A Navy official on Tuesday proclaimed the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Mission Modules (MM) have transitioned from “chalkboard into test” mode.

Mission Modules program manager Capt. Ted Zobel said the LCS mission modules development is in a good place during the annual Surface Navy Association symposium in Arlington, Va.

The future Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship USS Billings (LCS-15) conducting acceptance trials in Lake Michigan. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

The Navy is developing three kinds of LCS mission packages (MPs) each containing several mission modules: surface warfare (SUW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and mine countermeasures (MCM).

Zobel noted the SUW MP has conducted developmental and operational tests (DT/OT) on LCS-5 and LCS-7 and moved operational tests on LCS-7 two months ahead of schedule.

SUW features the surface-to-surface missile module (SSMM) with the Longbow Hellfire. Zobel said the SUW has had a 91 percent hit rate of missiles fired and is on track to reach initial operating capability (IOC) in the second quarter of FY 2019.

Zobel said the Navy is now moving to production in SUW mission modules in 2019. The Navy is procuring the first module in 2019, expects delivery in 2021, and is hoping to deploy the SSMM and the full SUW mission package on a deploying ship later this year.

Zobel said he is “not sure if we’ll get there, but certainly working hard to that end.”

He was similarly upbeat about progress in ASW, arguing “this mission package represents a game-changing capability in the fleet.”

ASW uses a Variable Depth Sonar (VDS) integrated with a multi-function towed array with both a transmitter and receiver in the same part of the water column. Having both in the same area is a capability the Navy has not fielded in decades.

The Navy accepted delivery of the ASW pre-production test article (PPTA) in November, conducted land-based integration testing in December, and moved to install the PPTA on a test ship at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC). The PPTA and test ship arrived at AUTEC on Jan. 12.

Zobel said while conducting the ASW testing the Navy is also “driving to an availability” on LCS-3 that allows the service to modify the ship to be able to install ASW equipment.

Once ASW testing is finished, the Navy hopes to take the ASW PPTA off the test vessel, send it to San Diego, and “we should be onloading the ASW mission package on to LCS-3 this summer.”

The system and ship together will then go into developmental testing toward the end of FY 2019, in the August-September timeframe.

Zobel said the Navy has also certified all MCM aviation mission modules for Independence-variant (even numbered) LCSs. In 2019, the service will conduct integration work and test them on the Freedom-variant (odd numbered) ships through the summer.

He expected MCM aviation modules to be certified for use on both LCS variants by the end of the year.

Zobel noted the General Dynamics [GD] Knifefish minehunting vessel finished integration testing on the LCS-2 before the winter holidays. The last day of integration testing for the MCM Unmanned influence Sweep System (UISS) is expected to be Jan. 16.

“So that’s a leading indicator that by the end of the year we should have UISS and Knifefish certified to deploy on the even variant and follow it next year with the odd variant,” he said.