WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy’s new Long Range Anti-Ship Missile must go through more rigorous and realistic testing, according to the 2020 annual report from the director of operational test and evaluation.
Citing “multiple hardware and software failures” in the first iteration of the LRASM missile, the DOT&E report calls on the Navy to put the new LRASM 1.1 through a rigorous testing process under realistic combat conditions to ensure it will “demonstrate mission capability in operationally realistic environments.”
The LRASM is a weapon that has generated a good deal of excitement among Navy leaders. It has a published range of about 300 nautical miles, is jam resistant, and is designed to locate targets with onboard sensors rather than relying on guidance from another source such as a drone’s sensors or another ship. The missile is also difficult to detect.
The missile was tested on a B-1B Lancer bomber in 2018 and an F/A-18 Super Hornet the following year. It was also test-fired during the Navy’s Valiant Shield exercise in September, which this year involved the Japan-based aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and the amphibious assault ship America.
Lockheed Martin, which makes the missile, successfully demonstrated it from a vertical launching system, which means that at some point the missile could be a surface-to-surface weapon if the Navy chooses.
The Navy is planning a second increment of the LRASM, which will be competed in the 2028-2030 timeframe. In the meantime, the service is working out the bugs from LRASM 1.0 in LRASM 1.1.
The report recommends the Navy put the LRASM 1.1 through initial operational test and evaluation soon by “stressing the system by using the full set of expected operational conditions.”
David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.