EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – U.S. Air Force airborne weapons experts are asking Lockheed Martin Corp. to build 42 next-generation AGM-158C Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) for use against high-priority enemy targets like aircraft carriers, troop transport ships, and guided-missile cruisers.
Officials of the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., announced a $124.9 million order Monday to the Lockheed Martin Corp. Missiles and Fire Control segment in Orlando, Fla., to build 42 LRASMs.
LRASM is a joint project of the U.S. Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., the Navy, and the Air Force to design an advanced anti-ship missile that can launch from the Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet jet fighter bomber, as well as from the Air Force B-1B Lancer long-range strategic bomber.
In the future LRASM also will launch from the F-35 Lighting II joint strike fighter, the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol jet, as well as from the Navy Mark 41 shipboard Vertical Launch System. The missile travels at high subsonic speeds, and likely will give way in the future to expected new generations of hypersonic missiles. Submarine-launched versions are under consideration.
LRASM is designed to detect and destroy high-priority targets within groups of ships from extended ranges in electronic warfare jamming environments. It is a precision-guided, anti-ship standoff missile based on the Lockheed Martin Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER).
Lockheed Martin has been designing LRASM for the last 12 years, primarily under DARPA supervision. The advanced anti-ship missile is intended to replace the ageing Harpoon anti-ship missile. It has a multi-mode radio frequency sensor, a new weapon data-link and altimeter, and an uprated power system.
The LRASM can be guided toward enemy ships from as far away as 200 nautical miles by its launch aircraft, can receive updates via its datalink, or can use onboard sensors to find its target. LRASM will fly towards its target at medium altitude then drop to low altitude for a sea skimming approach to counter shipboard anti-missile defenses.
The LRASM uses on-board targeting systems to acquire the target independently without the presence of intelligence or supporting services like Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite navigation and data links. Lockheed Martin is designing he missile with advanced counter-countermeasures to evade hostile active defense systems.
The Lockheed Martin LRASM has a 1,000-pound penetrator and blast-fragmentation warhead, multi-mode sensor, weapon data link, and enhanced digital anti-jam global positioning system to detect and destroy selected surface targets within groups of ships.
Lockheed Martin is in charge of LRASM overall development, and the BAE Systems Electronic Systems segment in Nashua, N.H., is developing the LRASM onboard sensor systems.
LRASM development is in response to a gap in Navy anti-ship missile technology identified in 2008. The standard Navy anti-ship missile is the subsonic Harpoon, which has been in the inventory since 1977.
Since LRASM started development more than a decade ago, however, hypersonic cruise missiles able to fly faster than five times the speed of sound have become one of the Pentagon's top priorities. This has the potential to limit overall LRASM production numbers.
On this order Lockheed Martin will do its work in Orlando, Fla., and Troy, Ala., and should be finished by September 2025. For more information contact Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control online at www.lockheedmartin.com, or the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at www.aflcmc.af.mil.