LRASM Missiles: Reaching for a Long-Range Punch
May 7/19: Early Operational Capability BAE Systems together with Lockheed Martin have supplied the US Air Force with long-range anti-ship missiles (LRASM) for the B-1B bomber aircraft, reaching early operational capability ahead of schedule. LRASM is equipped with BAE-built sensor and targeting technology that works to detect and engage adversarial warships. Bruce Konigsberg, the company’s Radio Frequency Sensors product area director explained that the ”sensor systems provide US warfighters with a strike capability that lets them engage protected, high-value maritime targets from safe distances. The missile provides a critical advantage to US warfighters”. The system uses semi-autonomous guidance and target cueing data to precisely locate and attack targets, reducing reliance on ISR platforms, networking links, and GPS navigation, which could be compromised by enemy electronic weapons. The service branch accepted the missile systems after completing integration, simulation and flight tests aimed to demonstrate mission readiness of the technology. BAE will produce more than 50 additional LRASM sensors for integration onto the US Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
The US Navy is beginning to acknowledge a growing problem that threatens its freedom of the seas: its strike reach is shrinking and aging, while potential opponents’ attack reach is expanding and modernizing. As new designs replace older planes, US carrier aircraft range is shrinking to 1950s levels. Meanwhile, its anti-ship and land attack missiles are generally older, medium-range subsonic designs like the Harpoon Block I, which are vulnerable to air defenses. In contrast, China is deploying supersonic SS-N-22 “Sunburn” missiles bought from Russia, and working on a DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missile. The Sunburn is just one of Russia’s supersonic anti-ship missile options for sale, and a joint venture with India has added the supersonic PJ-10 BrahMos.
The math is stark: enemies with longer reach, and better weapons, may be able to create large “no go” zones for the Navy in key conflict areas. In response, think-tanks like CSBA are proposing ideas like AirSea Battle, which emphasizes a combination of advance hardening, more stealth and long-range strike options, and a progressive “blinding and grinding” campaign of strikes and interdiction. Success will require some changes to America’s array, beginning with the missiles that arm its ships and aircraft. Hence LRASM: the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile, with a secondary land-strike role.
LRASM: The Program
Goals & Technology
The joint DARPA/ US Navy LRASM program was initiated in 2009 to deliver a new generation of anti-ship weapons, offering longer ranges and better odds against improving air defense systems. Rob McHenry, a program manager in the Tactical Technology Office at DARPA, explained it this way to Aviation Week:
“We want US Navy cruisers and destroyers to be able to stand off from outside of potential adversaries’ direct counter fire range, and be able to safely engage and destroy high value targets they may be engaging against from extended range, well beyond potential adversary ranges that we may have to face… “Once the missile flies that far, it has a requirement to be able to independently detect and validate the target that it was shot at. Finding that target, the missile will have to be able to penetrate the air defenses and finally, once it gets to that target, it has to have a lethal capability to make a difference once it gets there.”
The US military is also expecting an environment where enemies try to jam or destroy the GPS system and encrypted datalink transmissions, compounding its difficulties in targeting opponents if it can’t get many of its platforms through advanced air defenses. Those considerations underline the importance of autonomous targeting. Beyond their anti-jamming digital GPS, therefore, LRASM will also rely on a 2-way data link, a radar sensor that can detect ships (and might also be usable for navigation), and a day/night camera for positive identification and final targeting.
LRASM began as the rapid development and demonstration of 2 very distinct variants. Although it’s tempting to see them as an air-launched and a ship-launched variant, ultimately, both designs were intended for launch from either ships or aircraft:
LRASM-A. Lockheed Martin is basing this design on their stealthy, subsonic, turbofan-powered AGM-158B JASSM-ER (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range) cruise missile, which doubles the AGM-158 JASSM’s range to over 500 miles. The JASSM program has had more than its share of performance problems, but tests in 2010 saved the AGM-158 JASSM for continued production.
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control has overall responsibility for LRASM. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training manufactures the Mk-114 booster hardware, and the MK 41 VLS used aboard ships around the world. Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Solutions collaborates with several Navy laboratories to develop and integrate the Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System used on designed ships.
JASSM is an air-launched weapon, but LRASM-A’s air or surface-launch options will make it a close counterpart to JASSM’s top rival, MBDA’s Storm Shadow/ Scalp Naval.
