DARPA and Lockheed Martin Offer U.S. Navy a Deadly New Ship-Killing Missile


Jan 11, 2015
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For years, rumors of China's new "carrier-killer" DF-21D Dong Feng missile have had U.S. military planners in a tizzy. Believed to have an effective range of as much as 1,200 miles -- miles the missile can traverse at speeds upward of Mach 10 -- the DF-21D is also believed to pose an existential threat to America's aircraft carriers.

To counter this threat, the Pentagon has poured millions of dollars into funding efforts by Raytheon to develop a RIM-162 ESSM "Evolved SeaSparrow" antimissile missile. The hope is that such a defensive weapon will be able to shoot down DF-21D, despite its high speed and high trajectory. Over at DARPA, though -- the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency -- they're taking a different approach. Rather than react to threats from potential adversaries, DARPA thinks it's time to develop a few threats of our own.Instead of just doing defense, it's time to play offense for a change.

DARPA's first move to turn the U.S. Navy into a more potent threat is called "LRASM," or "Long Range Anti-Ship Missile." And while not as powerful as China's land-based DF-21D, it's still a force to be reckoned with.

According to DARPA, LRASM aims "to provide a leap ahead in U.S. surface warfare capability." The missile is designed to operate in antiaccess/area denial (A2/AD) environments featuring robust antimissile defense and fierce electronic warfare (i.e., "jamming" of guidance systems), too powerful for a Boeing Harpoon missile to overcome. LRASM must be able to both operate independently of remote guidance and survive GPS jamming as well.

DARPA and its lead contractor on the project, Lockheed Martin, have designed the missile to guide itself to target using "autonomous guidance algorithms" whenever remote control or GPS are unavailable, then "pinpoint" and strike its target independently.

DARPA and Lockheed Martin Offer U.S. Navy a Deadly New Ship-Killing Missile (BA, LMT, RTN)