Defense Industry Daily (DID) has an article (1) on the Navy’s possible Harpoon replacement, the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM). Here’s a few salient points.
- The program is a DARPA research effort, not an acquisition program. Even if the missile is successfully developed the Navy must adopt and fund it.
- The program originally looked at two versions, LRASM-A and LRASM-B. The –A version is a subsonic, air launched version while the –B is a heavier, high Mach, ship launched missile. The –B version has been put on indefinite hold.
- The LRASM-A is not currently VLS capable though there is no reason why it couldn’t be adapted to VLS. Of course, there has been no reason the Harpoon couldn’t be adapted to VLS and, yet, it never was!
- The proposed interim anti-ship version of Tomahawk has been cancelled, if it ever was a legitimate project.
The DID article makes the point that given the current budget situation and the Navy’s stated and demonstrated desire for new construction above all else, the funding and acquisition of the LRASM is anything but a given, no matter how great the need. The Navy will continue to fund new construction even if they have to cut every other project to do it. We’ll keep a close eye on this one.
By the way, do you remember the post about your enemies telling you what they fear most (if not, read it here)? Well, if you turn it around, what do we fear the most as regards anti-ship missiles? I’d say it’s heavy, supersonic missiles with maneuvering capability and on-board ECM. What we don’t particularly fear is small subsonic missiles. With that in mind, why are we pursuing the LRASM-A, a small subsonic missile? Is it just me or does something not seem right about this? Also by the way, didn’t we develop the Mk57 peripheral vertical launch cell specifically to handle larger missiles? Wouldn’t this seem to be an ideal match between the launch system and the LRASM-B? Of course, I don’t know if the –B would even fit in the Mk57 but you get the idea – we developed the larger cells to handle larger missiles and now we’re going to develop a smaller anti-ship missile. What????
(1) Defense Industry Daily, http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/lrasm-missiles-reaching-for-a-long-reach-punch-06752/