Home » News & Analysis » Opinion: Littoral Combat Ship Needs Full Congressional Support


Opinion: Littoral Combat Ship Needs Full Congressional Support

USS Coronado (LCS-4) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam during Rim of the Pacific 2016. US Navy Photo

USS Coronado (LCS-4) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam during Rim of the Pacific 2016. US Navy Photo

Congress continues to undercut the LCS program by not fully funding the modular systems vital to achieving the full potential capability of the littoral combatant.

LCS mine warfare systems have borne the brunt of congressional displeasure, despite the generally acknowledged fact that the current Avenger-class mine countermeasures ships are rapidly approaching the end of their service lives. The Navy’s overall mine warfare capability is showing its age and the LCS mine warfare mission module represents the first and most advanced program within the acquisition system to reverse that unhealthy trend. The Navy has closely followed recent congressional guidance in that it canceled the troubled Remote Minehunting System (RMS) after fierce congressional criticism. Congress should in turn support the Navy and fund the LCS mine warfare module program as submitted by the Navy in the FY17 appropriation.

The LCS mine warfare mission module has seen more than its share of controversy. It has long been connected to the troublesome RMS system—an unfair characterization as RMS was responsible for only one of several elements of the LCS’ mine warfare mission. The Navy has scrupulously followed congressional direction by adopting a recommendation from the SASC to add the Textron Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle (CUSV) and the General Dynamics Knifefish underwater vehicle to the LCS mine warfare module.

Congress continued LCS procurement in FY17, but despite insisting on their inclusion in the system, they reduced funding by $24.5 million (from a total request for $56 million,) for key mine warfare module components such as the CUSV and Knifefish. In recommending the reduction, the Senate Armed Services Committee said, “FY17 is the first year for procurement of Knifefish and the unmanned Influence Sweep System in LCS mine countermeasure mission modules line item 1601, and that the system will undergo developmental test and evaluation to verify all technical requirements in FY2017. Therefore the committee recommended a reduction of $24.5 million for this program due to procurement ahead of need.”

Remote Minehunting System (RMS) during developmental testing of the Littoral Combat Ship's mine warfare mission module package. US Navy Photo

Remote Minehunting System (RMS) during developmental testing of the Littoral Combat Ship’s mine warfare mission module package. US Navy Photo

The problem with that cut is that the Navy needs the mine warfare module, not only to complete the LCS modular concept, but also to replace a fading surface-ship mine warfare capability. Congress has demanded the Navy keep the aging Avengers in service and added specific language in the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that states, “None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or otherwise made available for the Department of the Navy for fiscal year 2017 may be obligated or expended to retire, deactivate, decommission, to prepare to retire, deactivate, decommission, or to place in storage backup inventory or reduced operating status any MCM-1 class ship.”

Annual operating costs for the Avenger class have steadily risen from less than $8 million per ship in 1991 to more than $14 million in 2010, with a projected cost of $18.9 million (adjusted to 2016 dollars) per ship by 2024. Those figures are not likely to improve, making it imperative that Congress fully fund LCS mine warfare capabilities as requested by the Navy.

The mine warfare mission module’s potential also goes far beyond employment on the LCS. Many of its components are helicopter– or remote vehicle-based, making portions fieldable on other classes of ships and from shore bases. LCS mine warfare modules can be an organizing point for an expeditionary mine warfare capability based at sea or ashore. Congress is getting more than just another LCS mission module. Its components provide an organic mine warfare capability for the Fleet rather than relegating it to one class of vessel that can be neglected in the later stages of its service life.

Bringing the LCS mine warfare mission module is just the first step in correcting the Navy’s swiftly aging mine warfare capability. The 1970s vintage MH-53E Sea Dragon minesweeping helicopters need a major update on par with the Marine Corps CH-53K upgrade to the venerable heavy-lift helicopter. The United States has been reduced to buying scrap parts from decommissioned Japanese military helicopters in order to maintain the U.S. minesweeping helicopter fleet in operation. It was once assumed that the MH-60S helicopter would be the base vehicle for a number of mine warfare systems that could be deployed to the LCS. Of those, only the Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS) and the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) continue as active components of the package. The Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS), the Expendable Mine Neutralization System (EMNS) and notably the Organic Airborne Influence Sweep System (OASIS) have all failed to meet operational requirements. It is imperative now to consider upgrading or replacing the MH-53E in the absence of an MH-60S-based sweep system.

U.S. Avenger class minesweepers on manvuers with Royal Navy ships on Sept. 20, 2012. US Navy Photo

U.S. Avenger class minesweepers on manvuers with Royal Navy ships on Sept. 20, 2012. US Navy Photo

The Navy’s current mine warfare platforms date from the 1970s and ’80s and are in urgent need of replacement. The proven helicopter-based minesweeping system and the components of the LCS mine warfare module represent the way forward to an expeditionary mine warfare capability. Congress has shown concern regarding the number of recent CH-53 variant crashes. The legislature, however, criticized the Navy for not moving fast enough to bring the LCS mine countermeasures module to full capability, and then cut funding to the Navy’s efforts to achieve congressional tasking.

Congress should restore the cuts made to the LCS mine warfare module program and refrain from attacking the Navy’s efforts to bring the mission module to full operational capability. Congress, the Defense Department and the Navy also need to consider upgrading the MH-53E minesweeping helicopters in a manner similar to the Marine CH-53K, or replacing the aircraft with a new platform. It is time to move mine warfare from a dangerous business done by sailors in the minefield to an expeditionary capability supported by aircraft above mine-infested waters and drones within them.

 

  • Rob C.

    More US Congress keeps underfunding the stupid thing, worse overall it things will get.
    US Navy might well be using Wooden Sail Schooners at rate funding is going.

    • Swampy

      Exactly, there is no money to solve anything and cuts keep happening.

  • disqus_zommBwspv9

    Wooden Schooners 3 masted say a 150 feet long could carry about a half dozen 20mm and a couple 40 mm. along with a RAM launcher on the stern aft of the Quarter Deck. with Wire rigging, 20 men could handle the sails while the other 40 could man the weapons. 150 feet, 20 feet wide with a draft of 10 feet. plus an auxiliary diesel say of 100 horse power. Total crew of 70 or so. plus a couple of Rib boats.

    • Secundius

      The Ambassador III/IV class Patrol Boat Missile is Roughly the Same Size YOU Mentioned and Mounts a 3-inch (76.2x636mmR/62-caliber) Oto Melara Autocannon. Unfortunately, It’s a Export Model Only Design…

      • disqus_zommBwspv9

        well it doesn’t have sails and I understand they are subject to get swamped by a following seas on the counter, round down, stern, plus a 150 3 masted schooners could stay at sea for months, maybe 6 months. guess no sailing terms for getting swamped by the ocean on the stern of a vessel are allowed.

        • Secundius

          At ~140-feet Long the Moriggan Sloop of the 18-century, was the Most Powerful Ships in its time. And Yet NO Known Navy Actually Used It. It was a “Privateer”…

          • disqus_zommBwspv9

            plus they were fast and could run away from Frigates of that time.

  • vincedc

    Congress is telling the Navy that they aren’t going to pay for something that doesn’t work. Time for some contractors to step up with their own funds and prove that these systems are worth buying. LCS is getting to look more and more like a temporary and less than ideal solution to a myriad of problems. It’s hard to believe, but maybe congress is looking for a long term platform to solve the countermine issue.

    • Lazarus

      CUSV and Knifefish both work. Congress told the Navy to use them in the LCS MiW package and then cut their funding when the Navy tried to follow Congressional direction. Congress did not say these systems do not work, but in a misguided budget cutting attempt, they undercut their own demands.

