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PEO LCS Looking at 2016 Deployment of Anti-Sub Package Ahead of Reaching IOC

An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter embarked aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) passes by USS Independence (LCS 2) during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014. US Navy photo.

An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter embarked aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) passes by USS Independence (LCS 2) during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014. US Navy photo.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Program Executive Officer for Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) hopes to send a version of the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) mission package out to sea before officially reaching initial operational capability, as earlier testing showed “phenomenal” capability compared to current systems.

The mission package as it currently stands is too heavy, PEO Rear Adm. Brian Antonio told USNI News in an interview at the Washington Navy Yard, and changes will be made to lighten it during the engineering and manufacturing development phase.

However, PEO LCS took an advanced development model out to sea on USS Freedom (LCS-1) last year, and “the results are classified, but what I can tell you is that the performance of the system was phenomenal,” Antonio said.
“It’s actually propelled us to look at ways to try to field that system at sea as soon as possible, even in its current state as an advanced development model. … We’re looking at opportunities in 2016 to be able to get that out to sea, call it a deployment and actually do more real-world exercises with that system. So being able to get it out in 2014 and show how the system works and kind of get the fleet excited about it was exciting for us.”

Antonio added that the mission package would deploy from San Diego, and “my goal would be to try to deploy it as far away, as far as we can, and we could even maybe prove out some other [concepts of operation] like changing mission packages outside of homeport.”

The exact details of the deployment would depend on funding from the surface warfare directorate at the Pentagon and on fleet schedules, but Antonio said the deployment of the anti-submarine warfare advanced development model would help familiarize the fleet with the mission package capabilities ahead of mass production and fielding.

The anti-submarine warfare mission package consists of the same Multi-Function Towed Array submarine-detection sonar already used in the fleet, a variable-depth sonar and a towed lightweight torpedo decoy. If an enemy submarine were detected and needed to be attacked, the mission package also includes the MH-60S helicopter with Mk-54 airdropped lightweight torpedoes.

Antonio said sailors are already familiar with the towed array sonar in the mission package, so “what we were most interested in was the characterization of the sonar itself,” which he said last year’s testing proved very impressive.

In the mean time, the program office has proposals out for engineering development models, which would take the current instantiation of the mission package and turn it into a production-representative product. Antonio said the process would primarily serve to lighten the systems and make them more conducive to shipboard operations.

“The current configuration is too heavy, we need to make it lighter-weight,” he said.
“We believe there are better ways for handling gear and the configuration in the ship; we were able to open the doors on the Freedom, but there were some speed restrictions because of the configuration of the doors and that kind of thing, so we want to work through all that.”

A deployment with the advanced development model would not bring the mission package any closer to declaring initial operational capability (IOC), which can only be done with the production-representative model. Antonio expects to get through engineering development and send the upgraded model into testing at sea in 2017 or 2018, depending on ship availability.

  • David C. Meyers

    This article makes it appear that the Navy has decided to change the definition of IOC to fit some thought process that escapes any reader… IOC can be defined as “the state achieved when a capability is available in its minimum usefully deployable form.” The entire LCS program has yet to meet IOC, but here, we are going to deploy a subset…a “one off” model of one of those “modular mission packages,” none of which have yet to be modular – fully IOC – or easy to swap as was advertised…spend scarce resources to maintain this “one off” package overseas with Tiger Teams of deployed artisans and frantic buys of unique parts at costs which will make the average American tear up, and achieve this: “A deployment with the advanced development model would not bring the mission package any closer to declaring initial operational capability (IOC), which can only be done with the production-representative model.” ?!? And in D.C. this passes the litmus test of sound logic, intelligent program management, and wise stewardship of the taxpayer’s largesse?

    • Secundius

      @ David W. Meyers.

      I don’t know which Washington, DC. your talking about. Because It Sure Ain’t the One I Live Next Too…

      • David C. Meyers

        I was hoping that those encased within the Beltway, would appreciate the satire and scratch their heads about how they make these decisions…

        • Secundius

          @ David C. Meyers.

          Sir, I live within the Beltway (I-495) in Falls Church, VA. Less than 10-minutes of Washington, DC. I can see the Washington Monument from where I live…

  • Tony

    Good! Why wait any longer to learn how well a towed variable depth sonar with attached array works in a littoral (shallow water, emphasis on “shallow”) environment?!? And from a very noisy platform at that!

    • Secundius

      @ Tony.

      Green Water’s or Littoral’s usually refer to depth not exceeding 100-meters. And according to Thales, a Tow Variable Depth Sonar Array. Has to submerge to at least 200-meters to be effective…

  • mustard_gun

    MH-60S (“Sierra”) doesn’t drop torpedoes or even do ASW. I think the author means MH-60R (“Romeo”).

    • Secundius

      @ mustard_gun.

      Actually it can. It can both the Hellfire missile and the Hydra 70 2.75-inch rockets…

      • mustard_gun

        No. The Sierra does not carry torpedoes. It is not designed/equipped for ASW.

        The Sierra does logistics and limited SUW.

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  • old guy

    GOOD, junk the LCS and put the system on the REFURBISHED FFG-7, which can take the weight after you remove the old SQR-19

    • redgriffin

      I though we had sold all of the FFG-7s.

      • old guy

        Nope, I think we just retired them. HEY SECUNDIUS, what’s the real skinny.

        • Secundius

          @ old guy.

          As far as I know, there 22 OHP hulls on the Decommission List. Not mothballed, just in Limbo somewhere. With future Disposition Unknown at this time, mostly likely to be scrapped. Anything beyond that your guess is as good as mine…

        • redgriffin

          From just some quick research I found that we have no Perry Class FFG’s that can be put to sea. They have all been sold to our allies or are being sold for scrap.

  • publius_maximus_III

    Can the “towed array sonar” guide the Mk-54 airdropped lightweight torpedoes to targets, or are they “on their own” once they’re released into the water?

    Would not recommend operating in heavy seas with those “back doors” open — see what happened to a fishing trawler in the cold Alaskan Aleution Island coastal waters back in 2008, when her water tight back doors were left unsecured.

  • Marjus Plaku

    The reason they want it out into the fleet ASAP is because this baby basically takes a constant 3D picture of a big area and nothing floating that is is man made can hide. Instead of feeling in the dark, hearing sounds, waiting for movement, or even turning on a flashlight on and off, you now have a floodlight that is constant.

    • Secundius

      @ Marjus Plaku.

      ASPA? or ASAP??

      • Marjus Plaku

        Hey it’s 2:30 in the morning, cut me some slack.

        • Secundius

          @ Marjus Plaku.

          An East Coaster, too…

  • Sigint

    LCS……a solution in search of a problem……

    • Secundius

      @ Sigint.

      Deal with it, it ain’t going away anytime soon. Funding was passes by Republican Congress, it’s Etched in Stone (or Tombstone). A Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld Legacy program…

  • Big-Dean

    So, when the helo is down for maintenance or the seas are too rough for flight ops, the poor little crappy ship is defenseless against subs-that’s a great idea!

    • Secundius

      @ Big-Dean.

      I would think, the Same Physical Laws of A Storm at Sea. Apply to Large Ships, as it does with a Small Ship…

  • mustard_gun

    MH-60 “Sierras” don’t carry MK-54. I believe the author means MH-60R.