Australia could purchase Lockheed Martin-developed AGM-158C, Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASMs) after receiving the US State Department’s approval for the buy.
The approval is necessary under the US foreign military sales law but does not mean a purchase agreement has been finalized.
Australia is looking to buy up to 200 LRASMs and related equipment for an estimated cost of $990 million. The deal would also include telemetry variant ATM-158C LRASMs, captive air training missiles and other accompanying items.
According to a statement from the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Australia intends to use the missiles on its F-18 Hornets. The country also has plans to equip its Hobart-class destroyers with yet-to-be-identified advanced long range anti-ship missile capability as they currently carry the RGM-84 Harpoon that has a range of a little over 100 kilometers.
LRASM also has a surface-launch variant that is built on the same production line as JASSM, JASSM-ER and LRASM air-launch weapons, delivering the same long-range capability while benefiting from manufacturing efficiencies.
Australia expressed interest in the LRASM as early as 2016, according to company representatives’ statements to Australian media.
The air-launched variant of LRASM has achieved early operational capability on US Air Force’s B-1B variable-sweep wing heavy bomber in 2018 and on the US Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in 2019.