TypeStealthy stand-off precision weapon
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In servicedid not enter service
Production history
Mass2,000 lb (910 kg)
Length168 in (4,300 mm)
Wingspan100 in (2,500 mm)

EngineWilliams F122-WR-100 turbofan
100 nmi (120 mi; 190 km)+
INS With GPS updates
Infrared terminal guidance



The Northrop AGM-137 TSSAM (Tri-Service Standoff Attack Missile) was a standoff cruise missile developed for the three branches of the United States Armed Forces, hence "tri-service". Missile development began in 1986 but revelation of cost-overruns in 1991 prompted the Army to pull out of the project[1] and an investigation of the procurement process by the General Accounting Office (GAO, now referred to as the Government Accountability Office). The TSSAM program was eventually cancelled in December 1994 pursuant to a GAO recommendation and the loss of support of the United States Army after going as far as several test launches.


The United States Air Force began developing the Tri-Service Standoff Attack Missile (TSSAM) in 1986;[2] the intent was to produce a family of stealthy missiles for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and United States Army which would be capable of long range, autonomous guidance, automatic target recognition, and sufficient accuracy and warhead power to be capable of destroying well-protected structures either on land or at sea.

All versions of the missile would use inertial navigation aided by Global Positioning System (GPS). The Navy and one Air Force version were to use an imaging infrared homing terminal sensor to recognize the target and terminal homing, and would be fitted with a unitary warhead. A second version Army missile would be launched by two booster rockets and carry the Combined Effects Bomblet (CEB) submunition against land targets.

It was planned to carry the missile on the B-52H, F-16C/D, B-1, B-2, A-6E, and F/A-18C/D; the Army version was to be launched from the MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) vehicle.

In 1991 the previously black budget figures for TSSAM were revealed, showing a roughly 6 billion dollar cost overrun over the original contract price.[3][4] This prompted a GAO investigation into the procurement process[5] which resulted in the recommendation that the project be cancelled.[6]

The project suffered from budgetary problems, some related to the distribution of the budget between the three services. This resulted in funding shortfalls and delays.[6] The missiles also suffered from technical development issues, pushing the unit cost from the original 1986 figure of $728,000 per missile to $2,062,000 in 1994. The project which was intended to be used by all three services (hence, Tri-service), lost Army support in 1993[7] and was canceled as a result.[8][2] Technology developed for the TSSAM was used in the JASSM program.[9]

See also


  1. ^ Dupont, Daniel G.; Haseley, Donna (1993). "Army Kills Tssam, Sadarm-MLRS, Avenger to Fund Pay Raise, Retirement Pay". Inside the Army. 5 (2): 1–9. ISSN 2164-8182. JSTOR 43974768.
  2. ^ a b "Missile Development: Status and Issues at the Time of the TSSAM Termination Decision" (PDF). General Accounting Office. 20 January 1995.
  3. ^ LeSueur, Stephen C. (1991). "From $8.9-billion to $15.1-billion: COST OF TRI-SERVICE MISSILE JUMPED 70% BEFORE PROGRAM WAS PUBLICLY UNVEILED". Inside the Pentagon. 7 (47): 1–7. ISSN 2164-814X. JSTOR 43987592.
  4. ^ Morrison, David C. (September 1991). "Shining light on the 'black' budget". Lasers & Optronics. 10 (9) – via GALE.
  5. ^ LeSueur, Stephen C. (1991). "Dod Ig, Gao to Probe Reports of Cost Overruns in Top-Secret Tssam Program". Inside the Pentagon. 7 (39): 1–7. ISSN 2164-814X. JSTOR 43989161.
  6. ^ a b "Missile Development: TSSAM Production Should Not Be Started as Planned" (PDF). General Accounting Office. NSIAD-94-52. 8 October 1993.
  7. ^ Bolkcom, Christopher (17 October 2000). Missiles for Standoff Attack: Air-Launched Air-to-Surface Munitions. RL30552. Washington DC: Congressional Research Service. pp. 4–5.
  8. ^ Terpak, John A. (29 May 2018). "Cruise Missile Controversy". Air Force Magazine. Air & Space Forces Association. Retrieved 2022-08-08.
  9. ^ "Air Force seeks $50 million addition for TSSAM replacement". Defense Daily. 187 (28). Access Intelligence, LLC. 10 May 1995 – via GALE.