Navy LRASM Missile Set for Non-VLS Tube-Style Launcher Tests in 2017
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), scheduled for its first flight later this year in its air-launched mode, also will go through launch tests from an alternative shipboard launcher for ships not equipped with the Mk41 or Mk57 vertical-launch systems.
Lockheed Martin is proceeding with development of a tube-launcher, similar in design to the launchers for Harpoon anti-ship missiles used on Flight I Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and deployed this year on the littoral combat ship USS Coronado, in order to give the Navy more options for distributing lethality across more ship types and be in position for the competition for the over-the-horizon missile for the new frigate design.
The tube launcher will be tested at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico during the third quarter of 2017, Chris Mang, vice president for strategy and business development for Tactical Missiles and Combat Maneuver Systems, told reporters March 21. The company has invested $20 million in development of the launcher.
The AGM-158C LRASM is a derivative of the Air Force’s Joint Air-to-Surface Strike Missile-Extended Range and is being fielded first as an air-launched cruise missile. The LRASM currently is in integration and testing. The first launch is scheduled from an Air Force B-1B bomber by the end of 2017.
Mang noted that the LRASM is a term used by Lockheed Martin, but officially in the Navy it is known as Increment 1 of the Offensive Anti-Surface Weapon (OASuW) program. The LRASM is first being deployed on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighter. Mang predicted it eventually will be deployed on the F-35 Lightning II strike fighter as well.
Mang said that testing is complete for LRASM launch from a Mk41 VLS, with launch being conducted from the test ship ex-USS Paul Foster.
“I think naval aviation is ready to move out” with LRASM. Mang said, noting that he believed that the surface-launched version was not yet a procurement program because “I believe they’re waiting to see the missile fly.”
Mang said that Lockheed Martin also has invested in the concept of the LRASM being launched from a Virginia-class Virginia Payload Module being designed for the Block V of the submarine class. Each tube of the module could accommodate six LRASMs. He said three tests are required for submarine launch and Lockheed Martin has completed the first of the tests in conjunction with Northrop Grumman.
“We have a roadmap [for development of LRASM submarine deployment], but the surface Navy tends to be the preponderance [of a requirement for an OASuW],” he said.