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Lockheed Outlines Post Littoral Combat Ship Pitch

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An artist's conception for two variants of the Freedom-class LCS design provided to USNI News. Lockheed Martin Image

An artist’s conception for variants of the Freedom-class LCS design provided to USNI News. Lockheed Martin Image

Lockheed Martin outlined the range of options they presented to the Navy as part of the Pentagon mandated study into a follow-on ship to the Flight 0 Littoral Combat Ships in a media briefing on Monday.

Lockheed — as part two April requests for information (RFI) from the Small Surface Combatant Task Force — submitted a variety of options based on their current Freedom-class (LCS-1) design.

Joe North, vice president of Littoral Ship Systems for Lockheed, emphasized the sea frame ability to accommodate increasingly sophisticated radars and weapons systems within the constraints of the basic design.

“We have a lot of flexibility in the hull. If you remember, we’re carrying around 180 metric tons of capability, empty space right now, for the mission packages, so depending on what they’re looking at we have a lot of capability in the hull from a naval architecture standpoint,” North told reporters on Monday.
“From a performance standpoint, we can add to the ship and make [systems] permanent or if you want to look at separate packages.”

Part of those options include a much more robust anti-air warfare (AAW) capability with permanent vertical launch system (VLS) cells capable of holding anti-air missiles and much more capable radar.

“[Increased] radar capability is everything from solid-state more capable rotators to a high end capability —the hull allows that,” North said.

As part of its international offering for ships based on the Freedom hull, Lockheed has offered a SPY-1F air defense radar — an 8 foot diameter version of the radar on U.S. destroyers sized for frigates.

An upgunned Freedom — at its current length of 118 meters — could also include 4 to 32 VLS cells. Each cell would be capable of fielding four Raytheon RIM-162D Evolved SeaSparrow Missiles (ESSM), North said.

“[VLS] is a modular package in itself because it gives [the ship] the capability to launch several types of missiles including ESSM, which is one of the things they’ll absolutely come back and look for to give the ship some more self protection… as a permanent installation,” he said.

Critics of the current Freedom and Austal USA’s Independence classes of ships have zeroed in on a perceived lack of offensive capability for the two ships.

Austal and Lockheed have developed preliminary designs of their ships with VLS for international sale.

In remarks earlier this year, then acting deputy defense Christine Fox implied the current LCS variants were “niche” platforms and the Navy needed tougher ship.

“We need more ships with the protection and firepower to survive against a more advanced military adversary,” Fox said in February, just ahead of a Pentagon announcement forcing the Navy to take a second look at the LCS program.

As part of the coversheet for its response to the Navy’s RFI, Lockheed included a Freedom variant with a quad cell VLS firing what appear to be Raytheon Standard Missile (SM) 2.

In the surface-to-surface realm, North said the ship could accommodate either the current BAE Systems Mk 110 57 mm gun or a larger Mark 45 five-inch gun. The range of offerings did also factor in Naval Sea Systems Command decision to integrate the Longbow Hellfire AGM-114L for the fast attack craft/ fast inshore attack (FAC/FIAC) threat.

The Flight 0 Freedom and Independence LCS will be manned by 90 sailors for surface warfare (SuW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and mine countermeasure (MCM) missions by a series of mission packages that can be swapped out of the ship depending on the circumstances.

The Navy’s original plan was to build 52 LCS but cut the Flight 0 program at 32 — a reduction of 20 ships as part of the current reexamination of the LCS begun in February under mandate from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

The RFIs were part of the work of the Small Surface Combatant Task Force tasked to evaluate other options beyond Flight 0 LCS. The group was mandated to examine: A modified design of an existing LCS, existing ship designs and a new ship design.

“The RFI will ask for pretty specific information that will give us insight to the ship integration requirement, the performance, what are the primary, second and third order costs associated with [concepts],” John Burrow, executive director of the Marine Corps Systems Command and current head of the Small Surface Combatant Task Force told reporters in April.
“It’s a fairly detailed list of information that we’re looking for.”

