This image was new to us. Naval News contacted Lockheed Martin to ask about it, wondering if it meant that the company is looking to integrate the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) aboard the next generation fighter. Here is what a Lockheed Martin spokesperson told us:
“There is warfighter interest in both JASSM-ER and LRASM, and Lockheed Martin is working to ensure outstanding weapon standoff and effects. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics are completing key risk reduction actions in order to provide the warfighter with increased capabilities in accelerated timeframes. We are currently investing in F-35 integration efforts for JASSM-ER in areas such as the digital transformation of elements of smart factory assets. Also, initial fit checks for LRASM on the F-35 have been completed. Planned integration efforts will continue through 2021.”
Joe Monaghen, Communications Manager, Hypersonic and Strike Systems, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control
The possible integration of LRASM aboard the F-35 was first reported by Joint Strike Fighter Program Executive Officer Vice Adm. Mat Winter in Air Force Mag back in December 2018.
For the record, Norway, Australia and Japan are already procuring the Joint Strike Missile (JSM) by Kongsberg for its fleet of F-35s. Based on the Naval Strike Missile (NSM), the JSM was specifically designed to fit internally, inside the stealth fighter’s weapons bays. However it offers a shorter range compared to LRASM.
Lockheed Martin confirmed to Naval News during SNA 2021 that LRASM can not be mounted internally aboard the F-35 Lightning II aircraft: ““Due to their overall size of the missiles, both JASSM and LRASM would be external carriage only. They do not fit in the internal bay of the F-35.” Monaghen explained.
The LRASM is already integrated with the U.S. Air Force’s B-1B and U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft, and will soon be integrated with the P-8A Poseidon. It appears that the F-35 Lightning II will become the fourth aircraft able to launch the next generation anti-ship missile.
LRASM 1.1 and OASuW Increment 2
The LRASM won the Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW) Increment 1 program competition which called for the development of a new missile for the B-1B and Super Hornet to destroy ships from standoff ranges. The OASuW Increment 1 program is the first weapon of an incremental approach to produce an OASuW capability in response to a U.S. Pacific Fleet Urgent Operational Need generated in 2008. The OASuW Increment 1 is an accelerated acquisition program to procure a limited number of air-launched missiles to meet this near-term U.S. Pacific Fleet requirement by leveraging the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) LRASM.
Accoding to the latest Director Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) report, OASuW Increment 2 will deliver long-term anti-surface warfare (ASuW) capabilities to counter future threats. The DOD continues to plan for OASuW Increment 2 to be developed via full and open competition, and Initial Operational Capability is anticipated FY28-30. Due to congressional budget reductions for OASuW Increment 2, the U.S. Navy funded an incremental upgrade – LRASM 1.1 – to bridge the gap until an OASuW Increment 2 program of record is established. This upgrade incorporates missile hardware and software improvements to address component obsolescence issues and enhance targeting capabilities.
The same report highlighted multiple hardware and software failures in LRASM 1.0 and recommends that the new LRASM 1.1 is put through a rigorous testing process to determine whether the system will meet key performance parameter requirements and demonstrate mission capability in operationally realistic environments.
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.
The AGM-158C is derived from the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM ER). An anti-jam GPS guidance system, radio frequency sensor (RFS), and an infrared sensor support guidance and targeting. Once launched, LRASM guides to an initial point and employs onboard sensors to locate, identify, and provide terminal guidance to the target.
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.
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. The U.S. Navy conducted a live firing of a LRASM during Valiant Shield in September 2020.