Home » Budget Industry » Document: Report to Congress on U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship Program


Document: Report to Congress on U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship Program

The following is the June 12, 2015 Congressional Research Service report to Congress, Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)/Frigate Program: Background and Issues for Congress.

  • Curtis Conway

    The fastest way to dispatch an LCS/FF is with supersonic Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles.

    When developing weapons systems the US has RARELY embraced the Kamikaze practice of ‘deliberate self-destruction’, until recently. The LCS is not an SOF JCS asset on a one way mission. The LCS (and even the FF version) embraces this concept, and lie about it up front. There is nearly no defense in depth on the platform against AAW threats (one of the platforms greatest nemesis). The probability of gun kills with 57mm, 30mm, or 25mm on LCS against a supersonic threat is slim to none, and to present the concept, much less support it, is beyond the pale. When you attempt your first engagement on a supersonic cruise missile at single digit miles, followed by Mk15 CIWS, one wonders if these people spend too much time in casinos.

    “Speed is Life” is true for pilots most of the time, and speed CAN help under water, but is of limited utility on the surface of the ocean. The only real advantage is to
    provide rapid dispersion to beyond Line Of Sight (LOS) providing its own problems for communications in an ionized environment (after a NUC detonation), and on the positive side makes targeting of the force a bit more difficult (unless the opposition has national assets), to the point an inordinate number of missiles must be used to eliminate an opponent force at sea.

    The solution is a non-rotating 3D radar, and a multi-faceted engagement capability starting as far away from the platform as one can. When Directed Energy (DE)
    arrives our problem is solved, and the non-rotating 3D radar will provide the detection, tracking, and direction needed for the engagement of the target, but DE isn’t hear yet, so missiles will have to do the job until DE arrives.

    The only way to solve the LCS/FF problem today is to “chase good money after bad” and back fit this capability on the platforms we have already committed to building, and the resulting cost will be what an Aegis Guided Missile Frigate would have cost in the first place. That National Security Cutter (NSC) based hull would be able to perform ALL missions, in ALL oceans, at ALL times of the year. The Mk VI Patrol Boats and PC-1 Cyclones are far more appropriate for the Littorals and bring many capabilities to the table that even LCS does not bring. In my humble opinion the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) is just the organization for this
    mission in the South China Sea and many other areas.

    The LCS/FF Mission Package concept would probably be a good idea, IF we were maintaining our presence on assigned COCOM patrol stations. THAT is not happening and the LCS/FF will just be a sitting duck because it cannot defend itself against a determined adversary.

    There have been suggestions that some of us detractors of the LCS/FF Program are adhering to 1940’s or 1970’s Era Rules of Engagement (ROE), experience, and methods of battle at sea, to which I respond that ‘Principles of Human Behavior and Conduct’ and ‘Rules for Civilized Conduct’ do NOT change. The US Navy policies I see now (with respect to LCS/FF Program) treat our sailors like an expendable commodity, and I am ashamed. All we can do now is hope they are not engaged by a determined and capable adversary, or are in or near the adversaries Littorals where they are designed to operate when the ‘Bubble goes Up’.

    • magic3400

      Two weapons systems defeats all of those threats. As you said, Directed Energy Weapons and I would add the Rail Gun system.

      We can’t build every weapon system to defend against every known or anticpated threat. We have to build systems for their mostly likely use.

      When was the last time the US Navy lost a surface combatant in a force on force engagement? WWII, Korea, Vietnam? For the last 40 years, the US Navy surface fleet has had more to fear from congress than an adversary.

      So what’s the odds that a LCS will spend nearly all of it’s life in a support role. Other than firing off a few missiles here and there (which will probably be added at some point), it will probably never be involved in a classic surface action.

      So why not design the ship to be as good as possible at it’s most likely role? Is that a gamble with the lives of the sailors and Marines that will sail her and depend on her support…yes, yes it is. But unless the DoD has a magic “replenish treasury” button somewhere in the Pentagon, you have to build for your most likely mission.

      I certainly respect your opinion and I agree, the LCS has some survivability issues, but I think history will show the LCS to be a valuable brown water platform, particularly for Marines ashore. With amphib ships in short supply, the Marine Corps is going to have to look at alternatives for getting Marines ashore, which has all been unopposed since Korea.

      As a member of several ARG/MEU (SOC) dets, the MEU certainly could use a ship like LCS, particularly for our small unit ops. FAST, Raider and MARSOC mission packages would also allow the ARG/MEU commanders more flexibility when deploying Marines. I like what I see in the LCS, I certainly would have loved seeing it in action.

      Semper Fidelis

      • Curtis Conway

        “When was the last time the US Navy lost a surface combatant in a force on force engagement?….the US Navy surface fleet has had more to fear from congress than an adversary.”

        So you use what money you have and plan to fail? What is on patrol in the South China Sea right now? We almost NEVER fire the first shot! It’s ROE that gets us killed!

        “So what’s the odds that a LCS will spend nearly all of it’s life in a support role.”

        I hope it is 100% now, but it sure doesn’t look like it! Again, what is on patrol in the South China Sea maintaining presence to the extent we can?

        “…..but I think history will show the LCS to be a valuable brown water platform, particularly for Marines ashore. “

        Then PLEASE stop making BLUE WATER arguments. The Mission Packages are for Blue Water operations. Do we have a disconnect here? The Navy Expeditionary Combat Command will be valuable at supporting Marines! Why not invest there. One gets a lot more Mk VI and PC-1s for the bucks, and they can be in more places at once.
        If you intend to sacrifice the platforms, then do the WWII PT Boat model and lose the Patrol Craft at a half dozen to a couple of dozen crew at a whack instead of 40-80 at a time plus an air asset as well.

        If the intent is to follow the WWII model of Carlson’s Raiders, then I can see your point. It’s better than a converted four stack.

        Ho Rah! and keep your powder dry!

  • Curtis Conway

    It has been said that Americans never want to send our forces into a fair fight. Hummm? This vessel has been in the plans for how long?!

  • Rob C.

    This thing is a disaster in the making. Chinese build better thought out ships than US does now. Do less with more or do more with less doesn’t even apply to this.

    Either they need close-shore vessel that isn’t meant to handle frontline combat, or they need blue ocean vessel that’s small but its capable as a frigate. Renaming it isn’t going to solve it, neither using a National Security Cutter as a Frigate since it wasn’t even built to military standards in the first place.

    I know their trying make due what they have, but this isn’t good idea. There better off making separate designs/types for what ever missions they need done.

    US needs to experiment more with modules before making a sea frame to handle them.