The task force is due to submit their findings by the end of July.

Given tightening Pentagon budgets, an entirely new ship design is unlikely, however North speculated that several European yards have likely submitted information for the RFIs.

“I can imagine every shipyard across Europe — which is very stagnant and a lot of them have designs — [submitted a packet],” North said.
“I bet you woke up the entire planet.”

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

    Screw the LCS, Cap them at 32 and put them in the PC/MCM fleet. Arm them like a Corvette and buy an off the shelf mine Module that is being used right now. After that start building a frigate based on the Legend class Cutters.

    • Rob C.

      Are you kidding? Legend Class Cutters are built by commercial standards and had their own host of problems. I rather see them come up with more sold design than that.

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

        Well we can’t buy European designs because some congress critter will go NUTS over that IDEA. The only option left is either buying an upgraded version of the National Security Cutter and turn it into a Patrol frigate or take all the current Flight I & II Burkes and convert them to Frigates that is similar to the Álvaro de Bazán class frigate. We have plenty of Flight I & II Burkes that can be converted to Frigates and all it would take is removing the Aft VLS and replace it with a Hangar for one Helicopter or UAV. That would leave Flight IIA Burkes and above for Destroyer work

  • Tony

    No. The speed KPP of LCS should NOT be transferred to the new frigate, and that is the only reason why the LCS-1/2 hull designs exist.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    Do either of the LCS hull designs have a future as Coast Guard platforms? I think that might be a good program to pursue if the CG can indeed put it to good use. These ships are marvels of technology, but they are of limited utility. They are sold as being able to change mission priorities ‘just’ by ‘swapping out mission modules’. Umm, does that include crew members as well? And will all (modules and those personnel trained in their use and maintenance) always be readily available? If a commander in a given theater needs platforms and capabilities able to be massed within, say, a week, these ships might be of no use what so ever. Where they are to be converted might have to be protected. And of course, there is ‘hope’ that the various modules will work as advertized, which hasn’t been realized yet. If that same commander needs augmentation of a battle group, nothing these ships offer appears to be useful for a blue water engagement.

    I think it might makes eminent sense to finish building the hulls that are actually under construction, and end the program (unless of course the CG can use them, or they can be sold abroad). Let the ones we keep be employed as technology demonstrators and in the anti-piracy and anti-drug running missions. And then build something better!

  • Secundius

    If the US Navy plans to use LCS hull design as part of the Blue Water role. It should probably be the FREEDOM class design and redesignated as a Fast Destroyer. Also the 57mm/70-caliber gun mount is kind of wimpy for overall blue water use. A 380-foot long ship, should have bigger teeth. 127mm/54/65-caliber gun mount should really be considered. It needs to be able shadow enemy forces, and if necessary make hit-and-run attacks to preoccupy enemy forces until friendly forces arrive. It should retain is speed advantage too keep away from Modern Fast Attack Submarines of the AKULA class.

    And the INDEPENDENCE class or similar design be redesignated as a Frigate. Mounting at least Oto Melara 76.2mm/62-caliber, 120-rpm auto cannon, and should at a minimum maintain 35-knots speed rating. And adding center-hull mounted, just-forward of amidship in a retractable casemate azipod thruster for extremely tight maneuvering capabilities.

  • Ctrot

    Kill it, kill it now.

    • Secundius

      They probable said the same about the FLOWER class Destroyer Escort during WW2. And became a invaluable Escort Vessel and Sub-Hunter.
      Get use-to-it. Its here too stay!

      • Ctrot

        The Flower class corvette had a 4 inch gun, radar, sonar and depth charges permanently installed (no swapping “modules”) and was well suited for the job it was employed at. The same cannot be said for the LCS.

        In fact, in a straight up fight a Flower class would probably best an LCS.

        • Greg Lof

          And which of the numerous missions the Flower class corvettes were deployed are you talking about?

