Home » Aviation » House Hearing Sets Up Debate on Current Navy Platforms in Future Fight


House Hearing Sets Up Debate on Current Navy Platforms in Future Fight

USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), left, transits the East China Sea with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Takanami-class destroyer JS Sazanami (DD-113), the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Murasame-class destroyer JS Samidare (DD-106) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108) on March 9, 2017. US Navy Photo

A panel of lawmakers heard a preview of the debate the Navy will soon face, regarding whether its future fleet will be made up of today’s staples – the aircraft carrier, surface combatants and nuclear-powered attack submarines – or whether those proven systems could be swapped for new platforms.

The House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee hosted representatives of three Future Fleet Architecture studies – conducted by the Navy, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, and the MITRE Corporation – in a hearing last week and heard snippets of the arguments that will have to take place in the coming years over the future of the Navy fleet.

One debate came over whether a mainstay of the fleet – the nuclear-powered attack submarine – should continue to be the sole manned undersea platform for fighting a high-end conventional war. MITRE argued in its report that the Navy should invest in diesel submarines to supplement the Virginia-class boats, creating a more affordable high-low mix.

The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Mississippi (SSN 782) arrives at the Republic of Korea (ROK) Fleet base in Busan as part of a routine port visit on June 13, 2016. US Navy photo.

“Our concern was on the capacity side and actually bringing up the number of attack submarines,” Sunoy Banerjee, manager for MITRE’s Naval Research Development Test & Evaluation portfolio, said at the hearing.
“The diesels are going to have issues with speed of advance and magazine depth, they don’t have the magazine depth as they have in the Virginia [class]. But our thought was, base them forward – base them in Guam and Japan or in the Baltics – so they are close to the fight. And when the balloon goes up, flush them out early because it’s going to take them a while to get there. And the Virginias and the nuclear subs that are deploying from [the continental United States] or from other locations can speed into the [area of responsibility] and get on station very quickly. Once they’re on station, [diesel submarines are] something the adversary is going to have to worry about, so the thought there was this is a way of actually increasing the size of the submarine force relatively cheaply – because our back-of-the-envelope math suggests you can get three diesels for the cost of one Virginia – so as a way of increasing quickly to try to overcome the loss of the Los Angeles class as they retire out of the force.”

SS Detroit (LCS-7) arrives at new home port at Naval Station Mayport after completing maiden voyage from Detroit on Nov. 23, 2017. US Navy Photo

A Navy representative – speaking on behalf of the Navy FFA study group, and not the Navy requirements community – however, firmly denounced that idea.

“We don’t have the luxury of fighting close to our shore. We play an away game,” Charles Werchado, the deputy director of the Navy’s assessments division (OPNAV N81) said.
“If I was a country like China, I would buy a lot of diesels because I know you’re going to come and fight me here at home. We have to deploy, and the only way to deploy is to bring your own fuel with you. When we buy a Virginia, it comes with a lifetime of fuel. So I have nothing against diesel submarines, but you have to say, am I’m going to be fighting within 200 miles of where I’m based at? Or else now I have to buy extra oilers. I’m going to make them vulnerable when I refuel them; they’re going to have to snorkel and they’ll become vulnerable. It’s just not an option for us as long as we have to be a global navy.”

A second disagreement came over whether to turn over a new leaf on the Navy’s small surface combatant – the Littoral Combat Ship and the LCS-based frigate design – or choose a path forward that protects the industrial base here in the United States. MITRE’s study recommended stopping the LCS and frigate program immediately and starting over with a new design, likely borrowed from a foreign shipbuilder for the sake of expediency. Banerjee said the Garcia-class frigates in the U.S. Navy fleet in the 1980s were similar to what MITRE thought the Navy should build going forward, but a naval architect on the MITRE study team didn’t think building that same ship would be feasible today. Instead the team looked at foreign options such as the German F125-class frigate, with two 5-inch deck guns that could fire the Hyper Velocity Projectile, Vertical Launching System cells and electronic warfare and decoy capabilities. He, like the other project teams, also said the frigate would have to have air defense capabilities that allowed it to escort other military and civilian ships, as well as strong anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

However, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.), whose district includes the Marinette Marine shipyard that builds the Freedom-variant LCSs, questioned whether MITRE had considered the industrial base when crafting this proposal.

“Have you done any analysis of what that would do to the defense industrial base, because as I’m sure you know this isn’t sort of a turn it off, turn the spigot back on somewhere else,” the freshman congressman and Marine Corps veteran said.
“This is years of developing skilled workforce and improvements and efficiencies that happen every single day to make it more affordable.”

Banerjee replied that “the question, in terms of whether or not that could be built in those shipyards or whether those yards could be expanded to handle a larger ship size, that wasn’t something we looked at. What we did think about was whether it would be possible to actually potentially license a design to try to actually get something built sooner, if it’s a design that could be licensed and then manufactured at either or both of the existing LCS shipyards. Now what modifications they would have to do at the yards to be able to do that, we didn’t actually look at that.”

Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at CSBA, said during the hearing that the Navy ought to move to a larger and more survivable frigate design, ideally building the LCS and LCS-based frigate for a few more years until a new design is ready for production.