      • Swamp

        CUSV and Knifefish work? CUSV doesn’t exist and Knifefish has yet to be onboard LCS for testing and is extremely immature. RMMV worked as well while being tested at LM before going to LCS.

        • Lazarus

          CUSV is in production now. Knifefish is already scheduled to replace the marine mammal component of MiW in 2017. RMS (specifically the RMMV component,) was under development for 17 years and never fully met requirements in testing.

          • Swampy

            CUSV is not in production, it isn’t a program of record. CUSV for MCM = towing a sonar and exists only on paper. Knifefish has yet to integrate or be tested by anything measureable and has DT in FY18 if schedule holds, and we all know how solid schedules are held.

          • Lazarus

            Look up the January 27 USNI article on CUSV. CUSV is in production. It was selected in 2009. It is in production as a platform. Platforms are needed to actually do the testing. That’s why the Navy wanted to purchase them. The Avengers are falling apart. They were not great when I was the Chief Engineer and XO of one in the late 1990’s.

          • Swampy

            Look up what the CUSV craft will be for the MCM CUSV program when the program actually exists. It will use the UISS craft which is still being built. Therefore, does not currently exist, not to mention the only work that has been done to deploy the sensor from the CUSV is only on paper.

        • Lazarus

          The RMMV’s that were tested last year were denied a refit requested by the Navy before the test. All were over 11 years old. Congress had not given the program much money over the last decade. Is it any wonder they did not perform as advertised? It’s never as simple as the story in the press release.

      • Al L.

        The problem with your argument is two fold:

        1. The Navy chose a system (LCS) which was to be modular, with the functional parts to be developed separate and then mated to the ship to produce the final operational whole. As such it was not obligated (unlike with traditional ships) to choose a single solution for each need, it was free to use parallel or alternate systems and winnow them down to the most effective solution. This is what was done with the hulls, the end result being 2 acceptable solutions. It was even more sensible with the mission packages. This is not what the Navy did. It did exactly the opposite. It predetermined which potential systems to place in the packages, then developed them, until many failed. Only then when forced to by proven failure or oversight did it move on to the next solution. Its notable that RMS is a TWICE failed system. Remember it was already used as a DDG based system and failed miserably, it was then recycled for the LCS in spite of its known problems. Even after USV’s were operating mine hunting systems for other Navys and other parts of the Navy, the Navy plowed on with a failing RMS for LCS and no alternatives. (CUSV works, but as a mine neutralizer, it has yet to be wed to a mine hunting system in an operative form, that alternative could have been tested years ago) This was even more puzzling as there seems to have never been a proven way to launch and recover it from the Freedom ships, a problem a USV could easily solve.

        2. In spite of the above delineated irrational approach to the modules and the MIW module in particular, it was not the Navy that decided to change course, it was forced to by DOD and Congressional oversight after DOTE determined the RMS would likely never work, and was so far off functional that it was embarrassing.

        The 2 trains of events pointed out above show that to this day the Navy has yet to shed it habitual ways of doing business in order to properly leverage the modular nature of LCS in managing the mission packages. In short someone has to force the Navy to do so, and show a plan to do so. Until it does, why should Congress fund more than baby steps? Its not Congresses doing that has put the MIW package years behind. It was the Navy’s letting momentum rather than management drive mission packages.

        Its like if you have a child and you give him a pile of clay because he needs to make a cup. You come back and he has 1/2 the clay fed to the dog, flung on the walls, and wasted and a cup that wont hold water. You don’t then give him another equal pile of clay, and let him go at it again. You hand him a smaller pile of clay and stand over him while he learns how to make a cup.

        I’m an LCS supporter, but the Navy’s logic in management of the mission packages never matched the logic of the ship they were planned to be wedded to. If it had years could have been saved. Those years are lost. At this point the only alternative is to spend the money to maintain the current capabilities until the Navy proves it has developed a MIW package at least equal to existing capabilities.

        We as LCS supporters do more harm than good when we insist that a demonstrated failure to properly leverage the ships concept justifies handing the same people the ability to do more of the same. Perhaps a few heads need to roll.

        • Lazarus

          I fully agree that mission package management was terrible in the past and still causes problems in the present. PEO LCS is still cleaning up a number of pre-2011 messes. That said, the current fleet MiW capability is rapidly approaching decrepitude. The MCM-1’s and MH 53’s won’t be very effective much longer. Congress demanded that the navy accelerate the MiW module’s progress by demanding CUSV and Knife fish in the letter from this Feb from the SASC to SECNAV/CNO. The Navy has tried to respond as Congress suggested, only to be undercut in the budget when it tried. Congress frequently wastes $57m and more on useless pork projects and studies that benefit no one. If the navy sits around and tries to make the MiW module work through the creaking acquisition and test and evaluation system, the MiW module won’t see an IOC for more than 5 years. Congress will then complain that the Navy is not moving fast enough on MiW. It’s a vicious cycle that only gets broken when a service “forces” the system by buying what it needs (contained in the $57m cut by Congress) to get the MiW module fielded.

        • Secundius

          The US Navy Didn’t Chose the Modular Design for the LCS class, SECDef Donald Rumsfeld DID! In 1999, Israel had a Requirement for Augmenting the Sa’ar-5 Corvettes. For A Light Destroyer, the Freedom Fit the Bill. Unfortunately the Sale Hit a Brick Wall. In 2001, Rumsfeld Sold the Idea to George W. Bush, Jr. Who inturn Sold the Idea to Congress in 2003, Which Congress FUNDED in 2005. The Modular Design Plan, was Part of the Israeli Requirements for the Design of the Ship…

          • Lazarus

            Bob Work’s LCS history document from 2013 suggests the USN came up with the LCS from a joint requirement for a littoral combatant. The late VADM Cebrowski’s efforts in pushing the “streetfighter” concept was the starting point for LCS, and CNO ADM Clark’s efforts caused the design to grow into the LCS variants of today with full rotary wing aviation capabilities.I have never read that any Israeli design had any role in planning LCS. As a modular ship, LCS flies in the face of a Sa ar V which is almost overloaded with sensors and weapons.

          • Secundius

            NOPE. Rumsfeld PUSHED the Idea to Bush, who inturn PUSHED it to Congress and SO ON. Just Google It…

          • Lazarus

            I tend to view Bob Work’s account as very accurate on the origins of LCS. Work, VADM Cebrowski, ADM Clark and a number of Naval War College analysts pushed for a littoral combatant. Wayne Hughes was part of the effort at fist, but was not happy with LCS as a project and distanced himself.

    • Swampy

      Good luck with contractors stepping up and spending capital money to invest in this, please come back to the real world, this does not happen.
      Congress needs to listen to ASN and CNO and give money to solve the problems.

  • Hoyadude09

    The issue here is simple and no one seems willing to state it publicly. The LCS needs to be able to take on…and sink (as well as survive a counterattack from)…a Chinese task force from a stand-off distance. It has so far fundamentally failed to prove that capability. The overarching concept of lethality, which still seems to be only part of the Marine Corps’ vernacular, is still dangerously absent from the tongues of Navy and Air Force leadership, and therefore still absent from the deck of the LCS.

    • Lazarus

      LCS is a low end ship designed for specific tasks. It is not a multimission combatant like the now retired FFG 7. No single US ship is designed to survive an attack from any multi-ship task force. The USN fights as an integrated and joint team; often with support from allies.

