Current surface-launched, anti-ship missiles face a challenge penetrating sophisticated enemy air defense systems from long range. As a result, warfighters may require multiple missile launches and overhead targeting assets to engage specific enemy warships from beyond the reach of counter-fire systems.
To overcome these challenges, the joint DARPA - Navy Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) program is investing in advanced technologies to provide a leap ahead in U.S. surface warfare capability. The LRASM program aims to reduce dependence on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms, network links, and GPS navigation in electronic warfare environments. Autonomous guidance algorithms should allow the LRASM to use less-precise target cueing data to pinpoint specific targets in the contested domain. The program also focuses on innovative terminal survivability approaches and precision lethality in the face of advanced counter measures.
The LRASM program began in 2009 to ensure that the United States leads technology advancement for best-in-world operational Anti-Surface Warfare capability into the future. The program, currently in the second of two phases, initially focused on technology for two variants, the LRASM-A and LRASM-B. LRASM-A leverages the state-of-the-art Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER) airframe and incorporates additional sensors and systems to achieve a stealthy and survivable subsonic cruise missile. Designs for LRASM-B focused on operating at the other end of the spectrum for precision strike weapons—high-altitude and supersonic speed over stealthy penetration.
Working in close collaboration with the Navy to provide warfighters a capability that can make a difference at sea in the near term, DARPA decided in January 2012 to focus solely on technology development for LRASM-A, ceasing development of LRASM-B. By consolidating investments to focus solely on advancing LRASM-A technologies, DARPA aims to reduce risk and expedite delivery of cutting-edge capability to the fleet.
DARPA began captive carry flight tests of LRASM sensors aboard a research aircraft in May 2012. The first captive carry test aboard a modified Sabreliner business jet successfully demonstrated all elements of the integrated sensor suite, including sensing and fuzing targets and validation of the geolocation algorithm. The sensor suite performed as planned, paving the way for additional captive carry tests in increasingly complex simulated scenarios through the remainder of 2012 and beginning of 2013.
DARPA originally scheduled two air-launched flight demonstrations for early 2013. In March 2013, DARPA increased the scope of the program to include a third flight to further mature key technologies in preparation for transition opportunities. Captive carry events will continue over the next several months, with the first live-fire exercise slated for Summer 2013.
Additionally, DARPA has begun an effort to integrate the LRASM for launch from a surface vessel. In support of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, DARPA is addressing the long-lead developmental tasks including modifications to the missile airframe, design of the booster separation system and development of a new hybrid canister to accommodate the LRASM. DARPA also plans to address surface-launched risk reduction (SLRR) issues. Two ballistic test surface launches are planned for the end of 2014.
The LRASM program is on track to deliver an advanced prototype weapon to the Navy and Air Force with capability for challenging future operational environments, while being sufficiently mature to transition rapidly to an acquisition program to address near-term operational challenges.
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control (LMMFC) Strike Weapons, Orlando, Fla., is the performer for the demonstration of the LRASM weapon, and BAE Systems, Information and Electronic Systems Integration, Nashua, NH, is the performer for the design and delivery of onboard sensor systems.
Dr. Arthur A. Mabbettarthur.email@example.com