September 17, 2013
Navy officials are expected to report back to Congress by the end of this month on a plan for their strategy to address requirements for a next-generation anti-ship missile.
At issue is whether and how the service will proceed with buying a new anti-ship missile capable of operating inside enemy ship defenses and without cues from the GPS system.
Lockheed Martin officials are hoping the service will forgo a competition and move ahead with further development of the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (Lrasm), a variant of the Air Force-led Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (Jassm), a stealthy cruise missile designed to travel beyond 500 nm for land targets. “There is a range of bad options,” says Frank St. John, vice president of tactical missiles for Lockheed Martin. They include systems that are very “long in the tooth,” he says.
The company intends to deliver the Lrasm for “well under $2 million” per unit, he adds. The missile shares 85% common parts to Jassm-ER, he says. This longer-range variant of the missile is built off of the 200-nm Jassm, which had technical and production challenges in its development. As a result, its price once crept up to about $1 million per missile, far over the planned unit cost.
Lockheed won the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (Darpa) contract in 2009 to develop Lrasm.
The company has funded $30 million worth of Lrasm’s development, mostly focused on a Sept. 4 test in which a weight-representative test vehicle was launched from an MK 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) canister.
This is the Navy’s standard ship-based launch system. During the test at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., the missile cleared the canister but did not ignite under its own power. That test is forthcoming and will be funded by the government; the project is jointly funded by Darpa and the Office of Naval Research. They are planning to conduct a trial by the end of fiscal 2014 to launch out of the VLS and prosecute actual targets.
A Lrasm test vehicle was used in an Aug. 27 trial to hit a moving shipping target, St. John says. After being launched from a B-1B flying at about 20,000 ft. and at .8 Mach, the weapon cruised to the target area, autonomously located the ship and hit within a “few feet” of its target, he says. He declined to address whether countermeasures, such as GPS denial, were used during this demonstration. But it was “operationally representative” and “a very difficult test,” he says.
The Navy hopes to declare initial operational capability for a new weapon in fiscal 2018; the requirement grew out of a demand from Pacific Command. What remains to be seen is whether the service will move ahead with Lrasm or conduct a competition, with options likely to come from Raytheon and Boeing.