F-16C Jastrząb aircraft was showcased during the Radom Air Show this year in the static display, as usual, however it was carrying new armament under its wings. It was the first time when the Polish F-16 was demonstrated with the Lockheed Martin AGM-158A JASSM missile.
The F-16C/D jets usually constitute one of the major highlights of the Polish Air Force’s static display during the Radom show. The F-16 is the latest of the Polish Air Force’s jets, capable of acting against a wide spectrum of threats. This year, on the occasion of the Polish Air Force’s centenary, the latest offensive armament has been showcased.
Alongside the inert AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles and JDAM bombs, the jet was also carrying the AGM-158A Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM). The test missile without a warhead and other systems was presented in Radom, however, the shape of its body is not different from a proper weapon.
Poland has ordered 40 examples of the JASSM cruise missiles with a range of up to 370 kilometres that are capable of carrying a 450 kg warhead. They constitute an element of the planned deterrence strategy, referred to as the “Polish Claws” in the public sphere, that is also to include Homar rocket artillery systems with a range of up to 300 kilometres and cruise missiles for the Orka submarines.
JASSM missiles are the only element of that concept that became a reality. The procurement agreement concerning this ordnance has been signed back in December 2014. The first of the missiles has been delivered to Poland in January 2017. In December 2016, on the other hand, the Polish Ministry of Defence has signed an agreement concerning procurement of the newer AGM-158B JASSM-ER missile, with its range extended to 1000 kilometres. At the same time, extra air-to-air armament has been acquired for the Polish F-16s: AIM-120C7 AMRAAM and AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II missiles.
This has been possible, as within the scope of a MLU program required to enable the Polish jets to be capable to carry the JASSM missiles a complex M6.5 upgrade has been implemented. This concerns the datalinks, IFF systems and electronic warfare suite. And this was the configuration in which the “4054” jet was presented. All of the Polish F-16 jets are undergoing such upgrades.