        • El_Sid

          Don’t forget an LCS is primarily a helicopter carrier – the helicopter makes it an unfair fight, both for ISR and as a weapons carrier….

        • Secundius

          I doubt it, the FLOWER class Corvette had a maximum speed of barely 29-knots. And the LCS has a maximum speed
          exceeding 45-knots. And at 220-rpm auto-cannon could easily out gun a FLOWER class.

  • http://www.usmc.mil @notrizzo

    How do you determine survivability when you don’t outline the role? The USNS Comfort is perfectly survivable sitting in Baltimore, but not-so-much in Taipei Harbor. Similairly if you intend to have the LCS peforming MCM or ASW missions under the umbrella of the CBG’s Aegis defense you have a different self-defense requirement than a LCS sailing alone though the Straights of Malacca.

    • Rob C.

      When your ship is melting because its superstructure is made from aluminum, i would qualify that as risky and not good odds of being survivable. I served in the service, i understand extreme risks sailors are put into. Yes, this a small ship. Comparing large civilian vessel like Comfort to up gunned LCS is not a fair comparison.

      The older Frigate designs were ocean escorts and not intended for what US Navy wanted. What the next generation frigate will be, should least be survivable and be constructed with damaged resistant materials. Weapon modules can be added, big enough handle frigate weapons and small enough enter shallow waters. I just don’t think Freedom is a good choice.

      • http://www.usmc.mil @notrizzo

        My point is survivability is directly tied to mission, since they haven’t told anyone what the change in role will be for the LCS there is no way to judge how much increase defense capability is needed.

        • Rob C.

          I understand that. Problem i found from reading other articles and developments of the LCS program is that leadership that was guiding the development of the programs such as SC21, DD21, Zumwalt, LCS and lastly Street Fighter concept of new kind of family of ships has changed hands multiple times.

          IF was made clear to the currently leadership of the US Navy, that LCS is a secondary vessel intended to provide Combat Support like MCMs, Surveillance ships and so forth, least there be less complaints about the ship. From all I’ve read in recent years, the current leadership wants frigate and not a mutli-platform support vessel that can at as a secondary combatant.

          Maybe this cause due to fact, its incredibly difficult get anything built these days, thats on a new platform. Navy wants to consolidate its existing platforms to do more, even if they were never design to do so. LCS wasn’t intended for frontline combat, but there too many people out there who it was. I won’t complain about survivablity if wasn’t for the fact their trying have the ship do more and get more involved in things it wasn’t meant to do.

  • Rob C.

    They should be coming up with completely new design or look into new frigates already being developed overseas if they want abandon the LCS concept all together. If we need coastal vessel, they should build a high-speed corvette. Seriously, they truely need think of being able have a ship face off and handle typical threats such as long-range missile firing Fast Attack Craft and Off Shore Vessels, which typically armed similarly to corvettes. Independence’s hull is to narrow to be refitted. Frankly talk of a upgrades of the Freedom is foolish. most of the options are defensive weaponry, where the beef? Its good improve their self-defense abilities, but not being able undertake what the service was originally needed in the first place is another.

  • CaptainParker

    Why not build something that is a lot less complicated than the current design? The basic concept of the LCS is that of a ship that CAN operate in harm’s way and doesn’t bankrupt the country if it gets sunk doing its job. The whole problem is that the design is governed by how big a profit the defense contractors can make, not on a solid basic design that can do the job.

  • Secundius

    Most world naval ships are built to commercial standards! That’s why you can design, build and launch them so fast.

  • Sandy

    put a 5″ up forward; two of the 54mm on each beam; add a HARPOON canister, a STINGER canister, and a small MK-50 torpedo canister (MK-48’s are too big). Add the rolling airframe canister under the CIWS as they are doing now. With that and one helo and one/two FireScouts, and you have a potent sea-control platform with a lot of speed. This could be a fairly potent SPECWAR platform as you could launch multiple RHIBS and USVs from it. The problem with the PC’s was that there was a lot of wasted space and they poorly armed – SEAL ops were an afterthought. I did VBSS ops on it during the Haitian vacation in 94. The last two PC’s that were built took our advice from those ops and made them SPECWAR RHIB capable and SDV capable, but they are better USCG platforms. What ever happened to all the hydrofoils we had? Let’s bring those back for counter-drug ops and for the inevitable conflict we will have against the small boat threat from Iran and Al-Qaeda as they ARE reconstituting – only a matter of time we will have to deal with an up-armed small boat terrorist threat. They already have 76mm.

