Navy to Decide Late This Year on LCS Hellfire Missile Production
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy expects to make a decision late this year on production of the Surface-to-Surface Missile Module (SSMM) for the littoral combat ship’s (LCS’s) surface warfare mission package, according to a Feb. 12 Navy report to Congress on the LCS mission packages, released March 29.
The SSMM uses the Longbow Hellfire anti-tank missile adapted for vertical launch from an LCS to strike surface targets. It has been evaluated in firings from the USS Milwaukee.
The report, by the LCS mission package program office, said the Longbow Hellfire “is currently in testing and exceeding requirements. To date, the SSMM has achieved an 83 percent successful engagement rate. The addition of the SSMM will make LCS with an embarked [surface warfare mission package] the most capable ship in the Navy in countering the small-boat threat.”
The SSM achieved 20 of 24 successful firings and the Navy implemented software upgrades to correct the causes of the four unsuccessful shots.
Because Milwaukee is preparing for its late 2018 deployment, the Navy plans to shift the system to USS Detroit in July and conduct developmental testing of the SSMM, followed by operational testing, with initial operational capability planned for early 2019, the report said.
Testing on board Detroit will be extensive, the report said, and include “on-load, groom and alignment, end-to-end testing, and SSMM single-target and multiple-target tracking events” and will include single- and multiple-target firing events.
Operational testing of the surface warfare mission package with the SSMM integrated will take place in the first quarter of fiscal 2019. Initial operational capability of the SSMM is expected in early 2019.