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B-1 conducts first live-fire test of anti-ship missile

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Charles V. Rivezzo
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron completed their first of three scheduled live-fire tests of a Long Range Anti-Ship Missile, or LRASM, on-board a B-1 Bomber Aug. 27, successfully striking a waterborne target.

The primary objective of the mission was to evaluate the separation of the missile from the aircraft and monitor the weapon's flight path to its intended target. Assessment officials were able to utilize an F/A-18 Hornet to track and document the missiles in-flight data.

Designed and developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Office of Naval Research, the LRASM is based off the Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range, or JASSM-ER, and was constructed as part of an effort to overcome challenges faced by current anti-ship missiles penetrating sophisticated enemy air defense systems.

Armed with a proven 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.

According to 337th TES officials, the anti-ship missile is intended for rapid transition to the Air Force and Navy. Because the LRASM leverages the state-of-the-art JASSM-ER airframe, it has proven to be a seamless transition for the B-1 in terms of compatibility, allowing DARPA to simply supplement the new technology into a JASSM-ER variant.

The test squadron's current LRASM project officer, Capt. Alicia Datzman commented that they are currently working in parallel with the weapon that may be operational within a few short years.

One unique technological feature specific to the LRASM that DARPA wishes to exploit and integrate into the new JASSM-ER variant, is the missile's ability to receive target or coordinate updates while in-flight.

"Unlike the JASSMs fire and forget mentality, this new technology gives you the chance to fire and change your mind," said Maj. Shane Garner, 337th TES. "Because of the standoff feature these weapons possess, they tend to be airborne for some time, and for us to be able to change their coordinates in-flight provides us with a large-range of flexibility."

At this time, the B-1 is the only airborne asset currently testing the anti-ship missile.

Should the LRASM technology be fielded into a variant of the JASSM-ER, the B-1 presents itself as a premier platform to carry the weapon, as it is currently capable of carrying 24 of the long-range missiles, tops across all Air Force platforms.

"We can not only carry more of this weapon than any other platform, but our versatile speeds that have proven useful in the past decade in Afghanistan will also prove useful in the vast maritime environment," Datzman said. "With our loitering and refueling capability we can hang out for a while waiting on a specific target set or sprint to where we need to deliver these weapons."

The overarching concept behind the B-1's rise in the maritime environment can be attributed to the Department of Defense's much discussed Air-Sea Battle concept, in which long-range bombers serve as a key tenet.

ASB is designed to guide the four branches of the armed forces as they work together to maintain a continued U.S. advantage against the global proliferation of advanced military technologies and anti-access/area denial capabilities.

The 337th TES is scheduled to complete the remainder of their live-fire tests by the end of 2013.