Home » News & Analysis » VIDEO: USS Milwaukee Launches Hellfires in LCS Surface-to-Surface Missile Module Test


VIDEO: USS Milwaukee Launches Hellfires in LCS Surface-to-Surface Missile Module Test

The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Milwaukee (LCS 5)
conducted a live-fire missile exercise off the coast of Virginia May 11, firing four longbow hellfire missiles that successfully struck fast inshore attack craft targets. US Navy photo.

The Navy completed the first phase of its Surface-to-Surface Missile Module (SSMM) developmental testing for the Littoral Combat Ship program, with a May 11 live-fire test of the missile off USS Milwaukee (LCS-5).

Milwaukee fired four AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire missiles that successfully struck fast inshore attack craft (FIAC) targets in a complex warfighting environment, according to a Navy news release. The SSMM consists of the Army’s Longbow Hellfire missile shot from a vertical launcher on the ship.

During the developmental test event, the ship’s crew “utilized radar and other systems to track small surface targets, simulated engagements and then fired missiles against the surface targets,” according to the news release. This was the second at-sea launch of the SSMM from an LCS – after USS Detroit (LCS-7) fired the missile in February 2017 – but was the first integrated firing of the missile module from the ship.

The next phase of the SSMM testing will take place aboard USS Detroit (LCS-7), which is expected to wrap up testing by the end of this year and bring the SSMM with it during the ship’s maiden deployment next spring.

This test event comes three years after the Navy first tested the vertically launched Longbow Hellfire missile from a ship at sea. In March 2015 at-sea tests from a surrogate platform began to assess the modifications made to create a “maritime vertical launch configuration” of the missile.

  • Eyes open

    Interesting location of the launcher.

    • Ser Arthur Dayne

      I also noticed that but saw it once before on some of the mockups for the FFG(X) submissions. I think they can do that because a Hellfire is a 100-lb class of weapon… only has like a 19-lb warhead, 64″ length, etc. A Tomahawk for example (standard VLS on ships) is a 1000-lb warhead , 35000-lb overall, almost double in length, many many times the weight etc. So they can locate it up there. —- What was also eye-opening was the way the missile looked to work, from my unlearned-eye … Did it just go straight up, curve and come straight back down? It’s basically like a ballistic hellfire? I thought they were laser-guided missiles that zoom and fly and skim etc. Anyway I am all about these on our smaller ships because if they work good, it’s much better to use a $100K missile on a small ship of bad guys rather than $1.5 million Tomahawks etc.

      • delta9991

        These are AGM-114L’s with MMW radar guidance. This allows for multiple, simultaneous engagements instead of requiring the laser guidance. That bit is exactly why the Navy chose the Longbow Hellfire over Griffin when NLOS missile program fell apart.

        This type of missile is perfect to deal with this threat, as even “smaller” ASMs like Harpoon, NSM, and Even Penguin are far too large, expensive, and valuable to waste against these craft. An attack with a swarm of these vessels, armed with RPGs/suicide boats is exactly the threat the LCS ASuW module was meant to combat. Glad to finally see some progress on the module front

        • D. Jones

          Were the approaching craft zigging or changing speed?

          Are the Longbow Heckfires good at final corrections on smallish targets, which can bob & weave, as it were?

          Also isn’t the 1.5 mile demo video well within CIWS reach?

          Seems like an R2D2 or two would make a bigger impression on speedboats for less cost and higher overall capacity.

          • Duane

            Hellfires were always designed to target and destroy rapidly moving and maneuvering targets, both on the surface and airborne (i.e., maneuvering in 3D space, unlike a surface craft). Some models required laser designation, but Longbow also uses a mm wave radar. It is a small highly maneuverable and fast (Mach 1.3) guided missile.

          • airider

            Hellfires were designed to target and destroy main battle tanks which max out at 50mph on paved roads and do NOT maneuver quickly. All variants except the Longbow are laser guided. Longbow allowed the Apache to engage multiple targets at the same time, where as laser designating meant only one Hellfire could be guided to the target at a time from the Apache.

            They have never been used to shoot down aircraft. Not sure where you got that misinformation.

            Since the missile is only 100lbs with a 20lb warhead, the higher speed helped penetrate armor better than just its warhead could.

          • D. Jones

            Maybe the were used on taxiing aircraft?

          • Duane

            The Hellfires, in case you didn’t know it, became our primary high value target terrorist killer, fired by Predator and Reaper drones against high speed, wildly maneuvering ground vehicles in wide open desert and mountain country across the middle east.

