Home » Budget Industry » Navy: Fleet Put LCS Follow-on Focus on Surface and Sub Threats, Not Air

Navy: Fleet Put LCS Follow-on Focus on Surface and Sub Threats, Not Air

USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) enters Apra Harbor for a port visit on U.S. Naval Base Guam on Dec. 11, 2014.

USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) enters Apra Harbor for a port visit on U.S. Naval Base Guam on Dec. 11, 2014.

PENTAGON — Navy operators said the service’s next small surface combatant (SSC) top priorities should be fighting other surface ships at longer ranges and hunting and killing submarines — not fighting fighters, striking land targets at long range or conducting ballistic missile defense (BMD), service leaders outlined last week when they briefed the follow-on to the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) to reporters.

In response to fleet input, and approved by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the up gunned variants of the existing Flight 0 Lockheed Martin Freedom and Austal USA Independence designs beef up anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and surface warfare (SuW) weapons and sensors but still largely ignore air threats.

A modified Littoral Combat Ship design based on the Austal USA Independence-class. US Navy Image

A modified Littoral Combat Ship design based on the Austal USA Independence-class. US Navy Image

“The capability the fleet placed its priorities on [were], ‘We need a multi-mission capable ship, over the horizon — both surface and ASW capability — and then to provide a degree of self defense capability that would allow the ship to operate independently and as a part of a battle group for surface action groups and battle force protection’,” Sean Stackley, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development & Acquisition (RDA) told reporters on Thursday.
“Missions that are assigned for anti-air warfare, [ballistic] missile defense (BMD), strike, those are allocated to the large surface combatant. Separately, mine countermeasure mission, which is typical of a small surface combatant, will be accomplished as part of the 32 earlier LCSes.”

As part of the Navy’s most recent force structure assessment the service has lumped its outgoing frigates (FFG), LCS, Avenger-class MCMs and the Cyclone class patrol craft (PC) under the SSC umbrella while its Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers (DDG-51) and Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers (CG-47) and trio of planned Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyers (DDG-1000) operate under the large surface combatants (LSC) banner.

The SSC classification wrapped up ships intended to operate close to shore in the lowest levels of conflict — in so-called Phase 0 and Phase 1 conditions.

“The Navy needs a Small Surface Combatant. We have about 32 today, we need 52 to do the job out there out in the future and this ship will meet that need,” Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert said on Thursday.
“[The modified LCS] brings the added capability to the fleet, per the fleet’s input.”

No Vertical Launch System

An artist's concept of the Multi-Mission Combatant offering based on the Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship design. General Dynamics Photo

An artist’s concept of the Multi-Mission Combatant offering based on the Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship design. General Dynamics Photo

Perhaps the biggest surprise to naval watchers when the service revealed the LCS follow-on was the absence of a more offensive anti-air warfare (AAW) capability on the two hulls.

Proposed export versions of both Independence and Freedom classes from Austal USA and Lockheed Martin featured a vertical launch system and upgraded 3D search radar and the capability to field the Navy’s family of Standard Missiles developed for the Aegis Combat System.

In the ten months since Hagel announced his decision to cap the Flight 0 LCS at 32 hulls and directed the Navy to find a ship “consistent with the capabilities of a frigate,” a myriad of naval experts contacted by USNI News suggested one of the first capabilities added to SSC would be an AAW capability.

The new design concepts include an unspecified 3D radar but not the missiles.

Greenert said the SSC task force assessed adding VLS but decided against it in the final calculus.

“They did evaluate a vertical launch system [but] it’s kind of heavy, kind of big, [it requires] major change, cost, time,” he said.
“It was considered, but I’ll leave you with that.”

However, the Navy kept modular aspects of the LCS in the follow-on and there maybe margins for the service to add a smaller missile, like the Raytheon Evolved Sea Sparrow (ESSM), in a smaller VLS system, like the Mk 56 VLS.

When by USNI News asked about the possibility of adding an additional AAW capability on the follow-ons, the service reiterated the Thursday statements of Greenert and Stackley.

