Rep. Pete Visclosky

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee pressed the leaders of the Navy and Marine Corps today about how they could meet the national security challenges with shrinking budgets, questioning the survivability of the Littoral Combat Ships, the status of the costly and controversial Joint Strike Fighter and the Navy’s plan to take seven cruisers and possibly an aircraft carrier out of service.

Led by its chairman, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, the panel members also raised serious concerns about the rash of scandals and leadership failures that recently have troubled the Navy.

Frelinghuysen, in his first year running the panel, contrasted the shrinking U.S. fleet with the rapidly growing Chinese force, “which already is challenging our Navy power and our allies every single day.”

The chairman also cited the high number of Navy commanders being relieved for misconduct, the allegations of cheating by students at the Navy’s nuclear power school, the acceptance of bribes and even prostitutes by senior Navy officers in exchange for helping a Singapore-based ship service contactor get business.

“We need an explanation of what’s going on,” he told Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, and Gen. James Amos, Marine Corps Commandant. Frelinghuysen’s concerns were shared by other committee members.

Although much of the panel’s questioning about the proposed 2015 defense budget dealt with the broad issues of a shrinking military in an unstable and threatening world, many of members focused, as is usual, on issues that affect their districts.

Florida Rep. Ander Crenshaw, worried about Mayport Naval Station, attacked the Navy’s recent change in how it counts its battle fleet (which added 10 ships), asking how the Navy was going to maintain its forward presence “with ghost ships.”

Mabus insisted the added ships, including two hospital vessels and six small coastal patrol craft, were added because the combatant commanders have requested them or they are forward deployed. But Mabus said the promise to build the fleet to 300 ships by the end of this decade was based on “the old count.”

Crenshaw also accused the Navy of violating the “spirit of the law” Congress passed last year stopping the Navy from decommissioning three cruisers with its new plan to put seven cruisers in deferred maintenance status, supposedly awaiting modernization when funds are available. He said that plan was “one foot in the grave” and really meant the ships would be retired.

But Mabus said the plan was needed to keep at least 11 cruisers operational, which could not be done unless they take the seven cruisers through modernization in phase.

Frelinghuysen jumped in, saying “we need some answers.”

Crenshaw also questioned the LCS program, noting Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s order to reduce the planned buy from 52 to 32.

LCS 3 Sea Trials

Mabus said Hagel gave the Navy the options of continuing to buymore LCSs, buying a modified version opt the ship or going to a new design, based on consideration of cost and timing. He stressed the Navy’s success in reducing their costs. Indiana Rep. Peter Visclosky, the panel’s ranking Democrat, said words that must have sent chills down the spine of Navy leaders who have defended the ship’s utility: “If it’s not survivable, we don’t care.” The director of Operational Test and Evaluation, Michael Gilmore, has, of course, said for several years that LCS is not survivable.

Rep. Kay Granger, a Texas Republican who represents Fort Worth, questioned the Navy’s commitment to the F-35C, the carrier-based version of the JSF, in light of a reduced buy in the future year’s budget plan. (The F-35 is, of course, built in Fort Worth.)


Mabus said the delay in buying F-35Cs was a fiscally imposed decision but insisted the Navy was committed to fielding the new jets.

Rep. Jack Kingston, whose Georgia district includes a base for Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, worried about the future of SSBN-X, the enormously expensive planned replacement of the Ohio class.

Mabus said the Ohio-replacement program was on schedule. However, despite the efforts to drive down the cost, the program is so expensive it called for “a discussion in Congress and in the nation on how to pay for it.” He noted that if the estimated $7 billion a boat had to come out of the Navy’s normal shipbuilding budget it would “devastate” the rest of the service’s construction program.


There also were questions about the Defense Department’s call for another round of Base Realignment and Closure, which threatens every member with a military facility. But Mabus and Greenert said the Navy had gotten rid of its excess bases in the previous BRAC rounds and did not think it needed another BRAC.

Asked about the Marine Corps’ troubled attempt to replace its Vietnam-vintage amphibious assault vehicles, Amos explained that after cancelling the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle effort, they did an extended study of the proposed alternative, the Amphibious Combat Vehicle, only to find that providing the fast water speed the EFV promised still cost too much. So he has delayed the ACV effort and the Marines will buy an “off-the shelf” wheeled vehicle that has limited amphibious capabilities but meets the need to transport Marines ashore.


  • Gary Church

    That the subcommittee members are defending the projects in their districts while asking a few uncomfortable questions means this is a farce.

    It is obvious the LCS needs to be scrapped. It is obvious the F-35 is junk. It is obvious surface combatants cannot survive against the anti-ship missiles of the 21st century. It is obvious we cannot afford a new class of boomers.

    Part of the answer is the Virginia class subs with a payload module to carry missiles. Another part is start retiring the surface combatants. Cruisers and Carriers are missile fodder. Spending money on a wheeled amphibious vehicle for the Marines is an insult to the combat troops. They have thrown away such an incredible fortune on the useless V-22 that now they cannot buy what they actually need. As for their Officer troubles; they need get rid of a large percentage of their higher ranking officers.

    Because of the money involved none of what should happen is probably going to happen.

    • Jim Carter

      While you may be correct about LCS, if you scrap carriers how will you project air power in a remote theater and sustain rapid turn around of aircraft? Carriers provide a resource not otherwise available, especially since we are seriously reducing our footprint on foreign soil. As for the F35 or the V22 – I seem to remember the same comments being made about the Harrier during its development, yet it proved to be a significant and effective system over its lifespan. As with most expensive, new technology, given the benefit of historical perspective we will someday say the same for these weapons.