LRASM-B (Deferred). Envisioned as a ramjet-powered supersonic ship-launched missile, similar to earlier conceptions of hypersonic programs like the now-defunct RATTLRS. It’s intended to leverage prior ramjet development activities, and one of its challenges will be a suite of supporting sensors and avionics that can operate effectively at the temperatures created by high-Mach ramjet speeds. The most comparable missile out there is probably the Indo-Russian PJ-10 BrahMos, a Mach 2.8 heavy strike missile that can hit ships or land targets. Like LRASM-B, a Brahmos variant is currently being adapted for air launch as well. Unlike LRASM-B, there are also plans to put BrahMos on submarines.
LRASM-B development was much riskier from a technical point of view, and the harsh nature of high-Mach environments would add extra risk to its manufacturing and test phases, too. Those risks are normally attractive to DARPA, but in this case, they led the agency to step back and focus on the less risky LRASM-A.
Current Focus: LRASM Development
Phase 1. Preliminary designs of the LRASM-A and the LRASM-B variants were successfully completed by Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. DARPA determined that it provided sufficient confidence in the 2 designs to support an investment in flight testing.
Phase 2. Awarded in 2010 to continue the development of both missiles, and culminate in flight demonstrations of tactically relevant prototypes of LRASM-A, LRASM-B, and the common sensor system from BAE Systems. A series of tests will cover key subsystems, including propulsion, sensors, and mission execution software. Detailed designs, analytical assessments and developmental test results will culminate in critical design reviews (CDR), ensuring that each design is ready to continue on to flight demonstration.
P2 Testing shift. LRASM-A was programmed now execute 3 air-launched demonstrations in 2013, and 2 surface-launch demonstrations in 2014. The common sensor system was flight tested in July 2012, but by that time, the sub-sonic LRASM-A was the program’s only survivor. In January 2012, as Lockheed Martin puts it:
“DARPA decided to focus more resources on the mature LRASM-A program, and defer further development on LRASM-B.”
LRASM-B had been set to complete the 4 shipboard Vertical Launch System (VLS) demonstrations, so Lockheed Martin began investing company funds in an LRASM-A variant that could be launched from its Mk.41 VLS. That was followed by a 2013 DARPA contract which added surface-launch development funds, and scheduled 2 initial VLS test firings.
The Future: Service Handoffs and OASuW
LRASM’s problem is that a US Navy filled with very high cost ship designs, and a looming fighter shortage on its carriers, may well decide to give missiles short shrift – even if they’re badly needed. Rick Edwards, VP of Tactical Missiles and Combat Maneuver Systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, hopes that isn’t the case:
“Both of our LRASM solutions will deliver extraordinary range, willful penetration of ship self defense systems and precise lethality in denied combat environments… The maturity of these weapons and technologies allows near term transition to Navy magazines at an affordable price. These are low risk, practical options…”
His firm needs to prove that, because a big opportunity is waiting in the wings. The US Navy has budgeted about $1.13 billion from FY 2013-2018 for its “Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW) Weapon Dev program” to replace the xGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile. OASuW’s priority and budgets jumped sharply in the FY 2014 submission, even as the US Navy discarded the concept of an interim weapon based on the xGM-109 Tomahawk long-range cruise missile.
OASuW Increment 1 authorized a limited buy of air-launched LRASMs on Feb 3/14. Production missile purchases will begin in FY 2017, after LRASM has been integrated with Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighters and USAF B-1 bombers.
OASuW Increment 2 will address ship-launched requirements. Harpoon anti-ship missiles were removed from all American frigates many years ago, and haven’t been installed in DDG 51 destroyers since Flight IIA began with DDG 79. The lack of anti-ship missiles on American surface combatants is becoming a problem, and likely cuts will make it a bigger problem as the USN looks to cut operating costs by cutting expensive ships like cruisers. A vertically-launched anti-ship and land strike missile that removed the need for dedicated launchers topside would solve this problem.
LRASM won’t be alone in competing for the OASuW Increment 2 opportunity.
Kongsberg’s new NSM/JSM is a stealthy cruise missile whose variants can launch from ships, or internally from the F-35 stealth fighter. They tried to compete for OASuW Increment 1 in 2014, and were an obvious candidate for an American OASuW partnership. Next time, they’ll bid with Raytheon as their Increment 1 (air-launched) partner. There’s still a partnership slot open for Increment 2, or Kongberg could use its own resources to develop a variant that works with shipboard Mk.41 vertical launch systems.
