SAN DIEGO - The U.S. Navy completed the first stage of developmental testing for the Littoral Combat Ship surface warfare mission package, June 24.
USS Freedom (LCS 1), the first ship of the class, conducted tests and demonstrations of key mission package components, including the MK 46 gun weapon system, 11-meter rigid hull inflatable boats and an MH-60R helicopter outfitted with a Hellfire missile simulator and .50-caliber and 7.62mm machine guns.
"The capabilities included in the surface warfare mission package will project power and presence in key overseas environments," said Rear Adm. James Murdoch, program executive officer Littoral Combat Ships. "An LCS outfitted with these capabilities, teamed with the ship's inherent speed and maneuverability, will provide a capability in a single platform never before available to the U.S. Navy."
The LCS program's modular approach allows the Navy to rapidly reconfigure each ship with focused mission packages to meet warfighter requirements. To ensure these mission package systems are able to meet their missions, the Navy has implemented a rigorous test and risk mitigation program.
The primary function of the surface warfare mission package is to provide fleet protection from small boats and other asymmetrical threats. The package can also be used to provide operational security in interdiction missions against terrorist suspects and high seas pirates, and can provide defense against shore attacks while operating in the littorals.
"Although data collected during testing remains under analysis, the systems accomplished each of the challenging test scenarios," said Capt. John Ailes, program manager for LCS Mission Module Integration. "The LCS program continues to mature and demonstrate that this ground-breaking concept of operations works and works well."
Test results will provide an operational snapshot, allowing the Navy to continue to review the performance of these systems. Phase two developmental testing is currently scheduled for August 2013 and, upon completion of developmental testing, the mission package is scheduled to enter initial operational test and evaluation, in January 2014. The mission package is scheduled for initial operational capability and delivery in fiscal year 2014.
Currently 55 ships of the LCS class are planned, along with 24 surface warfare mission packages, 24 mine countermeasures mission packages and 16 anti-submarine warfare mission packages.