Clark said CSBA’s studies highlighted the need “to do air defense for another ship so it can do an escort mission, which we saw in our analysis as being increasingly important for a situation in which our logistics force and civilian convoys and noncombatant ships are going to be at risk of being attacked by an enemy that’s willing to go all out and attack civilians as well as attacking just strictly military ships. So we saw that need to have the ability to do air defense of another ship as being essential. The other thing it has to be able to do is anti-submarine warfare, and in particular using new anti-submarine warfare concepts that leverage things such as the variable depth sonar, which the LCS mission package has, and the multi-function towed array, which the LCS mission package has as well. What those capabilities do is allow us to transition from having a strictly man-on-man or single-ship-on-submarine kind of ASW to now a multi-static ASW where multiple ships can look for multiple submarines, and then you need standoff weapons to be able to engage those submarines rapidly.”

A Swedish Navy Visby-class. The CSBA fleet architecture calls for the Navy to create its own class of guided missile corvettes. Swedish Navy Photo

Clark didn’t explicitly address the industrial base factor, though he noted that the LCS can already carry out the anti-submarine warfare mission he requires but does not have the VLS cells for air defense. Freedom-variant prime contractor Lockheed Martin has said for a couple years that it could scale its LCS design up or down as desired for foreign military sales or for follow-on frigate designs – such as the longer hull with 16 VLS cells designed for the Saudi navy. In addition to an air defense frigate, the CSBA report also called for a smaller air defense ship class. They used the Swedish Visby-class corvette as an example of what the Navy might pursue.

Finally, there was some debate over how today’s aircraft carrier would fit into operational concepts for tomorrow’s high-end fight.

Werchado suggested that the carrier would be best leveraged when combined with a Wasp-class or America-class amphibious assault ship with fifth-generation F-35Bs onboard. He noted the Marines are using their Joint Strike Fighters now, while the Navy is still several years away from initial operational capability with its F-35C variant. If a big-deck amphib came to the fight with an all-F-35 loadout of 20 or more, and teamed up with an aircraft carrier with the EA-18G Growler for electronic attack and the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft, “now the carrier air wing has fifth-gen squadrons earlier, and the L-class ship affords the protection from the E-2s and the Growlers on the carrier.”

Beyond that, he said, the pairing would create twice as many nodes in the distributed lethality construct as carriers operating alone. The Navy sends carriers to war in pairs, to create 24-hour flight operations between the two ships. That means the Navy only has carriers in half as many places. With the support of F-35Bs on a big-deck, Werchado said, the Navy would essentially double how many places from which it could launch aircraft at sea.

Clark, however, saw a different future for carriers in high-end combat. He said putting carriers in the immediate conflict area suppressed their warfighting capabilities in CSBA studies because the crews spent their time driving around avoiding enemy missiles instead of launching airplanes for offensive operations. Instead, he said, a future high-end fight would not involve the carriers for the first day or two. Distributed surface and subsurface forces would fire a high volume of missiles very quickly for the first two days until they ran out of ammunition, and when those ships had to retreat from the fight to resupply, the aircraft carrier would come in and continue the fight against a presumably weakened enemy.

  • PolicyWonk

    Considering that: no version of LCS will ever meet naval construction standards (present or future); LCS has failed to meet its crewing objectives (now more than 50% larger than was originally thought); it failed to meet its mission package change-out requirement (now 3 months instead of 3 days); it lacks the room for growth to significantly up-arm or protect the LCS itself (ignoring protection of other ships completely); and its staggering cost given the poor ROI to the taxpayers – there is little point in continuing this program. Especially given that the cost of the LCS rivals that of our allies high-end frigates without providing the benefits thereof.

    That the USN would even suggest building a frigate based on a platform that completely failed to deliver on any of its promises is astonishing – especially given we have the proven, and far superior Legend Class NSC we could use to base a new class of frigates.

    I like the idea of building a smaller class of carrier based on the LHA-6/USS America sea-frames. We could build 3 of these for the cost of one USS Ford – so we’d get better coverage at low risk. The F-35B’s could pack a solid punch and we could send CVL’s to less volatile parts of the world to show the flag – while freeing the CVN’s for the heavy lifting.

    I also like the idea of building AIP boats and forward basing them in the Med, S. China Sea, and Persian Gulf.

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      There are already 10 LHAs…. how many more do you want?

      And they already do the lower intensity bombing, eg: the Libyan air strikes a few months ago.

      • PolicyWonk

        I would think a half-dozen would be a good number.

        We’d still have to build Ford-sized carriers once in a while – but we’d have 6 smaller carriers that would give us vastly better coverage than 2 Fords could ever offer.

        • Curtis Conway

          Up to six of the LHA(s) should be the USS America Class with the expanded aviation support areas (Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Det) and support equipment and additional parking). Now, if we only had a VSTOL/STOVL AEW&C asset for use on All USN flight decks! THAT is worth the investment, and the technology exist.

          • Manuel Labor

            Agreed. There are lots of places where an ARG/MEU is the answer. The Makin Island ARG got to sit tight around the Horn of Africa in between CSGs. A Saudi frigate in the Bab al-Mandab Strait, mistaken for one of ours, took a hit from a suicide speedboat. The shadow cast by a CVN provides a cool spot in the shade, but alligators like to lay out in the sun, too. They’ve done well.

