Lockheed Martin has demonstrated that its Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) can be launched from the Mk-41 vertical launch system with only software modifications.
“This recent test demonstrates the low-risk and low-cost of launching LRASM from a ship, and was made possible by a cross-company team effort,” said Glenn Kuller, vice president of advanced and special programs at Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed tested with the new weapon with the Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System (TTWCS), MK 41 VLS and Mk-114 rocket booster with the new software during company-funded trials.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)—which is funding the overall LRASM effort—hopes to award Lockheed a sole-source contract for continuing development of the weapon next month according to a notice posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website on Dec. 20, 2013.
According to the notice, the contract will run for 24 months and will further the weapon’s sensor and avionics hardware development. DARPA will fund two further surface-launch LRASM tests in August and October 2014.
The LRASM, which is based on Lockheed’s stealthy AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range cruise missile, is being designed to give U.S. Navy surface warships the ability to “out-stick” enemy warships armed with advanced long-range anti-ship missiles.
Currently, only some Navy warships are armed with the Harpoon missile, which is greatly out-ranged by weapons used by potential adversaries such as the Russian-developed SS-N-22 Sunburn also known as the Raduga P-270 Moskit.
Lockheed officials expect that the LRASM—which can also be air-launched–will transition into a production program by 2018 with weapon being integrated onto the U.S. Air Force’s B-1 bomber and the Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet.
In recent months, Navy leaders have renewed calls for more modern anti-surface weapons.