The two Littoral Combat Ship variants, LCS-1 Freedom (far) and LCS-2 Independence (near).

The two Littoral Combat Ship variants, LCS-1 Freedom (far) and LCS-2 Independence (near).

CRYSTAL CITY: The Littoral Combat Ship was supposed to be one of the fastest things in the fleet, but it seems like the skeptics – and the sequester – have caught up with it. The question is, what’s next?

After a Pentagon memo  recommended slashing the program by more than a third — from 52 ships to 32 — its backers came out swinging. “We have heard for the past 12 years about the importance of the LCS to our future Navy,” House seapower subcommittee chairman Rep. Randy Forbes said in a press release Thursday afternoon. “Although this platform has had its share of development difficulties, I believe it has a necessary role to play in the future fleet.”

What’s more, LCS proponents have at least a year to reverse the decision. The Navy is locked into a long-term contract for Littoral Combat Ships that ends in fiscal year 2015 with the purchase of the 24th LCS. Short of breaking that contract and paying penalties, the Pentagon can do nothing to LCS in the budget it is currently preparing to send to Congress. “This year is another oversight year and next year is a decision year,” one Hill source told me. What will really decide the LCS’s fate is the next contract, which will be in the 2016 budget.

It’s also possible that there could be no new contract and no 2016 money at all, which would end the program at 24 ships. The 32-ship number leaked this week certainly has the smell of an internal Pentagon compromise between going the full 52 and stopping dead at 24. Noted naval analyst, author, and LCS critic Norman Polmar still hopes the slam-on-the-breaks school will prevail: “24 might be a better total number for the current LCS program,” he told me in an email.

Then there’s the bigger picture. However many Littoral Combat Ships are cut – and at least some will be in this brutal budget environment – the Navy needs to start thinking hard about what to buy instead. The deeper the cut, the faster they need to figure something out. Stopping LCS at 24 ships would have given the Navy only a year to figure out its next move. Even the 32-ship compromise means the last pair of ships would be bought no later than fiscal 2019, an eyeblink for developing a new warship design.

“With 20 fewer LCSs in the plan, I presume the Navy must be looking at another small or medium-sized combatant,” Eric Labs, a naval expert at the Congressional Budget Office, said Thursday at the Surface Navy Association’s annual conference. But what is the other ship? And for what purpose?

LCS is meant to enter shallow waters — the littorals — in order to either clear minefields, hunt enemy submarines, or fend off fast attack boats, depending on which of three plug-and-play “mission modules” is fitted to the basic hull. (Just to complicate things further, there are two radically different hull designs: a kind of giant speedboat built by Lockheed Martin and Marinette Marine; and a spaceship-like trimaran built by General Dynamics and Austal).

Are those three missions the right priorities?, asked Congressional Research Service analyst Ronald O’Rourke. If so, are they best done by the same ship? If so, should that ship be small and fast, like the LCS?

“What’s amazing to me is just how often and how far way the discussion of LCS drifted from these central questions,” O’Rourke said. Much of the fault was the Navy’s. For a decade, he said, “the Navy continued to throw more missions into the discussion and to further confuse the issue of what it is we were really supposed to be trying to accomplish with this program.”

But the mistakes began at the very beginning, O’Rourke went on: “The Navy, prior to announcing the LCS as its preferred solution for performing those missions, never performed a rigorous analysis of multiple concepts to show that a small, fast, modular ship was in fact the best and most promising way to do it.”

So controversial was the small-and-fast approach, in fact, that some in the Navy dubbed the LCS the “little f*cking ship.” The Pentagon’s notoriously independent Director of Operational Test & Evaluation said the design was too small and too lightly built to keep fighting after it took a hit in combat — not a fatal flaw for the supporting roles it was meant to fill, but definitely a flaw.

The LCS did get built — after massive initial cost overruns now under control — although maintenance problems have marred its performance, including electrical plant failures that left it adrift on its first overseas deployment. Now, after surviving all these problems and criticism, the program’s fate is again in question.

Cutting the Littoral Combat Ship reopens a debate at the heart of the Navy: Should the fleet continue its traditional approach of buying a relatively small number of relatively large ships, like its current workhorse the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke destroyer, or buy more, smaller vessels, like LCS? In fact, LCS was itself a scaled-up version of the late Adm. Arthur Cebrowski’s “Streetfighter” concept, a vessel intended to be so small and cheap it was effectively expendable. In the information age, Cebrowski argued, you didn’t have to put all your weapons and sensors on a single big ship: You could have multiple small vessels linked by a network and working in concert. If any one of them got sunk, you had plenty more.

Most Navy officers were aghast, unsurprisingly. Ever since the USS Constitution – “Old Ironsides” – with her famously cannonball-resistant hull, the US Navy has wanted ships that could take a hit and keep on fighting. The counterargument: In an era when a single suicide boat can cripple a destroyer (the USS Cole) or a single missile a frigate (the USS Stark), the Old Ironsides model just doesn’t apply anymore.

“These two sides in the debate almost seem to be talking past each other,” O’Rourke said. “A key point of departure, a fork in the road that sends the groups down different paths, has to do with a fundamental difference they appear to have on future surface ship survivability.”

The small-ship insurrectionists believe that bigger doesn’t mean much more robust, not in the face of modern weapons, and that incoming threats move too fast to stop. The Navy mainstream believes that size does matter and self-defense is possible. The Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, in particular argues that ships can protect themselves in the 21st century if they limit their own tell-tale electromagnetic emissions, deceive enemy targeting systems with electronic jamming or cyber warfare, and as a last resort shoot down incoming missiles with anti-missile missiles of their own — or, in the future, lasers.

That’s a debate that goes well beyond the Littoral Combat Ship and whatever comes after it. It also goes to how the Navy replaces its aging Arleigh Burke destroyers after it cancelled one replacement program and truncated the other, the DDG-1000, at just three ships. Upgraded Arleigh Burkes are now supposed to stay in service until 2072.

The Navy is already contemplating a “Future Surface Combatant,” said Rear Adm. Thomas Rowden, the Navy’s director of surface warfare (aka staff section N96). It will be “the later part of the ’20s when we’re going to start contracting for these… to replace our cruisers,” the aging Ticonderoga class, Rowden told the Surface Navy Association conference.

The admiral had a slide of what the new vessel might look like, but he made clear fundamental choices were on the table. That includes questioning the Navy’s longstanding preference for large, versatile “multi-mission ships” like the current DDG-51s, he said. What he did not say was that the alternative would be something like the LCS, which can do only one mission at a time, depending on which mission module is currently aboard.

One thing the Navy definitely does want is more electrical power to run everything from radars to jammers to future laser weapons and rail guns, as well as the ship’s propellers, off a single integrated system. “I think it is about integrated power on the right size ship. I think it is about the right weapons,” Rowden said. “I think it is about affordability, affordability, affordability.”

For the foreseeable future, affordability probably will be priority number one.

Comments

  • Mitchell Fuller

    What a mess. Our military industrial complex is our own worst enemy. A whole group of officers should be made to walk the plank for this LCS misadventure.

    And less numbers now means those magical modules are going to cost more (when / if they ever come online) due to reduced numbers needed.

