The U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin [LMT] conducted the first free flight launch of the company’s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) from an Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber on Aug. 17 during a test over Point Mugu Sea Range, Calif., the service said Friday.

This was the first end-to-end functionality test of the LRASM, testing the cruise missile’s ability to identify and prosecute a moving target at sea, the Navy said in a statement.

A Lockheed Martin rendering of LRASM.
A Lockheed Martin rendering of LRASM.

The test had the B-1B aircrew launch the LRASM while over the sea range. The missile navigated through planned waypoints, transitioned to mid-course guidance, and flew toward a maritime target using inputs from its onboard multimodal sensor. It then descended to a low altitude during final approach to the target area and successfully identified and hit the target among a group of ships.

The LRASM is a precision anti-ship standoff missile based on the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range (JASSM-ER) for use in contested environments. It is designed to detect and destroy specific targets within a group of ships by relying on technologies rather than intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms; network links; and GPS navigation in electronic war environments.

Capt. Todd Huber, the LRASM director, welcomed the result.

“This test represents a major accomplishment for the LRASM program and the dedicated team of government and industry professionals committed to accelerated acquisition. Today marks a significant step towards providing the operational community with a leap in critical surface warfare capability by next year,” he said in a statement.

“This was the first flight of a production representative, tactical configuration LRASM. The successful flight continues to prove LRASMs ability to find and prosecute targets at sea,” Mike Fleming, LRASM director at Lockheed Martin’s missiles and fire control business area.

The air-launched LRASM is scheduled to reach early operational capability in 2018 on the Air Force’s B-1B and in 2019 on the Navy’s F/A-18E/F aircraft.

Previously the Navy and Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin $86.5 million for initial production of 23 LRASMs within low-rate initial production Lot 1. The company has also recently tested a surface-launched variant of the LRASM from a topside canister, mimicking a deck-mounted configuration for the missile (Defense Daily, July 27).