            Hellfires are being deployed now on US Army troop carriers for anti air SHORAD use. They are excellent for that purpose, against rapidly maneuvering helicopters and low flying drones.

            And apparently you missed the development several decades ago of blast frag warheads in addition to the HEAT rounds.

            Welcome to the 21st century. You’re only 18 years too late.

          • Bubblehead

            The US Army is currently studying and entertaining the idea of using hellfire on its Short range Air Defense vehicle as one of the missile possibilities. Again because there are so many of them out there. It would be extremely limited in what it could shoot down. Mostly just helicopters. It lacks maneuverability & range for anything else.

            It really is a stupid idea and is just the Army trying to find the cheapest available option. I guess a benefit is it would make give the Short Range Air Defense vehicle a secondary antitank capability.

          • Duane

            Yep, only you are smart and now apparently not only is the entire US Navy stupid, but so is the US Army too. If only all those military leaders would just stop being stupid and start listening to you and your little band of ship hating brothers on the comment pages if USNI. Turn our national defense over to the REAL experts, all dozen and a half of you.

            SMH

            btw … attack helicopters are some of the deadliest threats to ground forces, which is why the US Army and the Russians and Chinese have invested in attack helos for the last 60 years.

            But we can rest assured now, that according to your expert opinion, “only helicopters” are no real threat so our soldiers can ignore them if we ever get into a war with a near peer enemy.

            Forget all those stupid enemy drones too, apparently according to you. Rest assured, we are still living in the 20th century.

            SMH squared

      • Duane

        The Hellfires are quite versatile, being used for air to surface, surface to surface, and surface to air, with both blast frag and shaped charge anti armor warheads. Right sized for use against small craft and low flying aircraft. With semi-active laser and mm wave radar seekers, they could also be used to shoot down incoming ASCMs.

        Though this launcher module was developed for LCS, I expect it will be adapted to other warships and auxiliaries.

        • airider

          When have Hellfires ever been used for surface to air??? None of the variants I’ve seen have any capability against air.

          • Duane

            The US Army is in the process now of mounting Hellfire launchers on Strykers for SHORAD. Better hurry up, you’re missing out on the 21st century!

        • Bubblehead

          LOL at shooting down ASCM with Hellfire.

          Keep sipping on your grandpa’s medicine though.

          • Duane

            MM wave seeker, 20 lb blast frag warhead, supersonic speed .. of course it can target and shoot down an incoming ASCM. Hellfire has everything it needs to be effective at that task.

  • PolicyWonk

    We can be certain that any potential adversaries that see this video will have no choice but scuttle their entire navy, as the mighty littoral combat ship demonstrates its obvious invincibility when compared to your average, run-o-the-mill RHIB (it failed, apparently, to sink the Boston Whaler[tm])!

    Just think of how our peer and near-peer adversaries must be shaking with fear, and/or losing control of their bowels, over this new, and terrifying new mission package, that extends the reach of the fearsome (to the US taxpayer) LCS, to a whopping 1.5 (count em!!!) miles!

    This new and menacing mission package could also be adapted to store specialized LCS/VLS-deployed distress flares, to either confuse our enemies with a 4th of July kinda fireworks display that makes a big noise (but does nothing – kinda like LCS), or optionally alert the USCG to send TowBoat US to bring ’em back to their natural habitat (the pier).

    Now if they could only get themselves disconnected from the umbilical cords that keep them tied to the pier…

    • Bryan

      I know your want of trolling the LCS, God knows it deserves it. But by your logic all ships that have been damaged by suicide boats are as useless as the LCS? Or should we have had a short ranged missile doing this job on all our vessels? What do the escorts use? In our budget crisis if Hellfire and it’s follow on will work, why not do it.

      Plus we’ve got the darn boats. Might as well get some functional lipstick for the pig that goes beyond media releases. lol….

      • PolicyWonk

        Well, the USS Cole took a beating from a suicide boat years ago, that darned near sank her. So its clear that a speedboat with a lot of explosives aboard can indeed do a lot of damage.

        And lets not forget the ONR’s “street fighter” concept, that was issued in 2001, that once the budget was approved by the HoR’s, quickly morphed into this monstrously expensive, commercial grade utility boat that the USN would like to persuade the taxpayers into thinking is really an SSC.