“The top priorities for the modified LCS are consistent with emerging threat environments, Navy force structure, fleet input and small surface combatant capabilities and roles across the spectrum of conflict,” read a Monday statement from the service.

Sub Hunting, Surface Warfare and Special Operations

A modified Littoral Combat Ship design based on the Lockheed Martin Freedom-class. US Navy Image

A modified Littoral Combat Ship design based on the Lockheed Martin Freedom-class. US Navy Image

Both Stackley and Greenert stressed the benefits of the modularity retained in the follow-ons.

“The modular concept that remains with the first 32, that still has great value to the Navy,” Stackley said.
“One of the beauties modular design feature is those mission packages are going to continue to evolve as the threat evolves and you will continue to have the ability to upgrade, update your capabilities to keep pace with the threat with out having to bring the ship into depot and bring it down to its knees and build it back up in a major overhaul.”

The new design will be able to “swing” between an emphasis on ASW and surface warfare.

Swung toward ASW, the follow-on has , “a detect and kill capability unlike any other platform in the Navy,” Stackley said.

The 20 ships will feature a fixed multi-function towed sonar array that can be augmented by variable depth sonar under development for the existing LCS ASW missions package — currently a Thales towed array.

“You add is a variable depth sonar and when you add that in conjunction with a multi-function towed array, you have the most effective ASW sensor platform in the Navy,” Stackley said.
“You add to that a helicopter with its torpedo capability, now you have a detect and kill capability unlike any other platform in the Navy.”

The key addition of the SUW swing will be the inclusion of an over-the-horizon anti-ship missile (ASM)that would work in concert with the Navy’s plan to include the shorter range Longbow Hellfire AGM-114L missile and the ship’s guns. The current stand-in for the modified LCS is the decades-old Harpoon Block II ASM.

“We are looking at other surface-to-surface missile systems that would compete with Harpoon to get on this ship. That’s over the horizon,” Stackley said.
“At the horizon you have an armed helicopter onboard… with Hellfire missiles. Inside the horizon, you have the Longbow missile system. You add to that the 57 mm gun, two 30 mm guns, two 25 mm guns and what you’ve got is an extremely lethal surface warfare configuration.”

Stackley also hinted the ship could be used for special warfare operations.

“The ship in its SUW capability has the ability to carry two 11 meter RHIBS… to quickly deploy for, let’s say, ‘special missions’,” he said.

In addition to the increased ASW and SUW capabilities, the service will also move the ships to a common combat management system. Currently each variant of the LCS has its own.

Now that the service has its concept approved by Hagel, the service will now work on an acquisition strategy and how to create a competition for the follow-on designs.

  • StealthFlyer

    When they announced no Mk 41 VLS would be added, I was also thinking of the Mk 56 ESSM VLS, as even 12-24 Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles would allow some anti-aircraft defense for ship/convoy escort (RAM cannot defend other ships), better/layered anti-missile defense, plus a mid-range ASuW missile option. That would also double or triple the number of AAW missiles as SeaRAM has just 11 shots before you run out.

    Adding a Phalanx 1B gun mount or second SeaRAM that has automated air and missile defense capability plus the ability to hit small boats seems like it could be more useful than adding 25mm guns when one already has 30mm guns, a 57mm, and Hellfire on board. With a Phalanx and RAM (and upgrading one or both with a laser in the future so you don’t run out of ammunition) you certainly have more kinetic AAW options.

    • David Teer

      It sound cool, but it is really silly to have hellfires, 30mm, 25mm, and 57mm on a 3000 ton ship. two of those is more than sufficient to protect againt asymmetric threats. Remove two of them and add some ESSM and torpedoes.

    • Curtis Conway

      When you see Escort Mission and SeaRAM weapons used as the only AAW in the same discussion you know this makes no sense. Even our senior chain of command is demonstrating a lack of understanding of fundamental missions.

  • Peter

    I think the Mark 56 VLS would work.

