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USS Billings LCS completes acceptance trials

By
Stephen Carlson
The USS Billings (LCS 15) completed Acceptance Trials in Lake Michigan ahead of its expected delivery to the U.S. Navy in 2019. Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin
The USS Billings (LCS 15) completed Acceptance Trials in Lake Michigan ahead of its expected delivery to the U.S. Navy in 2019. Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin

Dec. 10 (UPI) -- The littoral combat ship USS Billings completed Acceptance Trials this week in Lake Michigan.

The trials are the last step before delivery, christening and potential deployment. It is the eighth Freedom-class variant of the LCS, and is expected to be delivered to the Navy in 2019.

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"LCS 15 is the third ship we've taken through sea trials this year, and we are proud that the Navy will soon have another capable, lethal and affordable ship in the fleet," Joe DePietro, vice president and general manager of small combatants and ship systems at Lockheed Martin, said in a press release.

The trials include sea trials and testing of the ship's combat systems, including aviation handling for the ship's flight deck and its ability to handle small boats.

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The LCS is meant to operate in shallow coastal waters, along with regular sea operations. It is designed to be modular, allowing multiple weapons and sensor packages depending on the mission of the ship.

The vessel's standard armament is a MK 110 57mm gun. The LCS can also be equipped with RIM-110 Rolling Airframe Missile surface-to-air missiles and a variety of other ordnance. It can carry up to two helicopters and vertical take-off drones like the MQ-8 Fire Scout.

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The LCS comes in two highly similar models, the Freedom by Lockheed Martin and the Independence by Austal USA, with multiple ships of each both delivered and under production for the Navy.

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The LCS has been criticized for design issues and a lack of significant firepower. Though production continues, it is expected to be supplemented by a new class of Guided Missile Frigates that carry vertical launch systems for missiles and other heavy weaponry.

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