    What I’ve never understood is how platform will have right module plugged in at right time under changing threat scenarios?

  • Araya

    Hear a simply propose buy 20 “De Zeven Provinciën-class” from the Netherlands and you have also a replacement for the old Oliver-Hazard-Perry class.

    Some data about the “De Zeven Provinciën”-class Frigate:

    Stealth
    Hull Design: Like the DDG51 or the LCS1 Freedom

    Displacement:
    6,050 tonnes (full load)

    Length: 144.24 m (473.2 ft)

    Beam: 18.80 m (61.7 ft)

    Draught: 5.18 m (17.0 ft)

    Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)

    Range: 4,000 nmi (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at 18 knots (33
    km/h; 21 mph)

    Complement:
    30 officers, 202 ratings

    Electronic
    warfare & decoys:

    2 x Thomson
    Racal (now Thales) Sabre ECM suite

    4 x
    Sippican Hycor SRBOC MK36 launcher

    1 x
    AN/SLQ-25 Nixie torpedo decoy

    Armament:

    Guns:

    1 × Oto
    Melara 127 mm/54 dual-purpose gun

    4 ×
    Browning M2 12.7mm machine guns

    6 × FN MAG
    7.62mm machine guns

    2 ×
    Goalkeeper CIWS

    Air defense
    Missiles:

    40-cell
    Mk.41 vertical launch system

    32 × SM-2
    IIIA surface-to-air missiles

    32 ×
    Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (quad packed)

    Offensive Weapons:

    8 × Harpoon
    anti-ship missiles

    2 × twin
    MK32 Mod 9 torpedo launchers with Raytheon MK46 Mod 5 torpedoes

    Aircraft
    carried: 1 x NH-90 helicopter

    Aviation facilities:

    Hangar and flight deck for 1 medium sized helicopter

    Price per Unit: 800 Million Dollar for the complete package not just the hull. With other Words it cost as much as an unarmed LCS. This is just one example and it is
    also notable what nearly all hardware of the “De Zeven Provinciën”-class came from US Companies with other words no compatibility problems and it can also be built in the USA.

    Another Option:
    Simply buy 20 National Security Cutters and give them 8X Harpoons, 2X CIWS and VLS for at least 48 ESSM and in both chase you get real and cheap Combat Ships how can fight enemy’s Surface Combatants and enemy Airframes and also combat submarine’s in blue water.

    • Roy S. Mallmann II

      That would make too much sense.

      • Mitchell Fuller

        Agree, Araya’s comments are just too logical, prudent, and cost effective.

    • bridgebuilder78

      The pork barrel dispensing Con-gress will never go that route.

    • El_Sid

      800 Million Dollar for the complete package not just the hull.

      Ten years ago – it would be over a billion today. As I mentioned above, four LCS are costing $1,793m in FY14 – $448m/ship, plus around $50m per module.

      Plus the LCS has much better aviation facilities and boat-handling facilities, and the DZP, capable though they are, aren’t intended for minesweeping or ASW – in other words, the main missions of the LCS. How would they replace the Avengers and Ospreys?

      • Araya

        Hi El_Sid, even them the hull cost “just” 448ml you must also take a look one what you get for this Money. And I am not sure them all cost are included in this price tag for example I’m pretty sure what the developing cost are not part of the calculation. But even them the one LCS cost “just” 498 Million you must look what you get for this money and the answer is simply shocking because why your get an unarmed, not fully blue water capable aluminum hull ship how is officially not capable to survive in combat (this is not my opinion it is the official navy statement one the matter). So even the smallest Chinese surface combatants are capable to sink an entire group of LCS them you take a look one there armament.

        Hear just for example the small Chinese Type 022 missile boat how cost 14 to max 50 million dollar each and china has already around 100 in service and they are also up for export. This boat is like the LCS a littoral combatant and the likely enemy what the LCS will have to face them it should operate in littoral enemy environment.

        Hull Design: Stealthy

        Length: 42.6 m

        Beam: 12.2 m

        Displacement: 224 long tons (full loaded)

        Crew: 12

        Operational Range: Up to 600 kilometer (A Littoral Ship)

        Speed: 36-40 knots +

        Armament:

        8X C-802/3 Anti-ship -missile’s (Range 180-250km)

        1X FLS-1 surface-to-air launcher with 16 Missiles for Air Defense

        1X 30mm AK-630 CIW

        With other Words just one of this small stealthy speed boats can realistically sunk at last one or two 500 million LCS alone because why the LCS didn’t have any offensive weapons just a small canon and a CIW for self-defense.

        So why you need the LCS? Even the Navy didn’t know it really hear is the cruel reality the threat environment for what the LCs was built didn’t exists and have never really exist. The LCS is as Mine-Hunter a bad choice because why is magnetic and acoustic signature is too high to operate as a real mine hunter. The LCS is also incapable to fight small enemy surface ships like missile boats and it is also incapable to hunt enemy Submarines because why it didn’t have installed Torpedoes or a really sophisticate sonar system. So it has to count one is two Helicopters but them it operates in littoral environment this two Helicopters are an easy prey for enemy Air Defense like the LCs how is an easy prey for any missile boat or even for canon boats. And then you seek to use the LCS in blue water you get problems because why the LCS is not high sea capable. So for what is the LCS good for? The answer is for nothing!

        In compare the De Zeven Provinciën-class is a blue water surface combat ship how attack enemy surface ship up to a Carrier like as can conduct Air Defense and Anti-Submarine Warfare Mission’s. With other Words the De Zeven Provinciën-class is a real warship how based the LCS is not and just to make it clear the De Zeven Provinciën-class is just one of some examples so the Danish Navy Absalom Class Sea control ship is even cheaper and more capable them the De Zeven Provinciën-class.

        • El_Sid

          The USN are spending nearly US$40bn on just three ships that are armed with just a few ESSM/RAM and guns. Does that mean they are a stupid waste of money that don’t add to US combat power? Or is it possible that the Ford-class aircraft carriers should be measured by something other than how many missiles they carry?

          Small countries have to have ships that do everything quite well, the USN is big enough that it can afford to have a team of specialist ships working together. That’s why the aircraft carriers don’t have lots of missiles and torpedoes, they rely on other members of the team. Same with the LCS – it’s perhaps best to think of them as mini UxV/helicopter-carriers that can clear mines/submarines/small boat swarms from areas that other warships wouldn’t go, whilst relying on protection from the rest of the fleet (in high-threat areas at least).

          Don’t get me wrong, the Absaloms and DZPs are fine ships that are well suited to the Danish and Dutch requirements. But for instance the USN has 100,000′s of LIMS in its amphibious fleet, so it doesn’t particularly need another ship to move tanks around. I’d also be a bit wary of costs – Denmark is a bit of a special case, as government shipbuilding was subsidised by a company rather than the other way round. In fact Maersk postponed the closure of the loss-making Odense yard in order to build the Huitfeldts.

