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SNA 2014: 52-Ship LCS Requirement is ‘Solid’

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USS Freedom (LCS-1), left, and USS Independence (LCS-2) in 2012. US Navy Photo

USS Freedom (LCS-1), left, and USS Independence (LCS-2) in 2012. US Navy Photo

Navy projections for its proposed Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) buy remains on solid footing heading into the Fiscal Year 2015 budget process, despite recent reports of pending reductions to the program.

“We have a valid requirement for 52 ships, and the program is performing strongly,” Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley told reporters on Thursday.

Testing and development on the high-profile warship remains on schedule, with senior Navy leaders expected to put the next four LCS ships on contract within the next few months, according to the Navy.

“So the Navy’s position on the LCS program is that it is solid,” Stackley said during a media briefing at the Surface Navy Association’s 2014 symposium in Crystal City, Va.

That said, the Navy acquisition chief declined to comment on, “any press reports to the contrary.”

Stackley’s comments come a day after a report in Defense News stated the the White House’s Office of Management and Budget ordered Navy leaders to slash the proposed LCS buy from 52 ships down to 32.

Acting deputy secretary of defense Christine Fox issued the order in a Jan. 6 memo, directing the Navy to implement the cuts in its upcoming FY 2015 budget proposal.

For his part, Stackley declined on Thursday to comment on the memo or the service’s FY ’15 plans

“We don’t talk about the [FY] 15 budget process until the [20] 15 budget gets to [Capitol] Hill,” Stackley added.

Pentagon press secretary Read Adm. John Kirby reiterated Stackley’s comment noting the Pentagon-wide FY 2015 proposal “is not complete [but] its is near complete.”

In the last year, the services have plotted several different courses for budgeting that included alternative budget plans tied to budget restrictions imposed by sequestration cuts. The regular fully funded program objective memoranda (POM) was developed in tandem with a so-called alternative version (ALT POM).

In September a version of the ALT POM contained a cut to a mere 24 hulls, ending the program at the Navy’s current commitment to each variant of the ship.

  • NavySubNuke

    If all you care about is the number of ships in the fleet than having 52 LCS makes sense. If you care about the ability of the fleet to do anything – not so much. Talk about a waste of money and years. God help us if we every have to fight someone besides a bunch of pirates in rowboats with ak-47s. The best we can hope for from the LCS program is that the enemy will fire two missiles at them instead of just the 1 it will take to knock them out since that means there is 1 less to hit our real ships.

    • aniptofar

      Agree 100%. It’s hulls vs. capability. They get to count hulls for something that is more akin to an aux ship with a main gun. There can be an argument made that these are boats as much as they are ships.

      • Geoff

        It’s a stretch to even call them boats…there’s gunboats out there with more capability. These are useless money pits that happen to move through the water.

        “waste of money and years.”

        All the lost warfighting capability that the LCS represents…gone forever.