Longbow Hellfire missile passes US Navy restrained firing test

The Navy is planning to deploy the Longbow Hellfire missile aboard a LCS by December 2017. Photo: US Navy

The U.S. Navy said that it has successfully completed a restrained firing test of the Longbow Hellfire missile for the LCS surface-to-surface missile module (SSMM).

In comparison to live fire testing, restrained firing usually costs less and allows the navy to examine the missile after the test.

Lockheed Martin’s Longbow Hellfire, which the navy chose over Raytheon’s Griffin IIB missile in 2014, has been undergoing developmental testing for incorporation into the SSMM, part of the LCS surface warfare mission package.

A series of tests were accomplished at the Naval Surface Warfare Center to prove the safety of the system prior to integrating and testing the Longbow Hellfire missile aboard a LCS,

During the test of the missile exhaust containment structure (MECS), a test designed to duct missile exhaust and fire through plenum exhaust chambers in the top of the SSMM module, one live Longbow Hellfire missile with inert warhead and non-functional guidance section was fired but restrained in the launcher. As the missile’s rocket motor burned, exhaust and flames ducted properly through the MECS plenums.

“This critical test concludes another vital step in a series of efforts that will lead to the fielding of this tremendous capability to LCS and to the fleet,” said Capt. Ted Zobel, program manager for the LCS Mission Module Program.

According to the Navy, the test verified the MECS could prevent ignition exhaust fire from escaping into other missile modules. Three mass-simulated Longbow Hellfire missiles and eight mass-simulated missiles with inert rocket motors were situated with the live missile to help evaluate the MECS’s effectiveness.

The Navy is planning to deploy the Longbow Hellfire missile aboard a LCS by December 2017. Structural test firing from a LCS is scheduled to occur by March 2017.

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