    The problem with the MLCS is that the idea is flawed. None of the manufacturers ever offered a modified LCS variant that limited in firepower as the International versions were larger. I guess the Navy’s shipbuilding budget is really being squeezed with the Ford-class carriers and the Ohio Replacement Program.

    Note the little box at the upper right corner saying “ASW Module: MK 54 torpedo and variable depth sonar.” Well, the problem is that the module rooms that the ASW Module is supposed to go into are now taken up by the Mark 50 30mm guns and the Hellfire missiles, so essentially there is no room for the ASW Module unless the ASuW Modules (30mm guns and Hellfire) are taken OUT, which basically means you’re back to the same LCS arms as before + MK38 Mod 2 25mm gun…that’s it…that’s the armament upgrade if you’re going ASW. So unless the HH-60 carries the MK54 torp, there really is no room for ASW or mine hunting modules. You can have torpedoes, or all guns. The other MLCS upgrades are all electronic.

    It’s really not a SSC…it’s a MLCS.

    The armament still reminds me of a Coast Guard cutter and essentially the LCS and MLCS are still gunboats. Even the Patrol Coastal mounts Griffin and Stinger missiles for a fraction of the cost and size of the LCS.

    It’s hard to shoehorn systems into a hull that has no sonar and is so small that there’s not much room for expansion to begin with.

    The idea of housing valuable and precious Special Forces in a littoral ship with no AAW defense is silly and risky. If an enemy is going to come to seek revenge for a SOF raid, one of the things they may take are aircraft, not necessarily boats, to hunt down the MLCS. The loss of so many SOFs on a ship that can’t defend against enemy air attack at a distance would make the Navy very red-faced. Sure, the Patrol Coastal carries Special Operators, but it’s smaller than the LCS…and PCs only carries eight SOFs.

    Perhaps the Navy intends to use the MLCS for limited warfare in certain areas of the world and not against superpower enemies…

    • David Teer

      The SSC is still going to have either the Harpoon or Naval Strike Missile. I do not see the need to have Hellfires, 30mm and 25mm chain guns. Seem there are taking asymmetric a little to far. One of those three systems should be more than sufficient to destroy and fishing or speed boat. In place of the other two add some ESSM and torpedoes.

      • Curtis Conway

        They put on the Hellfire for small boat mass attacks. Well the only potential adversary overseas that has talked about this tactic also have huge and varied quantities of ASCMs and TBMs, many specifically for anti-ship at range. That adversary also now has the space based assets to provide targeting OTH. If LCS finds itself anywhere in the South China Sea and is engaged by these elements they will be toast, even in its new upgraded form. This is more than a likely scenario.

        • David Teer

          You have three redundant systems for a minor treat. Having ESSM or SM2 are needed to meet a more present threat.

          • Curtis Conway

            Isn’t the current AAW defense design proposal great (tongue in cheek)? Point defense in depth at 1,000 yards to a couple of miles? LOL, and we are supposed to believe this is a serous proposal!!! Where did these decisions makers come from? They never walked on the decks of a combatant and learned anything serious and honest about naval warfare. Where have our Warriors Gone?!

    • David Teer

      Your first and last paragraph hit the nail on the head. The big concern for the navy is during the 2020’s most of the ship building budget is going to the Ohio replacement.

      In your last paragraph you figured out what most people lack the intelligence to see. The LCS was built for low intensity areas. The main mission of the LCS is to replace our Avengers and our Perry’s. Both of those ships are designed for low intensity areas and neither one are heavily armed.

  • sferrin

    Okay so where are the ASROC launchers, torpedo tubes, and ASW helicopters?

  • Tony

    I predict that both of these hulls will prove to be poor ASW platforms – if nothing else they will likely be at a severe acoustic disadvantage. And the lack of the Mk 56 VLS is strange.