      • Jon

        If carriers are even “somewhat” vulnerable to modern ASuW missiles, how WILL we project air power in a remote theater and sustain rapid turn around of aircraft?

        Has the Harrier proven to be a “significant and effective” system? Given the expense of the Harrier program, the cost of building/operating the USMC VTOL carriers, the extremely limited combat capabilities of the Harrier, its loss record, the ability of other weapons systems to perform the same tasks better and/or more cheaply, I think that is at best, arguable.

        More importantly, has the Harrier proven to be “significant and effective” enough to justify the added expense, complexity, and reduced overall combat effectiveness of the F35 program, to create the F35B?

        • Gary Church

          The Harrier has always been a favorite of mine but you are right Jon- it has not had a great record. The Harrier configuration is far more workable than the idiotic lift system on the F-35 but the plane had design flaws in the flaps and ejection seat that killed pilots and I was told that having to take the wings off to change the engine made it less than easy to maintain. It came through for the Brits in the Falklands but that was because they did not have a real carrier and had the latest version of the sidewinder missile. As for limited combat capability; that pretty much goes for all manned aircraft. Drones that can be mass produced and lost by the dozen in hi-threat environments are the only way to go now.

          • Gary Church

            The greatest lesson of the Falklands was the mistranslation of a torpedo maintenance manual from french to spanish; two wires were switched by mistake in a periodic inspection procedure and this rendered the Argentine torpedoes ineffective. If those wire guided torpedoes had worked that old Argy diesel sub could well have slaughtered most of the British surface forces and….changed history.

        • GAR9

          I’m sorry, but there’s so much wrong with Jon’s reply that they can’t be ignored.

          1st, the Harrier normally doesn’t operate”VTOL” except at airshows. It operates STOVL. If the difference and the significant consequences aren’t understood, then the whole rest of the post is suspect.

          2nd, what is the, “…cost of building/operating the USMC VTOL [sic] carriers…”? In case you hadn’t noticed, AV-8Bs operate from the same amphibs as do the Marines’ helicopters. Those ships would be there Harrier or not.

          3rd, “…the extremely limited combat capabilities of the Harrier”. Lessee here: It’s very accurate, because it can be based closer it can arrive sooner when the call goes out. It also isn’t dependent on the massive tanker support that other assets require and often has more “playtime” than other tactical aircraft because it doesn’t have to use up such a large percentage of its fuel getting to and from a distant base. It can operate from airfields from which other aircraft have to wait weeks for repair. It can and does also operate from icy runways that ground other aircraft. And, it has demonstrated itsabilty to strike in weather coditions that preclude the effectiveness of other CAS aircraft such as the A-10.

          4th, the combat loss record of the AV-8B is not significantly different from that of other aircraft operating on CAS missions.

          5th, it does cost a bit more to operate in some cases than some other assets, but that’s more afynction of the vintage of the basic design and that its Genesis is British, and UK designs of those days didn’t pay that much attention to ease of maintenance.

          It all comes down to whether or not you’re always going to have 8,000 ft. runways close by whenever and wherever the troops need air support.

          Regarding the F-35 program, the F-35B is basically an F-35A with the lift system replacing a fuel tank. It was the F-35C that required design considerations in the underlying structure (ability of basic airframe to handle shock of carrier ops, cockpit line of sight view, engune removal tchnique, heavy keel, etc.) of all three versions.

          • Gary Church

            None of that really matters; drones that can be mass produced and lost by the dozen in hi-threat environments are the only way to go now.

          • GAR9

            Drones are valuable, but for now they don’t do as much as people think they do. Their payload is small their range amd performance usn’t all that good. Frankly, if someone proposed a manned aircraft that could only do what we accept for drones, they’d be thrown out of the room.

            Forget Hi-threat environments, they can only operate in No-threat environments. An adversary with just armed helicopters is going to be able to negate the use of existing armed drones. It’ll get better in the future, sure, but they’ll also be a lot more expensive and effective use in fluid CAS roles is still a good way off, especially in a heavy jamming environment.

            Even USN’s next generation’s UCAS-D is going to have nowhere near the range/payload the Fleet needs.

          • Gary Church

            “-It’ll get better in the future,-”
            It will get better long before the F-35 does. The only reason they are not replacing manned platforms right now is all the money is being spent on……manned platforms. They operate in “no-threat environments” because…..that is all there is right now. Your argument does not hold water.

          • Gary Church

            That is a drone by the way.

          • GAR9

            No, that’s a target remotely piloted vehicle. It is only effective in performing a specific task in a tightly controlled area where there are unlimited datalinks and communication. I supppose one could load it up with bombs and use it as a cruise nissile and dive it into a target (in fact that idea was floated for the A-7E when it was retired) but that would be a terribly expensive and mainenace intensive way to way to perform a not too accurate strike.

            Regarding the “no threat” environment”, it’s not because that’s all there is. Think about it… would any of our armed drones what we have now survive against anyone who had even a minor air defense capability? While the current and near future assets are [relativel] inexpensive to buy, their infrastructure requirements and costs are high. Plus, as far as I know, the Iranians haven’t talked one of our manned recon assets into landing in their territory. Even the unquestionably valuable Global Hawk, which is much more costly than we expected, is vulnerable to a medium level threat, more so than the less expensive to operate 2 (using the gov’t’s own numbers) U-2. Of course there’s a push to get rid of the latter in favor of the former, but that’s more a function of the fact that no one gets another star managing a 60 year old recon design, and the lobby isn’t as strong as that for an in-production asset that offers production jobs (votes). What combat commanders want often is secondary to that.