    • Duane

      LCS currently meet the LCS ship class mission and technical requirements. Period, no ifs ands or buts. There are no failures to meet requirements. To assert otherwise is just an internet meme, not a factual reality. The basic seaframes are fully developed and perfectly operational, and the three major mission modules are all on track to achieve IOC either in 2017 or in 2018, as scheduled. The much ballyhooed and grossly overhyped “engineering failures” last year were operational crew errors, due to the way the crews were poorly trained and deployed, which the Navy fixed late last year with an entirely different, yet proven (in the nuke fleet) crewing and training structure. No new engineering failures have occurred since then, and they won’t be repeated any more often in the future than engineering failures in any other class of warship in the fleet. All ships are subject to occasional failures – they’re imperfect machines and their operators are imperfect human beings.

      I agree with you that a mid-sized non-nuke CV forward deployed makes sense as a supplement to, but not replacement for, construction of the Ford class carriers. We can build two of such ships for the cost of each Ford class CVN.

      No non-nuke boats for the Navy, however. They aren’t effective or survivable as compared to nuke boats.

      • PolicyWonk

        Unfortunately, none of the original requirements have been met – so they’ve had to reduce them several times so they could meet the current “requirements”, which now make these sea-frames far less of an asset than what they were initially sold to the taxpayers and HoR’s on.

        (Some might call this “bait and switch”).

        The so-called/deceitfully designated “littoral combat ship” was derived from ONR research that determined the USN required a littoral combatant that would be heavily armed, designed to prevail in the battles in which it takes part, and cost $90M per sea frame. This concept was called “street fighter”, and the only thing that remains of that concept is the “littoral combat” designation part, because NECC (the folks that specialize in littoral operations) weren’t even consulted for the design. Neither class of LCS were designed or intended to enter the littorals for the purpose of engaging in combat (that is according to the CNO, and long since echoed by the USN’s own inspector general, DOT&E, OMB, etc.). No LCS variant, present or future, while ever meet naval construction standards, according to the so-called LCS program office.

        Contrast this to a common fleet oiler, which is a non-combatant, yet is built to the USN’s Level-2 construction standard (the same level as an OHP-class frigate of old).

        The staffing requirement has increased the cost to maintain these hyper-expensive “ships” while reducing the amount of time they can remain at sea (or increase how often they have to be replenished). The original crewing numbers were supposed to be 40 crew – now its over 60 – because much of the ship-board automation failed to meet the design and automation requirement. Crews are expensive – and this additional expense helps to make LCS even less worthwhile than it already was (which was poor to begin with).

        As others who serve on LCS’s have posted here and elsewhere – the crews are acutely aware of the fact that every other navy’s ships of similar size are vastly more heavily armed and protected than either variant of LCS will ever be. As are other navy’s smaller littoral boats, such as the Skjold class, that would wipe an LCS off the face of the earth without fear of reprisal. The larger problem – is that since LCS was never intended to carry weapons of consequence – so the room for growth simply doesn’t exist.

        Without a decent foundation, you cannot add a new floor onto a house. The same thing is true for ships – if you have a well designed sea-frame, you have a lot to work with. And with LCS – you have pitifully few options.

        In short, the value simply isn’t there. We’re paying a staggering amount of money ($36B) for a bunch of very expensive ships that cannot fulfill the missions for which they were intended, while failing to provide the USN/taxpayers with the littoral combat platform the ONR determined was necessary.

        The combination of being lousy for littoral operations in anything other than the most permissive environments, and less than useful for blue water since they cannot protect themselves – let alone the rest of the fleet – is what makes LCS a bona-fide loser.

        We have vastly superior Legend class NSC’s building on the slipways that are substantially superior sea frames on which to build a frigate. Proven, seaworthy, tough, long legs, arctic capable, and lots of room for growth. These are a vastly superior option and available now.

        The LCS project should be limited to whatever is on the slipways, and otherwise killed. These corporate welfare program has gone on long enough.

        • Duane

          You’re lying, as usual.

          • PolicyWonk

            I give you facts and references – you offer BRAVO SIERRA.

            I invite you to prove me wrong – please educate me with your superior grasp of the facts. I can be swayed by a solid argument – whereas even when confronted by the facts, you have no other response but to childishly claim I’m the one who’s lying.

            Good luck with that!

            😀

          • Duane

            Well, when you lie, I call it “lying”. Pretty simple concept really.

          • PolicyWonk

            You offer ZERO proof that I’m lying outside of your obviously uninformed opinions.

            ZERO evidence.
            ZERO references.

            I offer you the opportunity to prove your intellectual superior and/ grasp or the facts. Yet you apparently have nothing except to whine about excep that you think I’m lying, despite the fact that you cannot counter what I’ve explained to you.

            That makes your opinion worth NOTHING.

            Go and troll somewhere else.

          • Duane

            You offerered zero proof with your statement that the LCS does not meet Navy specs. I offered proof that the Navy has declared that the LCS meets specs every time it accepts one after sea trials. That is the proof.

