In February 2021, the US Air Force and Navy signed a contract for more than 100 Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles.
This is, apparently, a closely watched program that seems to introduce a new sophisticated guidance system into lethal ship-killing missiles.
The $414 million deal is to buy 137 LRASMs, support equipment, systems engineering, logistics and training support, Lockheed Martin spokesman Joe Monaghen said in an email.
The LRASM has a range of approximately 300 nautical miles. It is resistant to jamming, and is designed to locate targets with onboard sensors rather than relying on guidance from another source such as a drone’s sensors or another ship. It also has some semblance of stealth technology, making it harder to detect, allegedly.
In a press release announcing the contract, Lockheed said the buy, which was for lots four and five of the missile, showed LRASM’s “increasing significance to our customers’ missions.”
In January, the Pentagon’s weapons tester, the director of operational test and evaluation, said the Navy should ramp up testing of the newest iteration of the missile.
Citing “multiple hardware and software failures” in the first version of the LRASM missile, the DOT&E report called on the Navy to put the new LRASM 1.1 through a rigorous testing process under realistic combat conditions to ensure it will “demonstrate mission capability in operationally realistic environments.”
Lockheed Martin’s promotional page claims that the missile is designed to use its “multi-modal sensor suite, weapon data link, and enhanced digital anti-jam Global Positioning System to detect and destroy specific targets within a group of numerous ships at sea,” meaning it can pick out what ships are its intended targets from a group of ships.
In the release, the company said the missile “reduce dependence on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, network links and GPS navigation in electronic warfare environments. LRASM will play a significant role in ensuring military access to operate in open ocean, owing to its enhanced ability to discriminate and conduct tactical engagements from extended ranges.”
It is evident that the US is stockpiling “ship-killer missiles”. In February 2020, it turned out that the US Department of Defense had included approximately 850 anti-ship missiles in its five-year defense spending projections, which is a tenfold increase from the 88 anti-ship missiles planned for the 2016-2021 period.
This is necessary since both Russia and China’s fleets are expanding. Beijing’s fleet is growing at an incredible pace, and the US continues its provocations in regard to the South China Sea, Taiwan and more.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy, which is expected to grow to 425 ship by 2030.
This, of course, has driven the U.S. to accelerate procurement anti-ship missiles, including the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps. Both services are seeking the ability to threaten ships at sea from long ranges.
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