      • Jffourquet

        But the LCS was intended to replace the Perry class frigate (a multi mission ship), that implied it was as capable as the ship it was to replace.

        • Lazarus

          LCS was intended to replace the Perry’s in that class’ post-2003 (minus the MK13 and AAW capability) configuration. The Perry’s retired as basically patrol ships with a gun armament and helicopter facilities. That’s the role designed for LCS, although the class is now receiving additional weapons such as ASCM’s in response to rising threats.

          • Hoyadude09

            Right. But we live in the real world and the LCS needs to rapidly adapt…again, this speaks to the importance of sound Navy surface leadership to anticipate the threat environment and overcome. It shouldn’t have taken this long to realize that: A) China doesn’t want a “peaceful rise” and B) Hmm…maybe the ship should be able to both actually defend itself and kill the enemy with anti-ship missiles in the absence of a real frigate force. Of course the LCS ships weren’t designed to work by themselves, but the Western Philippine Sea is a big AOR…they’re going to need to be able to fight and survive on their own.

          • Lazarus

            No US Navy warship works “by itself” in wartime missions. LCS is getting additional capabilities such as cruise missiles (Harpoon) and shorter range weapons (Hellfire) in order to have more of an offensive punch now. LCS is designed to work in a distributive flotilla. There are many ways to maintain connectivity between the individual units beyond network connections. A flotilla of 4 LCS is much harder to target than one conventional frigate that might have 12 ASCM’s in its total armament. 4 LCS have (when all mods are complete) 16 such weapons among them. It’s a better equation with which to fight.

          • Secundius

            Actually, the Independence was meant to be a OHP Replacement. The Freedom a Augment to the Arleigh Burke class…

          • Lazarus

            I have never heard that. The Navy ordered two variants for experimentation with a goal of downselect to one variant sooner rather than later. The current administration decided to delay the downselect in order to find ways to save the losing shipyard that would likely be put out of business by the loss.

          • Secundius

            I really would like to answer your Questions. But the “FO-Police” aka USNI News won’t Let Me. Some Topics are Off-Limits and GET Redacted. Just ask “Curtis C” and some others that had their Comments Redacted too…

          • Lazarus

            Comments or links? USNI does not support links. You can email me off line via Disqus.

          • Secundius

            I’ve Tried that TOO, THREE Times Know and Go Nowhere…

          • Lazarus

            Try at the informationdissemination site where you can email me.

          • Secundius

            I got a 404 response on that website. But I’ll try This and see How Far It Get’s Me. There were 18 Frigates on the Frigate Review Competition for 2019. As of 6-months ago, that Number has Dropped to 9. I’ll have to check to see what it is NOW. Sorry a Spelling, Heart Medication “Blurs” my Vision. But Suffice to Say, a 1-1/3-Scale of the Independence class is in the Offering as well as the British Type 26 and a Variant of the Huntington-Ingalls NSC/Patrol Frigate…

        • El_Sid

          Kinda. Going back to the early 90s the plan was effectively to not replace the Perry directly (as its main mission of REFORGER convoys had disappeared), but to split it. Older Burkes would do the high-end Perry stuff, and a new ship (which became LCS) would do the low-end Perry stuff. So it’s not quite as simple as saying “LCS replaced Perry”.

  • Jon

    Smoke’n mirrors Laz. They cut the money till the hardware could be tested and proven. Given that the LCS has promised much, and delivered absolutely nothing, that would seem to be a reasonable position. Time lost, is the USN’s fault, for pushing the failed components of the MCM package, for years, as they kept failing testing. While the USN kept cooking the test results.

    You also fail to note, that while operational costs are $19 million per Avenger (by 2024) per year, it costs over $36 million per LCS. Today. For ships that really don’t have any capabilities at all besides guzzling fuel.

    Each Avenger kept in service will save millions of dollars per year, with proven capabilities. Not “pie in the sky” capabilities the LCS may, possibly, could, or might have…someday.

    • Lazarus

      The MCM operating figures are for a mature platform. All operating cost figures start high for the first couple ships and then drop when more of the class are commissioned, more parts are available in the stock system and maintenance becomes more regular in character. There are (now) just 6 (soon 8) LCS in commission. There were only 2 for several years. That is not enough time to build up parts stock and maintenance regularity.

      Read what I wrote and not just assume what you think. Congress demanded that the navy select CUSV and Knifefish. Both a mature capabilities and should work fine on LCS. The navy has tried to carry out Congress’ wishes but was then undercut in the FY17 NDAA. That’s the big problem.

      • Jon

        LCS op costs aren’t going to drop from $36+ million to anything approaching $18 million. I’d also strongly suspect that number is lowballed, considering the costs involved in shelling the final drives on 2 of the 6 in service. With the FF-LCS, those op cost numbers are inevitably going to climb even higher.

        The CUSV is far from mature. It’s not even in production AFAIK. It’s also just an automated tug for a mine sled, which seems to be a rather cumbersome way to go about it, especially with any kind of sea running. Test the entire system under operational conditions, then bulk purchase if it proves out. Which is exactly what Congress is telling the USN. As opposed to “buy a bunch, and see what happens”. Speaking of, how many should they buy? We don’t even know how many LCS/FF-LCS we’re buying, or how they’ll be configured…or even what their load capacity for mission gear is going to be.

        The Knifefish, has been talked about by the USN as being part of the MCM package since around 2010 IIRC, complimenting the failed RMS, not as a replacement. It has operational limitations in range, endurance, and the need to recover it prior to downloading the mission data. Within those limitations, it seems to be a nice piece of hardware. But there’s little point in buying Knifefish, when the rest of the package is dysfunctional, untested, and/or unproven. For that matter, the entire concept of totally remote/off-board MCM is untested and unproven, especially given that just about all the hardware involved has failed testing.

        Our military, needs to get past retiring entire capabilities to pay for bright shiny toys that are always “5-10 years out”. Avengers work. Keep them till we have something better actually in service. The LCS, best case, is years from having an MCM capability comparable.

        You, want us, to pay for a hamburger today, that we’re not going to get till next Thursday. Maybe.

        • Lazarus

          Avengers are ancient, 1980’s technology. You make a number of claims about knifefish and CUSV but where is the proof? CUSV has been around since 2009 and has a successful record. Congress demanded that the Navy buy them and make them the center of the MiW package. Senators McCain and Reed demanded this in a letter to SECNAV and the CNO. The Navy complied and tried to buy what Congress wanted. Congress then turned and cut these items. How will the Navy develop CUSV and Knifefish (fairly mature systems without all of the problems of RMMV) as part of the LCS MiW package unless it buys a bunch and operates them with the fleet? Platform based MiW (as in the Avengers) is going away. It is a 1980’s concept that needlessly endangers ships and sailors. CUSV and Knifefish are good investments in moving away from 1980’s concepts.

          • Ed L

            The Nimitz is ancient too.

    • Swampy

      Cutting the money until it could be tested and proven? Yah that makes sense. How do you expect to test and upgrade the hardware if funding is cut/withheld?

      • John Locke

        Vendor IRAD, ONR funded T&E programs, FLEX events, ……..

        • Swampy

          I can see you have no idea how program of record acquisition programs work in the Navy.
          Vendor IRAD, lol. Yah Defense Contractors love spending their own money with no payback guarantee.

          • Lazarus

            Hmmm, just like testing organizations like DOT&E that mandate tests to be done with program (not DOT&E) funds.

          • John Locke

            No, they don’t love it but they do it or they can sit back and hope.

    • jack anderson

      you are going to send a warship worth half a B into a minefield? Bad to losing people but losing money like that WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.

