May 15, 2009 / 5:11 PM / 10 years ago

U.S. Air Force says Lockheed must fix JASSM issues

* May face termination after years of issues

* Performance not meeting expectations (Adds quotes from briefing)

WASHINGTON, May 15 (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp’s (LMT.N) Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) program may be discontinued if the next round of testing this summer does not go well, a top Air Force official said on Friday.

“I think that if this next round of missiles does not perform well, that it will not be positive for the program,” David Van Buren, acting assistant Air Force secretary for acquisition, told reporters when asked how long the Air Force would maintain funding for the program despite years of technical problems.

He said performance on the program had not met the Air Force’s expectations and it was essential that the missile perform better on tests scheduled for late summer.

The Air Force’s fiscal 2010 budget did not include any funding for production of new missiles under the $5.8 billion JASSM program, although it did include $82.2 million in funding to address reliability issues.

Pentagon officials last week acknowledged continuing technical issues with the missile, but said they decided to continue the program based on military need.

JASSM is an autonomous, long-range, conventional, air-to-ground, precision standoff missile that is designed to destroy high-value fixed and movable targets.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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