Home » Aviation » Lockheed Martin Drops LRASM Out of Littoral Combat Ship/Frigate Missile Competition


Lockheed Martin Drops LRASM Out of Littoral Combat Ship/Frigate Missile Competition

A July 2016 test of the LRASM from a MK-41 launcher on the Navy’s Self Defense Test Ship. Lockheed Martin Photo

Lockheed Martin has elected not to include its Long Range Anti-Ship Missile in the Navy’s competition to field an over-the-horizon missile for the Littoral Combat Ship and frigate, company officials confirmed to USNI News on Wednesday.

“After long and careful consideration, Lockheed Martin has decided to withdraw from the U.S. Navy Over-the-Horizon Weapon System (OTH-WS) competition. As the current OTH-WS request for proposal process refined over time, it became clear that our offering would not be fully valued,” read a statement from the company provided to USNI News.
“If additional changes are made to the RFP, Lockheed Martin would review the new requirements and assess whether our capability would be a good fit to meet the U.S. Navy’s needs, as we would with any RFP.”

LRASM – a modified version of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – was developed as part of an urgent operational need for U.S. Pacific Command for a modern air launched anti-ship cruise missile. In tandem with developing the air-launched version, Lockheed has spent several million internal research and development dollars to prove out surface and submarine launched versions of the weapon.

Lockheed’s exit from the competition was first reported by Defense News earlier on Wednesday. Earlier this month Boeing dropped out of the OTH competition, withdrawing its RGM-84 Harpoon from consideration.

Both companies expressed concern that the Navy was giving little consideration to the networked capability of the weapons, USNI News understands.

Lockheed Martin artist’s conception of the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM). Lockheed Martin Photo

“Lockheed Martin strongly believes that we have an offering of significant value, which the Navy is already familiar with in the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile Capability Air-Launched program of record,” said Scott Callaway, director of Advanced Sub-sonic Cruise Missiles at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control said in a statement to USNI News. “

We will continue our investment in the maturation of the surface launch LRASM capabilities for future competitions where survivability, long range, and lethality against the most capable adversary ships drive the requirements. On the heels of our recent successful at-sea Vertical Launching System demonstration, our Topside Launcher flight test this summer designed for non-VLS applications, will further demonstrate the flexibility and versatility of LRASM for the surface fleet.”

With Lockheed and Boeing both out of the competition, the only remaining contender for the OTH award is the Norwegian Naval Strike Missile

Both LRASM and Harpoon are being developed into air launched versions at the behest of Naval Air Systems Command.

  • Michael Ryan

    Sadly, an already troubled program continues to suffer. Either LRASM or HARPOON would have provided LCS with the American-made lethality it desperately needs. Now, neither is an option.

    • DaSaint

      As far as I’m concerned, any of the 3 would work. That said, the Kongsberg version is a clean-sheet design that has been in service for a few years now, and would be manufactured in the US by Raytheon. We expect our allies to procure our systems. No reason it can’t be a two-way street when it best suits our requirements.

      • Michael Ryan

        To look at the issue another way, allowing only for the NSM means you also limit the number of available technicians available during fleet introduction, limit parts and maintenance throughout the duration of the missile’s life, etc…. HARPOON brings a commonality with existing platforms, while LRASM brings the same with different services.

        • GreensboroVet

          Same can be said about the LRASM F-35, P-8, but we are learning and parts and maintenance is growing. It’s called introduction of a new system.

        • DaSaint

          Not really a good argument. We introduce new systems all the times. How many versions of the SIdewinder do you think are in service? Answer: Lots! Same with Maverick. Doesn’t matter. Imagine how many types of diesel engines and generators are in our vessels. Point is, if we want it, we make it work, and support it accordingly.

          • Michael Ryan

            Both Sidewinder and Maverick are generally used across multiple services, and therefore have a wide support base. I sincerely doubt, though, NSM will receive the same support as either of those two missiles. Furthermore, we have less types of engines and generators than one may think. (Which is actually a good thing).

      • GreensboroVet

        Thank you DaSaint. Doesn’t Always have to be MADE IN AMERICA. This missile is built and proven by one of our most TRUSTED allies and will get the job done.

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      The NSM will be American made…. by Raytheon.

      The US is full of foreign defence equipment.
      The thousands of Strykers are Swiss, carrying Norwegian weapons stations.
      Every Abrams fires a German gun…… and so on.

      • FactChecker90803

        German made or German designed, the M256A1 was based on the Rheinmatall 120mm L/44, but with extensive upgrades and redesigned to increase resistance to fractures and fatigue, in order to be able to fire rounds with greater kinetic energy, also the cradle and recoil system is wholly different.