  • AKO

    The financialization of the American economy

    American De-Industrialization
    Continues Unabated

    America’s economic elite has long argued that the country does not need an industrial base. The economies in states such as California and Michigan that have lost their industrial base, however, belie that claim. Without an industrial base, an increase in consumer spending, which pulled the country out of past recessions, will not put Americans back to work. Without an industrial base, the nation’s trade deficit will continue to grow. Without an industrial base, stranded in low-paying service-sector jobs. Without an industrial base, the United States will be increasingly dependent on foreign manufacturers even for its key military technology.

    The U.S. is becoming dependent on countries such as UK, Russia, France and Germany for critical weapons technology.

  • James B.

    Giving an LCS-size ship medium-range air defense would result in significant cuts in other capabilities. These ships are still limited in each of their multiple purposes, but realizing that AAW is not doable was a small bit of sanity.

    We have air defense ships, what we need are capable anti-surface corvettes and antisubmarine frigates, but the LCS hull is only large enough to properly accomplish one of those roles at a time.

    • David Teer

      The problem is the SSC will have a 57mm, 30mm, 25mm, and hellfires; all for asymmetric threats. A little over kill fro speed boats and fishing trolleys. Pick any two of those systems and remove them, then add a dozen or so ESSM and torpedoes. Thoses improvements will give you a descent all round ship comparable to most navies frigates.

      • James B.

        The SCS is already undergunned for a surface warfare mission. If you removed any of its (inadequate) firepower, you might give it basic air defense, but you would take away any logical reason for being there in the first place.

        If you want to put enough capability in a small ship to be worthwhile, you’ll have to go all in; pick either antiair, antisurface, or antisubmarine, and max out capabilities in that direction.

        • David Teer

          All the weapons I described are only useful against small threats like speedboats and fishing boats. For larger threats they are adding (most likely) the naval strike missile. This has a ranges of over 100 miles and contains a sizable warhead to do major damage to a large ship.

          Single mission ships like you listed are awesome, but in modern warfare not practical for cost benefit reasons. All modern navies are using multi-mission ships.

          What leaves me scratching my head is why are they adding an advanced air search radar and towed sonar when the SSC will have no organic SAM or torpedo weapons. that is why I said to remove two of the above weapons and add SAM and torpedoes. You do not need four layers of defense against speed boats and fishing trolleys.

          • James B.

            I hope they plan to add a real antiship missile, but I haven’t seen any specifics.

            As for single- vs. multi-mission ships, we are not bound to do things the way every other navy does them. We deploy in multi-ship strike groups which already have single-mission air defense ships, it would make sense if we had single-mission antisubmarine frigates and surface warfare corvettes. The carrier strike group should be a collection of ships which master specific mission sets, and an undersized, unfocused SCS won’t bring any new capability to a properly equipped CSG.

            Multi-mission ships are most valuable in patrolling and constabulary missions, where we can’t afford to send more than one ship, but the likelihood of encountering a real threat is slim.

          • David Teer

            It is the OTH surface to surface missile. he navy recently tested the naval strike missile on one of the LCS and the test went well.
            I agree single mission anything whether it is ships are airplane are far superior, but cost prohibitive. Burkes are such great ships because the are good at sub hunting, air defense, and surface warfare. They may not be as good as type 23 frigates in sub hunting, or Tico cruisers in air defense; but they get the job done.

          • James B.

            Aegis warships are tremendously capable at air defense, depending on the upgrade baseline, Arleigh Burkes can be just as effective as Ticos, the only difference is magazine size.

            I must strongly disagree with your statement that DDGs are good at sub hunting and antisurface warfare, or that anything about a 2 billion dollar warship is inexpensive. Destroyers may carry ASW helicopters, but so can any ship with a flight deck. The ship itself is of no use in sub hunting if it is assigned to an air defense sector, which it certainly will be in combat. For antisurface warfare, DDGs dedicate vary little of their armament to sinking ships, and are far to expensive to use in an aggressive fashion.

