B-1 Lancer bomber launches first prototype of new Stealth Long Range Anti-Ship Missile
The brand new LRASM (Long Range Anti-Ship Missile) based on the AGM-158 JASSM-ER (Extended Range) missile was successfully tested at the Point Mugu range, in California, recently
The prototype of a stealth anti-ship missile was first tested on Aug. 27, 2013, even if DARPA released the news some days later.
Along with its ability to be launched from aircraft, the missile will be compatible with Mk41 Vertical Launch System used by surface warships and submarines.
The tripartite research is carried out together by DARPA, USAF and US Navy’s Office of Naval Research, with Lockheed Martin being the manufacturer of the weapon.
The new missile uses its inertial navigation and GPS (global positioning systems) to find its target, and an infrared seeker for pinpoint accuracy right before impact. Noteworthy, the weapon is reported to be extremely jamming resistant and able to operate in “contested and degraded environments”.
The missile hit a moving unmanned 80m vessel: unlike other anti-ship missiles, the LRASM is capable of conducting autonomous targeting, relying on on-board targeting systems to autonomously identify the target without the need of having the target’s GPS in advance.
During the first test, half the way to the target, the missile deviated from the planned route and started an autonomous flight towards the intended place of hit, using own systems: three objects were placed in the target are and both were automatically identified.
The missile initially flies at medium altitude before descending to low altitude to avoid anti-missile defenses by means of a sea skimming approach to the target.
Even though the weapon is based on JASSM-ER, it is believed to have the same range as a standard JASSM (about 200 miles). The difference with JASSM (a GPS-guided cruise missiles with 2,250-lbs warhead) is in its avionics: the LRASM features a multi-mode radio frequency sensor, a new weapon datalink and altimeter. What is more, the missile also houses an uprated power system.
Two more tests are planned later this year.
By the way the U.S. and Finland are active users of JASSM missiles, while Poland will probably purchase the weapon for its F-16 Block 52+’s.
Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist
Top image: B-1 drops a JASSM (Lockheed Martin)