The US Navy has just successfully test fired an autnomous, AI-assisted anti-ship missile from a B-1B Lancer

The US Navy’s smart, Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) has been successfully test fired from a B-1B Lancer. The Lancer is a heavy, strategic bomber designed for high-speed, low-level bombing runs.

A B-1B Lancer taking off. Image:USAF

A B-1B Lancer taking off. Image:USAF

The four-engine bomber is among the last of the swing-wing designs still in operation. It was originally designed as a Mach 2 heavy bomber that was meant to replace the B-2 stealth bomber and the massive B-52 Stratofortress. The aircraft was later modified with a lower top speed (Mach 1.25 from Mach 2.2) and a higher low-altitude cruise speed as well as a smaller radar signature.

It was originally meant to serve in a transitory period during which the USAF would work on the development of a new tactical bomber that would replace the B-52.

The successful test firing of the LRASM from a B-1B does suggest that a potential anti-ship role is possible for the swing-wing bomber.

As far as anti-ship missiles are concerned, the LRASM is quite smart. It can be launched from a ship or aircraft and can traverse a set of pre-set waypoints as it navigates to its target. The missile can also avoid obstacles like islands and commercial shipping while receiving real-time targeting data from overhead satellites. Better yet, the missile can avoid enemy air defences by routing its flight path around them. On final approach, the missile drops to sea-skimming altitude, sorts through enemy ships to identify its intended target and then attempts to destroy it.

Making the LRASM scary is its AI capability. Once it receives the location of the enemy fleet and target information, the missile simply handles the mission on its own. The missile even calculates its point of impact based on the projected accuracy and the angle of impact, reports Popular Mechanics.

The specifications of the LRASM are classified, but Popular Mechanics points out that the LRASM is based on the JASSM-ER (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range) platform that has a range of 500 miles (over 800 km) with a 1,000 lb (around 450 kg) warhead.

As per the report, an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F-35C JSF can carry two missiles each, the B-1B can carry 24. The missiles cost a$500,000 each.


Published Date: Aug 23, 2017 04:19 pm | Updated Date: Aug 23, 2017 04:19 pm