            You offered zero proof with your allegations that the Navy and its contractors have criminally lied and hidden the unsuitability of the LCS for its specs and its intended mission, as you claim without any proof whatsoever. I offer the proof that you’re obviously just a lying loudmouth with an axe to grind, since there is zero investigation of naval criminality as you irresponsibly charge.

            You cite audit reports by DOT&E and claim that the fact that there have been audit deficiencies and findings during development of the LCS proves the LCS is a failure. I cite the fact that there is and never has been any such thing as any new military weapon or weapons system that is audit-finding free and totally free of minor flaws, ever. “Perfection” has never been the standard for designing, building, operating, and maintaining any US defense system, or in any other nation’s defense system. You betray your complete and total ignorance of real world weapons and systems and ships with such ignorant rants.

            It is clear you have an axe to grind and you are a professional anti-US defense troll, most likely on the payroll of Vladimir Putin, or else one of his legion, as Putin calls them, his “useful idiots” who do his work for free, all towards the purpose of his longstanding psy-ops campaign against any US weapons system that threatens his plan to acquire and dominate his “Greater Russia” sphere of influence.

          • Curtis Conway

            It is common knowledge that the LCS(s) were built to Commercial Safety Standards and accepted (and Excepted) by the Navy as sufficient w/r/t watertight integrity and compartmentalization in spite of current USN Regulation concerning the minimum Safety Standards for a US Navy Surface Combatant. Pure and simple the US Navy did that Liberal Redefinition Thing of ‘just redefine the term’ and run with it to save money at the expense of the safety of our sailors. The USN is either ‘On a River in Egypt’ w/r/t this issue, or worse . . . they place our sailors in greater danger for their own little pet theories like ‘speed is life’ in a 2D environment, which only have very limited application.

          • Duane

            If you believe the US Navy broke Navy regulations in its procurement of the LCS, then put up or shut up: file charges against the CNO with NIS and let’s see what happens.

            I am pretty sure the answer to that is nothing.

          • Curtis Conway

            When the ‘powers that be’ change the rules to enable them to go where they want to go (for several administrations now), it leaves few avenues of approach to change things, other than elect a new administration that thinks differently, which is exactly what happened. The builders of the LCS Program believe in disposable sailors. The US Navy Regulations were developed over time and written in blood by previous mistakes made in US Navy planning and construction of surface combatants. To discard US Navy Regulations for survivability to develop new businesses, put money in politicians pockets (who defend and protect the program), and make the nation less safe . . . is a Spiritual Crime.

          • PolicyWonk

            Indeed –

            The designs for both classes of LCS seem to all but completely ignore the hard-won lessons of littoral combat, by failing to adequately arm and reasonably protect those that are ordered to man them.

            Even the sailors who’ve identified themselves as assigned to LCS that have posted their comments here and on other forums, have clearly outlined their knowledge (and concern) that other navy’s ships in the same relative size/class are considerably better armed and protected.

            Hence – when it comes to the need for a littoral combat platform, or for that matter a serious frigate – both classes of LCS fail to fit either requirement.

          • Curtis Conway

            You wrapped it up pretty well. It is a crime that our navy continues in this policy of building disposable ships and manning it with our sailors. The United States Navy needs 50+ multi-warfare, all-ocean, Ice-hardened, Hybrid-Electric Drive frigates with a non-rotating AESA Radar, that are constructed in two versions (AAW-centric, ASW-centric) that share the same hull, HM&E, and most support systems keeping commonality to the extent possible. Gas turbines should be the Prime Mover, and Ships Service Gas Turbine Generators should feed the Navy’s new 4160v Integrated Power System. Compete construction between two yards, and let ALL parts be purchased in MYP fashion just like in the DDG-51 contract. Let these new frigates be the introductory platform for Directed Energy Weapons (DEW) at sea with no less than four (4) on board. Let these platforms have a very robust and integrated Passive detection, tracking, and fire control systems . . . and let us not take a decade making this happen. These new frigates will ‘go where they will without fear’ and be the go-to platform for Unified Combatant Commander presence missions for ‘Showing the Flag’. With the DEWs it will never run out of ammunition, and if the DEWs are correctly placed on the vessel most engagements will be ‘dual-engagements’ placing as much as 300Kw on target with today’s technology. The DEW mounts should be supported by space and power that can support the next three upgrades in power output.

          • Duane

            You’re nuts … there is no such thing as “disposable ships”.

            You’re just pissed that the Navy doesn’t kowtow to oldtimers who think that only 20th century methods and ships are worthwhile. You’ve been left behind by the world and it pisses you off no end. Get over yourselves, dudes.

          • Duane

            You state the complete opposite of the truth with every comment you make here, dude.

            You don’t even know the difference in performance between an LCS and a frigate.

            You never actually list the mythical requirements that the LCS does not meet, either in principle, or in the actual US Navy procurement documents that set forth the detailed requirements. You just cite what is in your little head.

          • Duane

            The powers that be always set the requirements. You don’t like the requirements. You are not the CNO, so you don’t get to set the requirements. Get over yourself. You aren’t going to get your way on this.

