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Report: Pentagon Wants to Cut LCS Numbers in Half

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The first of class littoral combat ships USS Freedom (LCS 1), rear, and USS Independence (LCS 2) maneuver together during an exercise off the coast of Southern California on May, 2 2012. U.S. Navy Photo.

The first of class littoral combat ships USS Freedom (LCS 1), rear, and USS Independence (LCS 2) maneuver together during an exercise off the coast of Southern California on May, 2 2012.
U.S. Navy Photo.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense is backing a plan that would reduce the numbers of Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) from 52 to 24, ending the purchase of both variants of the ship in 2015, according to a Monday report in Defense News.

The move comes as the Pentagon conducts high-level budget drills ahead of the submission of the Fiscal Year 2015 defense budget to Congress, due out in February. Under White House direction, the military services are developing two versions of the budget to deal with the ongoing sequester cuts mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

Budget planners are now drafting two different program objective memoranda (POM) and an alternative POM (ALT POM).

The cuts to LCS are contained in the ALT POM defense officials told USNI News on Tuesday.

In response to the cut to 24 ships, the Navy has asked the floor of ship purchases to be at least 32 that would extend production for one to two years, Defense News reported.

When reached for comment on Tuesday, Navy officials said: “It is inappropriate to discuss specific details. We continue to evaluate the future demand for forces and will maintain a balance between force structure requirements while managing fiscal and operational risk. We remain committed to a 52-ship LCS program -this number accurately and appropriately captures the requirement for capacity and capabilities.”

The two ship designs — Lockheed Martin’s Freedom-class and Austal USA’s Independence-class — have been controversial since the program’s inception.

In 2010, the Navy announced an $8.9 billion buy of 20 of the ships as follow-on to two of each variant purchased by the Navy to test the designs.

In late 2012, current commander of U.S. Surface Forces — Vice Adm. Tom Copeman — drafted a memo to Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert that called for necking down to one variant of LCS or building a new ship and stopping the current dual hull buy at the 24 planned ships.

The Navy had planned to execute a second buy of 24 ships as part of the Fiscal Year 2016 budget.

Internal deliberations as to the future of LCS will likely conclude soon, reported Defense News:

“Under OSD deadlines, budget proposals are to be presented to the deputy’s Management Action Group in late September, followed by briefings to Frank Kendall, the Defense Department’s top acquisition official, in late September or early October.”

  • locsphere

    These ships don’t like they are capable of ship to ship, or even ship to land combat. Unless your landing people on beaches. Where are the weapon systems? Where is the ability to hit another ship? Last checked China was bolstering their navy, Russia the same. Can these things even shoot down aircraft?

    • Tellenthetruth

      Read my good man. This ship has the weaponry to lob a missle through your bathroom window from Wisconsin. Can they shoot down an aircraft? I can’t take this anymore, as ignorance has the floor.

  • aniptofar

    LCS 2 has some potential with the stability and the space available for out of the box thinking. LCS 1 not so much. It’s an expensive patrol boat at best. In reality, what is the difference between the LCSs and the 1/3 the price cheaper JHSVs except for radar and a gun? I bet it’s much easier picking a ROV out of the water using a JHSV than anything else.

  • Paul E. Cornelius

    Better still cancel the whole LCS program and return to building real combatant ships.

    • OLD GUY

      AMEN (if saying that is still allowed). Better yet, stop now and start building a fleet of 60 knot, attack capable, hydrofoils like PHM.

      • Tellenthetruth

        Why does this old guy understand this old guy? Its pretty simple, to be honest. We both probably agree that Zummwalt was a vissionary, while the officers thought he was bonkers. The US Navy needs a good reorganization, while at the same time discharging women from its ranks. They need to do the same with in your face gays, and do away with side cleaners, and captain masts. The higest rank should be LTJG, as we must get rid of egos well before eggs. I do have the solutions for the Navy’s maladies, yet I know I might be considered insane inside the Navy. I better get back under my toadstool.

    • Tellenthetruth

      Paul, What exactly do you know about these ships, as thats a pretty brash statement, knowing you no squat about it.