        The ONR estimated the “street fighter” would be heavily armed and designed from the outset as a combat platform optimized for fighting in the littorals. The LCS, according to former CNO Greenert, was “never intended to venture into the littorals to engage in combat”, and cost the taxpayers $563M per sea-frame, not counting any mission package. Spending $700M per LCS to kill speedboats (including the cost of a moderate mission package) is an appalling waste of money. LCS lacks the ability to do much of anything, and cannot defend itself from a naval opponent, or venture into contested areas, which makes it utterly useless. The addition of Hellfire, is at best an incremental (and desperate) attempt to put lipstick on a swine, and does little/nothing of benefit for the ship.

        Subsequently, if even with the current SUW mission package LCS remains tied up to the pier, incapable of even doing presence missions, what good is Hellfire going to do?

        We’re stuck having to wait and see if the mine-sweeping package works, before we can even begin to consider that these useless corporate welfare programs might be useful for. The ASW package, will only attract unwanted attention to the LCS, assuming a potential adversary even chooses to waste a torpedo on a toothless asset, when other far larger and more dangerous targets are in the vicinity.

        • sferrin

          “Well, the USS Cole took a beating from a suicide boat years ago, that darned near sank her. ”

          Oh FFS are you serious? Cole was tied up at the pier. So what? Your argument is that a boatload of explosives can damage a ship? Congratulations, you win the Captain Obvious Award for the year.

          • D. Jones

            Had an LCS been tied up at an adjacent pier, it could have sprang (sprung? sproinged?) into action.

            “When at a pier, have no fear, you’re safe my dear, an LCS is always near!”

          • sferrin

            Could we get that in English?

          • PolicyWonk

            The Cole was moored, and the primary point (since you clearly didn’t get it), is that the Cole is built to military (USN Level-3), as opposed to commercial standards (like both LCS classes), and therefore managed to survive.

            Congratulations: you didn’t comprehend the obvious! Maybe you do now?

            Cheers.

          • sferrin

            Amazing that you failed to mention your “primary point” once, even obliquely, in your post.

          • PolicyWonk

            Nope – people who understand the topic can extrapolate the point and understand the implications: not everyone has to have everything bluntly spelled out for them in painful detail – especially when its been discussed ad nausea (pun intended) on this forum.

          • sferrin

            Nice try. That’s not how actual conversation occurs. One can’t just say, “well didn’t you read my mind and see that I really meant a bunch of stuff I said nothing about?” As for “understanding the topic” I’ve yet to see any evidence you have any.

          • PolicyWonk

            LOL!

            Thanks – I needed that.

            Have a great day!

          • sferrin

            I don’t know what’s more sad, that you think the fact you’re a poor communicator is amusing, or that you call yourself a “wonk”. And I’m having a wonderful day.

        • Duane

          You again completely misstate and misrepresent Adm Greenert’s sworn testimony to Congress. He NEVER said “LCS cannot engage in combat”, which is an incredibly ridiculous statement, on its face. He stated specifically that LCS would be at risk operating independently in anti-access/area denial waters. He said in the very same testimony that Arleigh Burke DDGs would be equally at risk operating independently in A2/AD waters.

          The Admiral’s point being to clarify what it meant that the LCS was designed and equipped to operate independently in the littorals, as long as the enemy does not have local air superiority … and likewise, the Admiral made it clear that NO American surface warship is designed or equipped to operate independently in A2/AD waters.

    • D. Jones

      Near-pier adversaries are the LCS’ domain.

      • PolicyWonk

        Well, if you consider how well armed other navies ships of similar (let alone half the) tonnage are, then you know LCS will quickly become an artificial reef.

        The basic problem is that neither class of LCS was “intended to venture into the littorals to engage in combat”.

        Hence – the only domains LCS can realistically be sent into are highly permissive ones – at least if the lives of the crew are considered to be worth anything.

    • SierraSierraQuebec

      A better use of the space would have been a small cannon armed hydrofoil powered by helicopter turbines with optical (LED) stealth illumination, especially when the LCS’s power plant breaks down and it can’t hide and it can’t run away.

  • Ed L

    Was the video in slow motion? Never seen a missile leave a launch that slow. A D5 trident (saw test launch ) is faster than that video

    • Spencer Whitson

      Yes, that was in slow motion. Watch the fire from the rocket. That’s not going at full speed.

      • D. Jones

        The Heckfire could have been struggling to escape the colossal gravitational field of the LCS. Certainly few other objects in the universe can absorb resources including cash, black-hole like, as the mighty Littoral Collapsing Star.

        • Timo

          Hillarious! But well said.

