Lockheed Martin has secured a $49.3 million contract for work on the integration of its Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) on the Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets.
According to a contract award announcement from the US Naval Air Systems Command, Lockheed is expected to complete work on integrating and testing the missile on the aircraft by March 2026.
The contract award for the integration of the missiles onto RAAF aircraft follows Australia’s 200-LRASM order under a $990 million contract from July 2020.
As previously noted, the US Navy’s AGM-158C LRASM is a significant upgrade from Australia’s current AGM-84 air-launched Harpoon anti-ship missile, which was introduced in the early 1980s, with a range of 124 kilometers. The LRASM has a range in excess of 370 kilometers.
LRASM will initially be used on the F/A-18F Super Hornets and has the flexibility to be integrated onto other aircraft.
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.
A little under a year after the LRASM order, Lockheed Martin revealed it was teaming up with Thales Australia in a bid to secure work under Australia’s “sovereign guided weapons enterprise,” which will see the country invest A$1 billion into guided weapons manufacturing capability.
The agreement between the two companies will involve the design, development and production of Lockheed Martin’s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile – surface launch (LRASM SL) variant, with a specific focus on booster and rocket motor technologies. Back then, Lockheed Martin said this variant of the missile could be intended for both ground-launched and ship-launched configurations.
As a variant of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER), LRASM is a precision-guided, anti-ship standoff missile designed to detect and destroy specific targets within groups of ships by employing advanced technologies that reduce dependence on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, network links and GPS navigation in electronic warfare environments. The stealthy cruise missile can deliver a 450-kg warhead at ranges of more 200 nautical miles.