The littoral combat ship is going to grow teeth in 2016 when ships Freedom and Coronado are armed with with the installation of over-the-horizon anti-shipsurface missiles on the Freedom and Coronado.
Both ships will deploy next year with either the venerable Harpoon missile or the Naval Strike Missile, a Norwegian-developed missile with a greater range than 100 nautical miles.
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The missiles will likely be strapped onto the decks of the ships in box launchers and not fully integrated into the ship's combat system, as officials try to demonstrate arming the LCS with longer-range weapons. but will likely not be fully integrated into the ship's combat system — a stand-alone console would work for what surface Navy officials are trying to demonstrate, according to Navy Times sister publication Defense News.
The addition of anti-shipASUW missiles on LCS come after years of criticism that the ships lack firepower. The surface Navy has been seeking ways to put some bite back in the fleet as other nations such as Russia and China develop longer-range weapons designed to keep the U.S. fleet at arm's length.
Freedom, the mono-hull version of the LCS, is slated to relieve her sister ship Fort Worth in Singapore next year. Coronado is setslated to make the first deployment for the tri-hull version LCS next year.
Also in 2016, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron 2 based in Mayport, Florida, will get its first hull, the Little Rock, with two more coming each year. Mayport will ultimately be home port to eight of the mono-hull versions of LCS.
David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.