Raytheon has already tried to compete their JSOW-ER for OASuW’s air-launched Increment 1, but next time, they’ll be teamed with Kongsberg to offer the Joint Strike Missile. They remain committed to their xGM-109 xGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missile for OASuW Increment 2, for ships that carry strike-length Mk.41 VLS cells. Recent Tomahawk upgrades have added an ESM seeker that locks onto radar or other signal emissions. That would give the long-range missile some moving target capability on land, and some anti-ship capability at sea. Wider upgrades under discussion could add a radar seeker for full “maritime interdiction capability,” as an upgrade to existing stocks of over 2,000 missiles. Upgrades offer a low-cost option, but Tomahawk’s drawback is its lack of stealth, which affects its expected ability to penetrate ship defenses.
MBDA has their air-launched Storm Shadow stealthy cruise missile, which has already been used in combat. Their Scalp Naval/ MdCN is a related missile for use from ships and submarines.
Boeing holds the current Harpoon contract, and has created a stealthier Harpoon alternative in the AGM-84K SLAM-ER. Indeed, the US Navy launched production of Boeing’s SLAM-ER following its pullout from the original JASSM program, and JASSM serves as LRASM-A’s design base. Boeing could unveil further improvements, develop something new, or find a foreign partner.
ATK’s propulsion and missile expertise could also make them a factor, especially if they find a foreign partner with a cutting-edge missile.
Contracts & Key Events
DARPA picked 3 vendors for this program. BAE Systems Information and Electronic Systems Integration in Nashua, NH would design the onboard sensor systems. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control Strike Weapons in Orlando, FL would demonstrate the LRASM-A subsonic prototype. Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control Tactical Missiles in Grand Prairie, TX was to demonstrate the LRASM-B supersonic prototype, but that part of the program was “deferred.”
FY 2015 – 2019
November 19/18: Lot 2 The US Air Force is stocking up its missile inventory. The service is ordering 50 long range anti-ship missiles (LRASMs) from Lockheed Martin. The Lot 2 production effort is priced at $172 million. The LRSAM program started in 2009 with to goal to develop a new generation of anti-ship weapons, offering longer ranges and better odds against improving air defense systems. The Navy needs the advanced anti-ship missile as an urgent capability stop-gap solution to address range and survivability problems with the Harpoon and to prioritize defeating enemy warships. The LRASM is designed to detect and destroy specific targets within groups of ships using its sensors, encrypted communications and a digital anti-jamming GPS. Work will be performed at Lockheed’s factory in Orlando, Florida and is expected to be completed by December 31, 2021.
May 30/18: Test – LRASM hits moving vessel Lockheed Martin has successfully tested its newly developed Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASM). The test was conducted over the Sea Range of Naval Air Station Point Mugu, California. Two missiles were launched from a B-1B bomber, after making their way through several waypoints the missiles successfully hit a moving vessel. The LRSAM is the Navy’s answer to a growing problem that threatens its freedom of the seas. The missiles are a new generation of anti-ship weapons, offering longer ranges and better odds against improving air defense systems. The LRASM is designed to detect and destroy specific targets within groups of ships using its sensors, encrypted communications and a digital anti-jamming GPS. The missile can be launched from the F/A-18 Super Hornet, the B1-B Lancer, the F-35 Lightning II and from a vertical launch system on a Navy destroyer. It is designed to be used in battle against the surface ships of advanced foes, such as China or Russia.
April 13/18: Super Hornet to test LRASM The first range test of Lockheed Martin’s AGM-158C Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) from an F/A-18 Super Hornet will take place later this year. Speaking to Military.com, Lockheed’s vice president of strike systems, Alan Jackson said captive-carry testing is currently underway following a successful jettison release test last year. The munition has already been tested and dropped from the B-1B bomber and will be operationally fielded on the platform this September following two more flights this summer. Based on the AGM-158B JASSM-ER, the LRASM hosts the sae capabilities but can also detect, identify and attack moving, maritime targets. In addition to the Super Hornet, Lancer, and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the LRASM can also be deck-launched from a vertical launch system on a Navy destroyer.
March 21/18: Test #6 Lockheed Martin announced Monday, March 19, the successful test-firing of a production-configuration version of the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM). The missile was launched from a B-1B bomber from the 337th Test Squadron at the Point Mugu sea range in California. This is the sixth consecutive test of the precision-guided, anti-ship standoff missile, which is based on the successful Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER). The LRASM is expected to be integrated on the US Air Force’s B-1B in 2018 and on the US Navy’s F/A-18E/F in 2019.
December 15/17: TestingLockheed Martin, in conjunction with a US Air Force B-1B bomber crew, fired two production-configuration Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASM) simultaneously during a test at Point Mugu’s sea range. The two missiles were launched against multiple maritime targets and successfully met all primary test objectives, including target impact. The missile is based on the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, and employs advanced technologies that reduce dependence on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, network links and GPS navigation in electronic warfare environments, allowing the LRASM to detect and destroy specific targets within groups of ships.
