USS Gabrielle Giffords launches missile
The USS Gabrielle Giffords launches a Naval Strike Missile. Navy photo

The San Diego-based littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords successfully launched a new Naval Strike Missile Tuesday during an exercise off Guam.

The missile is a long-range, precision weapon that can find and destroy enemy ships at distances up to 100 nautical miles. The stealthy missile flies at sea-skimming altitude, has terrain-following capability and uses an advanced seeker for precise targeting.

“Today was a terrific accomplishment for USS Gabrielle Giffords crew and the Navy’s LCS class,” said Cmdr. Matthew Lehmann, commanding officer. “I am very proud of all the teamwork that led to the successful launch of the NSM.”

The vessel is the first littoral combat ship to be outfitted with a full complement of eight missile launchers. The launchers are located on the bow, behind the ship’s main gun.

The missile was first tested aboard the littoral combat ship USS Coronado in 2014. Launchers are scheduled to be installed on all of the Navy’s littoral combat ships.

The growing 36-ship class is divided between the two coasts, with the trimaran Independence versions like the Gabrielle Giffords all based in San Diego, and the monohull Freedom versions based in Mayport, Florida.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.