The littoral combat ship Montgomery launched three AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire missiles at a land-based target this month — becoming the first LCS to do so.
While cruising in the Pacific Ocean the ship successfully struck the target several nautical miles away May 12 during a proof-of-concept exercise under the vessel’s surface-to-surface mission module, the Navy said.
“This test proved the critical next step in increasing lethality of the Littoral Combat Ship,” Cmdr. Dustin Lonero, Montgomery’s commanding officer, said in a Navy news release. “Using our speed and shallow draft, we are now uniquely optimized to bring this level of firepower extremely close to shore in support of our warfighters and operators on the beach.”
The ship worked with an MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter for advanced targeting and bomb-hit assessment capability to take down the land-based target, the Navy said.
“The new ability for LCS to conduct maritime strikes bolsters the ship’s role in conducting shaping operations within amphibious and expeditionary warfare areas,” said Lt. Michael Jones, a warfare tactics instructor from Surface and Mine Warfare Development Center, in the release.
The missile was fielded for both the Independent and Freedom-variants of the littoral combat ship in 2019, according to the Navy.
The LCS was originally tasked with conducting surface warfare, mine countermeasures and anti-submarine warfare, but the Navy’s fiscal 2023 budget revealed the service intends to strike the anti-submarine warfare mission package from LCS ships.
According to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday, the anti-submarine warfare package was not operating well in testing.
Meanwhile, the Navy is also aiming to decommission some LCS ships, according to the service’s budget request. The Navy is seeking to decommission 24 ships from the fleet, including nine Freedom-variant littoral combat ships.
Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro said the service is focusing on outfitting ships with the right capabilities to accomplish their missions, and that ships that can’t combat threats are useless.
“It just doesn’t do me good to have lots and lots of ships that aren’t effective against the actual threat itself,” Del Toro said at the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space conference in April. “It’s a combination of the right capacity, right capability to deliver the right lethality where we need it.”