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LRASM Scores in Navy Test Ship Launch

An artist's concept of a Lockheed Martin LRASM fired from a U.S. Navy VLS tube. Lockheed Martin image.

An artist’s concept of a Lockheed Martin LRASM fired from a U.S. Navy VLS tube. Lockheed Martin image.

Lockheed Martin has completed the third of three test shots to prove that their air-launched Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) can be fired from a surface ship on the move, company officials told USNI News on Wednesday.

The Monday test at the Navy’s Point Mugu Sea Range, California took the same weapon Lockheed developed for a DARPA program to be launched against ships from fighters and bombers and loaded it into the same launch system used on the service’s guided missile destroyers and cruisers.

“We’re doing it to demonstrate that LRASM can be integrated onto a ship with software changes only and it won’t be a huge bill to put LRASMs in the surface fleet,” Scott Callaway — LRASM Surface-Launch director at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control — told USNI News.

Lockheed refurbished a Mk 41 Vertical Launch System cell for the test, combined the 500 nautical mile range LRASM with an additional booster and tied it to a Tactical Tomahawk Weapon Control System (TTWCS) for guidance – all installed on Navy’s Self Defense Test Ship, the former USS Paul Foster.

Navy’s Self Defense Test Ship, the former USS Paul Foster in 2011. US Navy Photo

Navy’s Self Defense Test Ship, the former USS Paul Foster in 2011. US Navy Photo

“We were able to demonstrate and execute that tactical, operational type mission through launch of the missile, separation of the booster and transition to a cruise portion of the flight,” Callaway said.
“And then we flew a series of waypoints at the mid-level cruise altitude for the first portion of the mission and then we descended down a low altitude and demonstrated our low altitude flight algorithms down to a tactical flight altitude.”

The test follows two MK 41 LRASM tests at the Navy’s Desert Ship tests at the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico in 2013 and 2014.

“We have already demonstrated that we could execute the mission with the Mk 41 electronics and that we had a canister that worked and we gone through booster separation – so we had done everything except for launching from a moving ship,” Callaway said.

The successful Monday test, funded by the company, comes ahead of two key Navy weapons efforts to refresh the service’s anti-ship weapons – the over the horizon missile for the Littoral Combat Ship and frigate programs and the Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW) Increment II.

A LRASM missile in a hangar with a F/A-18E Super Hornet. Lockheed Martin Photo

A LRASM missile in a hangar with a F/A-18E Super Hornet. Lockheed Martin Photo

LRASM was originally developed for the air launched OASuW I as part of a DARPA program in response an urgent operational need issued by U.S. Pacific Command for a new air-launched anti-ship missile in 2009 as part of a $1 billion development program.

“Increment two was supposed to be a competition for both air and surface platforms. So we’ve been investing to reduce the risk of our surface-launched variant to compete for increment two,” Callaway said.
Lockheed is also, “working on maturing a deck-mounted launcher concept that would enable LRASMs to be integrated into those non-VLS platforms and that’s kind of what’s next for us – maturing that launcher and demonstrating that next year.”

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Categories: Budget Industry, Education Legislation, News & Analysis, Surface Forces, U.S. Navy
Sam LaGrone

About Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He was formerly the U.S. Maritime Correspondent for the Washington D.C. bureau of Jane’s Defence Weekly and Jane’s Navy International. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.

  • Curtis Conway

    Potential frigate weapon?

    • MarlineSpikeMate

      By frigate, you mean fast frigate?

    • delta9991

      I think this is a bit on the large side for what the LCS/FF would want. The NSM seems to be a perfect fit while LRASM seems ideal for OASuW Increment 2 to replace the Tomahawks out of DDG/CG VLS cells. Plus, if the Navy is smart, they’ll get the new seekers for the Tomahawks when they come in for recertification in the next few years and JSM’s for internal F-35C carriage (which will also drive down NSM costs as they’re almost the same missile). That’ll bring a lot of flexibility for the Fleet, across the whole spectrum of range and destructive boom.

      • Ctrot

        Too large for LCS, but I’m betting it could have worked aboard the OHP’s.

        • delta9991

          Too large based on what source? The baseline LCS definitely earned the nicknames with the lackluster initial weapon compliment but that doesn’t excuse flat out false statements. The deck launcher designed for LRASM is of the same footprint as that of the Harpoon. A Harpoon was just launched off the proposed OTH missile position on the Coranado, so LRASM would fit as well (it’d fit on OHPs as well). I feel the NSM would be perfectly suited because its size and power are more tailored to what the LCS/FF would go up against, other Corvettes/Frigates. You got the bigger combatants with VLS cells and the Carrier Air Wing for anything larger than that.

          • @USS_Fallujah

            Putting the LRASM on the LCS/FFE will be difficult, the LRASM is likely about twice the weight of the Harpoon and since the LCS/FFE doesn’t have a VLS you need to use deck canisters, which will add significantly to topside weight. Not saying it can’t be done, but you’re likely only going to be able to deploy 2 or 4 vs 8 Harpoons/NSMs, unless they create weight allowances by removing other equipment topside.

  • Bill

    I loaded a training round of this missile on an F-16 several years ago. The casket it comes in is impressive, as can be seen by the coiled spring shock absorbers.

  • NavySubNuke

    Good news – now we just need to integrate it into our SSN fleet as well and we will finally have a reliable long range anti-ship missile.

  • Tired of Ignorance

    It may be nitpicky, but the object in the picture with the F-18 is not an LRASM, it is a weight representative payload of the LRASM for flight testing.

    • sferrin

      More than just “weight representative”. It may not be a LRASM but it’s not just a hunk of metal either.

    • Not gonna say

      It’s a LRASM

      • not gonna say

        with no warhead

  • Jack Sparrow is just a pirate

    And the Surface Navy’s proposed funding over the FYDP for LRASM Inc II is a robust…wait a second, I thought I saw it here a second ago… $0.00. That’s because the air guys are the sponsor, and they didn’t fund Inc II either. This project is officially in nowheresville.

    LM continues to try to wish VLS LRASM into existence.

    • sferrin

      If the USN is smart, it’ll happen.

  • airider

    Good option for long range heavy punch against expensive threats. So are upgraded Tomahawks. Guess we’ll see how this plays out.

    So where’s the cheaper option against cheap threats? If folks are scratching their heads about what this could look like, a derivative of the ADM-160 (since we seem to be adopting air weapons for ships as the risk mitigation technique) could possibly work.

    Getting an ASCM in the $300k-$500k range would be great. Keeping them small ensures we can fit more within limited magazine spaces.

  • Rob C.

    Hopefully, it will move along to actually deploying in the US Navy regular fleet.

    Nice to see the exPaul Foster still giving useful service for the fleet.