          You also have to adjust for inflation – the LCS would cost less than $400m if you built it at the same time as the Absaloms. Yes that $448m figure doesn’t include development costs, but that’s only relevant if you’re debating what should have happened in 2004. We’re now in 2014, and are just interested in how much it will cost to build 4 ships in 2014 (or whatever). It will cost $1,793m for four LCS hulls, plus ~$200m for the modules – it’s up to fans of other designs to prove they can deliver four appropriate hulls for less than $2bn (and by “appropriate” I mean obeying all the US rules, including being built in US yards).

          ust one of this small stealthy speed boats can realistically sunk at
          last one or two 500 million LCS alone because why the LCS didn’t have
          any offensive weapons just a small canon and a CIW for self-defense

          By that measure the Chinese could sink Ospreys, Avengers and the current (SAM-free) Perrys. So what’s new? The LCS aren’t meant to replace Burkes (in fact it’s the other way round, Burkes have taken over some of the Perry missions).

          If you’re counting the Stinger-like SAMs on the Chinese boats, you should count the RAM on the LCS. And soft-kill measures are equally important, but less sexy and tend to be ignored by the layman. You’re also ignoring the fact that the LCS has helicopters – it would use a FireScout to find the opposition and send a MH-60 with Hellfire to hit the FACs – Hellfire outranges the FLS-1. How would the Type 022 find the LCS?

          Oh, you mean the Type 022 would use its friends to find the LCS? Well up against hostile Chinese, the LCS would come with friends as well, just like the Ospreys/Avengers would do today. Also, for the USN the equation works something like this – they currently have Burkes on anti-piracy duty off Somalia. If they can spend $500m to get a ship that can go to Somalia and release the Burke for other duties, then that $500m is effectively buying them a whole new Burke to patrol the South China Sea.

          it didn’t have installed Torpedoes or a really sophisticate sonar system.

          It has torpedoes installed on its helicopters – frankly if a modern submarine is close enough that you can fire ship-launched torpedoes, then it’s already sunk you. And the ASW module has a sonar based on the British 2087 on the Type 23 frigates – which most people would say is the best in the world. The hullform may not be as quiet as the British frigates, that’s a fair criticism, but the LCS sonar is going to be one of the star bits of the LCS. What is your evidence for saying that is is not “really sophisticate(d)”???

          Same with the other modules – even dedicated minesweepers are moving to off-board systems like SeaFox. And I think we’ll just have to wait and see how the anti-surface capabilities work out – a module full of Sea Spear (marinised Brimstone) will be a pretty handy capability against small boats. For big ships the last thing you do is attack them with your ships – the main anti-ship weapon is the submarine, followed by aircraft.

          • Araya

            Hi El_Sid,

            “”””The USN are spending nearly US$40bn on just three ships that are armed with just a few ESSM/RAM and guns. Does that mean they are a stupid waste of money that don’t add to US combat power? Or is it possible that the Ford-class aircraft carriers should be measured by something other than how many missiles they carry?”””

            Sorry but this is not the same type of ship, a Carrier how has op to 70 Fighter onboard and is able to hold permanently Air Patrol one the Air cannot be compared with crap like the LCS. A US Super Carrier like the Nimitz or Ford Class has more firepower them any other surface or underwater ship one the sea and is also permanently escorted by an entire Fleet of DDG51 and Tico-class destroyer/cruiser and also by one or more Submarines. He can attack Surface targets by up to 800 Kilometer with is Fighter and also control the Airspace in this radius because of is E2C/D AWACS.

            But they speak hear not about Carrier but about the crap called LCS as a “combat ship” how has nothing to do with the Blue Water Carriers or there Escort ships. The LCS is as the name tells at first a “littoral combat ship” and not high see capable so even a simply routine deployment to Singapore has shown a lot of problems. The original plan was to create with the LCS a cheap and modular combat ship how can be used in Littoral waters against enemy surface combatant’s and submarines because why the DDG51 was considered as to costly and too valuable for this kid of missions. So a non-metal-ill has simply decide to build a frigate class ship like the Absalon Class or a small Corvette like stealthily Swedish Visby-class how is very fast, stealthy, well-armed and also very cheap in compare to the LCS.

            But instead the Navy idiots has chosen a design how is incapable to meet any requirement’s latter they even granted what the LCs cannot survive in combat. And now hear is the question again why should the Navy spend over 500 Million for non-combat ship them he can get for less money a state of art combat ship like the Absalon-class or X other designs? Even the concept of modularity has proved to be not functional because why you cannot change your “Module” in combat so you have at best a single mission ships as all other Navy’s in the World are able to use multi-mission’s ships one the same or lover price tag them an LCS best example the in the Western World is the Absalon-class. The Ability of the Absalon class to deliver also troops and main battle tanks are just a nice to have capability in times as the USMC cry what they didn’t have enough ships to bet them one the enemy shore.

            The Problem with the LCS is at first the lack of Firepower, second the lack of survivability in combat and also is limitation to operate one high sea so it cannot replace the now unarmed Oliver Hazard Perry-class. And just to remember the Oliver Hazard Perry-class was originally equipped with at 40 SM1MR for Air-defense, 2X Triple Torpedo Launchers and 8X Harpoon Anti-ship missiles and it is also full blue water capable and used as escort ship for carriers. And then you have read the latest article form defense news about the LCS you will see what the Navy now started to think about a new Frigate instead of the LCS crap because of a lack of Surface Escort-ships. So as I said a lot of times before the LCs is simply good for nothing and them you look one the confusing statements how there made by the Navy you see what even the craziest LCS Fans didn’t know for what there LCS should be finally good for. The only environment for that the LCS was designed was the Strait of Hormuz in the early 2000 but against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and there speed boat suicidal fleet but even in this environment the LCS has become too vulnerable to operate effectively and the focus of the USA has shift already form the Persian Gulf to the pacific ocean against an enemy (Red China) how has a fleet of around 600 Warships of all kinds and just started to build yesterday is second carrier and it will build at least three more of them.

            “””If you’re counting the Stinger-like SAMs on the Chinese boats, you should count the RAM on the LCS. And soft-kill measures are equally important, but less sexy and tend to be ignored by the layman. You’re also ignoring the fact that the LCS has helicopters – it would use a FireScout to find the opposition and send a MH-60 with Hellfire to hit the FACs – Hellfire outranges the FLS-1. How would the Type 022 find the LCS?”””

            Hear your make a big failure them you said what I’m counting one the Stinger-like SAMs on the Chinese boats. I didn’t counting one them because why the Type-22 has also there 8X long range anti-ship missiles to attack the LCS but the LCS instead didn’t have any weapon how can be used against the stealthy Typ-22. So you said what the LCs has is two Helicopters but this are an easy prey for the Stinger-like SAMs of the Typ-22 and the biggest problem is what you will never have the time to start your Helicopter them you face a Typ-22 and even them you just do it to see how the Stinger-like SAM shout it a bit later down before it fires is 8 Harpoon style Missiles one your Aluminum Hull ship. I was even so honest to calculate what the CIW of the LCS will be capable enough to shout down at last a half of the incoming 8X C-802/3 before it get hit and sunk.

            “””It has torpedoes installed on its helicopters – frankly if a modern submarine is close enough that you can fire ship-launched torpedoes, then it’s already sunk you.”””

