The US Navy's next-generation ship-launched artillery shell is moving into production, according to Lockheed Martin's September 2013 statement.
Set to equip future US Navy destroyers, the LRLAP (Long-Range Land Attack Projectile) is a 155mm GPS-guided artillery shell with a maximum range of 190 kilometres.
The LRLAP programme is being led by Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control and BAE Systems is the prime contractor.
According to Lockheed Martin, once it enters service, the LRLAP will deliver a performance capability beyond those of all preceding US Navy artillery shells. Designed to facilitate long-range precision strikes, the shell falls almost vertically - a feature designed to mitigate the risk of collateral damage. Able to strike a variety of targets, the shell also reportedly possess three times the impact capacity of older 5 inch naval ballistic rounds.
Long-Range Land Attack Projectile
The Long-Range Land Attack Projectile development programme is now in transition, supported by the US National Warheads and Energetics Consortium's (NWEC's) $18 million contract.
In times ahead, the LRLAP will be fired from the US Navy's DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class Destroyers. Set to be introduced in 2014, these three stealth-heavy warships will boast state-of-the-art sonar systems and be armed with RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow and Tomahawk missiles, besides the LRLAP-launching 155mm Advanced Gun Systems.
LRLAP Shell Production
"This contract represents a significant step towards fielding LRLAP to support the Navy's requirement for surface fire support", Lockheed Martin's LRLAP programme manager, Richard Benton, explained in the firm's Long-Range Land Attack Projectile production press release. "Fire support to troops deployed ashore is a critical capabilities gap, which LRLAP fills with precision lethality."
It is planned that the LRLAP 155mm artillery shell will be in US Navy service by 2016. By this point, the first DDG 1000 destroyer should have attained IOC (Initial Operational Capability) status.