        • Duane

          Like a broken record …

      • Ed L

        I was looking for multiple launches follow by multiple hits

  • DaSaint

    Glad the testing seems to be working.

    I’d personally much rather have 2 24-cell VL Hellfire modules AND 2 30mm Stabilized gun systems than the either/or scenario that exists today, with limited elevation 30mm mounts.

    These modules could work just as well on some other craft, both combatants and auxiliaries.

    • Duane

      Yup. This launcher is already spec’d for FFG(X). It would make a lot of sense to put it on DDGs that operate in the littorals, such as the ones that have been escorting allied ships in the Persian Gulf, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa which are infested with fast small craft. Ditto with all members of an ARG,

    • Lazarus

      The video seems to suggest that both the Hellfire and the 30mm mounts are carried at the same time.

      • DaSaint

        I’ll look into that. You may be right. Will check out.

        • Lazarus is right. LCS has three module bays for weapons, two of them house the 30mm guns while the third, larger, bay carries the missiles.

          • Lazarus

            Thanks!

      • Duane

        I believe so. The LCS are capable of deploying the far larger and heavier Mk 141 angled canister OTH deck mount launcher up high on the roof of the hangar superstructure. That’s where the Freedom class LCS and LM’s design for their FFG(X) mount an 8 cell launcher. The Independence class have to date mounted a 4-cell launcher on the foredeck, and presumably mount another 4-cell on the hangar roof if 8 cells won’t fit on the foredeck.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    Good. I am heartened that things might finally be going right for this class. I do hope the testing is realistic and that we’re not getting ‘just the good news’ from the Navy here. If anyone challenges our ships I sure as heck want them blasted to bits.

  • Dennis

    It looks like an expensive solution. Why can’t a Phalanx take care of it for much less cost?

    • USNVO

      Phalanx has a fraction of the range, lower probability of actually hitting the target, and significantly less effect when it does hit. Plus, the Army has a whole bunch of excess Longbow Hellfire the Navy can get for free.

    • Duane

      In addition to what USNVO wrote in response, Phalanx is old tech, having been replaced with the far more capable SeaRAM, which is already a standard feature of all LCS (as well as the Ford CVNs, Flight III ABs, and our new amphibs).

      But SeaRAM, while far more capable than Phalanx at missile defense, is overkill for small boats. And the Hellfire Longbows are far cheaper than the RIM-116 missiles.

      • Hugh

        What’s the reload times for CIWS v SeaRAM? I hear 15 minutes for CIWS, after 5 volleys, meanwhile the 6th approaches…… And (without naming which navy) frigates with helos originally to be armed with Penguin missiles are now only with Hellfire?

        • Duane

          The SeaRAMs being mounted on LCS now are the newer 21-cell (initial launchers were 11-cell). Each missile is one shot, one kill. So it’s not comparable to reloading a many shot-maybe a kill CIWS gun.

          The SeaRAM is reloadable at sea because the missiles are relatively lightweight, unlike the heavy missiles used in Mk 41 VLS or the Mk 141 angled cannister deck launchers.

          • ElmCityAle

            Perhaps you’ve confused the two different launchers selected for the two LCS designs? The Freedom class has the 21 cell launcher that requires direction from the main radar and fire control system. The Independence class has the SeaRAM unit, which is an 11 cell launcher integrated into the same mount used by the 20mm Phalanx CIWS system. The SeaRAM is an self-contained system with radar and optical units capable of independent fire control (or integration into the main fire control system).

    • Bubblehead

      I wouldn’t quite say a hole lot less range both are pretty short range. And you don’t need too much effect when you are aiming at fast craft which aren’t armored. One 20mm bullet would shred a fiberglass Iranian fast craft.

      If CIWS can knock down a supersonic ASCM at couple KM’s, its range for a in (comparison slow) fast boat should be a little more.

      Keep in mind all but the original version of RAM can take out fast craft from 10 km and that is more than double range of hellfire. Of course it costs a lot more too.

      • sferrin

        “I wouldn’t quite say a hole lot less range both are pretty short range. And you don’t need too much effect when you are aiming at fast craft which aren’t armored. One 20mm bullet would shred a fiberglass Iranian fast craft.

        If CIWS can knock down a supersonic ASCM at couple KM’s, its range for a in (comparison slow) fast boat should be a little more.”