        There was the 120mm XM294 L/55 that was tested on the M1A2 between 1996-1998, (2 years before Rheinmetall introduced the L/55), as part of the Advanced Tank Armament Systems (ATAS) research project, there was also the XM291 ATAC of which there were 120mm, 135mm and140mm varients tested, as part of a future upgrade to the M1A2. After extensive testing the Army has instead settled on the 120mm M360 gun, odd the Army is going with a 120mm gun, while Germany/France are going to a 130mm for there joint MGCS Leo2/Leclerc replacement. That is until one realizes that the XM360E1 uses combustion enhanced technology ETC (Electrothermal-Chemical), and since it’s based in the XM-291, there likely will be bigger (130mn, 135mm, 140mm) versions as they are warranted

        • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

          The stryker is also American made……

          To the rest of the world it is a very overpriced Mowag Piranha.

          The point is, the US uses foreign kit all the time.

          • Sons of Liberty

            The Stryker is Canadian made.

          • GreensboroVet

            So true.

          • Secundius

            Actually the Piranha is ~$400-K cheaper than the Stryker…

          • DaSaint

            Agreed!

      • Sons of Liberty

        The Stryker is based on the Swiss pirhana but is Canadian built and improved design based on their LAV III.

        That said the improvements did little to make it a world class LAV it still an overpriced POS that a dozen other nation build and field far superior designs with higher capabilities at lower cost.

        The Fins and Poles still make the best LAV/IVF available at far lower cost that what an upgraded Stryker costs.

      • Michael Ryan

        LCS is no exception, to include a partially German propulsion plant, Swedish gun, and Canadian and Italian flight deck equipment. However, unlike the hundreds of Abrams and Strykers currently in service, we only have a handful of LCS, with comparatively few planned for the future. Correspondingly, the maintenance and support base is relatively small.

        • DaSaint

          Sure, but we only had a few hundred Harriers too, and they were based on UK technology. Both the LCS/Independence class and the JHSV are Australian derived. They bring a new type of commercial technology to the warfighting table. Not without issues, but that’s not my point here.

          • Michael Ryan

            The difference being we didn’t have to call the U.K. every time we had an issue with a Harrier (which would have been quite often). The same can not be said with many of the systems on both variants of LCS.

      • GreensboroVet

        Don’t forget that new twin-engine helicopter that the National Guard got and new army training helo Airbus Lakota. Guard loves and Army head over heels for it. Didn’t have build it from scratch and its produced by a trusted Ally.

    • GreensboroVet

      Some times, its ok to go foreign.

      • Michael Ryan

        We do it quite often – sometimes with the success…sometimes with spectacular failure.

  • TheFightingIrish

    And, the winner is Kongsberg’s Naval Strike Missile.

    • James B.

      I’d say there’s still at least a 50% chance that the competition ends without a contract being awarded. If the “winner” is judged not to offer enough value above the current options, the DOD tends to stick with whatever’s already in service, in this case the old Harpoons.

  • delta9991

    Great thing for the Raytheon/Kongsburg and the USN. Navy will have a great replacement for the light ASM fleet to integrate on its aircraft (including F-35C internal) and surface fleet. LRASM is a great weapon, but it’s rather large to slap on anything that floats. It’s gonna shine in the VLS and OASuW II and Next Gen land strike, but that’s its place. Maybe Boeing will finally take the hint that you can’t rehash your entire portfolio with wild claims when your competition is introducing truly transformational stuff.

    • GreensboroVet

      I agree. NSM is already developed and in production, and test fired off back end of Littoral Combat Ship. Plus, it is a new missile. My opinion, LRASM is just too big. Kongsberg’s Naval Strike Missile should be able to fit and carry a decent load of 16 missiles without too many changes. But, Again, just my arm-chair-general opinion.

      • delta9991

        NSM will slot nicely into all the Harpoon slots currently aboard and where they want to place them on those that don’t have them. The requirements and size are very similar to that of the Harpoon. I’ve also seen Kongsburg pitching it for installation aboard an MH60 like the old Penguin. As you said tho, everything looks so rosy and easy from the armchair.

    • Secundius

      Size isn’t a factor? Something else is! An LRASM can be Launched from a Standard Mk.141 Lightweight Launcher and the Smallest Vessel to date that an Mk.141 Launcher has been mounted to. Was the PHM-1, USS Pegasus class Patrol Hydrofoil Missile at ~230-tons. I suspect it’s either Capability or Versatility or Both…

      • delta9991

        My comment is more saying you don’t always need a 1000lb warhead for every job. It’s way overkill for something corvette or frigate sized, which most of our enemies will operate. Plus, the warhead alone is heavier than an entire NSM. Where you’d put a 2 stack of LRASM you’d likely place a 4 pack of NSM just because of size. I’m not knocking LRASM in the slightest, I love the thing. It’s just a large missile that isn’t suited to every role

      • vzzzb2 vzzzb1

        main problem is how many types of missiles are the US going to buy! The more types mean fewer produced per type and cost invariantly going up….(not just buying, but servicing the missiles as they age).

