The US Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Mission Modules (MM) programme has successfully completed developmental testing (DT) of the coastal mine reconnaissance (CMR) mission module on-board the Independence-class USS Coronado (LCS 4) off the coast of Southern California.

The navy commenced the test programme by embarking the CMR mission module, mission package software and associated test equipment.

A series of relevant installation checks were also carried out.

The CMR module comprises the MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with its mission control system (MCS) and the AN / DVS-1 Coastal Battlespace Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) system with the airborne payload sub-system, as well as the post-mission analysis sub-system.

"This DT marks the last critical step in demonstrating the CMR mission module capability on the LCS Independence variant prior to fleet introduction."

The mission module is supported by MINEnet Tactical, which is a web-based solution designed to ensure command and control of mine warfare battlespace.

COBRA has been integrated on-board the MQ-8B UAV is intended to facilitate the daytime detection of surface-laid mine lines, mine fields and obstacles in the beach zone.

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In addition, mission analysis is carried out after the completion of the aircraft flight.

The CMR mission module’s DT exercise has been designed to evaluate the system in real-life environmental conditions using the assigned crew and aviation detachment to ensure that the system is ready for operational testing.

LCS Mission Modules programme manager captain Theodore Zobel said: “This DT marks the last critical step in demonstrating the CMR mission module capability on the LCS Independence variant prior to fleet introduction.”

Zobel added: “The recently completed DT, and previously completed integration and shore-based testing, prepare the ship and train the crews for more complex mine warfare missions and initial operational test and evaluation, scheduled to begin in March 2018.”

The DT comprised nine distinct missions, including mission tasking from a shore-based mine warfare commander, mission planning by the ship and assigned aviation detachment, flying the planned mission, and downloading and evaluating the collected data.

It also involved the transmission of analysed data from the US Navy vessel to the mine warfare commander.