        1. Phalanx wouldn’t have a prayer of hitting a supersonic cruise missile at a couple KMs.
        2. There are videos out there of them shooting at speedboats with Phalanx. It isn’t pretty, and not in a good way.
        3. Phalanx (at sea) typically carries armor piercing ammunition (for punching holes in missile warheads). It wouldn’t do much more than poke a hole in a fiberglass boat. It would need to knock out the engine.

        • Duane

          Yup, yup.

          For taking out both small surface craft or aircraft, you need a blast frag warhead. To create an air blast to kill occupants and to obliterate the vessel or aircraft.

          That’s exactly what Hellfire brings to the table, along with its mm wave radar seeker.

          A 20 pound blast frag warhead, which several folks here belittle as tiny, is more than enough to shoot down a 70,000 pound fighter or 200,000 pound heavy bomber in flight. Virtually the same warhead as used on the AIM-9X Sidewinder AAM.

          The Hex load of even a 30mm projectile is but a couple of ounces, less than a hand grenade. A 20mm is just a kinetic projectile, good for poking little holes in vital parts like engines or fuel tanks.

        • USNVO

          3. USN Phalanx is never loaded with anything but APDS ammo. To do anything else would cripple it’s main function of ASCM defense. Shoot, they don’t carry anything but APDS ammo onboard (well outside of the dummy ammo to cycle through when doing maintenance).

          Hellfire has a little bit more range then the 30mm guns carried (about 4000m with APDS ammo, HEI is less. They are essentially the same turret on the AAAV and LPD-17) but can target numerous targets simultaneously. It is not a perfect solution but way better than a Phalanx in surface mode.

      • All a 20mm bullet will do is put a 20mm hole in whatever it hits. Unless that’s an engine or a crew member, it’s not going to achieve much.

        However, I agree with you on RAM – it has basically the same size as Hellfire so why can’t we just use it as the primary anti-swarm weapon?

        • USNVO

          It is actually a 12mm or so hole since it uses a non-expanding Tungsten APDS round. Works great for going through an ASCM lengthwise and causing the warhead to explode, not so much for anything else.

          There is really no reason they can’t use RAM against surface targets, but the holes are already there (planned for the now defunct N-LOS) might as well fill them up too. That, and a Hellfire has a much larger warhead.

          • You’re right about Phalanx, but I’m seeing a 20-22# warhead listed for RAM. Further, RAM Block II is supposed to have almost a 10 mile range – significantly better than Hellfire. Since RAM can be reloaded at sea, it seems to me that a better (and cheaper) use of the space would be to store two dozen RAM reloads. Maybe toss in a Nulka launcher as well for improved survivability.

    • Lazarus

      Phalanx has fewer engagements and is less effective than a missile kill.

  • airider

    Hellfire is the low risk option to fill the space left vacant in the ship when the Army couldn’t manage NLOS properly. At around $100k a pop, Hellfire is still too expensive compared to the targets they’re supposed to be killing. Hellfire matches up very well when you go after multi-million dollar Main Battle Tanks. It matches up poorly against small boats.

    We need more small guns on the ship….something in the 40mm range that can use 3P ammo.

    BAE has an option with their 40Mk4 naval gun that has already been operationally fielded both afloat and ashore. Perhaps something the Navy should evaluate since risk and development costs would be low.

    • Duane

      Hellfire perfectly matches up against small surface craft that have already been proven in battle to take out $2B Arleigh Burke DDGs and $800M Saudi frigates.

      You size and price the weapon to neutralize the threat. It only takes a $1 bullet from a cheap stolen handgun to kill a human being. By your thinking, saving a human from such a threat should cost much less than a buck.

      SMH …ship hating really does a number on its victim’s brains.

    • PolicyWonk

      This is true – Hellfire at $100k each is a mighty expensive way to take out a $20k speedboat. Defense contractors LOVE missiles – they have very high profit margins. Bullets and shells are much cheaper.

      But to defend the taxpayers-forced investment of ~$600M into this inferior/glorified yacht/car ferry (hard to tell, since the USN stopped publishing LCS cost overrun data) – not counting the mission package, let alone the lives of those carelessly ordered to man these floating death traps, for the time being its worth it. This of course assumes, either class of LCS will ever be able to meet the 30 days at sea without a major system failure requirement.

      OTOH, I wouldn’t be surprised if these littoral combat pier queens were costing us a billion dollars each by now.

      The good news, is that (as I mentioned in a previous post) the box-o-Hellfires could be a very useful way to protect Burkes, and other warships from swarms of speedboats, in a pinch.

