The test took place in December 2021, whereby the B-2 successfully launched an AGM-158B JASSM-ER cruise missile.
Northrop Grumman and the US Air Force continue to improve the combat capabilities of the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber fleet by adding many new weapons, including long-range stealth cruise missiles, according to an announcement by Northrop Grumman on August 25. The test took place in December 2021, whereby the B-2 successfully launched an AGM-158B JASSM-ER cruise missile.
According to US defense officials, the AGM-158B will significantly improve its ability to hit any target anywhere. The B-2s are also equipped with modern encryption equipment and a new Radar Aided Targeting System, or RATS, onto the B-2. RATS gives the B-2 an enhanced ability to employ precision-guided munitions by leveraging location data provided by its radar.
The US started working on the AGM-158B JASSM-ER version in 2002, the initial estimated range was 925km, but when first tested in 2006, they exceeded the range of 1,000km. The AGM-158B JASSM-ER shares up to 70% of the appearance and up to 95% of the electronics with the AGM-158 JASSM version. In addition to conventional warheads, the missile can also carry nuclear warheads.
The AGM-158B JASSM-ER uses the “fire and forget” principle. It is immune to jamming systems to be able to approach and attack enemy warships. The missile works thanks to the guidance of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the inertial guidance system, to find important enemy targets during the flight. In the final stage, the missile will use an infrared seeker to accurately detect a specific target before rushing to destroy it. The ER variant is capable of destroying targets at a distance of up to 926 km.
According to US military experts, AGM-158B is currently a cruise missile integrated with the most advanced technologies in the world today. The AGM-158B has stealth capabilities, allowing it to penetrate areas with a dense air defense network. The extremely long range allows this missile to be out of the interception ability of the S-300 air defense system and completely enough to take the Russian-made S-400 by surprise. That means enemy air defense systems will be in a passive state, unable to intercept US bombers before they launch missiles. With outstanding power and stealth, the AGM-158B JASSM-ER missile is really a nightmare for many opponents.
The JASSM-ER was introduced to service in 2014, but was originally limited to the B-1B bomber. Since then, it has also been integrated with other platforms, including the F-15E Strike Eagle, which achieved full operational capability with the new missile in 2018. Integrating the AGM-158B onto the B-2 bomber opens doors to additional capabilities in the future. There are three AGM-158B subvariants and derivatives already in development that will further expand the JASSM-ER’s range and operational flexibly. This includes the AGM-158B-2, which has an all-new wing design that will extend its range, as well as other enhancements.