USN kicks off LRASM integration on F/A-18E/F | World Defense

USN kicks off LRASM integration on F/A-18E/F

BLACKEAGLE

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USN kicks off LRASM integration on F/A-18E/F
Richard Scott - IHS Jane's Missiles & Rockets
01 September 2015

Initial F/A-18EF/A-18E/F fit checks, using an LRASM mass simulator vehicle, began at NAS Patuxent River on 12 August 2015. The aircraft being used is an F/A-18EF/A-18E of VX-23, the USN's strike test squadron. Source: NAVAIR

The US Navy (USN) has begun initial integration of the Lockheed Martin's Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) onto the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet carrier-borne strike fighter.

Fit checks are being conducted at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Maryland, ahead of the start of airworthiness testing.

Being developed and integrated under an accelerated programme to meet the Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW) Increment 1 programme, LRASM is a highly autonomous, precision-guided anti-ship standoff weapon that leverages the basic design of the AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER), but introduces additional sensors and systems specific to the offensive anti-surface warfare mission. It has been conceived to be able to penetrate sophisticated shipborne defences with reduced dependence on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, network links, and GPS navigation.

Originally initiated in 2008 by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Office of Naval Research, the programme has now been transitioned to the LRASM Deployment Office (LDO), a partnership of DARPA, the USN through the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), and the US Air Force (USAF).

The Department of Defense's fiscal year (FY) 2015 budget confirmed plans to move forward with sole-source acquisition of LRASM to meet the OASuW Increment 1 programme requirement. The LDO plans to deliver an Early Operational Capability (EOC) on USAF's B-1B Lancer bomber from FY 2018; EOC on the USN's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is to follow in FY 2019. LRASM pre-production missiles have already been the subject of three successful flight tests from the B-1B. Activity to support LRASM integration on the F/A-18E/F began at NAS Patuxent River Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 facility on 12 August.

According to NAVAIR, the programme's flight test team conducted missile load and fit checks using a mass simulator vehicle, designed to emulate LRASM, in order to familiarise the test team with the proper loading, unloading, and handling of the missile on the F/A-18E/F. These tests, which will check clearances between the missile and the aircraft to ensure there are no negative effects when carrying LRASM, are being undertaken in preparation for the first phase of airworthiness testing with the Super Hornet, scheduled to begin later in August.

NAVAIR plans to continue integration and flight testing through to EOC. Activities to clear LRASM for F/A-18E/F flight operations will be performed at both NAS Patuxent River and Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California.

According to Captain Timothy Hill, LDO deputy director, LRASM is to be certified for carriage on F/A-18E/F wing stations 3, 4, 8, and 9. "Software integration is the only modification required for the Super Hornet," he told IHS Jane's , adding, "The programme will conduct an accelerated version of the standard aero-mechanical integration testing done for every weapon prior to proceeding to weapon integration testing; these events include platform/software integration and captive carry, wind tunnel, drop, and loads testing."

Weapon integration testing will be a combination of live missile tests, live virtual constructive events, and modelling and simulation. Carrier suitability testing is scheduled for FY 2018.

LRASM has accomplished three successful live fire events to date: two in 2013 during the original DARPA demonstration period, and a third in February 2015. "The next phase of live-fire launches will begin in FY2017 with the B-1B," said Capt Hill, "and continue through [to] F/A-18E/F EOC in FY2019."
USN kicks off LRASM integration on F/A-18E/F - IHS Jane's 360
 

HeliArmy

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That's nice they finally modernize this weapon. I know US Armed Forces and US Navy in general are not behind for modernization of main weapons, but having more smart and autonomous missiles feels more relevant, given the technology we got today. It's a bit weird meanwhile inside the civil world, we are providing the benefits of the interconnected devices and so on, in war, we already moved on that excitement and try to make also autonomous system working well even "offline"/alone, if we can say. This property is something that should be top priority for an Army, given how much occasions it can end up better being isolated.
 

Susimi

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Very impressive and it's good to see they are expanding the weapons the F/A-18 can employ. I was getting kinda worried the US was going to learn on trying to phase out the aircraft in favour of the developing of the F-35/F-22.

I just wonder that if the F-14 was still around how this weapon would have looked on that?
 

HeliArmy

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Very impressive and it's good to see they are expanding the weapons the F/A-18 can employ. I was getting kinda worried the US was going to learn on trying to phase out the aircraft in favour of the developing of the F-35/F-22.

I just wonder that if the F-14 was still around how this weapon would have looked on that?
This articles does not prove at all the U.S. Navy or Army is not "abandoning" the F/A-18. Army is not about nostalgia and keeping some technologies running, or rather abandoning some projects.
I mean, even if they are deprecating the F/A-18, it would really look stupid to not try to adapt the weapon for the F/A-18 given these aircrafts are still deployed and used in combat, meanwhile it requires no physical modification for the aircraft to implement it. You can't think of being weaker meanwhile the alternative can only be produced at a pace of 20 aircrafts/year.

So what they are doing is only logic, currently, and if they tried to "promote" the new F-32 by bringing this weapon only to this aircraft, meanwhile it could be as well on others, it would be a pure weakness of them for nothing.
 
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