Lockheed Martin animation of Hellfire employment from an LCS
The US Naval Institute Proceedings is reporting that Navy has committed to selection of the Longbow Hellfire as an interim missile to arm the Littoral Combat Ships.
“For the LCS deployment, a single Longbow Hellfire launcher with a 24-missile capacity will be integrated with the LCS SSMM, which will be part of one of three weapon stations. Navy officials point out that Longbow Hellfire integration for the LCS SSMM will require only software modifications; no changes to the missile hardware or to the Army launcher or gas-containment system will be needed.
“In selecting the Longbow Hellfire, the Navy also will be able to draw from an available inventory of thousands of missiles already stockpiled for the Army, avoiding the need to spend money on new production.
“Navy officials emphasize that the Longbow Hellfire meets the requirement of the LCS Capabilities Description Document for a standoff-engagement capability for fast inshore attack craft. An “increment 3” of the SSMM, while still going through modifications, now is expected to be ready to deploy aboard LCSs with the Longbow Hellfire in 2017.”
As we have discussed before, this weapon system seems like a good one for arming cutters against the possibility of an attack by highly maneuverable, high speed craft. In quantity the missiles might also be effective against larger targets.
It is likely the Coast Guard could add this capability at relatively low cost, if they made a case for it. As noted there are already large stocks of the missile. It seems likely that these weapons will be replaced on the LCSs before all the Offshore Patrol Cutters are complete. There are likely to be large numbers of Hellfire considered semi-obsolescent as they are replaced by the JAGM.