  • ElmCityAle

    It’s a clever reuse of the large inventory of AGM-114L missiles, but far better choices like the Rafael Spike ER (5 mile range) and NLOS (16 mile range) have been available and are being fielded by other armed forces. LCS could have had such systems from Day 1, if the navy had wanted.

    • Duane

      LCS can already launch far longer range attacks than 16 nm with its embarked aircraft, including MH 60R presently armed with Hellfire, and its MQ-8B with its APKWS missiles. So a medium range ship-launched missile is unnecessary on LCS. We’ve already paid for a large inventory of the battle tested and proven Hellfire Longbow, so it would be silly and irresponsible to go out and buy something else that is not a proven killer like Hellfire.

      • ElmCityAle

        What’s the percentage of time that those airborne craft can stay on station for action? What’s the reaction time for launching if they are in “stand by” mode? It seems unwise to depend upon that method of extending the range of your punch being available whenever needed.

        I stated it was clever to reuse the large inventory of AGM-114L missiles. They appear to work OK for a short range weapon. Great! But, there are far better options available with longer range – and many other nations are deploying them.

        • Duane

          The endurance of the Seahawk is 3.5 hours. The MQ-8B Seascout endurance is 8 hours. and the larger C model is 12 hours. Each LCS deploys either 1 Seahawk plus 2 Firescouts (B model) or 1 Seahawk plus 1 C model Firescout.

          You send out pickets whenever you have good reason to suspect either a threat or a possible target. That is how naval warfare has always been conducted. Ground warfare too.

          In the 18th and 19th century, that was the primary role of the fifth rate frigate … to serve as scout for the line of battle ships of 3rd, 2nd, and 1st rate size.

          Besides, all LCS are networked now using CANES and can exchange 2-way sensing and targeting data with non-embarked aircraft (manned and unmanned), satellites, land based sensors, and other ships. So if an LCS receives such targeting data and is within range to launch an attack with any of its embarked aircraft, it can do just that. It does not matter how the targeting data has been sourced.

          It’s called “NIFCCA” and networked disaggregated naval warfare.

      • Bubblehead

        The only thing hellfire has proven to kill is some terrorist riding on top of donkeys. Not exactly equivalent to shooting at a modern warship. Which no helo or MQ8 is ever going to get close enough to to launch a hellfire.

        • Yeah, why not tell that to all the tanks and other armored vehicles destroyed by Hellfire during Desert Storm. Or the two aircraft that Israel shot down using Hellfire.

          As to your contention that a Hellfire-armed helicopter would never get close enough, China has 40 corvettes armed with 5 mile surface to air missiles and 200 missile boats with no defensive missiles at all.

          • Bubblehead

            So what you are saying is China has corvette’s that are armed better than the much larger LCS?

            Proves the point of this entire blog.

  • RunningBear

    AGM-114L Longbow is the millimeter wave seeker, version. It is the “lock on after launch”, version. 8,000 yd. range, but not described at launch altitude. 20 lb. warhead.
    🙂

  • old guy

    The Hellfire is a peanut size missile intended for helo or vehicle use. they make it look like an SM2 missile, which, incidentally, I fired, vertically, in 1975, from an SES making 60 kts, and hit the target. Who are they trying to kid?

    • Duane

      SMH …

      Weapons are sized for their targets. The 20 pound blast frag warhead on a Hellfire is perfectly sized for use against small surface craft or low flying aircraft, including cruise missiles. It happens to be almost exactly the same size as the warhead on our standard short to medium range AIM-9X Sidewinder air to air missile in use for decades to shoot down fighters and heavy bombers. It is slightly heavier than the 18 pound HEAT warhead used on Hellfires to kill tanks.

      • old guy

        The Hellfire round is a shaped charge penetrator, not a naval weapon

    • The Hellfire has more punch than a 6″ HE shell and a two dozen 6″ hits is enough to cripple anything short of a heavy cruiser.

      • sferrin

        No way is an LCS going to get close enough to an enemy ship armed with antiship missiles to employ Hellfire.

      • old guy

        Better check your lethality estimate

    • sferrin

      I saw a picture of that launch years ago. Thought it was pretty interesting. On the other hand, as I recall, it was one shot up a non-trainable rail, not multi-round VLS system. Not really an apples-to-apples comparison.

      • old guy

        Right on all counts. It was still the frst vertical SM2 shot. Makes a Hellfire launch pretty wimpy, wot? Below is a lethality comparison/
        HELLFIRE—++++
        SM-2———++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

  • Lazarus

    Again, LCS shows it’s capability to support weapons not planned for in its initial design.

