USS Coronado (LCS 4) conducted a successful live-fire test of a Harpoon Block 1C missile which then struck a surface target a significant distance beyond the ship’s visual range during exercise Pacific Griffin 2017 off the coast of Guam, August 22. This is an important event in the U.S. Navy’s commitment to advancing the capability of the harpoon missile system on board littoral combat ships (LCS).
The harpoon is an all-weather, over-the-horizon (OTH) weapon designed to execute anti-ship missions against a range of surface targets. It can be launched from surface ships, submarines and aircraft and is currently used on 50 U.S. Navy ships, including select littoral combat ships.
Coronado used an MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial system (UAS) and an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter, both part of the ship’s rotary-wing air detachment, to provide targeting support for the missile. The firing demonstrated both the Navy’s broader objective of delivering OTH targeting using shipboard UASs as well as Coronado’s ability to use them.
Coronado’s OTH targeting ability significantly increases the range of the Harpoon Weapons System, allowing striking solutions without need of visual range of target and allowing Coronado to project combat power across significantly farther ranges within a broad spectrum of maritime warfare. This ability also represents another technologically advanced system the Navy can use to respond quickly and professionally to global events.
The ship’s successful firing of the harpoon OTH missile system shows the lethality LCS can offer while deployed overseas.
“LCS will play an important role in protecting shipping and vital U.S. interests in the maritime crossroads,” said Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, commander, Task Force 73. “Its ability to pair unmanned vehicles like Fire Scout with Harpoon missiles to strike from the littoral shadows matters – there are over fifty thousand islands in the arc from the Philippines to India; those shallow crossroads are vital world interests. Harpoon and Fire Scout showcase one of the growing tool combinations in our modular LCS capability set, and this complex shot demonstrates why LCS has Combat as its middle name.”