This post has been amended with additional information from the Navy on the cost of the NSM test program.
The planned demonstration installation of an over-the-horizon missile on a Littoral Combat Ship is stalled due to lack of funds, U.S. Navy officials confirmed to USNI News on Friday.
The Navy intended to install a Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile battery on USS Freedom (LCS-1) ahead of the ship’s next scheduled Western Pacific deployment but those plans are on hold due to a lack of funds, Lt. Rebecca Haggard, with Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, told USNI News on Friday.
The service had budgeted $101.4 million in fiscal year 2016 for over-the-horizon missile testing on Freedom and the Independence-class USS Coronado (LCS-4), according to a March DoD reprogramming request obtained by USNI News.
However, in the process of installing the legacy Harpoon anti-surface missile on Coronado, the service ran out of money to complete both installations, several sources familiar with the program told USNI News in the last several weeks.
Due to the shortfall, an additional $23 million was included in a May Department of Defense budget reprogramming request to the four congressional defense committees.
“This testing will provide a proof-of-concept for an over-the-horizon missile on the LCS, making it a more lethal and capable platform, responding to the fleet demand signal,” read the request submission.
The request for the extra money was ultimately not approved.
“Three committees have endorsed the requirement, but the proposed funding source was denied,” Haggard said.
“One committee has deferred the request.”
The Navy’s surface warfare directorate (OPNAV N96), said the service, “utilized $5.4 million in fiscal year 2016 funds for over-the-horizon (OTH) missile testing on the Independence-variant USS Coronado (LCS 4),” in a statement to USNI News.
“The Navy requested an additional $30.82 million to procure and install the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) OTH System on USS Freedom as a continuation of the Foreign Comparative Test program. However, funding and programmatic aspects of the Freedom installation remain pre-decisional.”
Adding an anti-surface capability on the Littoral Combat Ship quickly is part of the larger U.S. surface navy’s distributed lethality push.
In January, then director of surface warfare Rear Adm. Peter Fanta told USNI News that installing an OTH missile on LCS was “an absolute requirement” for the service.
Coronado will deploy later this year with the Harpoon installation the Navy was able to complete in time for a demonstration of the Rim of the Pacific 2016 exercise.
Haggard told USNI News the Navy is set to release a request for proposal for a permanent OTH missile for the LCS platform.
Likely competitors for the contract are Boeing with an upgraded version of the Harpoon, a Kongsberg-Raytheon team for the NSM and Lockheed Martin with the company’s Long Range Strike Missile (LRASM) it’s developed in conjunction with DARPA.
The following is the complete Sept. 1, 2016 statement from OPNAV N96.
The Navy utilized $5.4 million in fiscal year 2016 funds for over-the-horizon (OTH) missile testing on the Independence-variant USS Coronado (LCS 4). The relatively low cost for Harpoon installation in LCS-4 was made possible by using legacy Harpoon missiles and fire control components from existing Navy inventory. The ‘Harpoon’ structural test firing from USS Coronado was successfully completed in July 2016 during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, enabling the ship to load weapons for deployment.
The Navy requested an additional $30.82 million to procure and install the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) OTH System on USS Freedom as a continuation of the Foreign Comparative Test program. However, funding and programmatic aspects of the Freedom installation remain pre-decisional.