      • Lazarus

        LCS does not have to enter the minefield when equipped with CUSV and Knife fish, along with its other helicopter-based mine warfare capabilities.

  • tpharwell

    Congress is the mother of the United States Navy. The US Navy, through the President, and his appointed Secretary of Defense, may propose that it be given money to spend. Child has had its say. Mother disposes. The question now is not whether Child needs more help from Mother, but whether Mother requires anything from Child in return. And Child will not now be heard to say that more is required of Mother. Thus is it clear that this plea on behalf of a certain program within the Navy proceeds from an entirely erroneous assumption as to who is the boss. Congress does not work for LCS-PEO, or its Mine Module subsidiary. The US Navy works to perform the will of Congress, and/or it drops dead.

    Little good can come from such a poor beginning. This is amply demonstrated by the argument that Mr. Wills essays to develop in support his complaint for not finding an additional $25M for various Mine Countermeasures Research and Development purposes included within the pending defense appropriation bill for the coming year. Given his unreserved support for the entire LCS program, one would have thought he would be happy with next year’s budget as it stands, since it provides funding for more ships than the Defense Department asked for. That budget bill is in Limbo now, because of something that had to do with a protest on the floor (literally) of the Senate, a vacation, and an election. It is far from clear what will happen to it in its entirety, owing to the fact that Congress has actually gone outside of its prospective budget, and raided its war chest naval reserve, (which the Navy likes to think belongs to it), in order to pay for these extra perquisites of power. The President has a problem with that. But so what ? That apparently is of no consequence to Mr. Wills. He is still not happy with what his pet program has been slated to receive. He wants more than more, and is looking the gift horse in the mouth.

    Mr.Wills should reconsider his position and reflect upon how defensible it is. After all, it is he, and virtually he alone in the “free press”, who has tirelessly, and ceaselessly argued that more LCS are needed right now – despite the fact that none of the proposed weapons systems are ready to put aboard them. Failures abound in the field of US Navy mine countermeasures programs, by indisputable fact backed up by his own admission. And yet Mr. Wills would go along with Congresses’ directive to have the Navy build more of these ships of little or no value, despite the fact that he also argues that these ships NEED, and are not getting from Congress, a proven and viable MCM (Mine Countermeasures) tool kit (Knifefish) of supposedly true interoperability -so he says – that neither LCS class of ships have yet shown they can utilize.

    It is just another $25M. Not much when measured against the price of an extra ship. And Congress has merely said “not now: you want money for acquisition; for something that is supposedly already proven ? After fifteen years wasted on something that is not ? Well, do tell. Show us how it works. But no. Mr. Wills says to Congress: you first. You give us the money, NOW – and let Navy show you how it works when Navy is ready.

    Truly, nothing about the LCS program at present bothers him. Nothing whatsoever, including his own temerity and inconsistent reasoning. Not even the following astounding comment which he makes, presumably because he thinks it benefits his cause:

    “Congress is getting more than just another LCS mission module. Its components provide an organic mine warfare capability for the Fleet rather than relegating it to one class of vessel that can be neglected in the later stages of its service life.”

    Some sales pitch, that: for one more hypothetical accessory package, for a non-existent fleetwide MCM capacity conjured up on the spur of the moment, as a precautionary measure, in case a whole class of warships which he wholeheartedly supports – no, make that two – should be left to rust away in the shallows of the Sacramento River, short of its already short, twenty-year intended service life. Just in case these ships, the building of which he has made in to a cause for himself, should turn turtle with double cross-eyes.

    No, really.

    • Lazarus

      So what is the solution to a workable mine warfare platform that will remain usable (not in a decrepit status) for the next 25 years? The MCM’s have already been decaying for the last decade. The first several have been decommissioned. There is not enough time to design and build a replacement MiW platform. The modular MiW capability I suggest can be ready in 18 months as Congress requested. The legislature does have to fund it. If they don’t, what is the navy to do?

      • tpharwell

        Stop stepping on its own feet.

        You outline a situation in which you claim certain MCM capabilities may now be had for a relatively small price, and yet the US Navy does not have them. You blame Congress for this condition. You say it will result imminently for want of $25M in next year’s pending defense appropriation bill. This despite the fact that over the course of the last fifteen years, Navy has received and spent sums orders of magnitude greater on this very sort of thing, and failed to develop, test, and field anything that works. Thus, you claim, or confess, I am not sure which, Navy has no MCM capability to put aboard any of its ships, or it does, but can not afford to acquire it for want of funding, but all the same under the leadership of its present Secretary, must race ahead building more ships that are supposedly needed to carry this unavailable equipment at an annual cost that is also orders of magnitude greater than the equipment they will lack “on completion”. Thus, while Navy apparently talks out of both sides of its mouth, does it also try to stop itself by strangulation, or perhaps, a hunger strike, starving itself of the funds it needs to purchase supposedly proven MCM payload by spending hundreds of millions, yea, billions more on empty ships with marginal load-bearing capacity that when put to sea will merely add to the deficit.

        Neither version of the LCS was genuinely designed for MCM work. These vessels were designed to achieve an extraordinarily high ratio of speed to displacement, characteristics that not only work against each other, but also are very undesirable for MCM work. Consequently these 43kts/3500 FLD ships are ill-suited to perform MCM and highly uneconomical to build, crew, and maintain for that purpose. In so far as MCM is concerned, they suffer from the influence of a deadly design constraint. Nobody wants to do mine clearance or counteraction work at a speed in excess of about 10kts, max. And no one wants to go through, or near, an area where there may be mines at 40 kts, pounding the waves, in a $600M+ ship, 3500 tons, 360 ft stem to stern, with a skeleton crew and no ability to sustain damage and remain afloat.

        Cancel, by executive order, the $55M contracts previously let to find ways to save money building more LCS, and redirect funds.

        Cancel, by executive order, the LM LCS program stopping with all hulls currently under construction.

        Request Congress reduce the LCS line item in its pending NDAA by one ship’s cost, and increase the MCM work Navy seeks to have funded by an equal amount.

        Cancel the Austal LCS program beyond all ships currently under construction or pending authorization for 2017, plus any remainder from the LM program funded.

        Dedicate all LCS to MCM.

        Acquire the MCM systems which you claim are currently needed and available and equip all LCS with them.

        Should this not prove sufficient to meet Navy’s present MCM requirements, search abroad and purchase, lock, stock, barrel, and ship, such equipment as is needed from NATO allies, or from NATO approved foreign vendors.

        Get to work on designing and building a small, slow, inexpensive, dedicated MCM vessel with a modest ability to defend itself and perform cross-over ASW.

        Conduct the fleet-wide needs assessment you have been calling for, and be quick about it.

        Acting under the working assumption that this will reveal the need for a basic ASW/ASuW frigate, enter in to contingent contracts with Ingalls to build them based on their proposed 4500 class patrol frigates, and seek funding for same. Proceed by evolution as needed.

        Dispense with the Blue/Gold crew manning solutions for the LCS/MCM. Have one dedicated MCM crew per vessel. Send them to school.

        In the meantime, show us those USN ships that have time and space to take on transferable MCM duties and equipment, and beginning equipping them as needed, using these funds.

        • Lazarus

          Mine warfare is moving to remote controlled vehicles like CUSV and Knifefish. The speed of the platform that deploys them matters only in how fast it can reach the mine danger area.

          The US Congress will not allow the US to buy a MiW unit from a foreign vendor unless it can be built under license in the US as was the MHC class.

          An MCM vessel with ASW capabilities will cost more than either capability alone on separate hulls.