            It’s sunk you only them you have to start first a helicopter before you can attack the enemy submarine. So even them an enemy SSK fire a Torpedo one you have a realistic chance to fire back before the enemy torpedo kills you. In the best chase you detect the enemy sub and fire first before he is able to fire or you fire back and avoid the incoming torpedo but them you first have to start a Helicopter before you can strike back you are dead. With installed Torpedo’s you can react immediately one enemy fire or attack at first a detected enemy but to start a Helicopter coast you up to a Hour them you are unprepared. And Installed Torpedo’s can also be used against enemy surface ships, so your LCS is a bit stealthy and them it come to close combat a Torpedo is far more deadly them any Naval Gun or Helicopter started Hellfire Missile.

            “””What is your evidence for saying that is is not “really
            sophisticate(d)”???”””

            The System was in no exercise capable to detect modern SSKs and the Red Chinese have a lot of them already in service.

            “””For big ships the last thing you do is attack them with your ships – the main anti-ship weapon is the submarine, followed by aircraft.””””

            The LCS cannot attack an enemy corvette and this is not a “big” ship right the LCS should not be your first choice to attack an enemy carrier. A modern corvette like the Visby-class is able to attack even large combatants up to a cruiser so why you should not have this option one you small surface combatant’s. A Virginia Class Submarine coast up to 2 Billion Dollar and a fighter need at first a Carrier to start so more offensive capabilities for all
            US Surface ships are sorely needed including for the newer DDG51. You first choice to kill an enemy surface combatant should be the cheapest option for example a Fighter, a small surface combatant like a Frigate, a Destroyer, a Cruiser and at last one of the valuable SSNs.

          • Geoff

            The LCS can’t shoot over the horizon. It’s helos are vulnerable. In the not to distant future, subs will be launching SAMs from underwater as standard equipment. Is an ASW platform totally reliant on its helo to drop the weapon really a good idea? It’s why the VLS system has an ASROC capability BTW. Detect it, localize it, drop a rock on its head.

            The ASW module has already been junked. The MCM module has already been junked. The ASuW module IS junk. The 60′s can’t tow the gear, the LCS can’t base CH-53s. The configuration of all the modules is still up in the air.

            Original concept of the LCS was a cheap, expendable, Lv 1. ship based off commercial designs, coming in at around $220 million for the base ship. Idea was they could operate independently…that concept has been scratched. Now, the concept is a 3 ship squadron operating together for support, with a more capable Aegis ship on overwatch in any type of actual threat environment…so much for freeing up more capable ships. Instead of a single $1.5 billion high value ship stooging around, we’ll have 4…worth around $3 billion in total. 3 of whom can’t fight, can’t defend themselves, can’t outrun a Mach 0.8 missile, and can’t survive any kind of significant hit.

            It didn’t have to be that way. If the LCS mounted a 76mm gun, and had a couple VLS systems it’d be able to operate independently…the navy chose not to, for some unknown reason. Those systems, in conjunction with a FireScout/embarked helos would have given the LCS a true offensive/defensive multi-role capability. Oddly, the export versions of both hulls offer the 76mm and VLS options.

          • adamHolland

            hahaha… not lying… you know like many of us do.

  • Rhyolite

    The idea of a small flexible surface combatant is a great but LCS is a terrible implementation. I would cap the buy, learn what we can from the current hulls and start on another small combatant. There are a lot of good examples of small to medium size frigates internationally so we should be able to pick an existing design and build it locally. We might even be able to reuse the modules developed for LCS.

  • Peter

    The problem with the LCS is the design of the Mission Module packages.
    BUT the ORIGINAL Lockheed LCS design is more of a frigate. Take a
    look…

    http://www.lockheedmartin.com/content/dam/lockheed/data/ms2/photo/surface%20combat%20ship/MMC-150m-118m-85m.jpg

    From the graphic, even the SMALLEST ORIGINAL LCS Lockheed design has VLS,
    Harpoon, 25mm Mk 38s, and torpedo tubes, not to mention chaff
    launchers. It may have only one MH-60 helicopter though.

    So…what happened? Why the heck would the US Navy even bother with modules when the original design had AA, ASUW, and ASW weapons designed right into it? It doesn’t make sense! Why make these substandard armed plug-in modules when the original design already had missiles, torpedoes, sonar, and autocannons? The original Lockheed LCS design is armed like a frigate. Had the Navy stuck with the original Lockheed graphic, it wouldn’t have to grapple with poorly-armed Mission Modules. In fact, the USN could still use the original Lockheed graphic.

    True, it may have no anti-mine equipment, but if the Navy wants a better-armed ship, it should have stuck with the original LCS design. Some ships could be purpose-built to have anti-mine equipment, but the idea of using modules to “plug-in” guns, missiles, and other weapons just seems kind of silly to me.

    I think the philosophy of “affordability” is a mistake in driving the LCS design. Lockheed already sketched out what the LCS should look like and somehow the U.S. Navy axed the graphic and increased the size of the helicopter pad, moved the 57mm gun back, and eliminated lots of weaponry. In fact, Lockheed even offers the LCS in three size versions and the U.S. Navy just settled on the smallest one for all 52 ships, but as the Lockheed graphic shows, even the smallest one packs a punch IF the U.S. Navy stuck with the original Lockheed design. If the U.S. Navy wants the LCS to have a bigger punch, perhaps the Navy should start building the two larger size LCS versions before the number reaches 24.

    • Will Baird

      That applies for the Lockheed design, perhaps, but the Austal? Looking at pix of the Independence and the Giffords, there seems to be a locale for a mission module (perhaps even VLS).

    • Araya

      Very impressive, I didn’t saw the original graphic from Lockheed before. It look like what the responsible idiots for the LCS disaster are not to seek by the contractors but by the US Navy itself how look as Mr. Peter said to abandoned the original design how look in all 3 variant’s like a real surface warship in favor of a unarmed, 600 Million Dollar+ aluminum hull. I can now imagine what kind of mentally ill people have took the decision to abandon the original Lockheed design. It was the “War on Terror” Clique how reduced the entire global threat environment to Taliban, Iraqi insurgents and Iranian improvised speed boats for suicide attacks. And as consequence they decided what the LCS didn’t need an Air defense System because why Taliban and Insurgent’s didn’t have airframes. They also decided what the LCS didn’t need real anti surface weapons because why Al Qaida didn’t have surface combatants and the Iran will only attack the Navy with imaginary speed boats and so on. And now the Navy has to face Red China how build up is Blue Water Surface Fleet in the Pacific and the LCS is not even blue water capable how the last deployment to Singapore has proved.

      Another idiotic decision is like as Peter said the idea of mission-modules itself because why them they take a look one the so called “mission modules” they shocked to find what the so called Mission Modules are not good for any mission. One of the best example is the so called “Surface Warfare” module consists of just two small 30mm Guns and a small number of Javelin likeGriffin Missiles how have a maximum range of just 5 km them you start it form sea-level this is comparable to the max range what the Javelin Missile has proved to have in combat 2004 with 4, 5 km and for this crap the Navy spend 50 Million for each Modul and this without the Missiles. So for the same amount of money you can buy for example 640 javelin Missile’s or around 450 Javelin Missiles with starter. The LCS is a shame for the US Military and should be killed in favor of a conventional surface warship immediately. But this will not happen at least it is good to hear what the Navy will not buy 52 units of this insane crap.

