Nathan Gain story with additional reporting by Xavier Vavasseur
The contract notice reads:
« Accordingly, Lockheed Martin is the only firm able to meet this requirement, as the Government does not own the technical data required to compete this requirement without incurring substantial duplication of costs, »
Naval News first reported about LRSAM integration on the P-8A in November 2019 when Lockheed Martin representatives told us that fit checks of the next gen anti-ship missile with the Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft were conducted in 2018.
In February 2020, a first contract notice confirmed a project of aeromechanical and software integration of the LRASM missile onto the P-8A aircraft. « LRASM is a mature system which will be integrated into the P-8A TOMS [Tactical Open Mission Systems] and SMC [Stores Management Computer] software, » the contract opportunity read at the time.
This effort, which will run from January 2021 through January 2026, should also include 500 to 2,000 lb class of Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) variants, Mk62/63/65 mines, Small Diameter Bomb (SDB-II), Miniature Air Launched Decoy (MALD), Bomb Rack Unit BRU-55, and Universal Armament Interface (UAI).
U.S. Navy’s P-8A Poseidon currently deploy AGM-84D Block 1C Harpoon anti-ship missiles for their anti-surface warfare missions. Incremental future upgrades include the AGM-84 Harpoon II+ variant which brings GPS and a data link that allows the shooter to change the missile’s target in flight. The venerable (and world famous) Harpoon will have to be replaced, eventually, at some point in the future, as is already the case on surface ships (with the Naval Strike Missile selected by the U.S. Navy for new programs such as the LCS and FFG(X)).
About P-8A Poseidon MPA
The P-8A is a long-range multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft capable of broad-area, maritime and littoral operations. A military derivative of the Boeing Commercial Next-Generation 737 airplane, the P-8A combines superior performance and reliability with an advanced mission system that ensures maximum interoperability in the battle space.
The P-8A is militarized with maritime weapons, a modern open mission system architecture, and commercial-like support for affordability. The aircraft has been modified to include a bomb bay and pylons for weapons – two weapons stations on each wing – and can carry 129 sonobuoys. The aircraft is also fitted with an in-flight refueling system. With more than 180,000 flight hours to date, P-8 variants, the P-8A Poseidon and the P-8I, patrol the globe performing anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; humanitarian; and search and rescue missions.
The United Kingdom is one of six international customers for the P-8A Poseidon. The first British Poseidon MRA Mk1 was delivered earlier this year. As a direct commercial sale, India has received eight of the P-8I Neptune variant to date with four more in production. The U.S. Navy is on contract to receive 111 with the potential for additional quantities based on the fleet’s needs. As a cooperative partner with the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Program Office, Australia began receiving their P-8A aircraft in 2016 with the final one delivered in December 2019; Norway will begin receiving their five P-8As in 2022; both New Zealand and South Korea have signed agreements with the U.S. Navy to purchase four and six aircraft respectively.
About AGM-158C LRASM anti-ship missile
LRASM is designed to detect and destroy specific targets within groups of ships by employing advanced technologies that reduce dependence on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, network links and GPS navigation in electronic warfare environments. LRASM will play a significant role in ensuring military access to operate in open ocean/blue waters, owing to its enhanced ability to discriminate and conduct tactical engagements from extended ranges.
BAE Systems’ long-range sensor and targeting technology enables LRASM to detect and engage protected ships in all weather conditions, day or night, without relying on external intelligence and navigation data.
The advanced LRASM sensor technology builds on BAE Systems’ expertise in electronic warfare (EW), signal processing, and targeting technologies, and demonstrates the company’s ability to apply its world-class EW technology to small platforms.
Armed with a 1,000 Lbs (454 kg) penetrating blast fragmentation warhead, LRASM is low observable and likely has a range comparable with JASSM ER (around 500 nautical miles).
LRASM is designed to meet the needs of U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force Warfighters in contested environments. The air-launched variant provides an early operational capability for the U.S. Navy’s offensive anti-surface warfare Increment I requirement.
LRASM Achieved EOC with the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in December 2019 and may soon find its way aboard the B-52 bomber of the U.S. Air Force.