November 16/17: Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $44.1 million contract for the provision of Intelligence Test Instrumentations Kits for use on the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM). The kits—which have been upgraded to eliminate obsolete parts from previous generation test kits and provide a new product that can be used on several different missiles including JASSM baseline and Extended Range missiles, as well as the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM)—will be used on the missile’s flight tests for telemetry and flight termination purposes. Speaking on the new kits, Lockheed said the “electronic components in this new kit will provide enhanced reliability over the previous generation’s mechanical configuration.”
November 03/17: BAE Systems has commenced production of its sensor technology for the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) produced by Lockheed Martin. Valued at $40 million, the order will be carried out at BAE Systems’ facilities in Nashua, New Hampshire and Wayne, New Jersey. BAE says the sensor will allow the LRASM to semi-autonomously detect and identify targeted enemy ships without relying exclusively on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems, networking links, or GPS navigation.
August 21/17: The US Navy and Lockheed Martin have completed the first tactical configuration of a Long Range Anti-ship Missile (LRASM) from a B-1B Lancer bomber based out of Edwards Air Base. The free-flight launch was conducted over the Point Mugu Sea Range in California. A Lockheed statement announcing the success stated that the missile “navigated through all planned waypoints, transitioned to mid-course guidance and flew toward the moving maritime target using inputs from the onboard multimodal sensor. The missile then descended to low altitude for final approach to target area, positively identified and impacted the target.” The LRASM is slated to start entering operational service with the B-1B by next year and the F/A-18 Super Hornet by 2019.
August 1/17: Lockheed Martin has announced the successful testing of the surface-launch variant of the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM). Built on the same production line as JASSM, JASSM-ER and LRASM air-launch weapons, the missile was launched from a topside canister with an angled launcher which uses the same launch control and launch sequencer software currently employed by the Mk-41 Vertical Launch System (VLS). This launcher allows the LRASM surface-launch variant to be employed aboard various platforms in the Navy’s surface fleet, providing the potential for a powerful new anti-ship role under the US Navy’s “Distributed Lethality” concept of operations.
July 27/17: Lockheed Martin has received a $85.5 million United States Air Force contract modification for the production and delivery of Long Range Anti Ship Missiles (LRASM) to the service. The order calls for the manufacture of 23 LRASM Lot 1 missiles, with work to be performed in Orlando, Fla., with a scheduled completion date of Sept. 29, 2019. The missile is currently being integrated with the B-1B Lancer strategic bomber and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet for air launched missions, as well as the Mk 41 Vertical Launch System used on US and allied ships for surface-to-air and land attack missiles. It is expected to be mounted on submarine vertical launch systems as well.
April 4/17: Lockheed Martin and the US Navy have tested the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) for the first time. The missile was launched from a Super Hornet aircraft during a jettison test that aimed to validate its air-to-ground capabilities. Developed to replace the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER), the company added that the weapon will provide the Navy with more effective combat capabilities in maritime battlefields, noting the missile is ideal for tactical operations.
May 17/16: Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $321.8 million contract by the US Navy to conduct further research and development in support of the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) integration and test phase. Work to be carried out includes the completion of the detailed design of all remaining hardware and software, methodically retiring any open risks, constructing and testing missile test objects to assure compliance with capacity requirements, and preparing for manufacture and/or deployment.
February 25/16: Commander of the United States Pacific Command, Adm. Harry Harris, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the new Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) should be deployed as quickly as possible. The AGM-158C is scheduled to be put on B-1B bombers starting in September 2018, and on Navy F/A-18E/F fighters fighters the following year. The missile is part of $8.1 billion in funding allotted to improve US naval and underwater combat technologies for fiscal year 2017. Harris’s comments come as both the Chinese and Russians continue improvements to their own ballistic missile and nuclear submarine capabilities, and growing tensions in the Pacific region.
August 24/15: The Navy has begun integration testing and certification of the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) onto F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft. The missile is scheduled for fielding on the aircraft in 2019, with the LRASM a joint DARPA/Navy development program intended to produce the Navy’s next generation of long-range strike missiles. Manufacturer Lockheed Martin was recently awarded a $104.3 million modification for the LRASM accelerated acquisition program in June, bringing the total value of Lockheed Martin’s LRASM contract to $306.9 million.
