The US Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) mission module programme is righting itself after overcoming significant technical challenges and funding issues. One particular, emerging bright spot in the programme of record is the Surface-to-Surface Mission Module of the surface warfare package.
The SSMM launcher fires the repurposed Hellfire Longbow missile. Kevin Knowles, Northrop Grumman’s Director of Strategy and Business Development for LCS Programs, noted this missile variant is a more advanced version of the baseline Hellfire, and has its own millimeter wave radar. “It gets its target coordinates from the ship from which it was fired,” the program leader explained. “…and when it comes at the target is uses its own radar to reacquire the target.”
The SSMM has completed developmental test on USS MILWAUKEE (LCS 5) and USS DETROIT (LCS 7), and is in operational test as this symposium convenes on DETROIT. Fifty-five missiles have been fired to date with a greater than 91% hit rate. The LCS-based missile is designed to destroy an array of targets including fast inshore attack craft.
Mr Knowles, in his capacity as the LCS programme module integrator, said the service-industry team will achieve initial operational capability with SSMM on the first quarter of this year. “And we’re also expecting to get our first production order for the missile in second quarter of this year,” he added.
As the LCS mission module program is, “platform agnostic,” the missile and the accompanying gun in the surface warfare package will be installed on all LCSs. The gun mission module MK50 MOD 0 consists of the MK 46 MOD (X) gun weapon system with MK 44 MOD 2 30mm automatic cannon.