DN - Defence Notes

Surface Navy: Lockheed Martin highlights LRASM growth

12th January 2017 - 02:01 GMT | by Scott Gourley in Arlington, Virginia

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Lockheed Martin has moved to highlight the expanded applications of its Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) at this week’s Surface Navy Association National Symposium.

The precision-guided anti-ship missile leverages technologies and commonality with the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range (JASSM-ER).

According to Scott Callaway, program director for advanced programs and subsonic cruise missiles at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, the LRASM program was started in 2009 by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Office of Naval Research (ONR) as ‘to develop an anti-ship missile to fill an urgent need’.

‘Our surface forces were “out-sticked” by peer and near-peer adversaries,’ he explained. ‘Our offering was a derivative of the Air Force’s JASSM-ER cruise missile.’

While JASSM-ER is a traditional waypoint-following missile with GPS guidance, designed to go after fixed land targets with an IR sensor, the DARPA/ONR LRASM design added a passive RF sensor to allow it to detect and classify ship emitters at sea.

‘We also modified our LRASM terminal IR sensor to give it the algorithms to match ship images to a pre-stored database,’ Callaway said. ‘With that we can get pinpoint accuracy and be very lethal against any of the maritime targets.’

Callaway said that LRASM flight testing led to Navy selection as the Offensive Anti Surface Weapon (OASUW) Increment 1 solution. It was transitioned as an air-launched weapon slated to reach early operational capability on the B-1 in 2018 and F-18 in 2019.

‘It’s positioned to be the Navy’s primary anti-ship missile of the future,’ he asserted. ‘And that same missile could be a game changer for surface Navy.’

‘While they have been maturing it and getting it ready for production Lockheed Martin has been investing in the surface-launched variant and doing shipboard integration of a surface-launched configuration,’ he added, noting that the design, featuring an off-the-shelf booster, has been test fired three times from a Mk41 vertical launch system (VLS).

Callaway said that the next aim is to work on a launcher that will go on non-VLS frigates and littoral combat ships.

'The same missile that goes in a VLS can be put in a launcher that could go on any ship that has flat deck space. So it’s perfect for distributed lethality.’

Pointing to the accelerated acquisition of OASUW Increment 1, Callaway suggested that the new capability could be expanded to the other platforms in as little as three years. The next emerging opportunity is the Frigate OTH [Over The Horizon] RfP due out at the end of January.

‘We’re positioned to compete for that and to offer our surface-launched variant of LRASM,’ he said.

The company is also waiting for a service decision on ‘the path forward’ for OASUW Increment 2.

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