Australia has requested a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) of up to 200 AGM-158C Long Range Anti Submarine Missiles (LRASM)
The weapons will most likely be carried by the RAAF’s fleet of 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets
The US Department of State has approved a potential USD990 million FMS to Australia of up to 200 AGM-158C LRASMs, along with related equipment and services. Also included in the proposed deal, which still needs to be approved by the US Congress, are up to 11 ATM-158C telemetry variant (inert) LRASMs, dummy air training missiles (DATM-158C LRASMs), captive air training missiles (CATM-158C LRASMs), containers, support and test equipment, publications, and technical documentation as well as personnel training, training equipment, engineering, and logistics support services.
The weapons will be carried by the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF’s) fleet of F/A-18 multirole fighter aircraft. The proposed sale and support is expected to provide Australia with “enhanced capabilities in defence of critical sea-lanes”. The move is also designed to increase the Royal Australian Navy’s “maritime partnership potential and align its capabilities with existing regional baselines”. The prime contractor will be Lockheed Martin in Orlando, Florida.
If the deal materialises this will be Australia’s first-ever purchase of these missiles, with the DSCA stating that the country, which the DSCA described as one of Washington’s “most important allies in the Western Pacific”, will not have any difficulty in absorbing these weapons into its armed forces.
The move comes after Japan, another US ally in the Asia-Pacific region, confirmed to Jane’s in late January that it is also seeking to acquire the AGM-158C LRASM, along with the AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range (JASSM-ER), to meet a requirement for airlaunched stand-off missiles. A Japanese Ministry of Defense official told Jane’s on 27 January that Tokyo is looking to procure these weapons from the US “as soon as possible” for carriage by Japan Air SelfDefense Force F-15J Eagle fighters to enhance their capability to effectively counter attacks at longer ranges.
According to Jane’s AirLaunched Weapons, both the JASSM-ER and LRASM have a maximum range of 926 km, allowing them to strike ground and naval targets at stand-off ranges.