A month after declaring early operating capability (EOC) the US State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale to Australia of the AGM-158C, Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) at an estimated cost of US $990 million.
The US Defence and Security Cooperation Agency (DCSA) announcement comes in response to a request from the Commonwealth to buy up to two hundred LRASMs and up to eleven ATM-158C LRASM Telemetry Variants; the approval also includes DATM-158C LRASM and Captive Air Training Missiles as well as extensive technical and logistic support services.
According to the DCSA, “This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States. Australia is one of our most important allies in the Western Pacific. The strategic location of this political and economic power contributes significantly to ensuring peace and economic stability in the region…….and will provide enhanced capabilities in defense of critical sea-lanes”.
As previously reported in ADBR, the LRASM achieved EOC on the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet in late 2019. The Super Hornet can carry four LRASMs, which is based on the low-observable AGM-158B JASSM-ER derivative. The RAAF already operates the AGM-158A JASSM on its Classic Hornets.
The AGM-158C is believed to have a range of more than 500km and can be fired as a single shot or in salvos. 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.
Last week the USN signalled its intent to integrate the LRASM on the P-8 Poseidon as part of a broader offensive anti-surface warfare strategy.