            Although drones will continue to get better and better, I fear you are overly optimistic abiut the current state of techolgy. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking, “That thing on the ramp is nowhere near as good as what we don’t have”. Given our glacial pace of development, it’s still going to be a while.

            Let me quote the head of Air Combat Command, “Predators and Reapers are useless in a contested environment”. “Today … I couldn’t put [a Predator or Reaper] into the
            Strait of Hormuz without having to put airplanes there to protect it”.

          • Gary Church

            “-drones will continue to get better and better-”

            You just don’t get it; “unlimited datalinks and communication” are what make drones possible. A fighter plane just has has a shorter data link to the pilot. The entire electromagnetic spectrum cannot be eternally jammed for the benefit of your argument. Even if you could jam them (you can’t) lasers cannot be jammed and can relay almost unlimited data from drone to drone at high altitude and then down to the deck across thousands of miles. A very short microsecond burst of data can update orders to a largely autonomous program anyway. Cruise and other missiles are largely autonomous and have multi-spectral sensors used to now evade and adapt their attack patterns and drones are of course really just a long range missile with better sensors that can communicate with an operator.

            Your arguments are all based on, “as far as I know”, which is not much, and “the current state of technology” which you are about 10 years behind. Drones are essentially expendable which means building and modifying them happens so much faster it is an unbeatable advantage. The pilot has now become the problem, not the solution. A problem that may lose the next war.

          • Gary Church

            They built and flew the Phantom Ray in two and a half years. They signed the development contract for the F-35 in 1996, first flight in 2006….and it is still not ready for war.


          • Jon

            Priceless. Thanks for the laugh. Be sure to patent that, LOL.

          • GAR9

            Snappy, well-reasoned comeback there Jon.

          • Jon

            After “the F-35B is basically an F-35A with the lift system replacing a fuel tank”, why waste my time with “snappy, well-reasoned comebacks”? I appreciate the thought, but I’ll pass, thank you.

          • Gary Church

            Basically….no, a little more to that contraption. What a mess.

  • Hit Manfan

    The F-35 isn’t junk, it’s just new. Having said that It isn’t as good as the F-22 in terms of its capability and performance. The most survivable part of the Nuc triad are the boomers affording them isn’t something that we have a coice in doing. Carriers project power better than any other piece of military hardware in existance.

    • Jeff Levy

      If the Ohio Replacement boomers would incorporate the new Tomahawk canisters, this would help in our strike and response capability on many fronts.
      take a look at this SSBN-X concept.

    • Gary Church

      We do have a choice with the boomers; the payload module on the Virginia’s can carry 4 tridents. Having 4 per sub instead of 24 makes them 6 times more survivable. Carriers are missile fodder. “Projecting power” is another way of saying we are the big bully of the oceans and nobody better mess with us. But in this age of robots and missiles it is a bluff and someone will call it sooner or later. Supersonic anti-ship missiles launched from submarines are the weapons of power- even missiles launched from diesel subs project more power than our multi-billion dollar white elephant carrier fleet.
      If we have airplanes like the F-22 that can super-cruise at a thousand miles an hour they can actually go anywhere in the world as long as there are tankers to refuel them. But even that is not as good as drones; they are really the future and can even be launched and recovered from submarines easier than operating the F-35B and it’s rube goldberg lift fan system. Junk.

      • estuartj

        I spoke with my brother, a retired boomer driver, about this and unfortunatly It’s much more difficutlt in terms of hardware to do this than I would have thought. Personally, I would just kill the SSBN(x) program and let the seaborne portion of the triad go away as the current SSBNs are retired, but I don’t think that’s a realistic outcome, no matter how bad the budget enviornment.

        • Gary Church

          The “difficulty” of adding a new hull section to an existing production run compared to designing and building a new submarine makes me doubt the veracity of your brothers opinion. Since the airborne leg has been stood down off airborne alert and the land ICBM force is not mobile, then letting the sea leg “go away” means we would be vulnerable to a first strike. Personally, I don’t think you understand the first thing about nuclear deterrence. Your lasers and rail guns will not stop ICBM warheads anymore than they will stop anti-ship missiles.

          • estuartj

            Troll away. My point was that the technical challenge of putting a SSBN AND SSGN sytem in the same hull is much more difficult than just changing out the contents of the tube.
            As for my view of nuclear deterrence, that’s a whole seperate can of worms, that isn’t nearly as simple as you make it sound. And I’m not saying that eliminating the SSBN fleet is desirable, only that it might be better than the alternatives in the forseable budget enviornment.

          • Gary Church

            Call me a troll but “much more difficult” and “isn’t nearly as simple as you make it sound” and “not saying” but “it might be better” give you away for what you are. Even though you obviously do not realize what you are doing with your B.S.

  • CynicFan2

    I remember a Second Lieutenant telling us during orientation that the Navy was a game of Rock Paper Scissors. Ships take out the planes, planes take out the subs and subs take out the ships.

    • NavySubNuke

      a little outdated – planes and land masses take out ships too. Submarines are pretty hard to find from air planes – but we can’t shoot back at them either.

      • Gary Church

        Anti-aircraft systems (Blowpipe) were fielded on submarines decades ago, though I don’t know if any are out there currently. Blowpipe was a crummy missile and was eventually replaced by the Starstreak; maybe the best in the world. Submarines could operate drones with air to air missiles. And submarines can use expendable fiber-optic relay buoys to control them while submerged. And research has been done on the equivalent of the submarine aircraft carrier; sub launched and recovered drones (cormorant). Of course the surface warfare community does not want to hear anything about it. Kind of hard to justify all those admirals without a large surface fleet yaknow! Though it seems far-fetched to us older folks who watched the flying submarine on voyage to the bottom of the sea as children, a couple watertight hatches for the jet intake and exhaust are not that big of a technical challenge.