      • Dave

        The balance shifted back in favour of large surface combatants over small missile boats when helicopters begun to be operated from the rear of the larger surface combatants. I do not believe that that development has changed.

    • http://nickysworld.wordpress.com/ Nicky

      If the US Navy stuck with this design and instead aluminum, go with all steel. It would have made a perfect ship as a medium Frigate. What they need to do is pick a design or cap both of them at 24 and split them between the MCM and PC fleet. If they want Modules, go to the Royal Danish Navy and make a deal on their STANFLEX system. The Danish perfected the STANFLEX system and it worked for them. Why reinvent the wheel when the US Navy could have brought the STANFLEX system from the Danish.

      • El_Sid

        STANFLEX is OK as well as it goes, but it’s been rather overhyped. Switching over conventional mounts for things like Harpoon is not that difficult – the RN will be cycling the second-hand Harpoon from four Type 22′s around the six Type 45′s as they go out on deployment. The Danes have found that they don’t really use the “instant” change-out on STANFLEX, but would give it up in return for some more flexibility in geometry. It was a nice experiment but a bit of a dead-end, the modern modules are a VLS tube for weapons and a nice roomy bit of deck to put containers/boats/UUVs on. The LCS gets module hosting about right – and I suspect that in a few years’ time people will be pretty happy with the modules as well.

        cap both of them at 24 and split them between the MCM and PC fleet

        You realise that the LCS are meant to be replacing 12 Ospreys, 14 Avengers and 8 Cyclones? You would replace 34 ships with 24 LCS? Do you hate the US Navy that much? On the other hand, 32 is an interesting number to pick as a rumoured fleet size…..

        • http://nickysworld.wordpress.com/ Nicky

          Here’s the kicker, we should have made a sweet deal with the UK, in return for them taking more F-35′s, we buy some of their Type 26 Frigates in return. That way they can share the cost and we get something in return.

          • El_Sid

            The UK will take the number of F-35s it needs, and not a single one more, there’s just no money for it. In any case, we’re on a pretty good workshare deal there. Given that the US would be reworking the topsides substantially and building in the US, the direct benefit to the UK government would not be that great, probably less than one F-35′s worth. In any case, BAE is arguably more USian than British these days….

          • http://nickysworld.wordpress.com/ Nicky

            What about the Type 26 frigate, could that be a Future LCS Replacement

          • El_Sid

            I’m not sure how you can replace a ship that’s barely introduced into service! It’s just a question of looking at the requirements and seeing what fits – there’s a lot of strategic rejigging going on at the moment, so it’s probably a question of what comes out of those discussions.

            At first sight, it looks like there’s two choices at a strategic level – if the LCS is small and fast, the USN could go “big and slow” or “medium-medium”. In other words a small LPD (somewhere in the Endurance/Galicia range) or a frigate. I can see arguments for both – the LPD would probably be expanded to include some funds from the Whidbey Island replacement, the frigate would probably end up sucking some money from the Burke pot, so it’s a question of how all those bits fit together.

            But yep, if they did decide to go frigate, then the T26/GCS is an obvious choice, along with something from Navantia – probably the Nansen in the current environment. Nansens are in service and would need minimal changes to fit the USN, the T26 hopefully sees steel cut next year assuming the current issues have been worked out, and would presumably need a bit of a redesign to fit SPY-1F (not that there’s anything wrong with Artisan at all). Probably depends who’s got the best lobbyists…..

          • http://nickysworld.wordpress.com/ Nicky

            So if were gona to replace the LCS in the frigate role and religate the LCS in the Corvette role. What ship design would fit the US Navy’s Frigate Role. For me, I would see something like a Nansen Frigate, FREMM Frigate or a Formidable class frigate. if the Type 26 GCS becomes available, I would see that as an option to replace the LCS.

            As for the LCS I would redesign it in the Corvette role that is similar to the SIGMA Corvette, Gowind Corvette, Milgem Corvette,Braunschweig-class corvette and the Steregushchy-class corvette. At the same time see if we can buy the proven STANFLEX system from the Royal Danish Navy.

          • Greg Lof

            Nicky, you keep trying to have the USN buy Euro frigates, when they have clearly stated it does not need frigates. They need the LCS to be a patrol ships, not a mini destroyer. They can’t afford to waste billion on equipping each patrol ship with all the weapons and system carried by your euro frigates. They have Burke class destroyers for that work, and they superior to the Euro frigates in everyway.
            Now, I admit that a ship like the Type 26 might be useful, but the Type 26 flex deck it too small to be truly flexible enough for some of the mission intended for the LCSs. In fact, I beginning to think that both current LCS designs need larger “payload” along with better ways to launch and retrieve various boats, USV, UUV, etc they carry.
            If you should stop wasting time looking for reasons to buy ships that some other country needs, and spend it figuring out how to build ships that the USN needs, you would find it far mode productive,

    • PolicyWonk

      Actually, you’re only partially correct. The problem with LCS is foundational: the sea-frames should’ve been built to the navy’s level-2 standard, instead of level 1.

      Hence – regardless of mission modules or weapons added, the sea frame is weaker than that of a common fleet oiler (which is built to the level-2 standard).

      If the navy wanted to save money, they should’ve built the sea-frames to the level-2 standard, allowed for the mission packages, and created universal weapons mounts so that upgrading the base armament would be straightforward. If the desire was to go modular – you might as well really do it.

    • Greg Lof

      I am going to bust your balloon here, but the designs shown are not the ORIGINAL LCS designs, nor even a second generation version. The picture depict export versions of the LCS which was mostly intended to sell AEGIS system to smaller customers. They were never designed beyond the art work shown. In fact when examine, these ship would be inferior to the LCS, for the mission desired by the USN. They have shorter ranges, and the sonar slows the ship down, yes some feature shown would be nice to have, the extend hull would give the LCS longer range and/or greater payload. Harpoon would be good to have, along with a second RAM system. But putting a major air defense system would be too expensive for the size of the hulls.

  • Gary Church

    Better off buying U-boats from the krauts.

  • Gary Church

    “For the foreseeable future, affordability probably will be priority number one.”

    Unfortunately, there is no cheap. The same thing was what the space shuttle design was all about; “cheap lift.” It turned out to be more expensive per launch than the Saturn V. If you want a warship to be tough you would have to rebuild those factories that used to produce homogenous rolled face hardened steel a foot thick for battleships. You want that tough warship to go fast it will require about 200,000 hp if it is going to be big enough to carry weapons and sensors (Iowa class battleship had 212,000 hp)

    Start with that.

