The US Navy's first long range anti-ship missile (LRASM) prototype has successfully completed captive-carry flight tests on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Maryland.
Conducted by the US Navy and Lockheed Martin, a LRASM mass-simulator vehicle was attached to the navy's F/A-18E/F to evaluate flight and handling characteristics, and to measure structural loads and strains on the aircraft.
The initial airworthiness flight tests, which are performed to ensure safety of the aircraft's flight and the crews who employ them, are required for all munitions prior to a DoD initial operational capability decision.
The US navy is set to perform a series of tests in the near future, to collect noise and vibration data between the aircraft and the missile.
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control LRASM director Mike Fleming said: "The LRASM airworthiness flights on the Super Hornet put us one step closer to fielding this urgently needed capability for our warfighters.
"The flight data acquired validates the LRASM system design and clears the way for the test programme to continue."
The LRASM programme is a joint effort between the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Naval Air Systems Command, and the United States Air Force.
Designed based on the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER), the precision-guided anti-ship standoff missile is equipped with a multi-mode sensor, weapon data link, and an enhanced digital global positioning system to detect and destroy specific targets within a group of ships.
LRASM is scheduled to be fielded on the B-1B Bomber in 2018 and the F/A-18E/F in 2019.