Oct 11/14: American A2/AD. Rep. Randy Forces [R-VA-4] sends a letter to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Odierno on the eve of the AUSA conference, pushing for the Army to set up a modern version of its Coastal Artillery: long-range, land-based anti-ship missiles that would be forward-based in friendly countries to endanger Chinese vessels and shipping. Missiles like LRASM and the longer-ranged but less stealthy AGM-109 Tomahawk are obvious candidates for this sort of thing, significantly outranging competitors like Kongsberg’s Naval Strike Missile or Boeing’s SLAM-ER. The RAND study that Forbes refers to actually posited using shorter-range missiles like NSM, but its maps also showed the number of deployment sites required for effective coverage.
The idea would be a nice turnabout on China’s Anti-Access, Area Denial (A2/AD) strategy, and a Philippine deployment would produce a very tangible benefit all by itself, at low cost. On the other hand, Rep. Forbes probably underestimates the difficulty of getting many countries beyond the Philippines to accept an inherently provocative deployment whose use is technically beyond their control. Recent American waffling around the world suggests an even less palatable conclusion: the penalty for saying yes would be immediate, without any assurance that the weapons would actually be used to help the accepting country if push came to shove.
Contrast with the Russian approach. They just sell SS-N-26 shore batteries to interested countries, helping customers to create the same barrier under their own control, without the offsetting political challenges. India’s derivative PJ-10 BrahMos missile may also wind up being used this way, if India can get its act together on the export front. Sources: RAND, “Employing Land-Based Anti-Ship Missiles in the Western Pacific” | Breaking Defense, “Army Should Build Ship-Killer Missiles: Rep. Randy Forbes”.
FY 2013 – 2014
Contracts begin for air-launched LRASM; Surface-launched LRASM-A gets the green light; Industrial expansion suggests optimism.
July 2/14: Lockheed Martin in Orlando, FL receives a maximum $200 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for the LRASM Accelerated Acquisition program. $33 million in FY 2014 RDT&E funds are committed immediately. This effort will prepare LRASM missiles for use from Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighters, and USAF B-1B bombers, in time to coincide with initial LRASM buys that begin in FY 2017.
Work will be performed in Orlando & Melbourne, FL; Troy, AL; Nashua, NH; Boulder, CO; and Cincinnati, OH, with an expected completion date of July 6/16. The USA’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, VA manages this contract (HR0011-14-C-0079).
March 26/14: Yes competition. Just not immediately. Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley says that the initial buy of 90 LRASM missiles from FY 2017 – 2019 is a special justification and authorization buy following DARPA development, in order to deploy the air-launched version on USAF B-1 bombers (which will already have JASSM integrated) and USN F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighters. US budgets actually show 110 missiles from FY 2017 – 2019 (q.v. March 4/14).
That sole-source buy has sparked a GAO protest from Raytheon re: its JSOW-ER, which it argues offer comparable capability at lower cost. The cost assertion is correct, but the capability assertion is not, given that LRASM’s offers almost twice the range at twice the speed. The real question for the Navy is how much capability it really needs, something that’s beyond the GAO’s purview.
However that shakes out, Stackley says that the US military plans to compete OASuW Increment 2 after that. The most important aspect of that program involves launch from ships’ Vertical Launch Cells, in order to correct a tactical Navy deficit that is becoming strategic. Raytheon will have to either offer an upgraded Tomahawk, which it should be on track to do by FY19, or substantially improve JSOW-ER’s capabilities. Kongsberg’s Naval Strike Missile may also have new capabilities by that time. Sources: Reuters, “U.S. Navy plans competition for next-generation missile” | USNI, “Navy to Hold Contest for New Anti-Surface Missile”.
March 20/14: No competition. Inside Defense reports that the Pentagon has rejected bids from Kongsberg (NSM/JSM) and Raytheon (presumably improved Tomahawk), and has approved Lockheed Martin’s LRASM for a major follow-on development contract to prepare it for production in FY17 as OASuW. Sources: Inside Defense, “DOD Expands LRASM Development, Rebuffs Alternate Bids From Raytheon, Kongsberg”.
March 4/14: FY15 Budget. The USN unveils their preliminary budget request briefings. They aren’t precise, but they do offer planned purchase numbers for key programs between FY 2014 – 2019. The briefing pegs FY 2017 as the beginning of low-rate LRASM production: 30 in FY17, 40 in FY18, and 40 in FY19. Source: USN, PB15 Press Briefing [PDF].
Feb 27/14: Industrial. Lockheed Martin breaks ground on a 62,000 square foot annex to its Pike County Operations’ Long Range Strike Systems cruise missile production facility in Troy, AL. When it’s complete, the facility will have expanded its existing space by 67%. The annex is supposed to be done by Q1 2015.