        • Gary Church

          If you have drones to launch from Virginia payload modules they can look for the targets and the sub-launched cruise missiles or supersonic anti-ship missiles (which we have none of right now) can hit them. The drones can also carry quite capable air to air missiles. No multi-billion dollar missile fodder carrier battle groups, no surface combatants. That’s the future. The question is whether we are going to lose the next war finding that out.

  • NavySubNuke

    Given the advances in anti-ship missiles made by Russia and China (which have been sold to Iran, India, and many others) we pretty much have to either keep the “fleet” far out to sea or be ready to write off a good chunk of it. Until we can swing the pendulum back in the favor of the defense (as we did when aegis and sm-2s were first introduced) it just isn’t a good environment for the poor targets right now – especially since we lack any real anti-ship missile capability of our own. There isn’t much point to the F-35 if the carrier has to stay 2,000 miles away from the shore due to missiles like the DF-21.
    I realize I am totally biased but the best answer – at least until we figure out better anti-missile defenses (rail guns and anti-missile lasers are just five years away right? just like they were 5 years ago) – is to build more submarines. We also need to work on better land attack weapons to replace TLAMs.

    • Jon

      “especially since we lack any real anti-ship missile capability of our own”

      And there’s the bit I can’t get past. The biggest take-away from the LCS fiasco isn’t the lack of OTH offensive capability (or the expense, or the non-survivability)…it’s that the Navy has none to give it. All the money the Navy has spent, and they don’t have a single, modern ASuW missile system, of any range, in the inventory…

      But hey, don’t worry…the Navy is opening up a “Top Gun” school for surface warfare. That’ll fix everything…they must be teaching them how to throw rocks, or creative insults to hurl at the enemy.

      • NavySubNuke

        Don’t forget the 5″ deck gun on the destroyers – that will be a real game changer against a modern patrol craft armed with 100km+ range supersonic anti-ship missiles right???

        • Jon

          Nah, the AC flying off that huge sideways floating skyscraper radiating immense amounts of crap that is magically immune (and not forced out 2000 miles away to mid-ocean) to said supersonic anti-ship missiles will deal with them by dropping iron bombs on their heads…

          • Trons Away

            Why is it that on the internet all US weapons systems are inferior to all foreign systems, regardless if they’ve been fielded or not? I’m not quite sure how you would deal with the problem, beyond mothballing the entire military.

            Long range surface and sub launched cruise missiles, UCLASS, cyber, and EW until you eliminate the anti access threat, then you can move the boats closer.

          • estuartj

            The Navy has gotten behind the curved on ASCM because they have the ability to put enormous numbers of inferior weapons on target compared to their rivals. Sure in a pure surface vs surface engagement the USN is “out-sticked”, but that misses the different roles each nation’s surface warships are built for, a chinese or russian DDG far outclasses their USN counterparts in range and lethality of ASCM, but the USN ships are carrying huge numbers of SM-2/3/6s that far outclass anything the PLAN or Russian’s can field and are protecting the CBG that can put somewhere close to 160 Harpoons on target in an Alpha Strike with a total reach of over 650mi with no refueling. Harpoon may be inferior, but an CVW can carry more of them than any peer navy battle group can field defensive missles.

          • Jon

            That’s exactly and precisely the point. All our eggs are in that CBG basket. Any water outside the footprint of a CBG is owned by just about any enemy ship larger than a Boghammer. How many places can that CBG be at once? What happens when the threat of enemy missiles pushes that CBG even further offshore?

          • Gary Church

            The typical internet armchair admiral is not interested in reality Jon; just yapping about their toys and putting as many acronyms as possible in a paragraph. Tell them that anti-ship missiles are now so sophisticated that surface combatants cannot survive and they will start blathering about lasers and rail guns.

          • estuartj

            Glad you elected yourself hall monitor of the internet, Gary. Especially since you are so firm in your own determinations of what capabilities the various sytems in use and under development. Only a complete fool is ever so certain of the veracity of their own opinions.

          • Gary Church

            If you are not certain of your own veracity I think that makes you the fool. Bizarre.

          • estuartj

            You have no room for doubt in your belief that no missle defense system can suceed against 21st century cruise missles, none? I believe the challenge is getting harder, and that defensive systems are going to have a tougher time keeping pace (especially in the cost exchange), but to so firmly conclude that no missle defense system can defeat the ASCM threat?

          • Jon

            Grant his one-shot-one-kill-never-miss-can’t-be-intercepted hyperbolic missiles 10% of the capability he believes they have. Isn’t that enough to completely change the rules of the game? Our ability to “project power”? Interdict trade routes? Go where and when we want, “squat and own” hundreds/thousands of square miles in every direction? Can we “afford”, in costs both tangible and intangible, to learn the reality?

            I think, that we’re going to be very, very careful in where and when we risk getting that question answered. Which means those missiles systems, sight unseen, real or imagined, with actual capabilities more or less unknown, are already arguably one of the most successful deterrent weapons systems in modern political history…depending on which side of the hypothetical launcher you’re standing on…

          • Gary Church

            “Grant his one-shot-one-kill-never-miss-can’t-be-intercepted-”

            I said missiles are unstoppable, not missile singular unstoppable. The hyperbole is all on you and your acronym buddy. Next you will be calling me a Muslim.

          • estuartj

            Even when people agree with you they get the horns. Calm down.

          • Gary Church

            Calm down? I’m fine. You two seem to be the ones that can’t stand reality and keep pouring on the B.S.
            The loon with the dog whistle and weener boy ganging up on me is funny:)

          • Jon

            Gary’s a Muslim! Gary’s a Muslim!

