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Navy test fires Hellfire missile from littoral combat ship

By Ed Adamczyk
A Hellfire missile is launched from an Independence-variant littoral combat ship during the Surface to Surface Missile Module Structural Test Fire on June 11 2019, at the Point Mugu Sea Range, Calif. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy
A Hellfire missile is launched from an Independence-variant littoral combat ship during the Surface to Surface Missile Module Structural Test Fire on June 11 2019, at the Point Mugu Sea Range, Calif. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy

July 26 (UPI) -- A successful test-firing by an Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship Mission Modules program will prompt further development tests, the Naval Sea Systems Command said.

A Longbow Hellfire surface-to-surface missile module launched from an unnamed Independence- class littoral combat ship was successfully tested on June 11 at the Point Mugu Sea Range, Calif., the Command said in a statement on Thursday.

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The test firing was the first from an Independence-class LCS. Missile testing on the other LCS variant, the Freedom class, was successfully completed earlier this year.

"SSMM is tested and well proven on the LCS Freedom variant. This structural test firing marks the first critical step in demonstrating the SSMM capability on the LCS Independence variant," said Capt. Godfrey Weekes, LCS Mission Modules program manager.

The "structural test firing" of the SSMM allows the Navy to begin SSMM developmental testing aboard the trimaran-hulled Independence variant in August.

Littoral combat ships are designed for operation in near-shore environments but capable of open-ocean operation, handling threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft.

The vessels, which have a crew of 40, are smaller than the Navy's destroyers, amphibious assault ships and aircraft carriers. In addition to missiles, they are equipped with an assortment of weapons, including 30 mm machine guns.

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The most recently-commissioned LCS, the USS Oakland, was christened in June.

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