          The fleet assessment on frigates has already been conducted by the Small Surface Combatant Task Force. It selected the LCS frigate variant as no other hull would be ready in time at the same or less cost.

          Multiple crews allow the LCS units to be deployed for longer periods in overseas environments. Driving small ships back and forth over transoceanic space dramatically shortens their life span. Single crews deployed for over a year are not happy and usually get out of the Navy as their quality of life is terrible. Multiple crews allow these folks a regular schedule and promote retention.

          A modular MiW capability in vehicles like CUSV and Knifefish, as well as helicopter-based capabilities allows for a deployable MiW function across multiple units. That is the real goal for Miw even beyond LCS. Spreading MiW capability across multiple platforms is a much netter solution then confining them aboard a single class of neglected ships.

          • tpharwell

            There is no problem with defense procurement that money can not fix, and no shortage of excuses when it does not. It has been less than six months since the Navy gave up on the last ROV that it has been working on for 17 years, so you say. Since day one everyone has been trying to get it to work with an LCS. If it is all about the ROV, and not about the “platform”, then why is it that one of the problems cited was the vehicle’s weight, and manageability as it hangs suspended from a telescoping beam over the waves from a ship with no well-deck ?

            And if so, why are the LCS per se needed for MCM at all ? Because, by design, the Navy now has nothing else to choose from ? What MCM vessel needs to race to a mine danger destination at speeds approaching what an LCS is supposed to possess ? And what capacity to sustain MCM operations will either LCS have ?

            If what you say about combined MCM/ASW capabilities is true, so be it. I question it as a categorical statement. But by your own assertion, the Navy needs new MCM vessels. And now you are saying that no vessel, including the LCS, will be able to do both, to any degree, even though you have previously declared that in the case of the LCS, ASW will also be a matter of towed arrays and ROVs, or helos, and some such are basic to the LCS/MCM plan.

            So any navy ship can do MCM, and the LCS just happen to be the most economical, or the only ones the Navy has: though, it does also have others. Is that the argument ?

            What Congress will or will not go along with was not what you asked, is purely speculative, and is not the Navy’s problem nor yours, nor mine. You asked what the Navy can do. That means, what the Navy can do to work its will on Congress; and what it can do if it fails. Neither party can push on a string. If the USN can not buy abroad, it is also the case that Congress can not force it to build, and commission, and crew, and deploy warships that it does not wish to have. Half of the equipment aboard the LCS, right down to their bloody power trains come from foreign vendors. They are already virtual Euro-Frigates, without armaments, adequate radars, or weapons control systems. Somewhere along the way, the intentions of the Commander in Chief figure in to the equation. If systems presently exist and are cost-effective, but are found overseas, and Congress will simply refuse to provide funding for them, and otherwise attempt to frustrate the executive in its attempt to address this problem at every turn in the road – then there, you have your answer for you. In that case, the CIC can take all of his LCS, and park them with all of the Avengers, and let them rust away somewhere, just as you implied they eventually might.

            So far as the matter of procedures is concerned, I find your assertion to be utterly false and disingenuous. Since Hagel’s ad hoc LCS committee released its inevitable report, you yourself have called for a new fleetwide capabilities needs assessment that does not prejudice the matter by focusing exclusively on what is presently under contract. You have therefore implicitly faulted the conclusions of that report. I can therefore give no credence to your present flimsy defense of the prior effort.

            Your multiple crews argument is an effort at bootstrapping. And not a very good one. The presence of LCS in the fleet does not drive the need for multiple crews any more than it drives the needs for weapons packages or MCM packages that do not work. Again, this is disingenuous of you. As you well know, requirements drive the need for capabilities in the abstract. Capabilities in the abstract drive the need for ships and crews with capabilities in fact. We agree there is a present unmet MCM capabilities requirement. That fact alone is a searing indictment of the LCS program after fifteen years. And multiple crews for dedicated MCM vessels, as I would propose the LCS be made in to, for purposes of salvage, are neither necessary, nor advisable.

            It is of course the understatement of the session to say that I agree that MCM/MiW capabilities be distributed beyond the current LCS “platforms”, or “seaframes”. That is just what I proposed doing, and how, poste haste.

          • Lazarus

            The Navy does not need a new MCM “ship” but rather a deployable mine warfare capability that can fit on multiple platforms. LCS is hardly a “Euro-frigate” in size of capability. The need for multiple crews on small ships is significant if that ship is to remain deployed for long periods. Try keeping one crew on station deployed for over a year. It is not a good choice in my experience. The Small Surface Combatant task force made a good report. The new capabilities I have blogged about elsewhere are for platforms beyond the LCS. A small surface combatant like a frigate may be needed after the LCS, but LCS is the only small surface combatant that can be built at the present for a reasonable cost and expect to enter the fleet in less than 10 years.

          • tpharwell

            Good. Then let’s not build any more.

            I know all of your talking points by heart and can do a fair imitation of one of your customary comments offered up in apology for the LCS program any time I want. The only problem is, I am troubled by inconsistencies and factual discrepancies they characteristically contain. They all boil down, like this one, to an assertion that things must be the way I say they must be, because I say so. That kind of answer has never gone over well with me, and it never will.

            I most emphatically deny the truthfulness of your last prophetic declaration of opinion. Yes, Navy damn well can, I say. And never before have I heard or seen incompetence offered up as its own excuse.

            The US Navy does not need to build 52, or 40, or 25 LCS just so it may have the option of making some in to minesweepers at some later date, if and when it ever comes up with some MCM gear to equip them with. Lacking mission packages of any sort presently on hand – in the warehouse, or on the dock, ready to install, Navy has no business building any more LCS hulls at all. They are useless, incomplete ships without their intended combat systems. Like Congress, I would say, show us the payloads. Then build the hulls. But like Navy, you say: no; just give us the money, and leave us alone.

            Stop reading off your cards for a second, and put on your listening ears. I said I agreed with you on the need for the MCM gear, and the virtue of making it usable by different classes of ships. I said, say no thanks to the money that Congress has offered for an extra LCS hull in 2017, and insist on the money required for the MCM gear needed, instead. That in and of itself is a solution to your perceived problem. I further said, then make the remaining LCS Navy will, or should have by the end of 2017 in to dedicated MCM vessels, starting now. That goes beyond fixing your immediate perceived problem. That should give the USN ten fancy new minesweepers in eighteen months time – provided it can make good on the promise you have made on its behalf, to come up with the gear to equip them with. And that solution should hold for ten years. Or were you thinking of turning the whole LCS fleet in to minesweepers ?

            No minesweeper needs two crews. And no minesweeper needs two crews. Because no minesweeper needs two crews. “On station” ? Bullshit. Tell me how many Avengers are “on station” now, out of how many in commission.

          • Secundius

            There’s Rescheduled Restart Date of 2018 for at least 12 Flight I LCS/FFG, Might go Higher. But 12 being the Minimum, and that was in Breaking Defense (May 2016)…

          • Lazarus

            I think the eventual goal for MiW is to be a modular capability that can be on multiple classes of ships. That said, I think it has to first work on LCS before being modified to work on a DDG or other class of ship already burdened with multiple missions.

            I believe 8 MCM’s are forward deployed in Japan and the Persian Gulf. They have had both single and rotational crews. The problem is whether or not more Navy dependents will be welcome overseas if more ships (in this case LCS) are deployed there (places like Japan and Bahrain.) Singapore and other potential LCS bases have insufficient housing (if any) for dependents. LCS rotational crews help solve this problem by rotating the people and not the ships. As stated previously, it is also better to rotate crews than move LCS back and forth across the Atlantic/Pacific to/from the US. Ships age in long oceanic transits.

