UK-based global major aerospace and defence group BAE Systems announced on Monday that it had received a $117-million contract from one of its US counterparts, Lockheed Martin, for next-generation missile seekers. These will be fitted to Lockheed Martin Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASMs) which will be manufactured for the US Air Force (USAF), US Navy (USN) and US allies.
Officially designated the AGM-158C, the LRASM entered operational service with the USAF at the end of 2018 and with USN aviation at the end of 2019. It is a low-observable (‘stealth’) design and is reported to have a 1 000 lb (454 kg) warhead and a range of some 500 nautical miles (926 km).
“We’re committed to providing affordable systems that deliver unmatched capabilities to the US and its allies,” affirmed BAE Systems Radio Frequency Sensors product area director Bruce Konigsberg. “We’ve designed efficient seeker systems that are easier to build and test without compromising on performance.”
Under a ‘Diminishing Sources/Affordability’ contract, BAE Systems improved the design of the seekers, resulting in the next-generation model. The company is now producing these for LRASM production lots 4 and 5. The new seekers are easier and significantly cheaper to produce, using less complex manufacturing processes. Obsolescent and limited availability parts have also been replaced in the new version.
“The [new] seeker technology enables LRASM to detect and engage specific maritime targets in contested environments with less dependence on traditional navigation systems,” said BAE Systems in its press release. “The next-generation seeker design reduces overall missile costs.”
All the company’s work on the LRASM seeker is being conducted at facilities it owns and operates in the US. These are those at Wayne in the state of New Jersey, Greenlawn in New York state and Nashua in New Hampshire.