          • Curtis Conway

            Ethics and morality are constant. When the powers that be decide that something that cannot defend itself from a prolific threat (TBMs & ASCMs) that are readily available around the globe, are not a threat to a ship assigned the title of surface combatant, then those powers have crossed the line of morality, and have created a ‘disposable ship’, and then even more immoral, man it with US Navy Sailors . . . what do YOU call that. Reality and facts are hard to run from, and our forces are never supposed to encounter a fair fight.

          • Duane

            Where are you getting your info on the LCS? The LCS comes equipped with the RIM-116 SeaRam surface to air missile system (entirely self-contained with its own sensors within the launcher) for ASCMs. This is exactly the same system we put on our Nimitz and Ford class big deck carriers. If it’s good enough for those biggest and most capable warships in the world, then it’s good enough for the officers and crew of an LCS.

            The LCS is far BETTER defended against the threat it will face 99% of the time – small boat swarms – than any other vessel in the world.

          • Curtis Conway

            “If it’s good enough for those biggest and most capable warships in the world, then it’s good enough for the officers and crew of an LCS.” LOL!!!

            NO CVN will EVER steam ISE on a “Presence” mission of “Showing the Flag” without escorts that have significantly more capability that provide an AAW defense in depth. Destroyers and Cruisers, and in their day the fully equipped FFG-7s, did (and still do, except for FFG-7) steam ISE all the time. There are few places we would not send a DDG-51 or CG-47 with ISE tasking. There are FEW places we would do the same with an LCS (either flavor, or the FF version). The very area that we have been told this vessel was designed for (Arabian Gulf AKA Persian Gulf) attracts little interest from the Saudis, without significant upgrade, and they LIVE there!

            Concerning SeaRAM, I invite you to hang your future and safety on the capabilities of that very capable (though small and singular mount) and the missile’s 25 lb blast fragmentation warhead, to defend you against TBMs and ASCMs that are available to any customer on the international arms market, perhaps even some supersonic ASCMs that aren’t much smaller than a telephone pole coming at you at Mach 3+ at 50′ altitude, that will give you time for perhaps one shot at 5+ mile range (maximum range of the SeaRAM), given the capabilities of the rotating radar on board. NO. Anyone who believes that is sufficient AAW defense (and I do NOT consider the SeaRAM AAW defense, for it is a near point-defense weapon) adequate.

          • Duane

            You ignore the fact that we do operate the RIM 116 system on our most important assets, while you also ignore that nobody is going to target small surface combatants with extremely expensive anti-ship ballistic missiles which are only used to threaten large capital ships. We provide extensive AEGIS umbrellas over every CVN task group precisely because the big deck carriers carry many thousands of crew and air wing people and constitute the most valuable physical asset of our navy and of any navy in the world. Note also that the AEGIS is not mounted on the carrier itself, and AEGIS is just as capable of providing anti-ship-ballistic missile protection to a host of other vessels anywhere in the region as it does to the big deck carriers.

            Plus the air wings provided by carriers and ground based aircraft also provide cover for our small combatants.

            You have created a straw man, non-existent standard that no small surface combatant could ever meet … not just LCS, but all of our minesweepers, patrol boats, and any frigates that we’ll ever develop. The defense for any given ship type must necessarily be proportional and appropriate to the actual threats it faces. Aircraft carriers aren’t much threatened by small boat swarms, so do not have the defenses of an LCS. And an LCS isn’t plausibly threatened by anti-ship ballistic missiles so does not need or carry AEGIS.

          • Curtis Conway

            “Strawman?” Where are the FFG-7 frigates? Their missions did not go away, just the platforms. They were neutered of their Mk13 MFCS that took away their AAW capability making them more vulnerable to ASCM attack, and having no option for a TBM attack. The ‘Show the Flag’ missions did not go away. The ‘Presence’ mission stations went unmanned. How did that work out for us? The Unified Combatant Commanders have been complaining to congress for over a decade that their assets to perform these missions were being depleted without replacement. When the LCS/Frigate try to perform these missions, there are places on this planet where they will be sent, and you will not want to be a rider on the ship at the time, for they will not be able to defend themselves from a determined attack of reasonable effort. How many times has the LCS/Frigate been touted as the replacement of the former frigates which were our go-to platform for those mission sets, yet lower cost but capable small surface combatant ? . . . Strawman my Alfa Sierra Sierra! We have no small surface combatant today that can perform the FFG-7 mission set. This NEW WORLD we now find ourselves in has a plethora of ASCMs available to any customer, and some are pretty capable. Theater/Tactical Ballistic Missiles are just as, if not more so, available to any customer who wishes to purchase them. The next Small Surface Combatant must be much more capable than its predecessor, NOT LESS! Anyone who cannot see that is un-schooled, un-informed, and/or have another AGENDA!

          • Duane

            You’re complaining about funding from Congress. The Navy, like every other service, always wants far more than Congress is willing to fund. Congress makes the funding decisions, not the Navy. Right now the Navy cannot even maintain what it has today, with continuing “carrier gaps”, large numbers of combat aircraft left inoperable due to lack or parts, etc. etc.

