Air-Launched Weapons

USAF receives first LRASM missiles

20 December 2018

USAF groundcrew practise loading an LRASM missile on board a B-1B bomber during earlier trials. The service has now begun rolling out the anti-ship missile to operational units. Source: US Air Force

The US Air Force (USAF) has received into service the first Lockheed Martin AGM-158C Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASMs), the company announced on 18 December.

The rollout of an undisclosed number of missiles to unspecified operational units coincides with the declaration of early operational capability (EOC). Lockheed Martin told Jane's that EOC is similar to initial operating capability (IOC) in that it is defined by the delivery of a quantity of missiles. The US Navy (USN), which oversees the LRASM programme, had not responded to a request for information at the time of writing.

In USAF service the LRASM will be carried by the Rockwell B-1B Lancer bomber (up to 24 missiles in its internal weapons bay), while the USN is integrating it on board its Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets (eight missiles on its underwing pylons). With the first LRASMs now with the USAF, the USN should begin receiving its missiles in 2019.

The LRASM is a stealthy subsonic cruise missile that is designed to meet the anti-surface warfare (ASuW) needs of both services in contested environments. Armed with a 1,000 lb penetrator and blast-fragmentation warhead, the LRASM utilises a multimode sensor, weapon datalink, and an enhanced digital anti-jam Global Positioning System to detect and destroy specific targets within a group of ships.

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 by the USAF, the LRASM will also replace the AGM-84 Harpoon fielded by the USN.

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