Oct. 2 (UPI) -- The Naval Strike Missile, which can strike an enemy ship 100 nautical miles away, was successfully demonstrated by the USS Gabrielle Giffords, the Navy announced.
The test of the weapon, which as been deployed aboard the Giffords, aboard the Independence-variant littoral combat ship came Tuesday during the biennial Pacific Griffin exercise near Guam. This year's exercise was conducted by the navies of Singapore and the united States.
The Giffords was it first deployment, to the Indo-Pacific region with the 7th fleet, since leaving its home port in San Diego in September. The NSM, Navy officials say, is "fully operational and remains lethal."
"Today was a terrific accomplishment for USS Gabrielle Giffords crew and the Navy's LCS class," Cmdr. Matthew Lehmann, commanding officer, said in a statement. "I am very proud of all the teamwork that led to the successful launch of the NSM."
The NSM is a long-range stealth weapon that flies at sea-skimming altitude, has terrain-following capability and uses an advanced seeker for precise targeting in challenging conditions.
Rear Adm. Joey Tynch, commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific, who oversees security cooperation for the U.S. Navy in Southeast Asia, said Gabrielle Giffords' deployment sent a crystal clear message of continued U.S. commitment to maritime security in the region.
"LCS packs a punch and gives potential adversaries another reason to stay awake at night," said Rear Adm. Joey Tynch, commander of the Navy's Logistics Group Western Pacific.
The LCS vessels is a relatively small vessel built for shallow-water maneuverability, but its missiles transform it from under-armed to a legitimate threat to warships, notably those of China.
A similarly equipped LCS, the USS Montgomery, was deployed to the Pacific Fleet in June. The missiles transform the ships from under-armed to a legitimate threat to warships, notably those of China. Littoral combat ships are fast, agile and networked surface combatants, optimized for operating in the near-shore environments.
LCS armaments include the Naval Strike Missile and the MQ-8C Fire Scout drone. When combined, they can destroy an over-the-horizon target at 100 nautical miles, further than the 67 nautical miles of the Harpoon missile, the Navy's current anti-ship missile.
The Navy is installing the weapons on all LCS ships currently under construction. The USS Gabrielle Giffords, commissioned in 2017, was retrofit with the missiles and drones, and will conduct operations, exercises and port visits throughout the region, the Navy said.