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Syria Strike Puts Lockheed Martin's Stealthy New Missile to Test

Anthony Capaccio
The Damascus sky lights up missile fire as the U.S. launches an attack on Syria targeting different parts of the capital early Saturday, April 14, 2018. Syria's capital has been rocked by loud explosions that lit up the sky with heavy smoke as U.S. President Donald Trump announced airstrikes in retaliation for the country's alleged use of chemical weapons. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) Photographer: Hassan Ammar/AP

The joint U.S., French and U.K. missile barrage on Syria this week included the battlefield debut of a stealthy new Lockheed Martin Corp. air-launched cruise missile produced as part of a $4.6 billion defense program.

Nineteen missiles fired outside Syrian airspace by two B-1B bombers targeted the Barzah Research and Development Center located in the greater Damascus area. Those Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missiles, or JASSMs, joined 57 Raytheon Co. Tomahawks that Pentagon officials also said targeted the site.

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Produced at a Lockheed plant in Troy, Alabama, the JASSM has a low radar cross-section that makes it difficult to detect and is designed to penetrate as far as 200 miles (322 km) into an adversary’s territory. The extended version fired late Friday night U.S. time can fly more than 500 miles.

Tracking a pre-planned route from launch to target using Global Positioning Satellites and an internal navigation system, the missile is designed to strike with a 1,000-pound penetrating warhead.

While Pentagon officials didn’t specifically single out the JASSMs performance in their briefing on Saturday, the "before" and "after" photos of the chemical-weapons facility provided by the Pentagon suggested they were effective.

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