LRASM is a precision-guided, anti-ship standoff missile based on the successful Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range (JASSM-ER). It is designed to meet the needs of U.S. Navy and Air Force warfighters in contested environments. The air-launched variant provides an early operational capability for the Navy’s offensive anti-surface warfare Increment I requirement to be integrated onboard the U.S. Air Force’s B-1B in 2018 and on the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in 2019.
The AGM-158C LRASM (Long Range Anti-Ship Missile) is a stealthy anti-ship cruise missile under development for the United States Navy by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The LRASM was intended to pioneer more sophisticated autonomous targeting capabilities than the U.S. Navy’s current Harpoon anti-ship missile, which has been in service since 1977.
The Navy was authorized by the Pentagon to put the LRASM into limited production as an operational weapon in February 2014 as an urgent capability stop-gap solution to address range and survivability problems with the Harpoon and to prioritize defeating enemy warships, which has been neglected since the end of the Cold War but taken on importance with the modernization of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy. The Navy will hold a competition for the Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW)/Increment 2 anti-ship missile as a follow-on to LRASM to enter service in 2024.
Competitors to Lockheed Martin protested the decision to award them a contract given the circumstances of selection and competition for the missile. The Navy responded by saying Lockheed’s LRASM program was limited in scope, the decision to move ahead with them was made after an initial DARPA contract award, and that it was an urgent need to face future threats. The initial LRASMs are expected to be operational in 2018. The OASuW Increment 2 competition will be completely open and start by FY 2017. It is expected the LRASM will compete against the joint Kongsberg/Raytheon offering of the Joint Strike Missile (JSM) for air-launch needs and an upgraded Raytheon Tomahawk cruise missile for surface-launch needs.
In August 2015, the Navy officially designated the air-launched LRASM as the AGM-158C.