The U.S. Navy is moving forward with plans to integrate the Lockheed Martin AGM-158C Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) on the Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, according to a January 28 notice issued by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). The service also potentially wants to add a range of additional weapons systems on the aircraft, including air-launched naval mines and precision-guided bombs.
In a pre-solicitation note from January 28, NAVAIR states that it is seeking input from the defense industry to “determine potential contractors who have the skills, experience, qualifications, and knowledge required to perform aeromechanical and software integration of [LRASM] onto the P-8A aircraft.” This includes but is not limited “to upgrades to the Boeing Tactical Open Mission Systems (TOMS) and Stores Management Computer (SMC) software and interfaces, test planning, execution, data reduction, and reporting on flight test efforts.”
In a February 3 follow-up note, NAVAIR states that possible weapons systems to be integrated on the P-8A include “the 500 [pounds] to 2,000 [pounds] class of Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) variants, Mk 62/63/65 Quickstrike mines, the Small Diameter Bomb (SDB II), Miniature Air Launched Decoy (MALD), Bomb Rack Unit BRU-55, and Universal Armament Interface (UAI).”
The U.S. Navy has been considering adding more firepower to the P-8A for years to expand the range of missions the aircraft is capable of conducting. The P-8A, a military variant of Boeing’s Next-Generation 737-800 commercial aircraft, was designed to replace the U.S. Navy’s fleet of P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft and is thought to be one of the world’s most advanced anti-submarine warfare aircraft currently in service.
The P-8A can be deployed for long-range anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. Next to being able to carry up to 129 sonobuoys for anti-submarine warfare operations, the P-8A can carry several types of bombs, AGM-84D Harpoon anti-ship missiles, Raytheon Mark 54 lightweight torpedoes, mines, and depth charges.
The Navy is also working to integrate the High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon Capability (HAAWC), a new torpedo upgrade that can release a MK54 torpedo, fitted with an air-launched accessory kit that includes a GPS guidance system and folding wings, from altitudes of 30,000 feet (9,100 meters) or higher on the P-8A.
The LRASM is a next-generation, precision-guided anti-ship missile with standoff capabilities.
A derivative of the AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range (JASSM-ER), the LRASM is a long-range cruise missile designed to detect and destroy specific targets within groups of surface warships in electronic warfare environments. It has an estimated range of over 320 kilometers and is fitted with a 450-kilogram penetrator and blast fragmentation warhead.