            In a ship the size of the LCS / SCS, roughly 3000 tons, there is enough space for an effective number of a capable antiship missile (Harpoon or better), OR enough space for a sophisticated sonar, ASROCs, torpedos, and ASW helos, OR a capable air defense radar and mid-size VLS magazine. To get enough capability to be useful to a strike group, pick one of those three. If we did mass production right, we would be buying 3-4 SCSs, in various configurations, for the price of 1 DDG.

            If we try to build a small, well-rounded ship, it won’t be good at anything. If we want to build small ships that are actually good at tasks, we need to specialize.

          • David Teer

            Both Burkes and Tico have spy-1 radars, but Ticos also have a second dedicated air radar, SPS-49 (they were original built for air defense). Burkes also carry hull mounted and towed sonars. They are good at sub hunting but not great. The tomahawk missile is capable for both land attack and anti ship.
            Burkes are incredibly powerful ships. But at nearly 2 billion a piece, hence the need for the LCS and SSC to perform the ancillary roles.

            We tired to build single mission ships ( the first flight of LCS) but everyone complained. So now we are getting the SSC in response. Single mission equipment is slowly being fazed out. F-22 caped at 187 planes, probably no replacement for the A-10. Perry’s Avengers and Ospreys being combined into the LCS. Multi mission is the future as much as people may hate it.

          • James B.

            The single-mission modular plan of the LCS gave us a ship that did one role badly. Improvements to that design could give us either ships which do one role well, or ships which do multiple roles badly.

            Your other examples of multi-role being the future sound more like reasons to run the other way!
            F-22: The F-22 was a painful fighter project, until the multi-role F-35 set new standards for Pentagon procurement boondoggles.
            A-10: The A-10 is the best close-support aircraft ever, and much cheaper to buy or operate than the multi-role replacements they keep proposing.
            Mine Warfare: This a very specific mission set, and takes specific ships. Trying to do this with a multi-role ship will again be an expensive way to do things badly.

            Multi-role systems tend to be expensive compromises that never match the capability of specialized systems, and can never be in two places or do two tasks at once. The only reason to compromise on a multi-role system is situations where you only get one, like limited space on a carrier flight deck, or solo deployments to low-threat theaters.

          • Curtis Conway

            James B. I think that many believe that capacity = capability. This is not true. That “solo deployment to low-threat theaters” often is not. That is when that extra little range, and additional capability that enables you to survive, really comes in handy. Speak to a Fig Sailor. Common systems, training schools and logistics trains also come into play for long term operational and sustainment costs. Scalable combat system elements really make sense (think AMDR Light, and SSDS). With Directed Energy Weapons and Eletro-Magnetic Rail Gun right around the corner, robust and high capacity power generation capability is going to come at a premium on current and future platforms. As Directed Energy Weapons come on board some lines will blur for ASuW and AAW capabilities further simplifying the multi-warfare platform shipset. The AMDR will have a multi-warfare support capability. Just a thought.

          • Davage

            SSCs aren’t built for taking on high-power energy weapons, they don’t have the IPS/HED (preferably PMM) to support them. Unless the Navy strikes out for a smaller system like the 8MJ gun that was proposed to the Army (Zumwalt’s is supposed to be 64MJ, and I think I read the one to be tested on the JHSV is supposed to be 32MJ, who know’s how long it takes to charge one of those shots), the Navy won’t be adding a railgun to LCS/SSC.

            Likewise, unless the Navy pursues a laser with much greater power than the LaWS 30kw, we’re not going to have a very effective laser defense to put on any ship.

            I love the concept of such energy weapons, but we’re not making the electric drive investments we need now to module them onto a ship (SSC or otherwise) later, nor are we pursuing the right systems for near-future use.

          • David Teer

            replacing an A-10 with a f-35 is a joke. Check out the pictures of battle damage A-10’s have taken and made it back to base. The F-22 was held up because the cold war ended and was put on the backburner.

          • Curtis Conway

            Amen. Go James B. Well Stated.