          • Curtis Conway

            No, the focus on money is all on your side of the equation. MY focus is on the mission set, capability of the platform’s Combat System w/r/t what a small surface combatant can accomplish, how many frigates have been withdrawn from the inventory without a replacement (and the effects on American foreign policy, and overall safety of Democracy at large planet wide due to their absence), and how the replacement (LCS/Frigate) is NOT as survivable and capable as what was withdrawn from service w/r/t survivability (watertight integrity & compartmentalization) and combat system capability.

            The US Navy and Congress ‘Broke the Faith’ with the sailors when the FFG-7s were withdrawn, and started replacing those empty slots with LCS.

          • Duane

            Frigates have zero to do with LCS. A frigate is not an LCS, and an LCS is not a frigate. If you have a complaint about withdrawn frigates, take that up with the CNO and your Congressman. It has nothing to do with the LCS.

          • Curtis Conway

            Duane, THAT is the NEW argument. The LCS has been touted as the FFG-7 replacement, at much less cost, that would only be required to operate in this new world full of peace, until everything started coming apart at the seams because we pulled back with our Proactive Presence, as has been testified to by every Unified Combatant Commander since we started taking advantage of the so called the Peace Dividend. I lived through it, and experienced the beginning of it in the Reserves, and have been following it closely for over a decade (last 20 years+). Live on a River in Egypt if you must, but don’t drag the rest of us into denial with you because you choose to do so.

          • Duane

            No – the LCS came about in the world of Iranian aggression and terrorist in places like the Persian Gulf, to fight a new enemy in a new style of coastal warfare that we had not been engaged in since the end of Vietnam. The decision to retire the older frigates was a different judgment, based on the fact that the Russian navy was a mere shadow of its former Soviet fleet, and the Chinese had not yet begun their naval buildup. The LCS was NEVER sold as a FFG replacement – it was sold entirely on its own merits. It was never called the “sort of frigate” – it was always called the “littoral combat ship”.

            That a bunch of old codger sailors and lovers of the retired FFGs assumed incorrectly and in many cases, intentionally fraudulently, that the LCS was a “replacement” for the frigate is entirely the fault of the bad thinking and blameshifting of the frigate crowd .. it was NEVER the position of the Navy.

          • Curtis Conway

            “…the LCS came about in the world of Iranian aggression and terrorist in places like the Persian Gulf…” If it is true, and I have read it too, that the LCS was to deal with this specific region and threat set, then I am even more worried about the Defense apparatus of These United States, for the Saudis will not have anything to do with it, for in their opinion it is just a fast target lacking in capability. The Israelis are of the same opinion. So . . . carry on! You obviously have all the answers.

          • Curtis Conway

            Well then, your side has a lot to answer for because (as previously pointed out) even the Saudis won’t have anything to do with the LCS in its current form due to lack of capability/survivability, and the Navy has had 20 years to work on this. What gives?

          • Curtis Conway

            “That a bunch of old codger sailors and lovers of the retired FFGs…”. to place this in HiStorical perspective, NONE of us ‘Old Codger Sailors’ loved the FFG-7s, save the Frigate Sailors who served on them. EVERY surface combatant had a 5″ gun until this monstrosity came along. However, it was powered with gas turbines, and much more reliable and capable than the steam ships they replaced. The Mk13 MFCS was a step up from the Sea Sparrow point defense systems of the day, so the FFG-7s could assume an AAW station in the formation (something the LCS will NEVER do). Some had a tail, and many had an ASW helo with RAST. Overall the OHPs were the least capable surface combatant in the fleet, but something that had barbs and spines so most folks did not want to challenge them (LCS not so much, e.g., Saudi [and Israeli] attitude about the platform). The Unified Combatant Commanders could always count on the availability of the frigates for Anti-Piracy, Presence and Show the Flag missions, and they participated in numerous exercises world wide. The US Coast Guard embarked Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments (LEDETs) on FFG-7s serving all over the planet when more firepower than a Cutter was required, or available. Although not the platform to ride in heavy weather, many rode out storms in Blue Water, and survived to tell the tail. So . . . your supposition that we ‘Old Codger Sailors’ loved the FFG-7s is a comment that is untoward, unschooled, inappropriate, and inaccurate to the extreme. We ‘Old Codger Sailors’ Admired the Frigate Sailors, the missions they accomplished with what they had, sometimes absolutely blown away with performance given their limited capabilities, yet very effective in accomplishing their missions. This record cannot even be approached by the LCS because it lacks the survivability (Stark, Sammy “B”), and offensive capabilities inherent in every Mk13 MFCS equipped ship (able to assume an AAW sector). Any LCS/frigate experiencing a Stark event will not survive. All FFG-7s could employ SM-1 against air/surface targets (Simpson fired 4 SM-1s against an Iranian vessel disabling it).

            In this new environment we find ourselves in, with the proliferation of ASCMs (many launched from trucks on the beach), and TBMs, any platform in the Littorals that cannot defend itself against this threat will have questionable survivability given the capabilities of the RIM-116 RAM/SeaRAM (even Blk II) with its limited warhead capability. The dynamics involved in intercepting a supersonic ASCM, particularly a maneuvering one, is almost beyond calculation, and I would not want to be on that vessel so attacked, for their probability of survival (combat system wise) is very suspect, and their survivability via watertight integrity/compartmentalization, almost non-existent compared to the average US Navy Surface Combatant correctly built to the Standard.

