Boeing‘s F/A-18 Super Hornet will be live-testing Lockheed Martin‘s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile later this year, Military.com reported Tuesday. The AGM-158C LRASM is expected to become operational in September 2019.
At Naval Station Patuxent River, Md., the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet completed a successful “jettison release” test in 2017, which led to captive-carry tests at Navy Air Weapons Station China Lake, Calif., currently being held.
The precision-guided missile will likely first be field tested on Boeing’s B-1B Lancer bomber. B-1 crews shot the LRASM at Point Mugu Sea Range, Calif., in December, with the first B-1B test occurring in August. According to Alan Jackson, Lockheed’s vice president of strike systems, all six tests have been a success. Two more flights are slated for summer ahead of September’s test.
Jackson says the missiles have deck-launch capability from a U.S. Navy destroyer’s vertical launch system. He adds they have an increased survivability rate when compared to Tomahawk cruise missiles since their low-observable technologies make them more difficult to detect.
Since the B-1 can already launch the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range, it was seen as a natural fit for the LRASM. Like the JASSM-ER, the LRASM is outfitted with a 1,000-lb. warhead, features pinpoint accuracy using an infrared sensor, and includes GPS and anti-jamming navigation. However, the LRASM can also detect, identify and attack moving underwater targets, and contains a datalink on board that allows it to communicate with its launch platform.
Lockheed is in Block 1 production for the LRASM, with the Air Force contract providing for 23 missiles to date. Both the Air Force and Navy have streamlined the testing process for their aircraft, Jackson says.