NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Key to the Navy and Marine Corps future battle plans in the Western Pacific are populating ships and expeditionary ground units with anti-ship missiles.
In particular, both services are ramping up their acquisition of the Norwegian-designed Naval Strike Missile – the subsonic anti-ship missile produced in the U.S. in partnership with Raytheon.
The pair won a 2018 over-the-horizon missile contract with the Navy for LCS after Lockheed Martin and Boeing dropped out of the competition, USNI News reported at the time.
The Navy is set to buy just under 200 by the end of fiscal year 2025 for its fleet of Littoral Combat Ships, while the Marines have created an unmanned modified Joint Light Tactical Vehicle to haul an NSM launcher ashore to support its emerging Marine Littoral Regiment concept. Equipping the new regiment with 35 more missiles for $57.8 million, over the initial request for 29 missiles, appeared on the Marine Corps’ annual wish list for the Fiscal Year 2022 budget request, USNI News reported in June.
With demand for the missile growing in both services, Raytheon officials told USNI News they can handle the demand from its factories in Tuscon, Ariz., and in Louisville, Ky.
“We’re… in the first phase of the production where we got things stood up, we’re able to produce [and] deliver to the U.S. Navy, and then we have plans to increase the production capacity in Tucson,” Randy Kempton, the company’s Naval Strike Missile program director, told USNI News during the Sea Air and Space conference earlier this month.
At the moment, 75 percent of the missile is still produced in Norway, with Raytheon building 25 percent in Arizona and completing the final assembly. Kempton said that number could grow to a 50-50 split in the near future.
“We know how to produce missiles at high rate, high capacity. Kongsberg, they’re [a] great company. They do missile design, development and production, but not at the rates that we do. In terms of capacity and rates, I think that we will help, be able to help in terms of driving cost down” as a manufacturer, he said.
Raytheon did not disclose their production rate, but according to an unclassified DoD summary of the program the company can produce about 120 missiles a year.
In the short term, the Littoral Combat Ships in the Western Pacific are the priority for the Department of the Navy. The service has pledged every LCS deployed to U.S. 7th Fleet will be armed with NSM.
USS Charleston (LCS-18) and USS Tulsa (LCS-16), both in 7th Fleet, have recently been outfitted with the missiles after operating for weeks without them, a Navy official confirmed to USNI News on Thursday.