            Wisdom (from us ‘Old Codger Sailors’) comes from ‘having been there and done that’ . . . comes from having participated in the expenditure of over 200 Standard Missiles against every manner of target in my day, more 5″ rounds against targets both afloat and ashore, built two cruisers and got my warfare pin on a Steam Ship (CG-26 2nd commissioning) before moving to the gas turbine (CG-47). I have participated in exercises in every Unified Combatant Commanders AOR, most when working for that commander, and have a little insight into the environment worldwide. So . . . by what special qualification do you provide your comments.

          • Duane

            I’m an old codger Cold War era SSN sailor … and when I served, my shipmates and officers had little to no respect for the surface fleet of the day … hence the submariner’s adage, ” there’s only two kinds of ships – submarines, and targets”. Whenever we participated in fleet exercises in the Pacific, our boat always had a score of “X” to zero .. as in, we were never detected by the “skimmers” and the only way they ever knew they were under attack was by sighting the smokes we fired from our signaling device after “killing” every surface ship in the task group. After we played with them for awhile, then we moved on to the serious business of tracking Soviet boomers “where they lived” (nothing more need be said on that topic).

            I believed that adage, and the disparagement of the “skimmers” at the time as a young man, but I learned much better over the decades that, pride in unit notwithstanding, every ship in the fleet serves one or more purposes or missions, none of which should ever be disparaged. One of the things I also learned better is to discount the beliefs of the old codgers in the ranks of ex-Navy who disparage everything done in today’s Navy that doesn’t match what they thought was important at the time they served “back in the day”.

            Well, guess what, everything changes. ASW is not what it was in the 1970s, and neither is SuW. The sensors, the weapons, the powerplants, the ship forms, both subs and surface, not to mention the aircraft, are orders of magnitude different, and better, than what we had back in my day in the fleet.

            My boat performed the first demo submerged live fire of the Harpoon ASM – we even got filmed by the national media that the Navy hauled out to the ocean firing range, and my boat ended up on national news that evening (alas, unidentified … just film of a Harpoon coming out of the ocean). In those days (70s), anti-surface warfare was conducted mostly by guns and torpedoes. Today it’s done virtually exclusively by ASMs launched from a huge array of platforms. Today’s much more capable ASMs than that first generation Harpoon are the “great equalizer” – much as was the Colt 45 that also shared that name on the 19th century western frontier. Today a lowly LCS can threaten the largest warship afloat on the sea today .. and receive targeting data from any of a variety of sensor sources off platform, including E2s, P8s, AWACs, and now F-35s just entering the airfleet and completely revolutionizing warfare as we speak.

            Today, every warfighter (sailor, soldier, airman, or marine) who has not yet interfaced with the F-35 is “yesterday’s warrior” – they just don’t know it yet.

            Old codgerism is a disease. It needs to go away. People need to unclose their minds, or simply go away. Today and tomorrow, the winning warrior will be the guys and gals who know how to open their minds and learn what must be learned, and if previously “contaminated” by prior learning, must learn how to unlearn the old to make way for the new.

          • Curtis Conway

            Duane, you made my case with the ASCM analogy. Add the TBM and you are fully correct. You submariners keep us safe underwater, and from those who lurk underwater, and there are not enough of you. The Surface Combatant Fleet changed into a new animal when Aegis came of age, particularly now that it takes on the BMD mission. The new Frigate should do the same, just on a smaller scale, and less range, but no less effective in its own realm. Anything less is a loss of a platform sailing next to any potential adversaries coast, pure and simple. Thank you for your service, and fair winds and following seas.

          • Curtis Conway

            Duane, you cannot be this unaware! One platform removed (50+ FFG-7s OHPs) which were the go to platform for many Show the Flag, and Presence missions at a low cost by the way.

            THE NAVY SAYS the LCS is taking its place and tried to make the case, which all us sailors destroyed with our arguments, who have steamed on the ships and performed the missions, and the Navy decided to turn the LCS into a frigate, and you are correct, it is NOT! To small, not capable enough, not survivable enough, inappropriate for the Arctic, and speed is not everything when limited to a 2D environment.

            The United States Navy needs 50+ all-ocean, multi-warfare, Hybrid Electric Drive, Passive-centric combat system that also has a non-rotating 3D AESA radar, and is the introductory platform for Directed Energy Weapons with no less than four (4) DEWs to facilitate dual engagements about the ship until sufficiently high enough units are developed to handle engagements by themselves. Some Mk41 VLS should be on board, and sufficient population of ESSMs should be present to defend the ship and any charges they may escort, and a limited TBM capability be inherent where the platform can take station in any formation, and the Battle Group Commander can assign a sector and feel confident the platform will handle the tasking.

            Just my 2ȼ

          • Duane

            You’ve obviously never sailed on a LCS. It is the first of its kind since the 19th century coastal war sloops. So you neither understand nor have experienced what the LCS does, and what it can do. It is still developmental until at least the SuW and ASW mission modules go IOC this year and next, and you only really learn what a ship can do and can’t do after you operate it for a few years.

