The US Navy has started initial integration testing of its long-range anti-ship missile (LRASM) onto the F / A-18E / F Super Hornet at Patuxent River's Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 facility.
As part of this development, the flight test team performed missile load and fit checks with the support of a mass simulator vehicle, which is designed to emulate LRASM.
The integration testing is being carried out in preparation for the first phase of airworthiness testing with the F / A-18E / F, scheduled to begin later this month.
LRASM Deployment Office (LDO) test and evaluation assistant programme manager Greg Oliver said: "These initial fit checks will familiarise the test team with the proper loading, unloading and handling of the LRASM on the F / A-18E / F.
"This testing will check clearances between the missile and the aircraft to ensure there are no negative impacts when carrying LRASM."
Patuxent River and Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake will continue with integration efforts and flight testing over the next few years to clear LRASM for flight operations on the aircraft.
LRASM is expected to deliver flexible, long-range, advanced, anti-surface capability against high threat maritime targets when it becomes operational.
This 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.
Armed with a 1,000lb penetrator and blast-fragmentation warhead, the missile can cruise autonomously, day or night, in all weather conditions.
In June, LRASM for the F / A-18E / F Super Hornet completed store separation testing in the 16F transonic wind tunnel (16T) at the Arnold engineering development complex (AEDC) in Tennessee.
LRASM is scheduled to be fielded on the B-1B Bomber in 2018 and the F / A-18E / F in 2019.