The Pike County facility builds AGM-158 JASSM/ JASSM-ER missiles, and also produces test missiles for the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) development program. While there is foreign interest in JASSM, an expansion of this magnitude suggests that the firm expects LRASM/OASuW to become a program in its own right. Sources: Lockheed Martin, “Lockheed Martin Breaks Ground on New Cruise Missile Annex at Award Winning Facility in Alabama”.
Jan 15/14: Testing. Lockheed Martin announces that a company-funded no-launch test “demonstrated and validated” that LRASM can be launched from any strike-length MK 41 Vertical Launch System, using the existing Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System (TTWCS) and a Mk-114 booster with modified software.
The firm says that they’ve invested $30 million of their own funds to accelerate LRASM Initial Operational Capability on the USN’s Arleigh Burke Class Aegis destroyers. Which is just a number. What’s really important is the claim that they can upload some software, and sell the USN a missile and booster that lets them mount LRASM in any of their destroyers without waiting for a major maintenance interval, or spending money beyond the missiles themselves. That kind of proposition ensures that rivals like Raytheon’s non-stealthy BGM-109 Tomahawk Block IV, or Boeing’s xGM-84 non-VLS Harpoon missile family, have no opening to make minor changes and tout themselves as a “good enough” naval alternative. Sources: Lockheed Martin, “Lockheed Martin Successfully Tests LRASM MK 41 Vertical Launch System Interface”.
Nov 14/13: Testing – Air Launch. The 2nd air test goes well, as a LRASM is dropped by a B-1B bomber, navigates through all planned waypoints with in-flight targeting updates from the Weapon Data Link, then identifies and hits a moving naval target while under autonomous guidance. Sources: Lockheed Martin, Nov 14/13 release.
Sept 17/13: Testing – Ship Launch. Lockheed Martin announces that the 1st LRASM vertical launch has been successful. In a privately-funded test aimed at the OASuW opportunity, the Boosted Test Vehicle (LRASM BTV) used a Mk-114 rocket motor from the firm’s VL-ASROC anti-submarine rocket to blast the missile out of a MK-41 Vertical Launch System canister at White Sands Missile Range, NM. The test vehicle then performed a normal guided flight profile, and subsequent examination showed no exit damage to the missile or its coatings.
The US Navy hasn’t had a vertically-launched anti-ship missile, and the absence of anti-ship missile launchers on new destroyers and on the Navy’s frigates/Littoral Combat Ships is a growing problem. In many ways, this private test was more important than the official air launch.
Sept 9/13: Testing – Air Launch. Lockheed Martin announces a successful LRASM test against a floating target at Point Mugu, CA, from B-1 launch, through autonomous navigation, to low level descent and impact. It’s an encouraging result, and further tests will presumably add to the complexity by using moving targets, etc. Source: Lockheed Martin, Sept 9/13 release.
June 20/13: OASuW. Raytheon VP Harry Schulte discusses OASuW at the 50th Paris Air Show. The firm contends that JSOW-ER will offer a 300 nm air-launch strike weapon at a 67-75% cost savings over LRASM, and touts an anti-ship variant of their GM-109 Tomahawk cruise missile.
In terms of ship-launched weapons, the GM-109’s survival depends on its flight profile rather than its stealth. The Navy’s decision not to pursue an Interim OASuW based on the RGM-109 Tomahawk (q.v. April 10/13) suggests that it’s seen as inadequate against future defenses. On the other hand, there’s an legitimate argument to be had over air-launched weapons. The JSOW-ER’s 200 nautical mile range penalty and slower flight speed are operationally significant, but the US Navy has just begun to see budget cuts. In difficult budgetary times, adopting a much more expensive weapon in the name of “commonality” is a poor decision for the US Navy, unless the difference in air-launched performance justifies the decision. That may be so here, but it’s a case the US Navy should need to argue. Flight Global.
June 3/13: Testing. Lockheed Martin is touting successful vertical launch tests for LRASM-A, but that’s an overstatement. They ran 4 tests proving that the missile can push through the VLS cover without damaging itself, ran a missile-to-canister fit check, and conducted an integrated test of the weapon control system and VLS. All useful steps, but baby steps. Lockheed Martin.
May 13/13: Testing. Lockheed Martin announces that JASSM-ER has successfully completed USAF Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E), scoring 20/ 21 successful flights covering all operational flight modes, at the full range of release conditions from the B-1B. Its success has clear implications that extend to the LRASM-A, which is based on the JASSM-ER. Lockheed Martin.