    • Greg Lof

      I can not see the advantage of a Mk45 on a LCS. The guns weight alone would sink that idea, and there is the recoil to deal with. Then there is question of Surface warfare mission requirement, no 5in gun going to hit a boghammer. If a weapon is needed for support of ground forces, then we should build a proper vessel for that mission, the known as the Zumwalt class.

      • Sandy

        Greg…good points, and I would agree that they probably should have gone with a frigate size ship and gone with bigger guns – with GPS warheads, they would be far less expensive than missiles and not vulnerable to be shot down. I’m not a naval architect, but I’m sure they could figure something out to put the 5in on the bow. As for the BOGHAMMERS, that’s why I would put 54mm on the beams – awesome rapid-fire anti-small boat weapon which can also be used against “air swarms”. I am also a proponent for battleships, as we will see that kind of warfare again….only a matter of time. Cheers…

        • Secundius

          DeviantART had a nice looking 21st century battleship with rail-gun mounts on it. But let be honest, the only battleship type ship were likely to see. Is going to be a 21st century equivalent of an 18th century Bombardment Ship or Arsenal Ship.

        • Greg Lof

          The size of vessel most people call frigates are too small to incorporated the modern technology and survivability that they proclaim as necessary. For most missions today, ships the size of the Zumwalt class, or larger are required. This does no mean these ships will automatically be more costly, as small ship size often require more man hours to build. Personally, as a replacement for OHP, I start with the hull of a Spruance / Ticonderoga

          • Sandy

            concur with the SPRU-can hull….I never understood why the went with a destroyer hull on the TICO….problem is, we have four now (?? I think), and they need to re-arm them….or, make them into “motherships” for the old hydrofoils…we used the PC’s for this for the MK-5’s and for SPECWAR RHIBS…lottsa ideas could generated for these ships; that said, we probably want to stop building them and re-think the plans for them. We also really need to think about how we support Marines and SOF ashore with NGFS….missiles are just too expensive for area suppression.

      • James B.

        The 5″ everybody wants isn’t for shooting up boats, it is for shelling coastal targets or mid-size ships, like other corvettes. As it stands, two LCSs in a gun duel would both run out of ammo before either sank the other.

        For small boats, you need smaller, rapid-fire guns, emphasis on the plural. If you ever want see a ship that was configured for close-range gunfighting, look up the LCS(L) from World War II. The modern LCS should be embarrassed to share the designation.

        • Secundius

          @ James B.

          For the 57mm/70-caliber intermediate deck gun to be employed as a shore bombardment gun. The LCS, has to get within 9-nm. of the shore, at that range their going to be easy prey for any shore based howitzer or heavy mortar platform. At least the 5-inch gun give some stand-off range.

    • Secundius

      The problem with Hydrofoils is. You put something in the path of, and just underneath the surface. And the foils of the hydrofoils are going to run into them, making the life of the crewman, just-that-much worse. A Surface-Effect-Ship, would be a better solution. Which is essentially a Hovercraft on Steroids.

      • Sandy

        yes, but those hydrofoils that were built also have a fairly fast speed off foils as well. They are small and have the 76mm gun already. Good points, though. Armed hovercraft would be a great idea as they could move inland as the Marines move inland.

        • Secundius

          The problem with hydrofoils in Brown Water usage is with constantly shifting river bottoms, the foils are going to hit something sooner, than latter. Also consider the size of their Shot Lockers, or Gun Magazines. It your talking about a PEGASUS class Patrol Hydrofoil Missile Boat, You might have 150-rounds or less (and I’m suspecting less) in those magazines. That limits it effective usefulness, for anything other than “Shoot-and-Scoot” missions. or, Going after Go-Fasts.