          • StealthFlyer

            No US Navy warship built this century includes an over-the-horizon anti-ship missile (the last ships with Harpoons are the Flight II Arleigh Burkes, not the Flight IIA being produced since 2000). The anti-ship Tomahawks were taken out of service in the 1990s, and the Navy stopped development on adding a true anti-ship capability to the latest Tomahawk Block IVs. Flight IIA Arleigh Burkes have to rely on Standard missiles, MH-60s, and their 5-inch guns to hit other ships.

          • David Teer

            All the more reason to adopt the naval strike missile. Are the tomahawk’s incapable of anti ship use, or can be used for anti ship but just not designed for it.

          • StealthFlyer

            The Tomahawk Block IV does not have a radar seeker to find a ship itself but does have the ability to be redirected in flight or loiter in an area and send back images to confirm a target before striking it. So, if a P-8, MQ-4, or other aircraft/ship had eyes on the target ship and could continuously update the missile with the ship’s coordinates, then it might work as an anti-ship missile.

          • Curtis Conway

            Both CG-47 & DDG-51 possess the SQS-53 sonar contained in a rubber window on the bottom of the bow. The SQQ-89 Anti-Submarine Warfare Suite is VERY capable on both platforms.

          • David Teer

            Yes they are capablez but not the best out there. The Perry’s were designed specifically for sub hunting. Our Perry’s and the British type 23 frigates are far better at that job.

          • Curtis Conway

            We are retiring 52 FFG-7s that do the missions you just described with LCS/SSC. Many an FFG-7 was ISE in some of the strangest places. Do you seriously think that the US Navy will not send an LCS/SSC to do the same thing?

          • James B.

            We may have sent frigates on independent operations in low-threat areas, but they were all originally designed to provide specialized ASW and some anti-surface capability to strike groups. The LCS, and even the SSC design, struggles to bring enough capability to be a fleet combatant. We can’t spend our fleet escort money on ships which can’t perform escort roles.

          • Curtis Conway

            Amen. Well said.

          • Curtis Conway

            That FFG-7 that was primarily designed for ASW was also provided self defense with a Mk13 SM-1 launcher. Potential survivability of the LCS/SSC isn’t even respected that much. So much for a clear thinking design authority. We are actually getting worse not better at protecting our sailors. Not only is the Navy Regulation survivability standards learned in BLOOD discarded, but we don’t arm or man the platform even marginally for success, and it was stated this platform could steam independently? The planet is getting more dangerous not less dangerous particularly in the Pacific. The necessity for an AAW self defense in great today, and will be greater in the future not less, and the SeaRAM bloody nose approach to defense is insufficient.

          • old guy

            We get NOTHING except shipyard welfare out of the LCS and the DD1000. Maybe we should lump all of these silly programs under the general class name of CCFFs (Congressional Campaign Funding Feedback).

    • Curtis Conway

      Hey James B. some of the original write-ups on the new SSC suggested this would be a Blue Water hull (perhaps 4,500 tons) capable of ASW and Escort duties for extended periods on the high seas. Would you like to ride a 3,000 ton LCS escorting replenishment ships across the Pacific? How about ride it for an extended period in the Arctic?

      I still say the primary threat to the LCS or SSC will be ASCMs and TBMs, primarily if we go up against our most likely adversary in the Pacific.

      I was holding a candle for the NSC in the form of a NPF upgraded with at least ESSM and VLA. Oh well . . . I am amazed at how cheap our sailors lives are to the current command structure. Those making the decisions wouldn’t ride these ships in combat.

      • James B.

        I would certainly prefer a ship in the 4-5000 ton range, but my point remains that building a ship to do three missions badly won’t help the strike group which needs missions done well.

        Regarding ASCMs as a likely threat, the SCS design’s main defense seems to be prayer. ESSMs are not a bad weapon, but they are for local defense, under the umbrella of SM-2/3/6 shooters.

        My huge beef with all the LCS and SCS designs is that none are equipped to shoot back at actual warships. The Navy desperately needs frigates or corvettes equipped with heavy antiship missiles to conduct attacks on enemy ships, or establish an aggressive perimeter around the carrier.

