Raytheon is taking exception to the US Department of Defense's apparent push to adopt the Lockheed Martin Long Range Anti-ship Missile (LRASM) as its next-generation air-launched anti-ship weapon. The LRASM programme is a joint Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)/US Navy Office of Naval Research effort to develop a new air-, surface- and sub-surface-launched anti-ship weapon that can penetrate the powerful air and missile defences found on modern enemy warships.

Speaking at the Paris air show, Harry Schulte, Raytheon's vice-president of air warfare systems at the company's missile systems business, says the firm's internally funded Joint Stand-off Weapons-Extended Range (JSOW-ER) will offer comparable capability for one-third to one-fourth of the price of the LRASM. The latter is based on Lockheed's stealthy AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER).

Based on the original JSOW glide-bomb, the JSOW-ER adds a jet engine and fuel tank from Raytheon's Miniature Air Launched Decoy onto the weapon. An initial test version reached a range of 264nm (489km), but Raytheon is going to perform a captive carry test with a more operationally representative version of the weapon this year, Schulte says. If those tests are successful, the company will test the new weapon in free flight during 2014. The new version will have a range of just under 300nm, Schulte says. By comparison, the LRASM is expected to have a range of over 500nm.

While the argument can be made that the JSOW-ER is an alternative to the LRASM for the air-launched part of that weapon's requirements, it does not have the surface or submarine-launch capability that DARPA and USN are looking for in the LRASM. However, Schulte says that the JSOW-ER does not need to be launched from a surface warship or submarine, because Raytheon's Tomahawk can be modified to attack moving surface ships.

While there have been past anti-ship versions of Tomahawk, the weapon does not have a stealth airframe, which many within the Pentagon believe is necessary to successfully engage a modern threat warship. The Department of Defense has been researching long-range anti-ship missiles because current US anti-ship weapons are greatly out-ranged by their Russian, Chinese and Indian counterparts.

Source: Flight Daily News