The Navy has completed the first stage of development testing for surface warfare module for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program by demonstrating the MK 46 gun system and other weapons, the service said yesterday.

The tests also included MH-60R helicopter carrying a Hellfire missile simulator and .50-caliber and 7.62mm machine guns.

The surface warfare mission module is one of three swappable packages being designed for the class of ships intended for close-to-shore operations. The other two are anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures. The test was done on the USS Freedom (LCS-1) on Sunday, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) said.

"An LCS outfitted with these capabilities, teamed with the ship’s inherent speed and maneuverability, will provide a capability in a single platform never before available to the U.S. Navy," Rear Adm. James Murdoch, the program executive officer for the LCS program, said.

The surface warfare package is to provide fleet protection from small boats and other asymmetrical threats, the Navy said. The ships are also intended to provide operational security in interdiction missions against terrorist suspects and high seas pirates.

"Although data collected during testing remains under analysis, the systems accomplished each of the challenging test scenarios," Capt. John Ailes, the program manager LCS mission modules, said.

The next development test for the surface module is expected to take place in August 2013, with initial test and evaluation scheduled for 2014 and initial operational capability (IOC) that same year.

The Navy plans to build 55 of the ships, along with 24 surface warfare packages, 24 mine countermeasure modules, and 16 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) packages. The mine module is scheduled for IOC in 2014 and ASW in 2017, Murdoch told Defense Daily earlier this year.