            Niener niener, you’re also a wieeeeeeener!

            Feel better now?

          • estuartj

            I’m in agreement with you on the limitations. I was only explaining how we arrived at this point regarding anti-ship cruuise missle technology. That said, with the (apparent) truncation of the LCS program and the early retirement of the FFGs the Navy brass seem to think that no non-Aegis equipped or escorted ships are going to be survivable in contested seaspace. Thus the need to upgrade the offensive capability (both ship to ship and ship to shore) of the DDGs via an advanced ASCM/LACM and (eek Gary’s bugaboo!) railguns. The later would go a long way toward both increasing the lethality of the large surface combatants and also creating more magazine space for SM-2/3/6 missles to defend against that increased ASCM threat.

          • Jon

            I certainly don’t disagree with that…but as far as I can see, all our planning, prep, and discussion blithely assumes that it’ll be “the CBG is King” and business as usual. We can argue how we got to this point, but shouldn’t our war plans be based on actual reality, and not on what they want to be reality?

          • Hudson

            The rail gun is next to useless as a shore bombardment weapon–the bolt does no radial damage. As an anti-missile missile, it must score a direct hit on an incoming missile once it pops over the horizon. With the ASCM traveling mach 1.5 -2.5, and maneuvering violently in the terminal phase, the rail gun will have two shots max. Rail guns are way overrated as a naval weapon.

          • Jon

            Hmmm, quite a few of our weapons systems started out as foreign systems. Virtually all of our infantry weapons are foreign designs with the exception of the M-4 IIRC…field guns, hand/shoulder weps, mortars. Armor weapons…does Rhinemetal ring any bells? Naval weapons and electronics, quite a few. Oto, Thales, etc.

            Cruise missiles…just how many do we have in the inventory? And isn’t the POTUS wanting to stop production? Didn’t we find out just how ineffective they were against mobile launchers in Gulf 1/2? I can still recall the Great Scud Hunt, as one example, can you? How effective are our cruise missiles against modern AA defenses, as opposed to goat herders, and how effective are they against surface ships…since that’s what we’re talking about?

            UCLASS…I wasn’t aware they were being fielded in large numbers, my mistake. Here I thought they were just now putting out the RfP. Cyber? Uh huh, good luck with that. I hope they’re putting some emphasis on it…when they’re not busy devoting the resources to reading our email, and listening to our phone calls. EW…that was de-emphasized in favor of stealth, that they’re currently engaged in a crash program to regain capability against current/emerging threats.

            Pretty much what you’re talking about, are “concepts”, or programs under development. I’m talking about “NOW”. And right NOW, we do not have a single modern ASuW missile system, of any range, in the inventory. Right NOW, potential adversaries do have modern ASuW missile systems in actual service. And that’s the state of our Navy…NOW.

            All that said, you don’t have to go to the internet to hear that “all US weapons systems are inferior”…you just have to pick up a paper, or turn on the news, and listen to our service chiefs testifying to congress, or making speeches. It might be hyperbole designed to terrify us into spending infinite more amounts of money, but it is pretty depressing…everything we own is either inferior, combat ineffective, obsolete, spread to thin, or falling apart. What was todays? We don’t have the capability to conduct amphibious landing because we don’t have “connectors”? We got 2-3 Admirals per ship, and enough Generals and bird Colonels to populate a small 3rd world country…but no “connectors”. Bizarre.

          • NavySubNuke

            Don’t worry – our submarines and aircraft are still the best in the world. We just suck at anti-ship fighting because we have ignored it since 1991. There used to be an anti-ship version of TLAM but we converted them all to be land attack missiles because we ran out of the land attack variant and thought we would never have to fight surface ships again. Also, while Russia and China kept working on supersonic cruise missiles we just kept the Harpoon without developing anything new.
            Offense and defense are always on a pendulum – right now the offense (anti-ship missiles) is clearly in the lead but that won’t last forever (hopefully).

          • Jon

            Not to mention, firing the new enhanced/guided ammo, that 5″ deck gun is good out to almost 100k, with terminally guided rounds. All hair rending and BS aside, given the difference in sensor capabilities…I’d call the new ammo a “game changer” in a lot of ways.

            With the 6″ gun capable out to 160k, I’d certainly be considering retrofitting everything possible to carry one…

      • PolicyWonk

        Actually, there are several takeaways from the LCS fiasco starting with the poor foundation, i.e. its weak sea-frame. The ship, if properly constructed, can have it’s armament improved dramatically – and can include mission packages as well.

        But you can’t rebuild the hull from scratch on a fully constructed ship (as a practical matter).

        Building the ship to a level of strength so that the ship won’t sink too fast (if hit) before the crew can abandon ship truly isn’t the best marketing plan. To call it a “combat” ship when it was really a utility ship that could sweep mines, venture off on super low intensity patrols in very low risk environments, or maybe help hunt subs, is simply being dishonest. But then to give it a ton of power so it can go really fast simply jacks up the price past the level of ridiculous.

        Calling it “cheap” when other navies are able to build stealthy, full military hulls, with heavier armament and mission packages for 1/3 less is asinine.

        This left LCS, its cheerleaders in the navy, and its builders looking like their open intent was to defraud the taxpayers.

        • Jon

          Note: “biggest takeaway”. I was personally astounded, shocked, and infuriated to realize our Navy’s more or less total lack of surface combat systems, and/or their failure to buy/license systems from our friends and allies…whom have a plethora of very nice, very capable weapons systems to offer. For decades.

