The Pentagon has corrected its statement on the use of an advanced missile in the U.S. strikes on Syria on April 14, saying that the weapon fired was, in fact, not the stealthy type missile it initially described. Japan is considering purchasing that missile, known as the JASSM-ER (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range).
Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, director of the Joint Staff, had originally said during an April 14 briefing that the Air Force had launched 19 of the advanced JASSM-ER weapons from B-1 bombers.
That firing would have been the extended-range weapons’ first use in combat.
But on April 19, McKenzie said he had “misspoke” when announcing the information.
A spokesman for the U.S. military’s Central Command confirmed to The Japan Times in an emailed statement that the missile that had been fired was indeed the standard version of the weapon.
“The Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Munitions used in the April 14 strikes against Syrian chemical weapons production facilities were, in fact, not JASSM Extended Range (JASSM-ER) munitions,” U.S. Air Forces Central Command spokesman Capt. Mark Graff said. “Rather, the munitions used were JASSM-A, or the standard, non-extended range versions of the munition. The use of 19 JASSMs on April 14 marked the first operational use of any variant of the JASSM.”
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said in December that the ministry had sought to allocate funds to study the feasibility of arming Air Self-Defense Force F-15J fighters with the JASSM-ER, which is capable of striking North Korea.
The long-range, radar-evading cruise missile has a range of about 1,000 km (620 miles) and is “designed to destroy hostile air defenses and high value, well defended, fixed and relocatable targets while keeping aircraft safely out of range from hostile air defense systems,” according to Lockheed Martin.