        • Secundius

          Currently there are about 23 Missile Systems in Active use with the US Navy. About 60% of the Sub-Types used in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The “Closest” Missile in the US Military to a “One Size Fits Most Missile” is the “SM” or “Standard Missile”. But even that Missile is a “Wee Bit” Overkill for Twenty Plus “Swarming” 7-meter Fiberglass Speedboats with a 2,000-pound “Kamikaze” onboard…

  • airider

    Each of these options is waaaay too expensive including the NSM. LRASM is too big and expensive….Harpoon is too. You’d figure a design as old as Harpoon would have matured to the point where the cost would be reduced, but hey….this is government acquisition and normal rules of matured technology don’t apply.

    An example of an option for OTH-WS that could be leveraged is the the ADM-160. Started off as a $30k decoy with Northrup Grumman and has evolved considerably since then under Raytheon. The dimensions and weight are very similar to ESSM, which means, at least in a first order approximation, the U.S. could put a quad-pack of these in a single Mk-41 cell…..just something to think about.

  • DaSaint

    ‘Both LRASM and Harpoon are being developed into air launched versions at the behest of Naval Air Systems Command.’

    Um, both are already air-launch capable.

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    So, they can order the NSMs today & get these ships armed asap…..

    Or to innumerable desk jockeys need to push paper around for another few years?

    • sferrin

      Yeah let’s not do it right and get a capable missile that we’ll be stuck with for the next 30 years.

      • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

        No, your right… better to continue the competition with 1 entrant for years more.

        I’m on tenterhooks to know which of the 1 remaining entrant will win!
        I’m sure your giddy with excitement at this total unknown as well!

  • sferrin

    “Let’s make it so we can only buy the least capable missile.” Once again the USN goes out of it’s way to shoot itself in the head.

  • RobM1981

    This is a article about Lockheed’s actions, but it would be nice to get some idea of the Why, other than “the Navy doesn’t fully appreciate our stuff, and we are in a snit…”

    Are the requirements beyond the technological capabilities available?

    If we follow the money, do we find that a mountain of money isn’t enough for Boeing or Lockheed, and that two or three mountains are needed?

    What is the underlying cause, here? Does anyone have facts that aren’t confidential?

    • James B.

      Boeing and Lockheed were both pitching missiles they’d already developed for air-launched requirements; I’m guessing those programs required more features than the OTH-WS competition, and the surface Navy wasn’t willing to pay for the overkill.

      • Marjus Plaku

        Boeing pulled out, in part, because apparently the Navy was not requiring an ‘all weather’ capability or an ability to guide to target from a third party source, ie. network integration. They were going to offer the Harpoon Block II plus which reduced the warhead to 300LB and was physically 40% smaller than the traditional Harpoon body to accommodate numerous deck launch fittings on a small/medium sized warship. Crucially, this Harpoon has a new guidance & link package as well as new motor pushing the range out to ~130nm even with the reduced overall missile size.

        This option seems perfect for the LCS/Frigate and now that the (too big/complex) LRASM is out too, the Naval Strike Missile is the only one left. Potentially the weakest of all three options, but also the cheapest and easiest to bolt on.

    • vzzzb2 vzzzb1

      probably too heavy. the Norwegian Konsberg naval strike missile weight 900lbs with 250 lbs warhead. the Lockheed LRASM weight close to 2500 lbs with 1000 lbs warhead! Harpoon 1500lbs with 500 lbs warhead. There is no way top slim the harpoon or LRASM down to around 1000lbs unless you take their warhead away!

  • MaskOfZero

    For all of the cost of the LRASM, I wonder whether the stealth advantages it confers over a modernized tomahawk missile for maritime use are worth the difference in range.

    The new anti-ship tomahawk would have a 1000 nmi range and advanced avionics, while the LRASM will have around 300 nmi or if an ER is made, 500 nmi.

    That’s quite a range difference.

    • delta9991

      You still have the same problem that retired the Tomahawk ASM in the first place, getting reliable launch data at that distance. Getting solid detection and target confirmation (even with all our advances) is very difficult at that range. Not saying that justifies the lower range (I’d prefer the next gen land strike and heavy ASM be the same missile which forces that long range because of long range stationary ground targets) but if you can’t use it, why have it?

  • publius_maximus_III

    Well sir, I’d say it’s about time to open up the bidding to NATO suppliers like MBDA (Exocet) and Saab (RBS15). We’ll show those Lockheed executives how to play hardball.

    • delta9991

      Saab was invited but decided not to bid on the program according to Defense News article. Didn’t feel there was a good business case.

      • DaSaint

        Saab probably thought Boeing had it locked up, or if not, then Lockheed did, so didn’t bother.

  • Rob C.

    Lack of competition is bad. Lockheed must have something else going on in the background that’s not publicly known.

  • Dwight Looi

    Cheapest is irrelevant. It is better to spend three or four times as much on a US weapon system than to spend money that leaves the USA. BUY AMERICAN, let the money stay in the US economy.