          3/4 of a billion per copy to fight “Iranian swarms”, and they’re going to engage each and every one of them line of sight? And call this “the best swarm killer in the fleet”? Seriously?

          “This left LCS, its cheerleaders in the navy, and its builders looking like their open intent was to defraud the taxpayers.”

          Or, perhaps they sacrificed everything to give it enough dash speed to get out of the target envelope of those pesky Chinese missiles. And can’t say that because it’d make people start questioning the entire basis of maintaining an expensive surface fleet only useful for launching million dollar missiles at medieval sheep herder tents and/or pirates tooling around in rowboats…

          On the other hand, as far as defrauding the taxpayers goes, for a purely “apples to apples” comparison, Austal also builds the JHSV. 70% commonality with the Hawaiian Superferry, delivered for $88 million per hull. The civvilian spec JHSV, with a 10 ship volume buy…somewhere between $180-250 million per hull. Some serious cream being skimmed off the taxpayer milk on that deal…

          • PolicyWonk

            I was nauseated when I saw what LCS had become, compared to the original problem which was building a ship that specialized in littorals, when the US fleet was/is primarily a blue-water fleet.

            Instead of starting with the Cyclones (shallow draft, fast tough, heavily armed for their size, ~372 tons, $25M each), they somehow created Franken-ship: Super fast; too big at 3000 tons; very expensive ($340-400M each), under-built (the lowest standard – Level 1); zero OTH attack capability; and very weakly armed even with the surface warfare mission package. As if that wasn’t bad enough – the 57mm cannon failed miserably in Canadian testing (fortunately – the target ship wasn’t shooting back). A $400M solution to create a ship to kill off a small swarm of cheap speedboats? Seriously?

            Small wonder the Cyclones were shipped to the Persian Gulf to take over for some of the larger ships!

            I agree with the idea of mission packages and modularity – I think thats fine. But the mission packages practically double the cost of the LCS – and they put it on a weak sea-frame, which makes zero sense.

            Finally, we have Democrat Rep. Peter Visclosky coming out to say it like it is: if it can’t survive – we don’t care. Why did it take well over a decade to figure this out? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!

            I say let the courts martial’s begin! Let the trials for willful defrauding of the US taxpayers, let alone willfully endangering the lives of our servicemen/women.

          • Jon

            Our military, believes that nothing is worth doing unless it’s the ultimate Wunder Weapon; “Good enough” isn’t a concept they grasp. And absolutely nothing can be built using existing, proven tech, materials, and designs, it’s all got to be new improved, cutting edge. “Affordability” doesn’t even impinge on their radar until the program becomes so God awful expensive it collapses under its own weight.

            All they see is the “utility”…they see it doing ASW, MCM, light surface warfare, ISR, and as a fast transport. The fact that it’s not well suited to any of those roles, never occurs to them. The fact that they spent so much per copy they can’t afford to buy the hulls they need to get the missions accomplished, apparently escaped them. So did the fact, that for that amount of money, instead of a cheap expendable “good enough” truck, they created a valuable asset that is to expensive to lose, and too fragile to put in harms way…though I’m quite certain, it all looked marvelous on the .ppt slides in the briefings…

          • Gary Church

            Wonk likes cyclones for anti-swarm but my favorite was always the Sparviero. Beautiful cheap little super heavily armed boat. All out of service now. Uses an airline turboshaft to drive a pump for attack speed and a truck size diesel for cruising. And the foils in the water help to control pitching and rolling when it is not foil borne.


          • PolicyWonk

            Thats a nifty looking little craft, Gary! I like the idea of hydrofoils being used in littoral situations – but I think the size of the Pegasus class is better suited (more room for armament).

            BTW – I’m seriously disappointed to not see your traditional “screw the surface fleet lets only build submarines”, etc. Especially since I put in such a strong comment for increasing the numbers of Virginia (with VPM, of course), and as an added bonus, purchasing and forward basing AIP boats in the western pacific.



          • Jon

            Carry it to its logical conclusion…small, cheap, stealthy, high-speed hydrofoil surface drones built using off-the-shelf components and drone control systems already in use.

            Roll them on/off the back of an LCS…there’s your re-usable OTH capability, probably for the cost of a single cruise missile…

          • Gary Church

            Actually, Sea Gliders are the best bet for unmanned naval platforms. They would make submarine more like surface warfare in that subs would not be able to hide in an ocean infested with unmanned underwater vehicles. Subs might become just as obsolete as surface combatants in this age of robots and missiles.

          • Jon
          • Gary Church

            If the Navy has to have some kind of “presence” then it might as well be something economical that can get a shot or two in before they are sunk. But I do believe in “let’s only build submarines.” And a new merchant marine subsidized by the state and able to be called into service with crews of reservists. The same with our airline fleet. And a helicopter medical evacuation fleet. And even truck drivers. If all were automatically part of the reserves we would have a far more effective military for far less money. You want to see what we should be building? check this out; this will carry a few missiles and can operate a few helicopters yathink? – and put Americans back to work. A far better way to spend all these billions of defense dollars.


    • PolicyWonk

      Surface ships are great for projecting power – until the shooting really starts.

      Then, its the submarines that will ultimately control the ocean. Build more Virginias, complete the design of and stock up on payload module versions.

      We might also consider buying and forward deploying AIP models and station them in the western pacific. A new SOSUS for the South China Sea might not be a bad idea, if there isn’t one already.

      Having the ability to deny China access to the sea may very well become a valuable capability.

      • Jon

        I’d add “Aegis in a Box” systems/ground launchers for forward bases, AFSBs configured to support small combatants/AIPs, and small, fast, stealthy surface ships to do the ASW/MCM/Patrol missions…

        • PolicyWonk

          The US navy didn’t like the stealthy surface ship idea at all – nor did they like that idea for fleet defense (according to Ben Rich’s biography – think Sea Fighter with a pile-o-missiles).