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

    Better yet, just stick to one LCS design, and use them to replace the PC/MCM fleet. Then get back to building a real GP frigate to protect the NFAF, Merchant shipping and Marine ARG’s.

    • Tellenthetruth

      Amen

  • Daniel Shenise

    I’m sure the build a frigate crowd understands that just because a fewer number of LCSs are built, doesn’t mean a new frigate will be. It’s a tight budget and between the new Fords, Ohio replacement, and more Burkes, there will not be any money for a low end combatant. The result will be the Burkes will continue to be ridden into the ground because they get stuck doing things they don’t need to. It’s like taking a Ferrari to get groceries.

    The smartest thing DoN could do is admit they are for the presence mission, and will never see anything bigger than a RPG shot at it. They should select down to the Duece (because of its better seakeeping and flex deck size), outfit all with a modified SuW module (guns + ASM for the helos + whatever light SSM DoN lands on). Then split the force between ASW and mine warfare. Let the Burkes handle the real ASW work in the high threat environments, but have some LCSs equipped to cover the flanks and rear if necessary. Really they should only outfit 1/2 the force with ASW and mine hunting kits as they will be so infrequently used. Apply the money to the Ohio replacement, or more Americas. The LCS exists to show the flag, beat down bog hammers and in a pinch help get SF guys ashore or collected them after the dirty work is done. We don’t need a highly capable frigate that steals money from programs that would really be needed in a high end fight. We need a Ferrari to win the races, but we also need a Honda Civic to get the groceries.

    • Geoff

      Except the LCS isn’t a reliable, capable, affordable Honda Civic…it’s a Yugo priced as a Ferrari.

      And speaking as a retired SF guy…why would I want to get on-board a “warship” built to civilian standards with no effective offensive or defensive capabilities, that probably won’t even be able to run due to breakdowns, hull cracks, etc? One that the Navy says isn’t going to survive in an threat environment. Screw that…I’ll row home.

      And before we start building that, that, or the other ship, shouldn’t the Navy invest in developing a suite of effective long, medium, and short range surface warfare missile systems? Cuz we ain’t got none. Even the gun systems upgrades keep getting canceled.

      Doesn’t matter what they build, if it hasn’t got any effective offensive capabilities. That’s called a “target”. Why are we building targets?

      • Tellenthetruth

        Another one speaking from the soap box named ignorance. It is amazing how someone can judge a ship without knowing zip b about its capabilities. The reason I left the Navy after 4 years were because of this mindset, and the only place where this attitude does not prevail are the submarines and SEALs. They have been isolated from this dogma, and why didn’t I see one officer go public about having 4 active CVNs, parked in Norfolk, to save money? The enlisted sure had plenty to say about it, of course they dont worry much about another gold band on their uniforms. Its a whole lot like the new carrier being built at Newport News. Does anyone in the Navy realize that the days of the carriers are over, yet not a squeak about cost over runs, that could build a LCS. What kind of folks are running the Navy nowadays?

    • Tellenthetruth

      Now, here is a man I could work with.

  • Tellenthetruth

    As a prior crewman of CVA62, I had the privilege of touring the new USS Independence , and make no mistake about it, these ships fill a gaping void in the US Navy, but will not get into specifics. The problem with the Navy is not the ships, but this 18th Century mindset that places officers on anothr plane than the enlisted man, and we all know that ships are operated by E6 ad below. This mindset must e thrown overboard, and it is then that we will have a truly unified Navy at sea. How any one person can judge the LCS today is ridiculous, as you are not privileged to what these ships can really do. I often wondered after my tour of the Indy, if it might be suited for the SEALs to actually man this ship, and Incan hear the groans already out there, but what says that SEALs could not man and run this ship. They think outside the box, thus give them a ship that is exactly outside the box. You cannot let the regular Navy judge this hornet of a ship, and especially the Annapolis type. If the Navy needs anything, it is to rid itself of this archaic academy, that produces shoulders with chips galore on top of them. Let the officers grow out the rank and file, and it is only then you will have a Navy, minus the bs we experienced each day, and we all know what I am talking about. A man that might actually be equipped to judge a ship by what it can do, rather than what it cannot.