April 10/13: FY 2014 Budget. The President releases a proposed budget at last, the latest in modern memory. The Senate and House were already working on budgets in his absence, but the Pentagon’s submission is actually important to proceedings going forward. See ongoing DID coverage.
The OASuW Harpoon replacement program gets a sharp boost in this budget. Not only does planned FY 2014 spending jump from $44.3 million to $136 million, but overall budgets from 2014 – 2017 jump by a total of $300 million, as full ramp-up moves forward to 2014 instead of 2017. This increase holds true even though the program is canceling plans for an interim solution based on Raytheon’s xGM-109 Tomahawk long-range cruise missile.
Current plans involve Technology Demonstration (TD) contracts for the full solution in FY 2013, with follow-on competitive prototyping if required in FY 2015. If it isn’t necessary, OSAuW would jump right to a FY 2015 Engineering & Manufacturing Development phase, with a Critical Design Review in fall 2016, and a run-time to the end of FY 2017. Operational Testing would then begin in FY 2018.
March 21/13: LRASM-A. The Pentagon announces the 2nd contract component of Lockheed Martin’s March 5/13 announcement. Lockheed Martin in Orlando, FL receives a $54.4 million cost plus fixed fee contract modification for additional risk reduction efforts, before 2 planned LRASM-A launches from a MK.41 VLS. $16.6 + $54.4 = $71 million.
Work will be performed in Orlando, FL (84.13%), Baltimore, MD (14.24%), and Walled Lake, MI (1.63%) until Dec 31/14. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency manages the contract (HR0011-09-C-0096).
March 5/13: LRASM-A. Lockheed Martin announces $71 million in DARPA contracts related to LRASM-A. Discussions with Lockheed clarify that this announcement includes the $16.6 million contract announced on Oct 1/12, plus an additional $55 million that covers ongoing development work and 2 new requirements.
The ongoing work involves risk reduction efforts like electromagnetic compatibility testing, and follow-on captive carry tests of the sensor suite.
One new requirement is a 3rd air-launched flight test from a B-1B “Bone” bomber, in addition to the 2 scheduled flight tests under the original contract. Those flight tests are expected to take place in 2013. The second new requirement involves further development of LRASM-A’s surface launch configuration, en route to 2 surface-launched LRASM-A flight tests scheduled for 2014.
Development of that surface-launched version is actually underway already, thanks to Lockheed Martin’s investment of its own money. DARPA’s LRASM-A Phase 2 contracts to date amount to about $131 million.
Oct 1/12: LRASM-A. Lockheed Martin in Orlando, FL receives a $16.6 million cost plus fixed fee contract modification under the joint DARPA/ONR Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) demonstration program. It pays for additional risk reduction efforts before the initial flight test of the AGM-158 JASSM derived LRASM-A, and apparently includes a 3rd air-launch test from a B-1B bomber.
Work will be performed in Orlando, FL (97.97%); Crestview, FL (1.40%); Santa Clarita, CA (0.63%); and Bothell, WA (0.003%), and will run until Sept 13/13 (HR0011-09-C-0096).
FY 2009 – 2012
Initial Phase 1 and Phase 2 contracts awarded; Testing begins; LRASM-B canceled.
Sept 3/12: Not to B. Aviation Week reports that DARPA and the Navy have quietly cancelled the supersonic LRASM-B, as of January 2012. It adds that:
“Full-up tests of an air-launched Lrasm test vehicle are planned for early 2013, followed by tests of a vertically launched variant in late 2014. In the long term, the Jassm-based system could compete against a Tomahawk derivative for a future multipurpose missile.”
July 16/12: Testing. Lockheed Martin announces that the common LRASM sensor suite has successfully completed its 1st captive-carry flight off the coast of northwest Florida, detecting, classifying and recognizing targets from various altitudes and speeds. The sensors were mounted on a modified Sabreliner business jet, and target data processing algorithms ran real-time in the missile electronics. Ownership of the Sabreliner wasn’t specified, but LRASM sensor suite designer BAE Systems does own a T-39A flight test aircraft.
Testing and validation of subsystems is on schedule, and is expected to lead to All-Up-Round LRASM-A flight tests in early 2013. Lockheed Martin.
Dec 16/10: LRASM-A. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Orlando, FL receives a $60.4 million cost plus fixed-fee contract modification to execute the sub-sonic LRASM-A’s Phase 2, which will end with 2 LRASM-A air-launched demonstrations.
