Asia Defense

US Navy to Install Harpoon Anti-Ship Missile on Littoral Combat Ship

The USS Coronado will be armed with advanced anti-ship missiles, despite mixed results from a recent test.

US Navy to Install Harpoon Anti-Ship Missile on Littoral Combat Ship
Credit: US Navy

The Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) USS Coronado is slated to be the first vessel of its class armed with an advanced anti-ship missile. The ship is currently being fitted with a RGM-84D Harpoon Block 1C missile system in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, after the vessel’s participation in the 2016 Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly reveals.

On July 19, during RIMPAC, the USS Coronado conducted a live fire test of a Harpoon Block 1C missile aboard the vessel with mixed results (See: “RIMPAC 2016: US Navy Test-Fires Anti-Ship Missile From Littoral Combat Ship”). “The missile was launched from a canister installed on the USS Coronado’s forward deck. Yet, while the launch of the missile was successful, the Harpoon failed to hit its over-the-horizon target,” I reported on July 23.

“The missile left the ship as planned in the engagement plan,” the commanding officer of the USS Coronado, Commander Scott Larson, said after the launch, according to Defense News. “We saw visually a booster separation, and it looked as though the missile was on the correct bearing. We lost radar track as the missile moved down range.”

“The data is still being analyzed to determine what the missile profile looked like. Indications are it was a negative impact. But it was successful in validating our ability to deploy that missile off the ship and not damage the ship,” Larson added.

While the test was only partially successful, it did show that the missile can be fired from an Independence-class LCS without impacting the ship’s structure. “Once Coronado returns to Pearl Harbor, [it] will be outfitted with four Harpoon missiles prior to deploying to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility,”  the commanding officer of Coronado , Scott Larson told IHS Jane’s on July 29. The LCS returned to port on August 1. As I reported previously:

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The U.S. Navy is seeking to equip the LCS and its LCS  frigate variants with a new over-the-horizon missile by the end of 2016 (See: “US Navy Wants New Missile for Littoral Combat Ship by End of 2016”) as part of a push to add more firepower to U.S. surface warships, a new warfighting concept known as the “distributed lethality” (see: “The US Navy’s New Surface Warfare Strategy: “Distributed Lethality”).

The U.S. Navy intends to equip its fleet of LCSs with both the RGM-84D Harpoon Block 1C and the fifth-generation over-the-horizon Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM).(A NSM was test-fired from the USSCoronado in 2014.) However, as of now, neither the Harpoon nor NSM have been integrated with the combat system of the LCS. “Harpoon in the present installation is a stand-alone weapon system,” Larson said. But this will change by the end of the year.

According to Larson, there are no additional missile tests planned.