Now making the running for a Cleopatra prize -- awarded by Ares to programs that are terminally snake-bitten -- is the Lockheed Martin Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM). JASSM has been going in fits and starts for years, with runs of reasonable success punctuated by test failures, but the USAF is now getting irritated by the fact that the only thing that JASSM hits 100 per cent of the time is the ground. With reliability at only 58 per cent, even salvoing two missiles at the target only provides an 82 per cent chance of a hit. JASSM was developed as a low-cost missile, but that objective is rather more than offset if you have to fire two weapons all the time. Moreover, if you don't hit the target you are going to hit something else (probably an orphanage, with JASSM's luck.)
Amy Butler reports that the most recent rash of failures appears to have been caused by "GPS dropouts" afflicting a new anti-jamming receiver. The USAF's weapon lab at Eglin AFB is exploring whether other weapons with the same receiver are having the same problem -- but they have a shorter flight time and rely less on GPS to correct inertial drift. And JASSM faces a deadline: negotiate a get-well plan by June 27 or face termination.
It's unfortunate because JASSM has been held up as an example of procurement reform at its best. It was designed to a fixed cost limit with a simple set of performance requirements (summed up on page 5 of the brief) rather than having everything on board designed to standard military specifications. Which is a great idea -- as long as the missile actually works.