Work will be performed in Orlando, FL (89.47%), Melbourne, FL (8.94%) and Buffalo, NY (1.59%), and is expected to be complete in February 2013. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency manages the contract (HR0011-09-C-0096). See also Jan 20/11 Lockheed Martin release for both Nov/Dec contracts.
LRASM-A Phase 2
Nov 30/10: DARPA formally announces [PDF] that it has sufficient confidence in the 2 missile designs to support further investment for flight testing, and the program will move on to Phase 2.
Phase 2 OK for both
Nov 10/10: Lockheed Martin Corp. receives a $157.7 million cost plus fixed-fee contract modification for the supersonic LRASM-B’s Phase 2, culminating in 4 demonstration launches from Mk.41 Vertical Launch Systems (VLS).
Work will be performed in Grand Praire, TX (71.32%); West Palm Beach, FL (12.53%); Broomfield, CO (5.85%); Litchfield Park, AZ (2.87%); Baltimore, MD (2.05%); East Aurora, NY (2.01%); Elkton, MD (1.24%); Portland, OR (1.23%); and Melbourne, FL (0.92%); and is expected to be completed by April 2013. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency manages the contract (HR0011-09-C-0097).
LRASM-B Phase 2
July 20/09: Lockheed Martin Corp. in Grand Prairie, TX receives a $10 million cost plus fixed fee contract for Phase 1 of the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile demonstration program.
Work will be performed in Grand Prairie, TX (69%); West Palm Beach, FL (12%); King of Prussia, PA (8%); Plymouth, MN (8%); Baltimore, MD (1%); and Skokie, IL (2%), and is expected to be complete in April 2010. DARPA issued a solicitation in Federal Business Opportunities on June 6/08, and DARPA received 9 proposals, which reportedly included bids from key rivals ATK, Boeing, and Raytheon. (HR0011-09-C-0097). See also Defense Update.
LRASM Phase 1
Thanks to Lockheed Martin for current images of its LRASM concepts.
- DARPA TTO – LRASM. 2011 snapshot.
- Lockheed Martin – LRASM.
- Defense Update – Next Generation Missiles – LRASM.
Background: Emerging Doctrine & Related Tech
- CSBA – AirSea Battle: A point of departure operational concept. Note that CBSA Fellow Bob Work is currently Undersecretary of the US Navy. See also Defense Tech for key excerpts from this 2010 document.
- CSBA – Why AirSea Battle?.
- BAE Systems – Navigation via Signals of Opportunity (NAVSOP). Tries to exploit existing transmissions such as Wi-Fi, TV, radio and mobile phone signals, to calculate the user’s location to within a few yards. One of a number of attempts underway by a variety of firms, aiming to solve this problem.
- DID – USA Issues JSOW Block III Production Contracts. Raytheon’s less-expensive JSOW glide bomb has a solid international customer base, and a new JSOW-ER variant turns it into a powered missile with a 150 mile range.
- DID – Kongsberg’s New NSM/JSM Anti-Ship & Strike Missile. May develop a surface-launched version as well.
- MBDA – MdCN. Surface/ submarine fired SCALP variant.
- MBDA – Storm Shadow/ SCALP.
- Missile Threat – SCALP EG/Storm Shadow/Black Shaheen. MBDA’s air-launched stealthy cruise missile.
- DID – Tomahawk’s Chops: xGM-109 Block IV Cruise Missiles. While FY 2014 saw the Tomahawk removed from OASuW as an interim weapon, changes to the missile’s capabilities will create some overlap with OASuW, and influence its future.
News & Views
- USNI (March 13/14) – Navy to Hold Contest for New Anti-Surface Missile. OASuW Increment 2 will be a contest.
- Breaking Defense (July 12/13) – Stick With The Tomahawk, Forget LRASM. The comments section responds with a respectful beat-down, starting with the fact that LRASM is meant to replace the anti-ship Harpoon missile, not the Tomahawk.
- Aviation Week (Sept 3/12) – Net-Enabled Weapons Drive Sea Warfare Change [dead link].
- Aviation Week (Feb 24/11) – Details Emerge On Darpa Anti-Ship Missile [dead link].
- Flight International (June 4/10) – USAF sets 2013 entry for extended-range JASSM.
- Lockheed Martin (Feb 1/10) – Successful Test of Lockheed Martin’s Joint Air-To-Surface Standoff Missile Validates Missile Upgrades.
- DID (May 21/09) – 2009: AGM-158 JASSM Faces Cancellation, Again. Also offers links outlining the ongoing saga.
- Johns Hopkins APL Technical Digest (Vol.18, #2: 1997) – History of Ramjet and Scramjet Propulsion Development for U.S. Navy Missiles.