The US Navy announced last week that the new AGM-158C long-range anti-ship missile (LRASM) achieved early operational capability (EOC) with Super Hornet F / A-18E / F in August, an important milestone for the air-launched cruise missile. Previously, the LRASM achieved the EOC with the B-1B Lancer bomber in December 2018.
Conceived by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as a replacement for the Harpoon AGM-88 anti-ship missile, the LRASM can deliver a 1,000-pound penetrating warhead in a range of up to 500 nautical miles, according to USNI News.
More importantly, the LRASM comes with a unique sensor and an orientation system designed to fine tune targets even in the most controversial environments, a system that includes an “enhanced anti-jamming digital GPS to support precision routing, orientation and terminal adaptation in all weather, day or night, ”according to Jane’s 360.
“LRASM is designed to detect and destroy specific targets within an attack force or groups of ships through the use of advanced technologies that reduce dependence on intelligence, surveillance and recognition platforms, network links and GPS navigation in controversial environments”, according to Lockheed Martin.
“LRASM will play an important role in ensuring military access to operate in the open sea due to its greater ability to discriminate and carry out tactical combats from extended ranges.”
Thanks to this design, LRASM “can be sent to attack enemy task forces, dodging the air defense radars it detects and plotting the least defended path,” as Popular Mechanics explains.
“Once you locate the enemy fleet, you can select a specific target and attack a specific part of the target, for example, the location of the ship’s combat information center, or the ship’s weapon or missile zone.”
With these capabilities, the LRASM “will play an important role in ensuring military access to operate in the Pacific by providing a long-range surface warfare capability,” the Naval Air Systems Command told Naval News.
In fact, the LRASM EOC statement should have arrived earlier, now that the United States is focusing on the “great power competition” with Russia and China after 18 years of anti-terrorist operations on land in the Middle East, the anti-ship capabilities of The Navy have needed an urgent renovation.