The U.S. Navy's new Littoral Combat Ship would be ineffective at hunting for mines because an underwater drone made by Lockheed Martin Corp. that's supposed to find them often fails to work, the Pentagon's weapons-testing office found.

While mine-hunting is intended to be the primary combat mission of the ship, the drones required to detect underwater explosive devices from a safe distance have failed 24 times since September 2014, according to Navy test data provided to the Defense Department's Office of Operational Test & Evaluation.

Most recently, the drones failed 14 times over 300 hours in a five-month round of preliminary trials at sea that ended Aug. 30, according to the data. Crippled drones were towed to port seven times, and the intense combat testing required for increased purchases has been delayed. The Navy plans to spend $864 million buying 54 drones from Lockheed, the biggest U.S. contractor.