The US Navy has announced the completion of a restrained firing test of the Longbow Hellfire missile by the Program Executive Office for Littoral Combat Ships (PEO LCS) for the LCS Surface-to-Surface Missile Module (SSMM).

The Longbow Hellfire missile, which has been undergoing developmental testing, is planned to be incorporated into the SSMM, which is part of the LCS surface warfare mission package.

The SSMM missile launch module has the ability to withstand heat and fire during an unplanned rocket motor ignition. This has been proved at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division's Explosive Experimental Area.

"This critical test concludes another vital step in a series of efforts that will lead to the fielding of this tremendous capability."

A series of tests are required to be carried out to prove the safety of the system before integrating and testing the Longbow Hellfire missile aboard a LCS.

At the time of the test of the missile exhaust containment structure (MECS), the Navy fired a test Longbow Hellfire missile with an inert warhead and a non-functional guidance section to duct missile exhaust and fire through plenum exhaust chambers in the top of the SSMM module.

The exhaust and flames ducted properly through the MECS plenums when the missile's rocket motor burned during testing.

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LCS mission module programme manager captain Ted Zobel said: "This critical test concludes another vital step in a series of efforts that will lead to the fielding of this tremendous capability to LCS and to the fleet."

Following the test, it was verified that the MECS could prevent ignition exhaust fire from escaping into other missile modules.

The live missile was equipped with three mass-simulated Longbow Hellfire missiles and eight mass-simulated missiles with inert rocket motors to help evaluate the effectiveness of the MECS.

The Longbow Hellfire missile capability is planned to be deployed by the navy aboard a LCS by December next year, while structural test firing from a LCS is expected to occur by March.