  • Secundius

    Responds to Sandy!

    I agree with in all areas, except for your choice of the Stinger missile system. I still the RAM launcher is a better defensive missile system. And I think you mean 57mm autocannons, not 54mm autocannons.

  • Secundius

    No, the reason the F/A-18A/B/C Hornet and the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet/Rhino, replace the A-6E Intruder. Is, because A-12 Avenger, that was to replace the A-6E Intruder, lost its fund and was cancelled.

  • Secundius

    The FLOWER class Destroyer Escorts, produced for the RN , RCN, RAN and RNZN all mount 4-inch guns. The ones produced for the US Navy, all had 3-inch guns.

  • Secundius

    The FREEDOM class LCS, is 380-feet long and displaces 3,089-tons gross. I don’t this a single 5-inch Mk.45 gun mounts weight is going to sink the ship, it might cause in Hog a little, maybe. But actually sink it, no.

    • El_Sid

      It’s a combination of the structural issues of repeatedly firing 70lb of shell at 2,650 ft/s, and the question of do you want to use up some of your precious top weight allowance on a bigger gun? There’s always trade-offs.

      • Secundius

        Which do you think is going to produce more wear-and-tear on a ships hull structure. A 5-inch gun with a firing-rate of 20-rpm or 57mm autocannon with a firing-rate of 220-rpm. You don’t have to be a Rocket Scientist to do the math calculations on that one.

      • Secundius

        The rate of fire for a Mk.45 127mm/54-caliber (5-inch) lightweight naval gun is between 16/20-rpm. That’s not going to produce enough stress on the ship’s hull. Beside to gun mount is modular, if any stress is produced. It’s going to be on the mount itself, not the ship.

      • James B.

        Claiming that you can’t fire a 5″ shell off a 3000t ship is really a joke, when old Fletcher DDs mounted 5 by 5″ and weighed in closer to 2500t.

        • Secundius

          @ James B.

          That might be true, but the 5-inch/ 38-caliber guns were also lighter and had shorter ranges.

        • El_Sid

          The Fletchers were firing significantly lighter shells than the Mk45, which makes a big difference to the stress on the hull.A Freedom hull is semi-planing, which has all sorts of implications for the structure of its bow in particular, few of which help it resist the forces of a gun firing.

          You can’t compare ships of similar displacements from different eras, too much has changed – habitability requirements are a big driver of design, plus accommodating all the electronics, HVAC etc of modern ships. If nothing else, a modern Fletcher would lose half its weapons to helicopter facilities – qv the mid-life fitting of a helideck to the British Rothesays. In rough seas I’d much rather be on a Rothesay than a Fletcher though!

          • James B.

            If you’re saying we can’t mount more than one baby gun on a ship, we should probably redesign the ship.

          • Secundius

            @ El_Sid.

            Considering both the Magazine and Gun System, are in Modular Modules and completely independent of each other. My take is any Torque Forces are going to be absorbed by the gun module itself. With minimal, if any being transferred directly to the ship. I don’t how modular gun systems are placed on ships, but I’m going to assume there’s going to be some kind of “shock absorber” system in place for recoil damping.

  • Secundius

    Mostly convoy duties, Taffy 1,2, and 3, at least one OSS covert operations, the Normandy Landing, etc, etc. I could go on all day.