            If the Navy does not build LCS, then there is no low end component ships for patrol, presence, and yes, mine warfare. Two shipyards (Marinette and Austal) will go out of business as they cannot wait the 10 years for the Navy to design and contract for some new, as yet undesigned “frigate” (small combatant.) In this time, the DDG force will be wasted on low end missions like counter piracy, thus further diminishing the already small surface combatant force that can be concentrated against potential peer competitor threats.

            Thousands of US workers out of work, the DDG’s life expectancy run down in multiple, low end missions that class should not perform, and overall US naval readiness to respond to high end threats weakened.

            That is the price of not building 40 LCS with 20-25 year life spans. Is this the price you want the Navy and the nation to pay?

          • tpharwell

            I am in favor of building more ships, just not these. I therefore favor the USN having more money to work with for that purpose. That can not happen as long as the LCS program remains in place. Shipbuilding companies come and go. Shipyards may to, but tend to remain in use as long as they are needed. It is precisely because of projects like the LCS program that I worry about the future of the USN and shipyards in America. I know there will eventually be a day of reckoning. The price of that will be higher. A hollow force. A dispirited service. And nation whose reach exceeds its grasp. Danger. And a morally and financially bankrupt defense procurement system and industrial base.

          • Lazarus

            There are very few shipbuilding companies left. The mergers of the early 1980’s were devastating. If Marinette or Austal go out of business, their expertise in building small warships goes with them. Perhaps Ingalls is a better shipbuilder, but in case of emergency, who will build the ships to replace those lost in combat? One yard cannot do it alone.

          • tpharwell

            Very serious question. Will the LCS program alone suffice to sustain this minimal population of competitive US shipbuilders ? Are those ships the only book of business they have in the US ? If so, I will not go so far as to say I feel sorry for them. But as an stock analyst, I would downgrade my forecasts. Of course, Lockheed Martin, which now owns MM, post commencement of LCS contracts, is a huge defense conglomerate, and will start making plans to close up its shipbuilding shops right now. It really is not a shipbuilder, and LCS simply represented an opportunity for it to try that line of business when the previous owner stumbled. It really will not miss the work, and as for the yard workers, well, 2025 is too far down the road for them to worry about the problem.

            As for the Austal yard. Well, I recall that is some sort of consortium, with the Australian Austal company in the lead. They are a true shipbuilding company, but as you know, they are international. Based on what I have learned from you over the years, I would say it will be a long, long time before the USN offers them anything else to bid on. They will look overseas for more work. Perhaps they will try to get in on the Collins class replacement submarine program for Australia. And of course, they do know how to make these high-speed ferries.

            But the long and the short of it is that even if LCS were everything you have said they are, I would view them as a pretty weak make-work program for an ailing US shipbuilding industry.

            We have six now (with two in doubtful condition). Two more coming out soon. Then it is supposed to be two or three a year for as far in to the future as anyone can foresee, which ain’t far. So let us guess that by the end of 2019, which is supposed to be some make or break year for the program, there will be at tops, some 14 commissioned LCS. Who frankly knows at this time how they will be fitted out. Perhaps, each one different.

            Wasn’t there some talk in the Pentagon about bringing the original design competition to a conclusion by awarding all future contracts to one or the other yard ? [Yes.] Based on that, my guess is that one or the other of these builders is looking to sell out right now. My guess is that the one who is looking to sell is LM. And it is my further guess that before any such decision is actually made, they will sell out. And they naturally will sell out to their competitor in the business. So Austal will end up building and servicing both models. And then, everyone will be for phasing out the odd-series class, and who knows what it will do with Marinette Marine.

            If you ask me, we are already at that critical mass for naval shipbuilding capacity in the United States. Therefore, what we need is not more shipbuilders or more yards, but more ships for them to build, of a completely different kind from the LCS. You have made the case for me that MCM is the most urgently needed capability. I also am of the opinion that it is the one for which LCS are best suited, given their limitations. If I were SECNAV, I would direct that DON stop fooling around with them right now. If it twere done, twere best be done quickly. I would make the down selection now. I would direct that henceforth, all work on “modules” strive towards true interoperability between classes of vessels, and not be specific to either LCS, dead or alive. I would direct that all LCS from now until 2019 be fitted out of MCM work, based on the Rumsfeld principle of “You go to the war with the army you have”. And I would get out a new RFP for a barebones frigate, such as I have described before, on short order.

            But of course, Secretary Mabus is engaged in a power struggle with his boss on behalf of LCS partisans.

            You can not say that US defense contractors are suffering for work, for want of ships to build, and then turn around and say that the DON and its contractual counterparties do not know how to order, build, and take delivery of a new model warship in less than ten years. Those two statements do not go well together. And, yes, there was a day when the Navy knew how to build ships, and in less time than it takes now to turn out an RFP.

          • Secundius

            BAe is Considering a Buyout of Austral Shipyards…

          • ed2291

            The only thing that could be worse is if the ships were named after politicians and shooting victims…oh wait…

          • James B.

            The LCS is going to be next to worthless at MCM. If the USVs and such eventually work well enough to work off the LCS, they will work as well or better off bigger, slower ships.

            If you want to argue for a small patrol craft, I think the LCS is a poorly-designed candidate, but you are correct that we lack better options at this point.

            If you want to argue for MCM, I could not agree more.

            If you want to argue that the LCS is anything approaching a solution for our MCM deficiency, I cannot disagree more wholeheartedly. The LCS is a mediocre solution to some problems, but not to MCM.

          • Lazarus

            Bigger, slower ships are not a good solution in that they take too long to reach a mine danger area (if as slow as the MCM.) The LCS’s have the modular space to specifically support the USV’s needed for the next step in mine warfare. Modular MiW systems that can be deployed to other platforms are the ultimate goal, but I believe they need to first work on LCS. On other platforms such as LSD’s or combatants (for example,) the MiW mission will have to compete with well established ones intrinsic to those platforms.

          • James B.

            With regards to the speed of MCM vessels, I would apply the grand military question: And then what?

            An LCS is still useless if it can’t effectively hunt mines, speeding to the mined area will just make this clear a few days earlier.

            I am not suggesting we build another class of slow coastal MCM vessels like the Avengers, because they couldn’t even keep pace with the amphibious train, much less the CRUDES-CVN vanguard.

            An MCM force really doesn’t need to do 30+ knots with the carrier and destroyers, though, because MCM is very rarely a blue-water task. Realistically, mines are going to be an issue in constricted waters like straits (of Hormuz) and off landing beaches. Therefore, the logical place for MCM forces is with the reconnaissance element of the amphibious force.

            Put the MCM USVs, EOD divers, and SEAL elements all together and they can perform a combined recon of the approaches and beach, blow everything in one shot, and then the Marines can go ashore. If the mined area isn’t an amphibious issue, then there should be plenty of amphibs available to base an MCM task force off of.

            Adding organic MCM to Amphibious Ready Groups would require more short-deck amphibs, possibly one per ARG, but more realistically 2-3 forward-stationed vessels able to surge and augment the ARGs in that region. That could be paid for by cutting back the LCS program to only fill the ASW and patrol mission sets.

          • Curtis Conway

            Lack of leadership, and disciplined configuration management practices, are the genesis of many of these problems.

  • Curtis Conway

    “The LCS mine warfare mission module has seen more than its share of controversy. It has long been connected to the troublesome RMS system—an unfair characterization as RMS was responsible for only one of several elements of the LCS’ mine warfare mission. The Navy has scrupulously followed congressional direction by adopting are commendation from the SASC to add the Textron Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle (CUSV) and the General Dynamics Knifefish underwater vehicle to the LCS mine warfare module.”

