Hellfire missiles

The US Navy has conducted engineering development tests of modified Longbow Hellfire missiles developed for use on littoral combat ships (LCS).

Known as the surface-to-surface missile module (SSMM), the Hellfire missile system is aimed to increase the lethality of LCSs.

LCS Mission Modules programme manager captain Casey Moton said: "This test was very successful and overall represents a big step forward in SSMM development for LCS."

The missile system is expected to be fully integrated and ready to be deployed in late 2017.

The test saw the modified Longbow Hellfire missiles, which were launched from the navy’s research vessel Relentless, successfully destroying a series of targets, known as manoeuvring surface targets (HSMSTs).

During the test, the missiles destroyed targets at both maximum and minimum missile ranges.

"This test was very successful and overall represents a big step forward in SSMM development."

According to the US Navy, the integration of the missile marks the next evolution in capability being developed for inclusion in the Increment 3 version of the surface warfare mission package for LCS.

After completing integration and testing, the Hellfire missile will support the LCS’s existing capability of 57mm gun, SEARAM missiles, and armed MH-60 Sea Hawk helicopter.

The LCS is a fast, highly manoeuvrable, networked surface combat ship, which is a specialised variant of the family of US future surface combat ships known as DD(X).

It is designed to defeat growing littoral threats and provide access and dominance in the coastal waters.

Image: Three missiles from a ripple fire response strike their moving targets during an engineering development test of modified Longbow Hellfire missiles. Photo: courtesy of US Navy photo / Released.