Brigadier General Anthony Genatempo, Air Force Weapons Program Executive Officer revealed that Lockheed Martin is developing a new long-range air-to-air missile to counter the threat posed by weapons being fielded by near-peer adversaries from, for instance Sukhoi’s Su- 57 and Chengdu’s J-20 newgeneration fighters. Speaking to journalists at the Life Cycle Industry Days in Ohio on June 20, the General said that the weapon, that has been known about for at least two years, was the result of a rapid acquisition project launched in 2017. The proposed AIM-260 Joint Advanced Tactical Missile (JATM) will have the same dimensions as the United States’ foremost air-to-air weapon, the AIM-120 Advance Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile. In the first instance it will be integrated on F/A-18 Super Hornets and F-22 Raptors and later on F-35 Lightning IIs. It will fit inside the weapons bays of both F-22 and F-35. General Genatempo said the new weapon would not be propelled, fully or in part, by a ramjet like MBDA’s Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile.
General Genatempo said China’s PL-15 Mach 5, 100 nautical mile-range missile provided the incentive for America to develop the new weapon. Flight testing will begin in 2021 with initial operational capability in 2022.