The Lockheed Martin AGM-158C long range anti-ship missile (LRASM) has achieved an early operational capability (EOC) milestone with the US Navy on the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
Already cleared for service on the USAF B-1B Lancer in December 2018, the LRASM adds a new long-range capability to the US Navy which has previously relied on the AGM-84 Harpoon as its primary anti-ship weapon.
Based on the low-observable AGM-158A JASSM as operated by the USAF and RAAF and its longer-range AGM-158B JASSM-ER derivative, LRASM has a range of more than 500km. It uses an advanced sensor and a ship recognition database to discriminate between adversaries and friendly or non-combatant vessels, and has a 1,000lb blast fragmentation warhead.
“LRASM will play a significant role in ensuring military access to operate in the Pacific and in the littorals by providing a long-range surface warfare capability,” a US Navy spokesman told Navy News.
LRASM is a likely contender for two programs in Australia; the Project SEA 4100 Phase 1 program to equip the new Hobart class DDGs and Hunter class FFGs with a long-range surface-launched anti-ship missile, and the Project AIR 3023 Phase 1 enhanced maritime strike requirement to equip the RAAF’s Super Hornet and possibly the F-35A and the P-8A Poseidon with an anti-ship missile. Both programs would replace the AGM-84 Harpoon in ADF service.
The US Navy is developing a ship-launched version of LRASM that can be employed from the Mk41 vertical launch system (VLS) as used on the Hobart class and slated for the Hunter class. The RAN is likely to also consider the KONGSBERG Naval Strike Missile (NSM), while the RAAF has shown interest in the air-launched Joint Strike Missile (JSM) version of the NSM.