Air-Launched Weapons

DoD awards first LRASM production contract

26 July 2017
An artist's impression of the LRASM in the final stages of an attack on enemy shipping. The missile is to be carried by the US Air Force's B-1B bombers and by the US Navy's F/A-18E/F strike fighters. Source: Lockheed Martin

The US military is to receive its first air-launched Lockheed Martin AGM-158C Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASMs) in the third quarter of 2019, under a Department of Defense (DoD) contract awarded on 25 July.

The contract, which is valued at USD86.5 million, will see Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control deliver 23 Lot 1 production LRASM missiles by 29 September that year. Although awarded by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, the contract is understood to cover missiles for both the US Air Force (USAF) and US Navy (USN).

Developed as a successor to the Lockheed Martin AGM-158A Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missile (JASSM) and AGM-158B JASSM-Extended Range (ER) missiles currently fielded, the LRASM is a stealthy subsonic cruise missile that differs slightly from these earlier systems in some undisclosed aspects of its propulsion and sensor systems while retaining the basic form of its predecessors. Besides the JASSM and JASSM-ER, the LRASM will also replace the AGM-84 Harpoon.

Armed with a 1,000 lb penetrator and blast-fragmentation warhead, LRASM utilises a multi-mode sensor, weapon datalink, and an enhanced digital anti-jam Global Positioning System to detect and destroy specific targets within a group of ships.

Having already been integrated for the USAF’s Rockwell B-1B Lancer bomber (up to 24 missiles in its internal weapons bay), the LRASM is also being fitted onto the USN’s Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet (eight missiles on its underwing pylons). Early Operational Capability (EOC) on USAF B-1Bs is expected to be declared in fiscal year (FY) 2018, while that for the USN’s F/A-18E/Fs is slated for FY 2019.

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