Their hard work paid off and the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile team went back to prove the weapon could deliver on its promise.
During flight tests in 2005 the weapon scored nine successes in 11 tests, followed by two more successful flights already in 2006.
On the heels of those successes, the weapon finished the year strong reaching initial operational capability on the B-52 and B-1. More than 350 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles have been delivered and are in the hands of the warfighter and ready for combat use around the world if called upon.
"The Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile weapon system continues to demonstrate high reliability in flight and ground testing," said Maj. Gen. Jack Catton, director of requirements for Air Combat Command. "More and more units are gaining the capability to effectively employ the weapon system."
While the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile can already do some mouth-watering things, the Long Range Missile Systems Group has plans to make it even more lethal.
The second phase of the program is to make an extended range version of the weapon.
It will increase the standoff capability to more than 500 nautical miles. The weapon, which looks exactly the same as the original from the outside, has a new engine and can carry more fuel. It will first be integrated on the B-1B and will be ready for flight testing later this Spring.
"The extended range version will have the same lethality and stealth as the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, but it will deliver that knock-out punch from more than twice as far away," said Lt. Col. Stephen Davis, Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Block 2 Squadron commander.
"In the simplest terms, this means some child's mom or dad won't have to fly their B-1 through enemy threats to strike many deeply placed targets," he said.
But additional stand-off range isn't the only thing they are improving. The Long Range Missile Systems Group is also adding a weapons data link that will enable key command and control elements to communicate with the weapon after it's already in flight.
"The data link will plug the weapon right into the warfighting network," said Michele Brazel, Long Range Missile Systems Group deputy director. "They'll be able to track what each missile is doing in flight, retarget it in flight if need be, and then get a good indication of whether or not it destroyed its target."
Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile is also scheduled to be one of the first weapons to be Universal Armament Interface compliant. This interface is a joint initiative that will allow the Air Force to incorporate new precision-guided munitions onto its aircraft without requiring major changes to each aircraft's software.
New development activity is also planned to enable the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile to enhance its maritime engagement capability and become the air-launched weapon of choice not only for highly defended fixed and relocatable land targets, but moving maritime targets as well.
And recently the Australian Defense Force selected the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile to be its long range air-to-surface missile for their F/A-18 Hornet fleet.
As it stands right now the Air Force currently plans to buy 2,400 the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles and 2,500 of its extended range version with production extending through 2018.
But regardless of the numbers, the warfighter is very pleased to finally have the capability in its arsenal.