    I guess that re-election money provided by the vendors did not pay off for the nation after all?

    “It is imperative now to consider upgrading or replacing the MH-53E in the absence of an MH-60S-based sweep system.”

    The CH-53K King Stallion can more than meet the need. Mine countermeasures system integration should be assessed ASAP as a fallback measure.

    “…recent CH-53 variant crashes…” have occurred with Marine CH-53E Super Stallion models not MH-53E Sea Dragon models.

    “Congress, the Defense Department and the Navy also need to consider upgrading the MH-53E minesweeping helicopters in a manner similar to the Marine CH-53K…” Amen!

  • vetww2

    Ol’ Hunk-A-Junk needs ALL the help she can get. I hope when TRUMP wins he does the same as Bill Clinton did to the SILLY, expensive reactivation of the 4 BATTLESHIPS. This is not a political issue, it’s an intelligence issue.

  • Secundius

    Back to Redacting Comment you Don’t Like…

  • Adrian Ah

    From what I read online, the problem with the remote is it only last about 8-12 hours, instead of the 24 min requirement. Since the Independence class has so much storage space, surely they could carry several of them and rotate them, or have several working simultaneously. Similarly, they have space to carry decoys to activate the mines.

    No?

    • Secundius

      Both the Freedom and Independence, are Capable of Carrying FIVE Mission Modules. But only Independence has a Internal Elevator to Make Transporting the Mission Modules Easier. In Theory BOTH Ships can be Deployed as a Rapid Response Ship for Deploying a “Short” Battalion Strength and Instead of Mission Modules AAAV 8×8’s…

      • vetww2

        What’s with your new”go along to get along” stance? You know, and have stated in the past, the USELESSNESS of the LCS. Why the new love affair?

        • Secundius

          I’ve come to the Realization that the “LCS” Problem ISN’T Going Away. You Can Wish It Away All You Want, BUT for the Foreseeable Future IT’S HERE TO STAY. The Chance of It Being Defunded and/or Cancelled Any Time Soon, IS About the Same As the SUN Rising From the WEST…

          • vetww2

            So just roll-over and play dead,HUH?

          • Secundius

            Unless YOU have a “Plausible Solution”, That Will Actually be PASSED and FUNDED By Congress. The Chances of ANYTHING Else Being Funded as a Replacement, IS Between “NIL and NONE”…

          • tpharwell

            The LCS may not be going away, you are right. Neither are the problems associated with them. The question is how long it can continue to fail to make good on promises. It will eventually die of its own weight.

          • Secundius

            Just like the Gerald Ford class Aircraft Carrier! Until they FIX the EMALS, we the USA have a 110,000-ton Gator-Freighter or Admiral’s Yacht w/a Helicopter/F/AV-35B Flight Deck…

      • Mark Stefanik

        CO of an INDY class here – I think there is a little confusion. Neither ship can carry 5 “mission Modules”, though you may be referring to the individual boxes which house some of the equipment. The module consists of all the various equipment, including helicopters. Because of the size of the mission bay, INDY does have a lot of flexibility, however the number of personnel involved in a “short” battalion would stress our housekeeping services and we would need an SPOD for debarkation.

        • Secundius

          Misunderstanding. Troop Lift Capacity of ~150 to 200 Marines for up to 3-days. Short Battalion is ~550 Marines…

        • Secundius

          Current “Mission Modules” are Either FEU (Forty-foot Equivalent Units) of TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units). Future “Mission Modules” would probably be StanFlex Modules (9.8’L x 8.2’W x 11.0’H)…

        • vetww2

          Precisely my point for the last 10 years. The basic concept is flawed, The nearest Ol; HUNK-A-JUNK can get not a real littoral combat is if they put a couple of rocket launchers od it and a helo on the trip-marran. Otherwise get a HYDROFOIL that is really adaptive.

        • Secundius

          As I Recall, I said “Capable” of Carrying FIVE Mission Modules. NOT THAT IT Actually DID Carry FIVE Mission Modules. At Most ONLY THREE Were Carried…

        • LazyFlyBall

          Has the Navy considered an upgrade or refit to the flight deck and hangar of either LCS variant to handle a MH-53E in light of the failure of the MH-60 to handle the tow mission?

          • Secundius

            The Independence class LCS has a ~7,300-sq.ft. Flight Deck and has been Light Load Tested with a CH-53E. but not a Fully-Loaded One. The Freedom class LCS has a ~5,200-sq.ft. Flight Deck, but NEVER tested for use with the CH-53E…

          • LazyFlyBall

            Interesting. Am I off base thinking it’s odd that as the Navy is in the middle of a project to upgrade the LCS the debate seems to be totally ignoring the CH-53E issue, the incoming CMV-22 fleet, the Marines incoming CH-53K fleet, and the MV-22 tanker coming online. All this rotary aviation coming with no talk of making all these incoming spacious LCS flight decks useful, or having the aviation fuel be a lilypad/mothership even though that’s the Navy/Marine buzzword of the week and LCS are projected to be some of the most numerous ships in theater?

            Am I missing something? Are they really still nixing letting the retro-fit LCS/FFG develop into something this fleetwide-useful because of speed and weight requirements?

          • Secundius

            The Flight “0” LCS’s are “WIP’S”, hence the Modular Layout. The Flight “I” are Mission Specific, Tailored to Perform a Specific Function with a “As Needed” Profile in the Design. Haven’t SEEN a Freedom/FFG Planned Layout Yet. But Independence/FFG, is 1/3 to 1/2 Greater in Size and Limited to a Maximum Speed of ~35-kts (10-kts. LESS than Current) LCS/FFG Specification. Part of FFG Requirements, is a 3-inch (76.2x636mmR/62-caliber) Oto Melara Mod 0 (85-rpm) Rapid Naval Artillery Deck Gun, as a Minimum Support Gun System.

            The US Navy NEVER Used the Mod 1 (120rpm) Super-Rapid Gun System.

          • Al L.

            Where do you come up with this stuff? None of what you said in this comment is true. Not -a- single- thing.

          • Secundius

            I’m a “Confirmation Reader”! YOU Probably on the Other Hand , Get Your Information through the “Arthur Fellig” information website…

          • Al L.

            If you mean that you have a confirmation bias, then that is undebatable.

            Again where did you get your info? Can you cite any source? Or are you just filling up this thread with gobbledygook from the nether regions of your cranium?

            What does photography have to do with LCS?

          • Secundius

            A “Confirmation Reader”, is Someone who gets their Information from Reading Lot, and Lots of Books. In My Case 20 Unabridged Books of a 1,000-Pages or More. NOT the Coloring Books that YOU ARE Use too…

  • James B.

    I agree that the MH-53 fleet needs to be recapitalized along the lines of the CH-53K, but that would make the LCS even less useful in an MCM role, because much larger ships would be required to operated mine-clearance -53s.

    • Secundius

      For Usage on a LCS Platform, a Kaman K-MAX Intermeshing Rotor Helicopter could be Used Instead…

      • James B.

        An autonomous K-MAX would be an interesting choice to tow a mine sled, and is worth doing the math on, at least.

        The issue, as I understand it from Seahawk pilots I know, is that an MH-60 has no margin for error with a mine sled–if an engine fails, rolls back, etc, the bird is in the water before you can react.

        For an unmanned helicopter, particularly one that probably doesn’t need to practice towing a sled, the risk of a mishap is probably a much more acceptable risk.