    • Bubblehead

      That was the entire point behind the swapping modules. Which was a big fail being that the USN has now decided not to swap modules.

      • Duane

        LCS will still swap MMs. But the swaps will not occur frequently, on a per mission basis, but less frequently, during maintenance availabilities, so as to preserve crew continuity from mission to mission. And some MMs will be deployed simultaneously, depending upon the physical size and weight of the MMs. And MMs are not limited to just the initial 3 of SuW, ASW, and MCM. At least three other MMs are already in development, including a SOF insertion module, a Fleet ECM module, and a Fleet Digital Secure Comms module.

      • Lazarus

        You can still swap systems. You can say thank you to the non-innovative, 1950’s era US defense acquisition system for being too old/dense to apply modular processes.

        • PolicyWonk

          Except now it takes over 90 days, instead of 3.

          This is still faster than rebuilding a ship – but the entire system, given the multitude of problems with both LCS classes, represents a terrible failure.

          The real costs for LCS remain unknown, since the USN stopped reporting cost overruns a few years ago. The reliability problems are still there, as LCS cannot meet the 30-days at sea without a failure of a major system requirement. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation reports that the current LCS fleet have a “have a near-zero chance” of achieving the (30-day) requirement.

          So even with a brand-spankin’ new and ultra-awesome/fearsome mission package, LCS is unlikely to be able to reliably deliver it wherever it is needed – let alone get it back home.

          • Lazarus

            It does not take 90 days to swap a module if needed. Gillmore was a biased Navy hater who had zero credibility on naval matters. In his last SASC appearance he stated that ship crew damage control had zero effect on survivability. Such utter beltway arrogance has no place in the national discourse on any DoD program!
            LCS has a 21 day endurance at sea, not 30, and I would argue that few ships go a month at sea without breaking some major piece of equipment.

          • PolicyWonk

            Well, now you’re up against the USN, who said it was going to take 3 months instead of 3 days…

            But, they’ve been full of what makes the grass grow green when it comes to “the program that broke naval acquisition” anyway. So you might be onto to something in this case.

            I wouldn’t be surprised in LCS is down to 21 days instead of 30, given the crew size is much larger now than it was supposed to be. That’s a great way to justify a capability reduction (;-P), by using one major failure to justify another.

          • Lazarus

            First, you don’t seem to understand the difference between what is supported by the engineering and what admin and organization choices the Navy makes. Second, LCS only ever had a nominal 21 day endurance (in the absence of any replenishment.) You seem to quote numbers without understanding their meaning.

    • PolicyWonk

      All this development does is demonstrate that necessity is the mother of invention, because LCS was never intended to carry weapons of significance, and therefore both classes lack room for growth. Light weapons are therefore highly preferable for both LCS classes (not that this is very comforting should they have to engage with a naval opponent of similar, or even half the tonnage)

      The ridicule the PEO LCS has had to endure since people became aware of how lame these two ship classes are w/r/t design, construction, and planned armament (i.e. lack thereof), inspired them to find *some* solution that might make LCS appear less lame (especially since the NLOS program died). It is notable that Hellfire (~1.5 miles) has nowhere near the range NLOS (~20+ miles) was reputed to be capable of – so this isn’t a replacement.

      But I look at the bright side: at least LCS stands a better chance of defending itself against a small boat swarm (whether it can defend anyone/anything else remains to be seen).

      And (added bonus!), the same boxes-o-Hellfires can be installed on any ship, thereby reducing the need for LCS. And given the amount of time they spend pier-side, apparently unable to perform mere presence missions (a task they should be suitable for when armed with its “mighty” SUW mission package), this is a good thing.

      • Duane

        Living in your dream world of ship hating, as always.

        LCS from the very beginning were ALWAYS designed to take out small surface craft and low flying aircraft, the most likely threats in the littorals. You know that very well but your compulsion for trolling prevents you from admitting to the most blatantly obvious of established facts.

        The original plan more than a decade ago was to arm LCS with a short range anti-surface missile. Originally planned for another missile system, the Navy switched to the Hellfire Longbow and the 24 cell SWMM a few years ago as the most effective solution, as one of several layers of defense against swarms of small boats and low flying aircraft.

