Anti Ship Missile Test

Will This Ship Killer Make Naval Convoys Obsolete?

John Konrad
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April 21, 2017

LRASM prototype about to strike a merchant containership target during flight testing.

The Tomahawk missile is famous for attacking stationary targets on land, but except for a short-lived anti-ship variant now out of service, it had not been used against mobile or floating targets. That changed dramatically two years ago when a modified Tomahawk punched a hole through a shipping container on the deck of a moving merchant ship (video below). 

While the Tamahawk anti-ship missile can hit moving targets at sea – making them a lot smarter than their more famous cousins – they do not have the target selection and tracking intelligence you might expect to find aboard the world’s most technologically advanced 21st century warship

But that might change soon with the U.S. Navy announcement this month of a successful air-launch of the newest variant of Lockheed Martin’s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) from a F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter plane. This follows the successful test of the surface-launched LRASM variant that was conducted aboard the USN SDTS in July of last year. 

LRASM is designed to detect and destroy specific targets within groups of ships by employing advanced technologies that reduce dependence on surveillance and GPS navigation. Armed with a 1,000-pound penetrator and blast-fragmentation warhead, LRASM employs a multi-mode sensor, weapon data link and an enhanced digital anti-jam Global Positioning System to detect and destroy specific targets within a group of ships.

Basically, this stealthy missile will have enough AI on-board for highly accurate targeting and the ability to survive an enemy’s electronic countermeasures and sink a specific ship located within a convoy or busy shipping lane.

Once operational, both LRASM variants will play a significant role in ensuring military access to operate in open ocean/blue waters, owing to its enhanced ability to sink both naval and merchant ships from extended range. 

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