    • Gary Church

      chapter 4 of why missiles are now the dominant weapon on Earth:

      Processing speed and computing power is now at the
      level where what a hundred people with slide rules and thick binders of
      numbers would take a decade to figure out a detection/evasion program
      can do in a microsecond. Really. These new missiles are smart beyond
      what people are willing to admit- because it is very bad defense
      business to admit there is no defense.
      What if I told you I could take an old lady off the street to the range and in 60 seconds have her making 1000 yard head shots with a high powered rifle?

      http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23571-selfaiming-rifle-turns-novices-into-expert-snipers.html#.UtqrY7SIbIU

      Now apply this example to missile technology and you have a valid
      comparison of what ships are up against now. Basic physics says you
      cannot go faster than the speed of light and you cannot hit a bullet
      with a bullet. The advantage is now overwhelmingly with the offense.

  • bridgebuilder78

    Buy more OHPs! Should have kept more of these around in the first place, but hey, better late than never.

    • El_Sid

      The OHPs have been retired because they couldn’t be easily upgraded – see what happened to the Aussie OHPs to see what a mess that could have been, it ended going way, way over budget.

      In the current budget year four LCS are being bought for $1,793m – $448m/ship, and the modules will cost around $50m. A “new OHP” would cost around $1,000m. So would you rather have 32 LCS or 16 OHP, given that the USN minesweeper fleet is rapidly reaching retirement without replacement otherwise?

      • bridgebuilder78

        I’m not talking about upgrades, for the LCS is a decided DOWNgrade from the OHPs, and a far more expensive one at that.

        • El_Sid

          No it’s not. The LCS has SAMs – the OHP doesn’t. The LCS will have an ASW module based on the British Type 2087 sonar, which is a generation ahead of any sonar on a USN ship. The LCS will do minesweeping, the OHP can’t. The LCS can accommodate CH-53 and boats/UUVs.

          The USN has a requirement to replace the Ospreys, Avengers and Cyclones. Please explain how a new OHP would serve that requirement better than LCS.

          As I said, one LCS costs $448m in FY14 plus ~$50m for a module; given that a virtually unarmed NSC costs ~$750m it’s hard to imagine a “new Perry” along the lines of an NSC with weapons fit coming in at less than a billion. What evidence do you have that a “new Perry” would cost less than $500m?

          • bridgebuilder78

            It’s also hard to imagine a Perry being less survival than a fleet oiler. We are talking about warships here, aren’t we, which tend to get in harm’s way?

            America doesn’t deserve a rusting, cracking, overpriced ferry with fancy ‘modules’.

    • idahoguy101

      The Perry class frigates were kneecapped from the get go. They lacked any 3D air search radar, pitiful Naval Tactical Data Links, and a single Target illumination radar, and an obsolete single rail missile launcher. The smarter than to do at the time was to have upgraded the Spruance class destroyers to the standard of the Kidd class DDG’s that the US Navy seized after the Iranian revolution. But even the Spruance class is now history…

      • bridgebuilder78

        The basic OHP hull is much more survivable by design, which is the very basic of basic requirements for a warship, something your LCS will never manage. All onboard sensors, signal processing, and yes, weapon systems can be upgraded more cheaply for the OPH than building the LCS from scratch. Case in point, there is nothing stopping the navy from droping a 16-cell Mk 41 module onto the OHP. Fancy a Mk.41 module on the LCS? Well, you can’t.

        Sure, LCS can outrun OHP any day of the week, but it can’t outrun a torpedo, an artillery shell, or an anti-ship missile. Oooops…

        Sec. Mabus is a wanker, but you don’t have to be.

        • El_Sid

          The Perrys really aren’t designed to take upgrades, it’s just the way their compartments are designed. The Australians spent US$320m/ship putting in eight Mk41 and some electronics upgrades, to get another 10 years of life out of theirs – it’s just not a particularly good deal (but it worked for them as it gave them something until their Aegis ships enter service).

          It’s easier to drop a Mk41 into an LCS than a Perry – both consortiums have shown export designs with VLS. But the USN doesn’t have a shortage of VLS.

          Actually an LCS could outrun most torpedoes with any kind of range – but the speed is more about increasing the engagement time against small boat swarms, and preventing situations like the USS Pueblo. Plus it’s about deployment efficiency – two LCS can cover as much coast as 3 slower ships, and they don’t slow down a battlegroup so much when they’re doing sprint-and-drift tasks.

  • Carlton

    Just buy Ambassador Class corvettes now under construction in the USA.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambassador_MK_III_Missile_Boat

    Displacement:
    500 t (490 long tons; 550 short tons)[2][4]

    Length:
    60.6 m (198 ft 10 in)

    Beam:
    10 m (32 ft 10 in)

    Draft:
    2 m (6 ft 7 in)

    Installed power:
    4 × MTU diesels,[5] 30,000 hp (22 MW)

    Propulsion:
    4 shafts

    Speed:
    41 knots (76 km/h)[6]

    Range:
    2,000 nmi (3,700 km; 2,300 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)

    Endurance:
    8 days at sea

    Complement:
    36 (8 officers, 10 chief petty officers, and 18 ratings), 38[7]

    Sensors and

    processing systems:
    Thales Nederland Scout (I/J band) radar

    EADS TRS-3D radar, built by Raytheon

    I and K dual-band fire control radar

    Link ASN 150, LinkYE, Link 14, and Link 11 data links

    IFF

    Lightweight Shipboard Electro-Optical Combat Management System/Fire Control

    Electronic warfare

    & decoys:
    4 × chaff/IR launchers

    ESM/ECM

    Armament:
    8 × RGM-84 Boeing Harpoon SSM Block 1G in 2 quad canister launchers

    1 × General Dynamics/OTO Melara Mk 75 76 mm/62 Super Rapid DP gun

    1 × Mk 31 Mod 3 RIM-116 RAM (21 missiles)

    1 × Raytheon Mk 15 Mod 21 Phalanx (Block 1B) 20 mm Phalanx CIWS

    2 × deck-mounted 7.62 mm M60 machine guns[1]

    • Gary Church

      Any ship under 300 feet long in the North Atlantic is a vomit factory. It is why they stopped building corvettes in WW2 and made the escorts that size or larger.

      • El_Sid

        Again – technology has moved on, things like active fin stabilisers can help quite a bit. There’s a bit of a sweet spot just under 90m because you get a lot of (expensive) requirements for damage control etc coming in around that point – for instance the UK’s DEFSTAN 02-109 has a big step change at 92m. So if you want to make something affordable, you want it under ~300ft.

        • Gary Church

          I am skeptical Sid. The reason 311′s and 327′s had such good reputations is the interval between those big north Atlantic Rollers- or so I have read. I know from first hand accounts the 327′s the Coast Guard operated many years ago were the best riding ships we had. I do not see how stabilization is going help a shorter hull from getting tossed around.

          • ycplum

            Stabilzation does not help pitch, but it can help roll.

          • Gary Church

            I spent most of my career trying to stay off ships. I get seasick. Landed on them for a few minutes on occasion. Managed not to throw up….barely. I guess I could have been a Submariner though.

          • ycplum

            LOL
            Most people do not know that subs are the smoothest vessels in the ocean. Just like a plane can fly over most (abet not all) bad weather, a sub can sail under pretty much any rough seas in open water.

