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SNA 2014: U.S. Intelligence Community Could Be Considering LCS for Future Operations

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USS Freedom (LCS-1) underway in August 2013. US Navy Photo

USS Freedom (LCS-1) underway in August 2013. US Navy Photo

U.S. intelligence officials have made informal inquiries to the Navy on whether the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) could be part of future intel operations across the globe.

Navy officials have conducted informal walkthroughs aboard an unspecified LCS variant with representatives from military and non-military intelligence agencies, Capt. Dan Brintzinghoffer with Naval Sea Systems Command Program Executive Office (PEO) LCS Wednesday said .

NAVSEA has previously said most of the informal LCS walkthroughs have been on the Freedom-class (LCS-1) hulls.

Brintzinghoffer, who heads ship introduction and sustainment for the LCS program with, said Navy officials have also conducted similar walkthroughs for Marine Corps and Special Operations Command leaders.

“There are all kinds of things we can do,” in terms of mission capabilities for both military and intelligence missions, Brintzinghoffer said after a briefing at the Surface Navy Association 2014 symposium in Crystal City, Va.

Military leaders in Quantico and in at Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla. have repeatedly expressed interest in the multi-mission capability the LCS could provide special operations teams and Marine units.

However, efforts by the intelligence community to leverage the ship for future operations is a relatively new development for the LCS program.

Brinzinghoffer declined to comment on which specific intel agencies have reached out to the program office, but noted the agencies who have inquired about the LCS cut across military and civilian organizations.

He also could not provide specifics on what intelligence capabilities or operations could be carried out aboard the LCS, but noted potential missions could run the gamut from collections to analysis in hot spots worldwide.

To date, there is no standing program of record to build any new mission packages for the ship, with program leaders focusing their efforts on standing up the three planned packages for the ship — surface warfare, mine countermeasures and anti-submarine warfare.

However, momentum inside the Navy to explore multi-mission options outside the service’s traditional operations is growing, Vice Adm. Tom Copeman, commander of U.S. Surface Forces, said Wednesday.

“It is picking up steam,” within the sea service, Copeman said during a reporter’s roundtable. But the three-star Admiral reiterated the Navy’s focus is to get the three initial mission module packages up and running first.

On the military side, both Marines and U.S. special operations forces are eying new mission module packages, specifically tailored to their expeditionary operations, aboard the LCS.