    • RobM1981

      Hi James,

      I’m not sure if the LCS is large enough to do either, even one at a time. The whole concept of “Littoral” is questionable. How close do we expect these ships to get to shore, and for what purpose? Are we again looking to bombard railroad locomotives from offshore?

      If the objective is to land/retrieve SEAL’s, there are better ways.

      This is the crux of the problem – the LCS is a solution looking for a problem. It can never be the modern version of an FFG, because it’s simply too small. Everything follows from that: featherweight punch, glass jaw, limited endurance, etc.

      What we need is a modern FFG, and that means about 4,000 tons.

      • James B.


        I believe the LCS is the solution to a problem which doesn’t really exist, and is searching for a new problem to justify its existence.

        Littoral warfare was supposed to become more prominent with the demise of the Soviet Navy. By the time the design was completed, the Chinese Navy and a number of other non-littoral threats were rising, so we are watching a shallow-draft warship designed for coastal work being forced into blue-water roles.

        I really like the idea of a more traditional hull with plenty of expansion space, probably 3500t empty, with standardized open spaces to add 500-1000t of weapons, stores, boats and aircraft facilities. The hulls would be built separately from the add-on systems; with the only concern being power requirements, and costs could be controlled by building in volume for the US Navy, Coast Guard, and allied navies, and then fitted out to each service’s requirements.

    • Joseph Hoffman

      The frigate like up-gunned LCS is an excellent coast guard cutter but
      should never be used as a warship. For the ASW mission it lacks a bow
      mounted sonar and the capability to launch torpedoes; it will be a
      sitting duck for anti-ship cruise missiles and air attack due to its
      lack of a vertical launch system; finally it lacks the endurance for
      sustained naval combat.

      However, all of this does not matter because US
      Naval surface fleet that is being built today will just provide more targets
      for the PRC in the future. The only survivable platform will be
      fast attack submarines.

      The LCS is just a constabulary platform for patrol and law enforcement missions. The Navy should transfer all the LCS type ships to the US Coast Guard and buy frigate, mine-hunter and gunboat designs from Denmark to be built under license at US shipyards.

  • vincedc

    This looks like a case of buying what we can afford rather than buying what we need. The helo is a single point of failure in the ASW arena.

    • Curtis Conway


  • Curtis Conway

    “. . . not fighting fighters, striking land targets at long range or conducting ballistic missile defense (BMD)”. The PRIMARY AAW threat to the LCS is Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles. Many are supersonic. With SeaRAM you will get ONE SHOT at close range with a little warhead. With ESSM in Mk57 short VLS cells at least you could get a shot at it a little further out, or hit something coming in at a high angle of attack and intercept it at greater range which would increase one’s ability to sustain the blast. With a SeaRAM hitting a high angle of attack ASCM or TBM a few thousand yards right over the ship . . . is not good. The Mk57 VLS should have been in this proposal right up front. Admiral Greenert and Sean Stackley acted as though the ASCM & TBM threat didn’t exist. Checked out China’s Oder of Battle lately?

    Want to see some Operational Test & Evaluation survivability numbers on this scenario. Look for some more info on increased compartmentalization and watertight integrity zones to contain battle damage on the survivable side of the equation. This has been the primary concern along with under armed and under manned.

    • dreamer75

      Agree with other comments here, would someone please explain to me how replacing the 21 round Mk 49 RAM
      launcher with the 11 round SeaRam launcher is an AAW upgrade for the
      Freedom LCS version? Also was hoping 57mm would be replaced by 76mm Mk 75 or more modern “Super Rapid” version. So Navy has decided that except for a few anti-ship missles and a helo these two classes will have a max of 4-5 mile offensive/defensive reach. Still should have found space
      and weight for a basic 12-16 round Mk 56 (GMVLS) ESSM installation.

      • David Teer

        The Naval Strike Missile has 100 mile range, it is the only good addition to the modified version. What gets me is they are adding a 3D air search radar and a towed sonar; but they are not improving the anti air defenses or installing torpedo launchers. So now the sailors can see the threat coming but not doing anything about it.