        • Gary Church

          A very interesting design I saw decades ago Sid had two catamaran
          torpedo-like hulls underwater and struts going up to the surface
          supporting a big square “raft.” The surface action just affected the
          struts. But of course in heavy seas such a design would have to be huge
          or have ridiculously long struts to keep the hulls stable and/or the
          raft above the crests. Around 1983 I saw a picture on the wall of an
          engineering office at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore of a LCS size
          prototype of one of these. I asked about it and someone told me the
          engines kept catching on fire and it was scrapped.

          • El_Sid

            Given the lack of budget I’d imagine they wouldn’t be too adventurous – SWATH is probably as exotic as they’d go. SWATH has stability advantages, the problem is the power required to go at fleet-type speeds, it’s OK if you relax that requirement though (which for convoy work might be doable).

            I agree that there’s no substitute for length (or slenderness), but modern stability systems can take the edge off things. As always, it’s about making those tradeoffs – and if going under 90m can make a big difference in cost, that’s a KPI that’s hard to ignore in the current environment. The fact that the Cavas article talks about a VLS-toting hull of ~4,100t suggests they’re talking about something significantly smaller than the 134m, 5,300t Nansens (or the NSC), they must be thinking in terms of the stretched “export” LCS designs.

        • Gary Church

          SWATH; this design would be super stable to a certain sea state but not over I guess. Like two submarines supporting an oil platform.

          http://articles.maritimepropulsion.com/article/JELGAVA-guards-Latvias-Coast-Line-4843.aspx

          • El_Sid

            Kinda – and the US already has experience with the SURTASS ship USNS Impeccable (T-AGOS-23), so the seakeeping is not an unknown quantity. But as I say, I think a stretched LCS has to be favourite at this stage.

  • Larry A. Altersitz

    Pardon my inane landlubber thinking, but if the LCS is to get close to shore, shouldn’t someone DEMAND some semi-serious cannons (minimum 76mm rapid fire guns with BIG magazines) in at least two turrets on the hull? If the danger is massed rocket/anti-ship missiles, you need big shotguns that fill the incoming projectile’s trajectory with steel; think MetalStorm(r) [www.metalstorm.com/] systems as an example and 76mm canister projectiles. Missiles cost too damned much, you can’t carry enough of them and they are subject to ECM and spoofing. Also, at least two CIWS-type systems with BIG magazines. And some sort of simple, stand-off armor to absorb incoming fragmentation?

    Sounds like the Navy wanted to make a Transformer(r) ship. And Gary is right: has to be over 300′ in length to survive in the North Atlantic. Length also means more space for fuel and other consumables. And, as a Redleg, I find calling a ship with two 127mm guns a CRUISER a real stretch.

    • Gary Church

      “Missiles cost too damned much, you can’t carry enough of them and they are subject to ECM and spoofing.”

      Missiles are actually pretty cheap; for something with a microchip in it that can make it maneuver at 20 or 30 G’s (far beyond what a pilot can withstand) they are the 21st century nightmare. The public just does not know how vulnerable ships are now.

      The big shotgun idea is good Larry but in practice it does not work- they have tried this stuff. It is not like they take all that research money and put it in the bank; they actually do have some smart people developing and testing weapons. The cross section of a missile is only a couple feet across and the anti-ship missiles fly at around mach 3 now.

      There is so little time to engage and with violent terminal maneuvers they can come in from any angle from vertical to 5 feet off the water. You could theoretically fill the half sphere around a ship with shrapnel but a second later another missile comes in and you would have to maintain this and that is not practical.

      Missiles are not easy to spoof anymore- it is actually the detection and defense systems that are easier for the missile to fool. Welcome to the 21st century.

      • Gary Church

        Many old timers like me still think that missiles are like in Vietnam- with cheap mechanical gyros that tumble easily and radar that can be jammed. Missiles now have laser gyros and guidance systems that are pretty much un-jammable and cannot be decoyed. Many missiles have multiple sensors and inertial features that lock on to a true target and then just peek at for random microseconds using and comparing with the different sensors. It ain’t like the old days

      • Larry A. Altersitz

        My idea of a shotgun defense system is that at some point the missile has to turn and impact the ship. When it does make that commitment, the shotgun fires when the missile is within range. Missiles aren’t heavily armored and high speed steel will cause damage.

        The only system I’ve seen that has made intercepts against free rockets on a ballistic trajectory is Iron Dome. Wonder if a scaled up Trophy system might be an affordable, decent option? Could mount launchers on any flt surface, including top decks and surfaces on the superstructure.

        • Gary Church

          It just won’t work Larry. It is the same story with missile defense; it is pretty much a scaled up version of trying to stop a stream of machine gun bullets with another stream of machine gun bullets by hitting every single incoming round. The advantage is now overwhelmingly with the offense.
          Surface combatants are like World War One infantry plodding over no mans land with fixed bayonets against machine guns.

          • Larry A. Altersitz

            So that means no surface vessel is safe and can’t possibly be defended. So no one will be able to use the seas for commerce if near-peer competitors have missile batteries that can cover sea lanes. Throw in CAPTOR mines and everything stops. Lot of people gonna starve to death and replacement materials are going to be needed for a lot of things.

          • El_Sid

            Yep, that pretty much sums up the whole A2/AD problem. It’s a bit like the way the Maxim gun gave the advantage to the defence, making traditional cavalry charges suicidal. The West has grown use to have a “6″ versus the Soviet Union’s “1″ (but a lot of 1′s) – now the West have “9″‘s, but the red team now have “7″‘s. So we have better tech than before, but the advantage is much smaller, and any battles will be less one-sided.

          • Gary Church

            One more reason we are not going to war and the hawks are starting to look like fools. That 90 billion we poured into missile interceptors over the last 10 years so they could pass some rigged tests against minimal threats is a rip-off unprecedented in human history. Sooner or later this whole defense industrial complex scam has to end. I am praying it does not end with the U.S. economy collapsing and the whole country turning into Detroit.

