Navy asks Lockheed Martin for extended-range versions of sensor-fusion-equipped LRASM anti-ship missile

May 14, 2024
LRASM is designed to detect and destroy high-priority targets within groups of ships from extended ranges in electronic warfare jamming environments.

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – U.S. Navy anti-ship weapons experts have taken another step to creating an extended-range version of the Lockheed Martin AGM-158C subsonic Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM).

Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., announced a potential $288 million order to the Lockheed Martin Corp. Missiles and Fire Control segment in Orlando, Fla., for work closely related to creating a AGM-158C-3 extended-range LRASM.

LRASM is for use against high-priority enemy targets like aircraft carriers, troop transport ships, and guided-missile cruisers. The LRASM anti-ship missile contract will support missiles for the U.S. Navy, Air Force, and U.S. allies.

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).

Related: Air Force reaches out to industry for machine autonomy and advanced sensors for air-delivered munitions

The contract asks Lockheed Martin to provide enabling technologies to establish a new AGM-158C-3 extended-range by extending the missile's range beyond the existing AGM-158C-1 variant. Enabling technologies will include advanced communications and survivability while supporting maritime strike missions for the Navy.

Experts say the range of the AGM-158C-1 LRASM variant is in excess of 200 nautical miles. Extending the missile's range could give it a maximum distance envelope of 500 nautical miles or farther.

LRASM 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.

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.

Related: BAE Systems to provide sensor fusion-based missile seekers for Lockheed Martin LRASM in $60 million contract

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 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.

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.

Related: Multi-sensor fusion hits the mainstream

LRASM is a joint project of the U.S. Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., the Navy, and the U.S. Air Force to design an advanced anti-ship missile that can launch from B-1B Lancer jet bombers, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet jet fighter-bombers, F-35 Lightning II strike fighters, P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, and surface vessels via the Mark 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS).

The BAE Systems Electronic Systems segment in Nashua, N.H., is providing next-generation missile seekers LRASM to enable the missile to strike high-value maritime targets from long range in aggressive electronic warfare (EW) jamming environments.

The seeker comprises long-range sensors and targeting technology that help the stealthy missile find and engage protected enemy ships amid attempts to jam or spoof the missile, BAE Systems officials say.

The BAE Systems LRASM seeker uses sensor fusion to blend information from the missile's on-board radar, semi-autonomous guidance, Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite navigation, high-speed secure tactical networking links, and nearby sensors to strike high-value targets from long range while avoiding shipboard missile counter-fire.

Related: Lockheed Martin picks BAE Systems for RF and microwave missile seekers and sensors for LRASM targeting

The missile guidance sensor uses semi-autonomous guidance and target cueing data to locate and attack targets precisely and reduce reliance on airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft, networking links, and GPS navigation.

BAE Systems designers also are working to make the seeker system smaller, more capable, and more efficient to produce. Building LRASM is the Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control segment in Orlando, Fla. Lockheed Martin is in charge of LRASM overall development, and the BAE Systems is developing the LRASM onboard sensor systems.

On this contract Lockheed Martin will do the work in Orlando and Ocala, Fla.; and Troy, Ala., and should be finished by August 2026. For more information contact Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control online at www.lockheedmartin.com/en-us/who-we-are/business-areas/missiles-and-fire-control/products.html, or Naval Air Systems Command at www.navair.navy.mil.

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