        • StealthFlyer

          If I were an LCS sailor, I’d find a “creative storage solution” for the MH-60 torpedoes on board, say in a tube/trough that can be swiveled to a make-shift door in the side of the hangar or mission bay and launched from the ship within seconds if the MH-60 is down for maintenance or otherwise can’t get in the air immediately.

          • David Teer

            Grab a wrench and head to a retired Perry and take a launcher off.

      • Curtis Conway

        RAM does not have its own sensor and must be integrated with the combat system for target designation. The SeaRAM incorporates the same RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) with the Mk15 CIWS sensor, fitting exactly in the Mk15 footprint, and uses basically the same power cables. SeaRAM is an independent system that can function all by itself if it has power. RAM cannot.

  • ed2291

    A legitimate question Marines can ask the Navy is what can they expect in NGFS? (Naval Gun Fire Support) Right now, not theoretical electric guns for the future. Attack aircraft from carriers are not always available in volume or time to be of help. That seems to be a much better use of the LCS than delivering SEALS.

  • Jotro

    No dictatorship can defeat a democracy or it’s navy.

  • Rob C.

    It sounds like they’d decided to pigeon hole this. No variations from what exactly was planned, even if the Export models of both classes sound like their superior to US Navy ones. Stupid. Seriously, risking salior lives and tax-dollar money on under-capacity thing due to political blinders on the people holding the wallets.

    We can’t have new, it cost too much, we can have full blown variant which is better because we don’t want rock the boat more budget wise. Quick and dirty fix no questions asked. Shoot short range guns, fire short-range missiles, hope the sonar latches on the sub before they fire their torpedoes and drop off the marines. Done. Friggin stupid.

    Pegasus Class PHM was better at this business, it what they wanted without the anti-submarine capacities. 8-Harpoon Missiles, Big honking 76mm 3inch gun. Too small for the Navy, cut funding, try unload it to the Coast Guard, sell/scrap them. Done STUPID. Redesign version if not slightly bigger could least launch torpedoes.

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  • Craigpv2d

    I thought the idea of the LCS was a basic hull platform for the littorals only that would be modified for a specific purpose as needed. In other words, some would be equipped as ASW, some for AAW, some for minesweeping, some for surface warfare, etc. Once modified for a specific purpose, they would stay that way and then operate together in groups of 2,3,or 4 depending on the need. A Littoral Combat Group as it were. Kind of like the way the F-4 Phantom was used as a bomber, fighter, Wild Weasel or recon aircraft.

    As for manning requirements, maybe if the Navy, (and Army and Air Force), wouldn’t overspecialize their personnel they would be better off. When I was in the Marine Corps as an Avionics Tech, we trained and worked on EVERY aircraft they had at the time. When we went to sea attached to AIMD Avionics on the Belleau Wood (LHA-3), and the New Orleans (LPH-11), we worked on UH-1N’s, AH-1J/T’s, AV-8A/B’s, CH-46E/F’s, and CH-53D/E’s. For 30 embarked Marine aircraft we had 4 Marines per 12 hour shift, (2 for Comm/Nav and 2 for Flight control/weapons), and even then we weren’t that busy and even helped out the GSE crew. By contrast, the Squids had twice as many for one UH-1N!

  • Joseph Hoffman

    The frigate like up-gunned LCS is an excellent coast guard cutter but should never be used as a warship. For the ASW mission it lacks a bow mounted sonar and the capability to launch torpedoes; it will be a sitting duck for anti-ship cruise missiles and air attack due to its lack of a vertical launch system; finally it lacks endurance for sustained naval combat. However, all of this does not matter because US Naval surface fleet that is being built today will just be target practice for the PRC in the future. The only survivable platform will be fast attack submarines. The LCS is just a constabulary platform for patrol and law enforcement missions. The Navy should transfer all the LCS type ships to the US Coast Guard and buy frigate, mine-hunter and gunboat designs from Denmark to be built under license at US shipyards.

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