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Finland will receive extended Range bunker buster to equip F-35.

On May 31, 2024, Finnish Defense Minister Antti Häkkänen announced the acquisition of additional Lockheed Martin AGM-158B JASSM-ER (Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missile – Extended Range). Helsinki already uses the "A" variant of the missile (AGM-158A JASSM), which is carried by the Finnish Air Force's fleet of Boeing FA-18C/D Hornet aircraft.
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 US F-16 carrying an AGM-158 JASSM-ER (Picture source: US Air Force )

The announcement of the JASSM-ER acquisition comes four years after the U.S. government approved its sale to Finland. This was part of a broader package aimed at supporting the F-35A's bid in the Finnish Air Force's HX program, intended to replace its aging Hornets.

While the JASSM can reach 370 km, the JASSM-ER can cover distances of nearly 1,000 km thanks to the addition of a new dual-mode turbofan engine and additional fuel. The newly ordered JASSM-ER will be intended for use with the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II. The Finnish government selected the F-35A on December 10, 2021, after the conclusion of the HX program. It is expected to receive 64 of these jets. According to Defense News, the first batch of ordered F-35s is expected to be delivered and then deployed to the Arctic air bases in the Finnish Lapland region by 2026.

Enhancing Finnish Defense Capabilities

The purchase, which will be made by the Finnish Defense Forces Logistics Command, complements the multirole combat capability of the F-35 system with precision-guided munitions of a longer range than the previous ones, the Finnish Defense Forces Logistics Command said after the announcement. The JASSM-ER, which enhances air-to-ground capabilities, will be delivered in accordance with the Finnish Air Force's F-35 integration schedule.

According to the LOA (Letter of Approval), the acquisition would include missiles, manuals, documentation, spare parts, equipment, transport services as well as training for manufacturers and suppliers, U.S. administrative services, and repair and support services from 2024 to 2031.

A statement from the Finnish Defense Forces Logistics Command quoted retired Colonel Henrik Elo: "The range, precision, and survivability of the weapon's effect will significantly contribute to our own countermeasures to stop a potential aggressor. In addition to the other features of the F-35, the current acquisition will greatly enhance our defense capability."

In addition to the United States, AGM-158A missiles are also used by American allies, including Australia, Poland, South Korea, and Japan. On May 28, 2024, Poland concluded a contract for the purchase of another batch of JASSM-ER, when Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz signed a new contract worth $735 million.

The U.S. State Department had approved the agreement in March 2024, which covered up to 821 missiles. The Polish Ministry of Defense did not specify a number, only mentioning "hundreds" of missiles. Poland also expressed interest in the AGM-158D JASSM-XR (with an estimated range of 1600 to 1900 kilometers) in 2023. This version was eventually designated as the AGM-158B-2.

It is worth noting that Poland is also expected to receive the F-35, perhaps by November of this year, said Polish Air Force Inspector General Ireneusz Nowak on Polsat television. Poland had concluded a contract with the United States in January 2020 to acquire 32 F-35As for a cost of $4.6 billion.

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