        • Secundius

          The Original Kaman K-MAX had a Manned Cockpit, and Still Does as far as I’m Aware. A Three Engine Agusta/Westland EH-101 Merlin Could be Used for Safety Concerns…

        • Jon

          Didn’t I just see an article on a new engine pack for the 60’s, offering 50% more power, far better economy, and improved performance under loads? Would that alleviate the issues with an MH-60 towing the mine sleds?

          • James B.

            I saw an article about reengining Army -60s and Apaches; it could be the same one. Navy MH-60s are probably newer aircraft than the Army UH-60s, so they might already have the newer engines, if they don’t then it could certainly help. I don’t know how much, though.

            However, as I understand it the MH-60 has a long ways to go before it is a serious option to tow the present sled.

          • delta9991

            Navy MH-60s don’t have the new engines. New engines you saw were from the ADVENT program which will kick out an engine in the mid 20’s with incredible specs if i remember correctly (Army and vendors want the program to go sooner and there are already prototypes ready for testing from each vendor, but money is the ever present problem).

        • Secundius

          K-MAX’s are Used a Lot in the Logging Service, So I Doubt that the Mine Sled Weight wouldn’t be a Problem…

  • Adrian Ah

    I think if you understand the LCS is not a front line Tomahawk wielding vessel of death, then it has the potential to become very useful. They show the flag, they can transport a lot of things, the INDY has a huge flight pad which is limited to your imagination in use. As a minehunter, it would be good, because most minehunters tend to slow and almost unarmed, while the LCS will become plentiful in number and while minehunting can perform other missions as well. This is what I hope the LCS will evolve into. Something that can minehunt, refuel helos, launch drones, transport personnel, pirate hunt, and have some limited sub hunting abilities via it’s drone or helicopter. With some Hellfires it can hold off small swarm attacks easily, and I wish they’d give it a Phalanx for RPG protection and last line missile protection. I hope they also tack on 8 Naval Strike Missiles, to give it a reasonable buffer zone from attack.

    • Secundius

      the British “Brimstone” which Virtually Looks Like the “Hellfire”. The Brimstone-I has Twice the Range of the Hellfire and Brimstone-II, nearly Ten Times the Range of the Hellfire…

      • El_Sid

        Brimstone is a great weapon, it’s not yet been cleared for the complex EM environment of a ship, which is a non-trivial task.

        • Secundius

          The US Navy, claims to a “Wannabe” Longbow-Hellfire system. But I can’t Find ANY Reference to the Planned Usage on AN/APG-78 Longbow Fire Control Radar. Have You Heard of Anything About It?

          • Al L.

            The Navy is using Longbow because it can be cued by the LCS radars. It then uses it own radar to close on the target. A Longbow radar is not needed. Longbow is not semi-active radar seeking. It is a fire and forget weapon.

          • Secundius

            The AN/APG-78 Longbow Radar, has a Detection Range of ~31-kilometers. If Phalanx CIWS Radar is used, Detection Range is ~10-kilometers. That’s the Reason that I Asked…

          • Al L.

            The ship has a radar (TRS-3D or Sea Giraffe). Searam radar has nothing to do with targeting anything but Searam. The ship does not have a Phalanx. The missiles ( Longbow hellfire ) have a max range of 5 nm. Why would a 31 kilometer range matter for targeting the Hellfires? The ship’s radar has a longer potential range than 31 kilometeres, but it doesnt matter since the radar horizon against a small surface target would be about 30 kilometers, and the hellfires are meant for small surface targets.

          • Secundius

            The EXACT Same Radar used on the SeaRAM is used on the Mk.15 Phalanx CIWS…

          • Secundius

            That WHY the British Brimstone should be used! Brimstone I, has Twice the Range as Hellfire and Brimstone II, Five Times the Range of Hellfire…

          • Al L.

            1. Brimstone is not in US inventory nor manufactured in the US nor qualified on US ships nor tested to launch vertically so would require enormous investment in time and money to use on LCS. Longbow is sitting in Army stockpiles by the tens of thousands. Not to mention Brimstone costs 3 times what Hellfire costs.

            2. Brimstone 2 has yet to be qualified on anything but Tornado. Its barely in ioc or production Its a long way from working as a VL missile on a ship. The Navy tried that kind of a gamble with NLOS, and ended up with nothing.

            If MBDA ever proves Brimstone 2 for VL surface to surface use then maybe it could be considered. That could be years away if ever.

            And by the way those comparative ranges (which you apparently got from Wikipedia) are not valid. Most reliable defense media sources give Brimstone max range as around 10-12 nm when launched from a fast jet, at altitude. It would be much less when launched from the surface.

          • Secundius

            I Don’t Recall Saying It Was? Only that it Should be USED…

          • Al L.

            I could say that a Pershing missile should be used, that doesn’t mean its reasonable. While we are at it lets just say the ship SHOULD: fly, run on farts, and change colors like a chameleon.

          • Secundius

            Too Big! Probably wouldn’t even fit inside one of the two hangers

          • Secundius

            And JUST “EXACTLY” Where In My Statement and/or Comment, Did I Mention “Semi-Active”….

          • Al L.

            You didn’t. I added that for your edification, since you seem to have little understanding how the system works.

          • Secundius

            Both the Phalanx CIWS Radar and Longbow Radar are K-Band Radar Systems. The ONLY Differences Between the TWO Being Range Detection…

          • Al L.

            Whats it matter, the CIWS radar is not used for the MRSSM. The ships main radar is used. LCS-1 ships don’t have a CIWS radar.

          • Secundius

            Independence class LCS, is equipped with SeaRAM. Which uses the SAME tracking K-band Radar as CIWS…

    • Mark Stefanik

      LCS has last line/point defense capability through SeaRAM, which is essentially a Phalanx CIWS with missiles for increased range. The flexibility of the LCS platform makes it highly versatile for a variety of low end missions, which is what the Navy has primarily conducted over the past two decades. It is much more efficient than using a billion-dollar DDG to hunt pirates or drug smugglers, and is very capable against small craft. Once the expeditionary MCM systems are fully funded and fielded, it will be able to both conduct MCM and provide some force protection, an upgrade to the current Avenger class.

      • Adrian Ah

        HI Mark,

        I know the LCS has SeaRam, but I was thinking about a point defense against numerous small and cheap shoulder launched rockets from small boats, much like forts in Afghanistan use them. (there’s an article or two about that, forgot where). I imagine SeaRAM can be used, but there’s only 11 /22 missiles (depends on which LCS variant) and it seems quite expensive and wasteful.

        I also feel, as an pure amateur, that several phalanx’s, rather than 2x 30mm guns, would be more effective

        • Secundius

          SeaRAM isn’t Just an Anti-Air Defense System. Both RAM and SeaRAM can be Programmed to Hit a Specific Target. Whether Air Moving, Sea Moving or Land Moving, or Stationary. It can Also be Used as A Fire Support Missile, Whether Directly of Indirectly. The Only Difference between the Two, is that RAM requires Dock Side Support to Reload. SeaRAM can be Reloaded at Sea…

    • delta9991

      This is spot on. This is exactly what they’re meant to be used for and what they will excel at. I would add though that its capabilities against subs wont be “limited”. The ASW package is very potent with the SQR-20 towed array, the Thales 2087 VDS and its embarked MH-60R. I think we’ll see these ships, even the original flight 0, grow exponentially in capability in the next few years (OTH missile which hopefully is the NSM, SLQ-32(V)6, and anything that can be retrofitted from FFG design).