The littoral combat ship anti-submarine warfare (ASW) mission package met two important testing milestones earlier this month, Naval Sea System Command (NAVSEA) announced this week.
The ASW mission package successfully completed a 10-day pier side test of the Dual-mode ARray Transmitter (DART) Mission System. During the test, LCS sailors operated the DART mission system at the Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute’s waterside test complex, according to a NAVSEA statement.
The second milestone, which occurred after the DART Mission System test, involved a full-power, in water test of the Raytheon-developed active array at the Navy’s Seneca Lake Sonar Test Facility in Dresden, NY. This was the first time the array was tested in open water, which allows research and development teams to better understand how the system will perform once deployed, according to the NAVSEA statement.
The DART system uses a variable-depth sonar, that instead of working from a fixed point on a ship’s hull, can ride in the sea and dip under the water’s surface to hear what’s happening at different depths, according to Raytheon. In May 2017, the Navy awarded Raytheon a $27.9 million contract to develop the sub-hunting capability. If the Navy is happy with the results, the contract includes an option for full production worth up to $300 million. The Navy has been working on developing a new LCS anti-submarine warfare mission package since 2015, when an initial design was considered too heavy.
“The Seneca Lake Test was a huge step forward for the DART System and the ASW Mission Package as a whole. This revolutionary technology is critical to countering the rising submarine threats worldwide,” Capt. Ted Zobel, LCS Mission Module program manager, said in a statement.
The follow-up Dockside-2 test is planned for the fall, when three new Raytheon-developed mission modules will be added to the DART system, according to a Navy statement. This testing is scheduled to occur at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center in early 2019, according to the NAVSEA statement.
The Navy doesn’t intend on buying all mission packages for each LCS, Zobel said earlier this year during a House Armed Services Committee hearing. Instead, LCS’s will be divided into groups, and will swap out packages as needed. As of now, Zobel said during the hearing, the Navy intends to purchase 10 ASW mission packages. In written testimony, Navy officials expected the achieve initial operational capability of the ASW mission packages during Fiscal Year 2019