Last month, the Navy successfully completed a structural test firing of a Surface-to-Surface Missile Module (SSMM) on an Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the Navy said last Thursday.
Following the successful test at the Point Mugu Sea Range in California on June 11, the LCS Mission Modules program now moves to developmental testing of the SSMM aboard an Independence-variant ship.
The June test was the first ever test firing of the SSMM on an Independence-variant type and the first in a series of events to assess SSMM capability on that variant.
Structural test firing is a total-ship test with live weapons fire required for each ship or variant. The Navy said this prepares the ship and trains the crews “for more complex surface warfare tracking and live-fire exercises scheduled to begin later this summer.”
The summer exercises will then conclude with initial operational test and evaluation at the end of 2019.
The SSMM is one of four modules making up the LCS Surface Warfare Mission Package. It uses Lockheed Martin [LMT] Army AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire missiles in a vertical launch capacity to engage small boat threats, increasing the range and number of targets an LCS can engage.
The Navy already finished successful tests of SSMM on the Freedom-variant LCS earlier this year.
Last year, the USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) conducted live-fire missile exercises to finish the first phase of SSMM Developmental Testing on the Freedom-variant (Defense Daily, May 17, 2018).
“SSMM is tested and well proven on the LCS Freedom variant. This structural test firing marks the first critical step in demonstrating the SSMM capability on the LCS Independence variant,” Capt. Godfrey Weekes, LCS Mission Modules program manager, said in a statement.
The LCS Surface Warfare Mission Package also consists of a Gun Mission Module with 30mm guns, Maritime Security Module with 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boats, and the Aviation Mission Module with an MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and Vertical Take-off Unmanned Air Vehicle.
Independence-variant ships are built by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala. while the Freedom-variants are built by Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisc., under prime contractor Lockheed Martin.