Washington: It’s only a matter of time before Marines and special operations forces get their piece of the Navy’s newest combat vessel.
Mission packages built just for the Marines and special forces will be on the Littoral Combat Ship within the next few years, Rear Adm. James Murdoch, program executive officer for LCS, said yesterday.
To date, there is no standing program of record to build either mission package. But Murdoch “is pretty confident that this is something that [the Navy] is going to end up doing.”
There are already three mission packages in the works for the LCS, focusing on surface warfare, anti-mine and anti-submarine operations. The Navy is also pushing forward with with a new missile system for the surface warfare module.
The addition of the Marine Corps and special operations packages will bring the total number of LCS mission modules to five.
The Navy touts LCS as the do-anything, pick-up-truck for the fleet. The possible addition of these two mission packages falls in line with that strategy, according to Murdoch.
That kind of flexibility on the ship has drawn its fair share of critics.
Opponents claim the Navy is losing focus on what kind of ship it wants the LCS to be. The possible addition of two more mission packages might, they would argue, only add to that confusion. Building two new modules could also put the ship at risk of “requirements creep,” where the program gets so loaded down with requirements it becomes unaffordable.
Even new Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert is questioning the Navy’s LCS strategy and whether it needs to be changed.
Mudoch admitted that “there is that potential” for requirements creep, saying the Navy’s approach on LCS “isn’t going to sell well around this town,” referring to decision makers on Capitol Hill and elsewhere inside the Beltway.
But the service will not “shrink from the fact that we do offer . . . the capability to address new threats” via the multimission approach being taken with the LCS, “as long as it fits in the envelope” of what the ship is designed to handle.