The Navy is going to “install” long range anti-ship missiles on two LCS over the next year or so for demonstration purposes (1).
Harpoon will be installed on
for demonstration during this summer’s RIMPAC 2016
The Naval Strike Missile (NSM) will be installed on Freedom prior to its next deployment.
Certainly, long range anti-ship missiles (ASM) can only help the toothless LCS but we’re still a long way from having an actual functioning ASM. For example, the Freedom’s NSM will not be integrated into the ship’s combat system and will only receive navigational data from the ship.
Still, it’s a step in the right direction and there is no doubt that an anti-ship missile can be integrated into the LCS. Money, of course, is an issue but not the technology.
The real issue is targeting. It does no good to have a ten thousand mile ASM if the ship’s sensors are limited to 20 miles. The question, then, is where and how does the LCS receive targeting data? That’s the part of the kill chain that the Navy has not yet worked out or tested. Can a non-stealthy, slow P-8 penetrate enemy air/water space and survive long enough to find targets and send the data back to an LCS? Can the F-35 find naval targets and get data back to the LCS? Would someone actually dedicate a rare and powerful F-35 to acting like a UAV for an LCS? Can a UAV survive in enemy air space long enough to find targets and transmit data? Or, more likely, will the LCS find itself without off-board targeting data and have to fend for itself?
The Navy has not thought out the targeting portion of the kill chain when it talks about placing missiles on every ship in the fleet.
(1)USNI News, “Navy to Demo Harpoon Missile on LCS at RIMPAC; NSM on USS Freedom by Next Deployment”, Megan Eckstein,
May 4, 2016,