The US Navy is considering installing surface-to-surface missiles in the next two littoral combat ships (LCS).
The Littoral Combat Ship program was initiated in 2002 and has two versions. One is built by Lockheed Martin Corp and the other by Australia's Austal, various media reported Monday.
Some Naval officials have called for more offensive weapons on the LCS after a major US Army missile program was cancelled in 2010. “The Navy was exploring options for over-the-horizon surface-to-surface missiles,” a Navy spokeswoman, Lieutenant Commander Megan Shutka, said.
The Navy plans to install missiles on the ships. It cited a directive issued by Rear Admiral Peter Fanta on Sept. 17. The directive called for the missile to be "aboard all in-service (littoral combat ships) deploying to forward operating stations starting in fiscal year 2016" and on ships under construction.
The plan was to try Boeing Co's Harpoon missile as well as the Norway-based Kongsberg Gruppen ASA's Naval Strike Missile.
“The company had test-fired its Naval Strike Missile off a US LCS ship last year and was ready to deliver an advanced over-the-horizon missile,” Pål Bratlie executive vice president of Kongsberg Defence Systems, said.
The plan was to initially buy 52 of the warships but was reduced to 32 ships after cost overruns. Presently, the Navy plans to add weapons and other features to the remaining 20 ships.