      • M&S

        Combine MASS/ROSY/Centurion with bigger versions of APS systems like Quick Kill.
        Replace mechanical inner/midzone (RAM to ESSM) defenses with network DEWS like LADS.
        You will discover (as Rheinmetall and Raytheon have both done) that 30+20KW is better than 50KW because you get faster alignment time, less beam jitter, more total lase seconds for the cooling window and less anaprop losses.
        For weapons like SM6, the key is over the horizon. Because not all missiles are hypersonic Brahmos and even hybrid weapons like Klub have extended subsonic portions of their midcourse.
        Hit them when they are slow/er and now they have to burn up gas doing defeat maneuvers while they are still 40-70nm from the target.
        Which brings up the real issues here.
        Targeting.
        The Chinese (oh stop it) will have ROTH-R/JORN equvialents, 500nm inland, looking 2,000nm out to sea by 2025.
        That is the ONLY sensor which makes sense in a DEWS driven world where even satellites are not safe. It is also the minimum baseline for targeting a 10 million dollar DF-21D with a Wu-14 MARV atop it.
        What does the USN have to counter with?
        Carriers and Tritons.
        Whoohoo. Nawt.
        If you want to make the LCS or any other small-deck, SAG oriented, naval system functional (because Carriers are just reefs in waiting in an ASBM driven world) then you need to get VTOL targeting on them that can provide at least a semblance of E-2 Hawkeye/MQ-9 Mariner level targeting for a 200-300nm surround sound globe on the boats.
        The boats don’t light off, and so don’t attract attention.
        The SM-6 has a sky-eye cuing source to catch inbounds in the midcourse.
        And your layered ARH-ESSM/LADS/APS defensive suite has something too start the endgame going as more than a Sea Spotter level passive cue with ESM/IRST as the missile goes terminal.
        It is the carrier system which justifies the LCS as a need to enter the littorals to begin with (what, does nobody remember Clinton steaming a CVN up and down the Taiwan Straits like it was a naval review?). And it is the carrier system which is so bloody expensive that it sucks the Real Navy pale while having absolutely (Pacific View) no relevance to deep strike warfare because even if the boat doesn’t get blown out of the water 500nm out, the same lasers which are crucial for missile defense end up being REALLY GOOD at whacking subsonic, sub-500nm, manned = low persistence, airframes.
        Right. Out. Of. The. Sky.
        LCS is a failure and more DDG-51 are pointless because we will not deal with the fact that the Brown Shoe Navy is both obsolescent and a money hog and begin real development of ‘after ARRMD/FastHawk/RATTLRS/LRASM-B’ a hypersonic cruise/aeroballistic missile of our own that can go 800nm+ in 15 minutes.
        Oh, one other thing: I would argue that shotgun rounds like AHEAD and 3P are in fact useful against even hypersonic weapons but that they need to be loftable so as to replace mid-zone missiles with a terminal homing weapon similar to MRM_KE but at a LOT higher terminal energy to catch cross-track shunts by inbound AShMs doing Mach-3.
        Acquiring the target at lowlevel will be no problem. It will be all but on fire. The question is, can we get an EML to pony up a homing munition that has both the energy to make the intercept and the hardened electronics to withstand a Mach 6 launch?
        I don’t know.
        What I do know is that a 100 million dollar airframe buys me 25, 4 million dollar, HCMs (that’s 5 times the price of Tactical Tomahawk and still a bargain) with ZERO currency training costs as O&S peacetime sustainment for the whole ‘airwing overhead’ effect of E-2, EA-18, KA-18 and F/A-18 escorts and ISR.
        That means, if we hose down someplace like Libya with 100 shots, we have just expended the equivalent of four F-35s for 400 million.
        Which we can replacement cost handle, year in and year out, even as poor as Sequestration is likely to make us.
        Three hundred forty F-35, at 31,000 dollars per flight hour and with a 1.25:1 manning ratio, where each pilot needs 20hrs per mission, per month, to remain current, will end up costing us 15 X 40 X 31,000 = 18.6 million dollars per month. Or 223.2 million dollars per year. Just to train a SINGLE, twelve aircraft, squadron.
        It is completely beyond belief that we would spend that much, year in and year out, for a peacetime force which can be shot down like mosquitoes to a buglamp, by wartime lasers. No chance of escape.
        It is military fraud at a massive scale.
        And until we face up to that fact and buy an alternative replacement which is ‘wooden round’ left in it’s VLS at pennies per mile, until the exact year we need it.
        We will never have a Navy that can meet the needs of a 21st century technology level of warfighting.
        It really is that simple.
        We have the means to defeat missiles individually and in small saturation levels. And so accept that laser defense means manned aircraft are now completely outdated. Or we stick with manned systems and, by bias as ‘buy’ budget, have nothing that can do overland power projection against presurveyed hostage targets. Without going into the littorals where we are blasted out of the water anyway.

  • doc75

    Watch out. Once the number of LCS goes down to 24 or 32, there might not be an opportunity to obtain new DDGs or frigates. Just because the buy is reduced does not mean that the administration or congress is obligated to buy other ships to satisfy the desire of SWOs. The cut could get viewed as savings and the acquisition funds not replaced.

  • Araya

    Also a really interesting article from defense news about the LCS.

    http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140119/DEFREG02/301190027/US-Navy-OSD-Battle-Over-LCS-Future

  • Gary Church

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small-waterplane-area_twin_hull

    Sid got me thinking on how badly the crews will suffer on these boats in any kind of heavy seas; Did 60 seconds of research on the the only small stable hull design- SWATH- and found out why there are none (or just a few odd vessels). In some ways it is like paying for a submarine that cannot submerge since the torpedo hulls are nearly inaccessible for any heavy maintenance or component changes. Much more expensive structurally also. There is no free lunch.

    • Gary Church

      OOps, sorry if I repeated any info that Sid just posted.

  • Andrew Ness

    Finally Some ones Got there head screw on in the DOD , LCS is not what the US Navy Needs but to late now,Fast Minesweeper with a Little bit of bite to replace Osprey, like has been said take the money from canning 20 LCS invest in a Proven Off the Shelf Frigate Design with American Gears

  • ycplum

    We can’t afford ships that are fast and rugged, so they are asking if we should have ships fast or rugged. Personally, I think we need a mix of ship: some fast, some rugged.
    Personally, I think they should have made clear and document what they believe the threats to be, how to address them and fnally teh ship (or mix of ship) requirements. After that, no more adding mission to the ship designs. We often end up with something incredibility expensive that doesn’t do any of teh multitude of missions well.

  • Geoff

    We already have a ship in production, that does everything the LCS does, only better…the JHSV. Less than half the price of the LCS ($218 million), 5600 mile range, top speed over 40 knots, 650 ton load capacity, a 25% larger mission bay (than the LCS), aviation facilities for 2 helos (with an elevator to service/store helos on the mission deck), can land up to a CH-53, shallow draft, stern ramp, berthing/facilities for 44 crew and 120 passengers. Ideal platform for a littoral support ship.

    So, why is the Navy persisting in the LCS, to get less ship, at twice the price? Because the JHSV is butt ugly, and doesn’t have a sexy retro camo scheme?

  • JI

    The Navy repeatedly lied to us about the need for, and capabilities of, the LCS. Originally, it was supposed to operate in the “littorals” (whatever exactly that means) as a ship that could dish it out, take hits and keep fighting. It was also supposed to have that highest-level of acquisitions nirvana, modularity. But here it is, 10+years later and the Navy has not gotten one module working. Further, the ship was sold to us as being something that could be purchased concurrently with the development of its modules, and even some of the ship-board systems. Well, we’ve seen how well that approach works out with the JSF. Why on earth would Congress trust the Navy at this point? Thank goodness for the office of DOT&E which is calling out the Navy on its poor decisions.

  • adamHolland

    Two firebolt PT boats are head and shoulders more fear inspiring.

  • Sandy

    replace the 54mm with a 5″; put a 54mm on each beam to combat the small boat threat. Add the missile package under the CIWS, two HARPOON canisters, a STINGER platform, (maybe two small MK-50 torpedo canisters-MK-48s are too big), and voila, a kick-ass little ship that can use it’s helos/FireScout for OTH battle space command. Would have been great in the 80′s in the Persian Gulf during OP PRAYING MANTIS….Iranian BOGHAMMERS would be toast….

  • Buddy Repperton

    This is motherfucking shit.