  • Doc Mark

    We retired all our nuclear-powered cruisers, 5 Mk-26 launcher equipped Ticonderoga class CGs, and all Spruance/Kidd class destroyers long before their service lives were complete because of perceived inadequacies (lack of VLS, lack of AEGIS except for the Ticos, or cost/manning requirements) even though all these vessels were far more capable ships than the LCS. Yes, these ships were blue water vessels while the LCS was designed for brown water operations. However, to get to foreign brown waters the LCS will need to navigate through blue waters (which given the growing capabilities of our potenial adversaries like the PLAN may very well be hostile waters). These ships are woefully inadequate in offensive and defensive capabilities as well as their ability to absorb combat damage. Our nation and the USN would be far better served to accept the fact the the LCS program has been a colossal mistake and stop wasting money trying to make gold out of turds. The LCS series should be stopped immediately at all ships currently in commission. Any orders or ships under construction should be cancelled or scrapped on the ways. If possible and fiscally tenable, the existing LCS vessels should be modified to enhance their offensive/defensive capabilities. If this is not feasable we should investigate any possibility of selling them to another nation or using them for the Coast Guard versus outright decommissioning/scrapping. A proper multi-purpose frigate to replace the obsolecent and undergunned Perry class needs to be procured. The only question that needs answering is whether or not it should be of US design or a foreign design produced here under license.

    • Secundius

      I agree with Doc Mark!

      Your four hard choices to make. One, Buy Foreign. Two, Buy licensing production rights, from foreign governments. Three, Lengthen the ARLEIGH BURKE class Destroyer and make a Cruiser design from it. and Four, Shorten the ARELIGH BURKE class and make Frigate design from it. Time is not on our side. So make your decision, FAST. Because the Chinese are going to exploit our weaknesses.

      • El_Sid

        Problem with anything Burke based is that it’s a Cold War design that is vastly overmanned compared to modern designs. Each of those 330 crew have a lifetime cost of ~$5m each. Cut it down to the ~130 of modern frigates and you’re saving $1bn in lifetime costs.

        • Secundius

          Yes, but US Warships transfer’d to US Friendly Navies. typically operate with a 75% crew complement.

          • El_Sid

            75% of 330 is 247, which is still a lot more than 130. It’s not the fault of the Burke, it was just designed in a different era.

          • Secundius

            For a modern destroyer, a crew of 247 is not a lot. And that doesn’t even account for the aircrew deployed as well.

    • Secundius

      LCS classes are Green Water ship, not Brown Water ships.

    • El_Sid

      But the LCS isn’t intended to replace Ticos and Kidds – half of them are intended to replace Ospreys and Avengers and Cyclones. Would you send an Avenger through hostile blue water? No – it’s a team sport, and the Avenger has its niche within that team.

      • Secundius

        Hey, most if not all of or US.Naval ship’s were originally designed to do a specific task. But guess what? Because of our ever shrinking navy, our naval ships are going to have to perform multiple task, whether we like it or not. Until we start replacing old designs, and bring up our naval strength too a more comfortable level. Those ships we have, including the littorals are going to have to do things they we never designed and/or meant too do. It’s just that simple. And wishing it wasn’t so, doesn’t make it so or true!
        LIVE WITH IT !!! That’s the reality of it.

      • Secundius

        What on Earth are you babbling about? First, the Osprey is a Tilt-Rotor Assault Aircraft. Second, the Avenger is a Mine-Sweeper and not intended to be direct combat situations. And. Third, the Cyclone is basically a Brown/Green Water Patrol Boat, with minimal Gunboat applications. What do any of three I just mentioned have anything in common with the LCS. The LCS, is neither a Assault Aircraft, a Mine-Sweeper, or a Patrol Boat/Gunboat. Its a Green Water Corvette. Its
        essentially a High-Speed PT Boat on Steroids.

  • Peter Devereau

    Don’t just kill it, nuke it and be done with it forever. LCS has got to be the worst ship type we’ve ever seen. They even tried to sell it has great potential in deploying Marine company landing teams. Yes sir, just drive up to a pier, unload humvees and send your raiding force on it’s merry way. All it will take is one hostile with a cell phone and every RPG trigger happy hostile will be on the LCS in minutes. Great for industry selling their wares but really lousy for a trapped landing force of Marines trying to make their way out of a really tough situation only to find their ride is either sunk pierside or pulled out on them to save itself. No thanks.