is no need for a pilot to risk flying over enemy air defense zone to bomb.

At present, most of the bombing areas of the US military can be used as its launch platform. When the US air raided Syria on April 4, 2018, AGM-158 showed its fangs to the world for the first time. At that time, two US B-1B bombers entered Syria, 19 AGM158A missiles were fired at its chemical weapons laboratory, which turned into a sea of ​​fire in an instant.

Perhaps because the 320-kilometer range is still too short, Lockheed Martin has developed its extended-range version for the AGM-158 missile, which is the B-type of the AGM-158 missile. It uses Williams International engine has changed from the original turbojet engine to a turbofan engine. At the same time, the volume of the internal fuel tank of the projectile has been enlarged, and its range exceed 926 kilometers. 

AGM-158 stealth missile
AGM-158 just before hitting a target

The front of the missile is olive-shaped, the middle section is a shipshape, the tail is retracted inward, and the whole body is close to a rhomboid cylindrical shape. The engine of the AGM-158ER missile is located in the abdomen of the missile and is flush with the missile body. In addition, AGM-158ER is also equipped with The weapon data link that can establish secure over-the-horizon communication with the joint air operations center during the flight, update the target position through the uplink, and report its own position and status through the downlink, which allows the missile greater flexibility.

In addition, many parts of the AGM-158A type missile and B-type missile shared common tech and parts, which greatly reduces the cost of research and development and use. After completing all the test firing experiments, the AGM-158 subtype missile officially entered service in 2014. Currently, the B1B of the US Air Force And the B52 long-range bomber has initially formed the combat capability of using the AGM158ER missile, but the U.S. military is not satisfied with this. In order to cope with the possible formulas in the future, the plane station developed the AGM158C missile on the basis of the AGM158ER.

AGM-158C is different from the previous two types. This missile is the first anti-ship missile in the world that can independently perform threat classification and select targets. It can automatically eliminate infrared decoys used for interference, directly attack enemy ships, and in the set When the same target is fired, the AGM-158C missiles can also achieve mutual cooperative operations and carry out saturation attacks.

USAF F-15E with 5 AGM-158 JASSM
USAF F-15E with 5 AGM-158 JASSM

Its engine uses the F-107 turbofan engine, and the range is close to 1,000 kilometers. Compared with the AGM-158ER missile, it has more diverse electronic reconnaissance functions and a more efficient navigation computer. That is to say, the AGM158C missile can be used without Sending any electromagnetic signal, greatly reducing the risk of detection by enemy reconnaissance units.

At present, the AGM-158C missile can be launched on multiple platforms. Whether it is a bomber or a fighter, it can be adapted to combat operations. The missile also officially started mass production in 2017. In September 2021, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australia would acquire the JASSM-ER for the RAAF’s F/A-18F Super Hornet and F-35A fighters Lockheed Martin is preparing to go further on the basis of the maximum range of AGM-158ER, and also plans to upgrade to missile independent GPS capability and stealth penetration capability.

The warhead of this missile can be as high as 180 kilograms, and the maximum range can reach 1900 kilometers. This range covers most of Asia, which is comparable to ballistic missiles. The missile has not yet officially entered service. Although the speed of the AGM-158 is flawed compared to the Zircon missile, the Zircon missile can be detected by the radar, while the AGM-158 missile is difficult to detect by the radar because of its stealth performance. Like a terrifying ghost, it is hard to guard against. When it is discovered, there may be only the last line of defense left, that is, the CIWS artillery.

However, if multiple missiles strike, it is difficult for the CIWS to fully cope with it. Ordinary warships have been hit before they can react. The precision guidance capability of the missile is enough to destroy high-value targets. In the case of being completely cut off, missile still has the ability to strike on his own. The above are the various strengths of the AGM-158 missile, and they are indeed worthy of the title of Ship killer.

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