      • Lazarus

        Still thinking in linear, IOC to FOC, rigid acquisition system thinking. LCS’ growth is managed WITHIN the modular weight of 180-210 tons. Sure, some of that is helo/UAV fuel, but there is over 100 tons of room to add sensors and weapons to LCS. The FFG 7 never had more than 19 tons for growth. Hellfire is not a replacement for NLOS, but just another package system that LCS can field, along with longer range ASCM’s, 30 mm guns, and other weapons.
        It is no longer 1985. More adaptable and flexible thinking is required, not the 1950’s era US defense acquisition system and its 1980’s, aircraft-based test and evaluation system.

      • old guy

        Au Contraire, mein herr. The LCS was intended to realize the modular equipment principles set up as SEAMOD, by my SEA003 guys, Roger Dilts and Larry Benen, in 1978. Sheer incompetence, I’m sorry to say, led to the LCS travesty.

        • PolicyWonk

          I agree completely. One of my other postings references some of the great ideas that were supposed to be the basis for LCS, that led to so many promises being made about its capabilities.

          But appalling stupidity and incompetence won the day and created they hyper-expensive “Franken-ships”, at tremendous loss to the US taxpayers (and potentially the sailors that are ordered to man them), and the everlasting glee of potential adversaries.

          • Lazarus

            As usual with no references or data to back up such outlandish claims.

  • Mr. Speaker

    LCS with Hellfire……… that’s nice.
    *yawn*
    I’m sure the FAC/FIAC that have weapon effective ranges beyond 2nm will incorporate a safe zone into their tactics.

    • Duane

      5 nm for ship launched Hellfire, 100+ nm for MH-60R launched Hellfire, ditto for MQ-8B with APKWS, both of which deploy from LCS.

      • SierraSierraQuebec

        Your point highlights what the LCS should have been, a platform or base from which the prosecutors carry out their missions, be it helicopters/drones from a substantial landing pad and hangar, or small hydrofoils, large boats, and surface craft from a modest well deck and support area, a big gun (but not the grandiose AGS) for surface and inland fires, supported by the electronics required for situational awareness and self defense.

        Unfortunately the LCS design is dominated by a 40 knot power plant, so there is no capacity for the things actually needed to operate effectively in the littorals.

  • Duane

    You’re being ridiculous. Have you ever priced out a 25 to 35 foot speedboat?
    Besides, a very slow moving boat took out the Cole, killing 17 American sailors and doing a couple hundred million dollars in damage. A 1 dollar bullet can take a human life.

    You measure threats and act accordingly to the damage they can do.

    My god, you dedicated ship haters are impervious to even the most blatantly obvious logic.

    “blinded by hate” – literally

  • Lazarus

    Effectiveness is not just being deployed and cutting circles in the water.

  • DaSaint

    Slightly off topic. Can someone clarify…was a contract for LCS-29 awarded? I know that LCS-28 and LCS-30 went to Austal USA, and LCS-27 went to Lockheed. It would stand to reason that LCS-29 should go to Lockheed, but I don’t see anything regarding that.

    Also, 3 LCS were authorized, extending the class past 30. Someone clarify who got what.

    Duane….?

  • Kypros

    Well, at least this is something. The missile module looks different to me compared to previous illustrations I’ve seen. Does it take up any space in the hangar?

    • USNVO

      No, the Hellfire is placed in the same holes that were planned for the N-LOS. So there is nothing changed in the ship, the Hellfire is just filling empty holes that were planned for N-LOS.

      • Kypros

        Thanks!

  • Buy the British Martlet.

  • Ed L

    Question, so does this mean the LCS’s are going to deploy to the Persian gulf and work with the Cylcone class patrol craft and the Burke’s? Another Question. What’s the record for the longest underway time (not including transit) for an LCS.

    • Lazarus

      LCS has a nominal operation period of 21 days. Not sure any have been underway that long yet. LCS range is much superior to that of the PC which is less than two weeks.
      LCS is not a battle group asset and has not really been required to underway more than the period of an exercise or long transit.

      • Ed L

        Not a Battle Group asset. I like that. It should have been tailored to be a battle group asset. That what UNREP is for. Bring back the Erie class Patrol Gunboats. Not very fast 22 knots but with her 4 six inch guns They could fight a Destroyer

        • Lazarus

          Why. The USN has a large force of excellent DDG’s that are the best all around battle group escort. The USN does not need a ship with 1/2 the DDG’s armament but at 2/3 the cost of the DDG.

          • Ed L

            And the cylcone pc spend more time underway than the lcs. The navy needs Frigates or 40 more Burke DDG’s pretty darn quick