The US Navy's littoral combat ship (LCS) programme has completed blast and fire testing of a full-scale structural assembly at the US Army Aberdeen Test Centre.

The Austal-built multi-compartment surrogate (MCS), which was based on the Independence variant LCS, was used to carry out the destructive tests that assessed the ability of the LCS to withstand the damage caused by weapon-induced blast and fire conditions.

The testing forms a key part of the modeling and simulation (M&S) framework that is used to evaluate the overall survivability of the LCS in a combat environment.

"The MCS testing allows us to test our simulations in a real-world and safe environment."

It also supports the live-fire test and evaluation (LFT&E) programme, and is part of the ongoing LFT&E Modeling and Simulation / Survivability analysis.

LCS Programme manager Tom Anderson said: "The MCS testing allows us to test our simulations in a real-world and safe environment.

"This analysis, along with the recent successful completion of Full Ship Shock Trials, will serve to support future survivability assessments of the Independence variant."

During blast testing, chargers were placed in several compartments of the LCS to examine the vessel's reaction to overpressures within the spaces, while testers created controlled fires within the MCS to evaluate the effect of fire on the aluminium structure.

The data collected from the tests will set a reference benchmark against which computer simulations can be compared.

Austal was awarded a $3.5bn contract by the US Navy to build and deliver an additional ten LCS, which will join Independence (LCS 2) commissioned in January 2010.

Image: Coronado (LCS 4) at Naval Air Station North Island. Photo: courtesy of US Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Donnie W Ryan/Released.