The Navy has tested its latest anti-ship missile in a sinking exercise off of Guam, the service announced on Tuesday.
Littoral Combat Ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) fired a Naval Strike Missile at the ex-USS Ford (FFG-54) as part of a joint SINKEX with the Republic of Singapore Navy about 170 nautical miles off of the U.S. territory on Monday.
Exercise Pacific Griffin was the first SINKEX shot for the Navy following a $14.8 million 2018 contract award to the Raytheon-Kongsberg team for the first round of missiles for both classes of LCS.
The addition of an over the horizon anti-surface missile for LCS is a major lethality boost for both versions of the ships that had been optimized for smaller surface threats – like small fast attack craft, officials have told USNI News.
“That’s a game-changer for LCS: they still have their mission, they still have their focused mission and all the things that they’re going to do in the surface warfare world and in [anti-submarine warfare] and [mine countermeasures,” Rear Adm. Casey Moton, the program executive officer for unmanned and small combatants, told USNI News earlier this year.
“Now, every LCS that’s out there can’t be ignored.”
Commander of Naval Surface Forces Vice Adm. Richard Brown told USNI News that the missile aboard the LCS would complicate the way adversaries will have to handle the U.S. Navy.
“They really just had to figure out where the aircraft carrier was, now in conjunction with everything we’re doing, not just in LCS but in the cruisers and destroyers, any potential adversary has to worry about where all the ships are because of the reach of the weapons systems we’re putting on them,” he told USNI News.
The NSM has been in service with the Royal Norwegian Navy since 2012. The subsonic missile has a range of about 100 miles and costs a little less than a Raytheon Tomahawk Block IV cruise missile (about $868,000 in 2018 dollars).
Giffords is the first LCS to deploy with the weapon, however, the service has tested the NSM from LCS prior to this year’s deployment.
The missile from Giffords wasn’t the only weapon fired at former Oliver Hazard Perry frigate Ford.
“Along with USS Gabrielle Giffords, several other units participated in the SINKEX, including missiles launched from maritime patrol aircraft from Patrol Squadrons VP-1, VP-5 and VP-47; bombs released from B-52 bombers from U.S. Air Forces’ Expeditionary 69th Bomb Squadron; and surface-to-surface Harpoon missiles launched from the Republic of Singapore multi-role stealth frigates RSS Formidable (FFS 68) and RSS Intrepid (FFS 69),” read a statement from the Navy.