The US Navy has started initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) of the surface-to-surface missile module (SSMM) on the Freedom-class littoral combat ship (LCS) USS Detroit (LCS 7).
Operational testing has started two months ahead of schedule. It follows developmental and integrated testing that was conducted off the coast of Virginia from July through November.
SSMM is the next delivery of capability for the LCS surface warfare (SUW) mission package (MP) and uses the US Army’s Longbow Hellfire missile in a vertical launch capability to target threats.
During the IOT&E, SSMM and gun mission module (GMM) will be used to counter two fast inshore attack craft raid events.
The baseline SUW MP includes SSMM, GMM, maritime security module, aviation mission module one support container and mission package application software (MPAS).
Following successful completion of the test and evaluation plan, the SSMM will move towards achieving initial operational capability status and fielding with SUW MP.
The US Navy also noted that the IOT&E is scheduled for completion in early next year.
SSMM features 24 Longbow Hellfire missiles, launcher system with self-contained fire control hatch system / support structure / module service panels, gas management system and modular control computer.
It is designed to give the navy ships added lethality to counter the growing number of small boat threats, as well as provide a visit, board, search and seizure capability.
The US Navy conducted structural test firing of SSMM from USS Detroit in March 2017.
GMM consists of two 30mm guns, and 57mm weapons systems, and Maritime Security Module contains two 11m rigid hull inflatable boats.
Aviation Mission Module includes an MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and a vertical take-off unmanned air vehicle.
The GMM, Maritime Security Module, and Aviation Mission Module attained initial operational capability in November 2014.
These modules have been used on both Freedom and Independence LCS variants to provide required defence capabilities during deployments in sea lanes, straits and archipelagos of South and South East Asia.