          Apparently, it had something to do with admirals not being made on the deck of small, very difficult to find, and brutally effective/efficient ships that are built to be nearly invisible.

      • Hudson

        I’d use the AIPs to patrol American waters, freeing the SSNs for long range duty.

  • gtmerkley

    Why don’t the federal government have a lottery like some states, and other
    country’s to pay for what they need. If people are going to gamble anyway they
    might as well do it for a good cause.

  • DF

    Three modules, small surface combatant, mine countermeasure, and anti-submarine warfare. Do the ships that have filled these roles in the past, and currently in the navies of other countries have a survivability rating fit to take hits from modern anti ship missiles? Not really, no. The U.S. navy does not need to send aegis DDG’s to fight maritime piracy, it can do that with a small surface combatant, a role the LCS will fill. Because of developments with China too many people like Christine Fox and this congressman are focusing on trying to prepare the navy for a conflict for china, and disregarding the more common missions that Navy does. And having the LCS do what commander Odin said were “98% of what the navy normally does” will free up the DDG’s and cruisers and allow them to be relocated to the pacific theater to deter Chinese aggression.

    • estuartj

      I concur that the LCS is perfectly “survivable” in the MCM and Pirate/Swarm Boat SuW arena, but the dependence on other battleforce ships for basically all AAW threats means their utility is severly limited. The real question then is will a FFG or enlarged LCS hull platform be able to provide the AAW capability needed to survive in even marginally contested seaspace without battleforce support?
      My guess is that the increase in the ASCM/ASBM capabilities means that only an Aegis equipped CG/DDG platform will be surviviable, making that upgraded LCS or FFG a more expensive, but equally vulnerable platform.

    • Gary Church

      Helicopters operating from merchant ships can deal with pirates, swarms, whatever.

      The only way to find mines now is to inspect every foot of the sea bottom with ROV’s.

      The best anti-sub platform is another submarine.

      Large merchants ships can have a moon pool to service U-boats and operate helicopters.

      As for the surface combatants “relocated to deter Chinese agression”. that is Military Industrial Complex speak for CHA-ching!

      We can build Virginia’s with payload modules to carry tridents and license build U-boats for 400 million a piece with RTG batteries for semi-nuclear littoral subs with ROV’s for mine clearing.
      The little black shark is taking over.

  • Gary Church

    What is survivable against 21st century missiles? Nothing. We are back to the world war two scenario of taking heavy losses in ships, aircraft, and ground forces. But this time we don’t have 50,000 Sherman tanks and 80,000 combat planes. We cannot afford to lose 50 submarines or 5 aircraft carriers (11 counting escort carriers). We cannot put 346 warships and 76,000 troops at risk in a single operation (Normandy, 6th of June, 1944).

    What are survivable are drones. And we can have close to 10,000 excellent tanks fairly quickly if we need them. Our submarines are not easy prey anymore of course; they have precision guided torpedoes, anti-ship missiles,and cruise missiles.
    Those are our strengths but our weaknesses are pretty clear; hundreds of billions being wasted on legacy systems that will not last the first day of a shooting war.

    • Gary Church

      Actually drones are cheap enough to be expendable- not so much more survivable. My mistake.

  • bridgebuilder78

    I must again call for a corruption investigation into Ray Mabus.

  • Gary Church

    Maybe if they had just bought one type instead of getting greedy and buying the Lockmart one also, and made the tri-hull just one big flat deck on top with a helicopter hanger underneath and elevator to operate half a dozen seahawks…….nobody would even be upset about this. It would be apparent what the ship does and it would be arguably capable of several missions. The Seahawks could carry different missiles and sensors and it would be obviously a useful vessel instead of….well, what they are saying it is; junk.

    • Gary Church

      To continue with the “littoral helicopter carrier” concept; the Seahawk was adapted from the Blackhawk which suffered from an original design requirement that it fit into a C-130 with a minimum of disassembly. This made the helicopter more complex and expensive than it needed to be and further problems with the necessary stabilator system caused several deaths. But the Seahawk does benefit from this unfortunate past and folds up into a small package. The problem with it operating off small vessels is it still needs a fairly large deck to land and takeoff from. A hangar deck designed for several Seahawks would fit nicely on top of the LCS tri-hull and one big rectangular deck with no bridge and retractable antennae would allow for ease of deck operations not found on other small ships. The Seahawk can carry some of the heavier missiles and is adaptable to large sensor arrays.

      There is also the possibility of operating hi-speed drones. A smaller version of the X-47 equipped with a compressed oxygen rocket system could possibly takeoff and land from such a tiny flat top deck. Unmanned systems do not require the decades long lead times of human-rated aircraft to enter service. Equipped with air-to-air missiles this would allow an anti-aircraft capability with a range of several hundred miles.
      Such a vessel, like any surface combatant, is IMO not “survivable” against 21st century anti-ship missiles. But it would serve as the needed peacetime “presence” without expending hundreds of billions on carrier battle groups.

