CORRECTION: A previous version of this post had the incorrect size of the LCS main deck gun. Both variants field a 57mm deck gun, not 76mm.
The Navy conducted its first test of a short-range missile system designed to protect a Littoral Combat Ship against swarming threats, Naval Sea Systems Command announced on Tuesday.
The Feb. 28 test, off of Norfolk, Va., tested the Surface-to-Surface Missile Module (SSMM) aboard the Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship USS Detroit (LCS-7), firing multiple Lockheed Martin AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire missiles.
“The test marked the first launch of a missile from the SSMM from an LCS as well as the first vertical missile launched from an LCS,” reads a NAVSEA statement. The missiles work with a pair of 30mm Bushmaster cannons and the ship’s main 57mm deck gun for the anti-swarm boat mission.
“This was another positive step forward in fielding of the next increment for the SuW mission package,” Capt. Ted Zobel, mission modules program manager at the Program Executive Office for LCS, said in the NAVSEA statement.
“The SSMM is a critical piece of the SuW MP, and this event will allow us to move safely into developmental testing and soon to fielding this capability aboard LCS.”
Longbow is the third missile the Navy has considered for the long-delayed capability for the SuW mission package. In 2011 the Navy announced it would use the Raytheon Griffin IIB missile for the SuW package. In 2014 the Navy announced it would use Longbow. Before Griffin, the Navy and Army were developing a custom missile that would replace the failed Non-Line-of-Sight Launch missile system (N-LOS).
Trouble developing the missile for the mission package prompted the Navy to certify a more limited SuW package that traded the missile capability for space for visit, board, search and seizure teams (VBSS) that could deploy from LCS.
An early iteration of that SuW package deployed with a Coast Guard law enforcement detachment (LEDET) in 2010 with USS Freedom (LCS-1) in the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico and eastern Pacific.
As the Navy has developed the SuW package, the swarm boat threat to the LCS has been overshadowed by the service’s desire to arm both variants of the class with an over-the-horizon anti-ship missile for LCS and the planned follow-on frigate.
The SuW mission package will begin testing on USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) later this year and will have an initial operational capability in 2018.
The following is the March 7, 2017 release on the test.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Navy conducted a successful structural test firing of the Surface to Surface Missile Module (SSMM) from Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) USS Detroit (LCS 7) Feb. 28 off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia.
The test marked the first launch of a missile from the SSMM from an LCS as well as the first vertical missile launched from an LCS, as part of the developmental test program for the Surface Warfare (SUW) Mission Package (MP).
“The testing aboard USS Detroit was an important milestone in advancing LCS capability, not only for the LCS community but for the entire fleet. As small boat threats proliferate, the SSMM will give our ships added lethality,” said Cmdr. Michael Desmond, Detroit’s commanding officer.
SSMM utilizes the Army Longbow Hellfire Missile in a vertical launch capability to counter small boat threats. SSMM is the next delivery of capability for the LCS SUW MP, which achieved initial operational capability (IOC) in November 2014 with delivery of the Gun Mission Module (two 30mm guns) and the Maritime Security Module (11m Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat for Visit Boarding Search and Seizure).
“This was another positive step forward in fielding of the next increment for the SUW MP,” stated Capt. Ted Zobel, Mission Modules program manager. “The SSMM is a critical piece of the SUW MP and this event will allow us to move safely into developmental testing and soon to fielding this capability aboard LCS.”
When new or different ordnance systems are first installed on board Navy warships, a Structural Test Fire (STF) is required to determine if shipboard structures, equipment, and systems can operate satisfactorily after weapon firing and if any personnel hazards, such as toxic gas intrusion or damaging noise levels, exist during weapon firing operations. Specifically, STF verifies that the ship’s structure and equipment as well as the interfaces between ordnance and the ship are capable of withstanding the vibration, shock, noise, gases and other blast derivatives from ordnance firing. STF results will be used to evaluate and document safety requirements.
The Surface Warfare Mission Package will begin developmental testing aboard USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) later this year and will culminate in operational testing and IOC in 2018.