Engineering development tests of modified Longbow Hellfire missiles for use on littoral combat ships (LCS) were successfully conducted in June, the U.S. Navy reported on July 30th.
Integration of the Longbow Hellfire missile system, designated the Surface-to-Surface Missile Module (SSMM), will increase the lethality of the Navy’s fleet of littoral combat ships. The SSMM is expected to be fully integrated and ready to deploy on LCS missions in late 2017.
“This test was very successful and overall represents a big step forward in SSMM development for LCS,” said Capt. Casey Moton, LCS Mission Modules program manager.
Termed Guided Test Vehicle-1, the event was designed to specifically test the Longbow Hellfire launcher, the missile, and its seeker versus high speed maneuvering surface targets (HSMSTs). The HSMSTs served as surrogates for fast inshore attack craft that are a potential threat to Navy ships worldwide.
During the mid-June tests off the coast of Virginia, the modified Longbow Hellfire missiles successfully destroyed a series of maneuvering small boat targets. The system “hit” seven of eight targets engaged, with the lone miss attributed to a target issue not related to the missile’s capability. The shots were launched from the Navy’s research vessel Relentless.
The test scenarios included hitting targets at both maximum and minimum missile ranges. After a stationary target was engaged, subsequent targets, conducting serpentine maneuvers were engaged. The tests culminated in a three-target “raid” scenario. During this scenario all missiles from a three-shot “ripple fire” response struck their individual targets.
Integration of the “fire-and-forget” Longbow Hellfire missile on LCS represents the next evolution in capability being developed for inclusion in the Increment 3 version of the surface warfare mission package for LCS. When fully integrated and tested, each 24-shot missile module will bring added firepower to complement the LCS’s existing 57mm gun, SEARAM missiles and armed MH-60 Sea Hawk helicopter.
LCS is a modular, reconfigurable ship, with three types of mission packages including surface warfare, mine countermeasures, and anti-submarine warfare. The Program Executive Office Littoral Combat Ships (PEO LCS) is responsible for delivering and sustaining littoral mission capabilities to the fleet. Delivering high-quality warfighting assets while balancing affordability and capability is key to supporting the nation’s maritime strategy.
Image: US Navy