  • Gary Church

    Like Jon said in an earlier article: I like the JHSV too…why they’re not looking at the JHSV with a
    re-designed superstructure and a helo hangar as a cost effective
    solution for the ASW/MCM LCS missions baffles me. Can’t see how it’s
    any more range limited than the LCS being constrained to 2 week
    deployments, tied to it’s maintenance/repair package, and operating in
    3-4 ship squadrons…

  • Big Nic

    As a retired Army guy I think the LCS is crazy(I know the Army does dumb things to). The first problem I see is it has no serious weapons, everything is short range. I hope the 57mm is great for short range air /missile defense. I can’t take it seriously as an anti ship or land attack system. It looks like there might be a small VLS module behind the 57mm but it is never mentioned in any article I have seen. A RAM launcher and maybe 2 x 30mm and a short range missile system? on a 3,000 ton ship? How could anyone take this seriously? As a mine countermeasure ship it is way too big(by about 2,500 tons), too fast Do we need to go 40+ knots to catch mines? For stopping and inspecting ships it is too expensive. Ten guys on a fishing boat could destroy one with RPG’s and 14.5mm machineguns. I think for every LCS ship we could buy one Mine countermeasure ship, a well armed patrol boat and a really well armed corvette. Any group of small warships like this might need a supply ship acting as their base and HQ.

    • Gary Church

      Everyone that looks at the numbers knows we are being scammed beyond belief. But the people that regurgitate all their pentagon-speak about it live in a different reality.

  • Gary Church

    What is really bizarre is that this 400 ft long 3000 ton ship costs the same as ONE OSPREY!
    That should clue the public in to how much money the military is burning through in it’s quest for useless toys.
    These stories about the littoral combat ship are good news for anyone who wants the spotlight off of the other immense tax dollar holes swallowing the future of the United States.

    • estuartj

      How are you computing that cost? What I’ve seen has the average per aircraft cost of each V-22 at 88.5m (total program cost divided by number of aircraft procured) or 69.3m “fly away” cost in 2012. Thats considerably less than the $455.3m per unit price tag of the LCS (FY13, the cheapest per unit cost program).
      Not picking a fight, just curious where you get the cost comparision numbers.

      • Gary Church

        You got me. Thank you for correcting me. I should have looked at the figures more closely but nothing surprises me anymore so I was not shocked enough to double check. I thought they were both about “7” something. How embarrassing.

        About 110 million for an Osprey, 700 million for an LCS. If the LCS had cost what was promised then two Ospreys would cost what one LCS does. As it stands it is six and some change. So I exaggerated X6.

        I wish I could edit but I doubt Colin or Sydney have the time to spare so I can fix my stupid mistakes.

        From wiki; In June 2009, the development and construction of Independence was 220% over-budget. The total projected cost for the ship is $704 million. The Navy had originally projected the cost at $220 million.[27

        V-22: The plan is to boost production from 11 a year to between 24 and 48 a year by 2012. Of the 458 total planned, 360 are for the U.S. Marine
        Corps, 48 for the Navy, and 50 for the Air Force at an average cost of
        $110 million per aircraft, including development costs.[24]

  • Jon
    • Gary Church

      “You have to look at warfare just a little bit differently,” he says.
      And, despite concerns to the contrary, he says the ships are up to the job. The naysayers, he says, are just being unrealistic.”

      So says the surface warfare admiral. WOW! He sure convinced me! (eye roll).
      But, concerning my comment below, I am now torn over which is the worse waste of money- an LCS or the 6 Ospreys you could buy with what one costs.

      How about just scrap the whole lot and start from scratch?

      • Jon

        The LCS, Terror of the Seaways…it slices, it dices, it makes julienne fries…now it’s morphed into a stealth bluewater fast attack boat, operating with CBGs, launching missiles that don’t even exist…taking “punches” and “delivering them”…

        And we’re all just stupid to grasp how it revolutionizes naval warfare…I just don’t think that’s realistic. I ran some wargames, and according to them, I’m the greatest naval tactician since Nelson. Nimitz, Halsey, they got nothing on me…

  • estuartj

    USNI with a nice writeup on the potential “Sea Control Frigate” as and alternative to the last 20 planned LCS or “expanded” LCS.

    Basically for 30% over the seaframe and module cost of the LCS the USN would get over twice the endurance/range, built in advanced blue water ASW capability and limited area AAW capability. The latter would (theoretically at least) be sufficient for convoy defense.
    I have a tough time envisioning any non-Aegis defended ships surviving in contested seaspace, but if your threat is a small number of Air or Sub launched ASCM it could suffice.

    • Gary Church

      I just find it hard to believe the surface warfare guys are still talking about business as usual. It’s like cavalry officers comparing breeds of horses. It’s over. Transfer to submarines. If you want to project power at sea it is probably going to get done with a supersonic anti-ship missile launched from a submarine. If I was a surface warfare person with a long career ahead I would be pushing for diesel subs with AIP carrying drones. That is the future for now- the only survivable combatant- everything else is missile fodder. Or….if we don’t wise up we end up like the Russians at Tsushima and someone will “cross our T” sooner or later.
      I am not saying there will be no surface ships; I am saying they will probably be big merchant hulls carrying invasion forces and launching helicopters and drones- after the subs get done sinking everything opposing them. The warship as we know it is on the way out IMO.

    • Jon

      If they can launch a “small number” of ASCM at you, wouldn’t that mean they have a solid “kill chain” of real time sensor data pointing at you?

      Isn’t “what is the realistic threat, under what circumstances, and what exactly constitutes contested seaspace” the FIRST discussion that needs to take place? Second, of course, would be “how to defend against the identified threat”…

      Building ships without identifying the actual requirements/missions is what (apparently) led to the LCS, with its ever-expanding roles and capabilities…real or imaginary.

    • Gary Church

      Or….we could license-build some Swedish Subs. As long as they send their bikini team to “train us up.”
      Seriously though, it is hard to beat a 40 million dollar diesel sub for offensive power considering the drones and missiles they can now carry- and the AIP systems available. Maybe the surface warfare community needs to start converting over to these boats. What do you think?