          • Curtis Conway

            “You’ve obviously never sailed on a LCS. It is the first of its kind since the 19th century coastal war sloops.”

            I don’t care if this thing Flies In Space . . . we need something to replace what was removed from the foreign presence equation, must be replaced, and must be able to defend itself in this much more dangerous environment. The analysis of “speed is life” for surface ships slaved to a 2D environment which makes them easier to be targeted by peer adversaries (South China Sea considerations) apply. Therefore these new frigates MUST be able to defend themselves from SUPERSONIC ASCMs and TBMs. We Cannot Afford to build a special vessel for every situation (like the Arabian Sea/Persian Gulf, or other place). The LCS will only be effective in some of the most benign environments. So these new Small Surface Combatants (FFGs) must be able to not only survive (questionable with LCS in most theaters without help, so ISE ops are out), but prevail in the most ardent tasking that may be assigned. Multi-warfare is a must. Hybrid Electric Drive enables one to stretch their fuel which escalates initial cost, but save big on operations for . . . how many years. Therefore we should take something like the 40+ year NSC hull (US Coast Guard requirements) and adopt something that is already underway in numbers and shining in the operational environment, instead of hunting for negative headlines like the LCS does every other month, and sometimes more than once in one month. One gets what one pays for, and the US Coast Guard invested their money wisely by buying something from an experienced ship builder of things that move on the high seas.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            “You offerered (sic) zero proof with your statement that the LCS does not meet Navy specs.”

            Duane. See just about everything DOT&E has written on the subject.

          • Duane

            You are dense … please quote for me all the naval ship programs that have had zero DOT&E audit findings.

            The answer is, of course, zero.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            The Virginal class SSN has done pretty well. Certainly no program is perfect – but it’s a struggle to find anything that the LCS program has done right.

            In fact: it has consistently underachieved in terms of meeting cost, schedule and performance goals set by the Navy.

            “The Littoral Combat Ship, or LCS, is an unfortunate, yet all too common example of defense acquisition gone awry.”
            – Sen John McCain (R-AZ), Chair of Senate Armed Services Committee

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Forget it. Duane is one of those LCS advocates that don’t let pesky things like history, facts or test reports interfere with their narrative.

            Thankfully their numbers are very limited.

          • Duane

            Not an LCS advocate … but an opponent of lying trolls who seek to discredit valuable weapons systems and the people who use then.

            The things you assert are lies … there’s no sugar-coating it. The LCS sea-frames meet the Naval requirements, the Navy had certified that repeatedly in accepting the vessels throughout the construction process and sea trials and post-shakedown cruises, and certifying them as operational. The mission modules are a separate development process, with all three of the major mission modules on track for IOC in 2017 and 2018.

            The issue that most LCS critics have is that the LCS is not a frigate, and as such they don’t believe we actually need an LCS, and that we should only have frigates. Which is a complete failure to understand that indeed we now have, and always have had, going back to the founding of the US Navy in 1775, a strong need for littoral ops and littoral combatant ships. Littoral ops can only be performed by small combatants, high speed, highly maneuverable, and shallow draft, able to enforce naval will on coastal traffic, be they pirates, blockade runners, enemy gunboats, whatever the threat.

          • PolicyWonk

            But – you ARE the lying troll!

            BRAVO SIERRA is BRAVO SIERRA…

          • Duane

            Is that what Putin teaches you trolls to write when your lies are exposed? Bravo Sierra? Sheesh … better go back and hit that vodka bottle a little harder.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            I had a definite problem with the original bat-brained concept of LCS – and the reality hasn’t come anywhere close to delivering on the promised performance, cost and schedule. No. Where. Close.

            PEO-LCS is on record saying that the initial increment of the MCM Mission Package will not IOC until end of Fiscal Year 2020.

            If you’re going to call someone a liar, maybe try to get your own facts straight? Mmm kay?

          • Duane

            ASW mission package scheduled for IOC in 2017, and SuW 2018 … those will account for the vast majority of the LCS mission packages deployed.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Duane, you just said ALL THREE of the mission packages were on track to IOC by 2017 or 2018. And that was right after you called me a liar. It seems like you are the one playing a little loose with the facts. Or you’re just misinformed.

            Your assertion that the SUW and ASW packages will account for the “vast majority” of mission packages deployed is facile and unsubstantiated.

            It’s a facile argument because it is pretty hard for the Navy to deploy with an MCM package that it simply doesn’t have – and may never get!

            It’s an unsubstantiated argument because the Navy’s own plans were to buy quite a few LCS MCM packages. According to budget exhibits from 2014: the Navy planned to buy 16 ASW, 24 MCM and 24 SUW packages.

            The Navy planned to buy as many MCM modules as SUW modules – and more than it planned to buy ASW. Hardly a drop in the bucket.

          • Duane

            All three of the mission modules were on track for IOC this year and next. The Navy changed the schedule for the mine warfare package last year, going from a four-increment deployment to a single increment deployment in 2020. That is not due to any failures on the part of the development – just an adjustment made to acknowledge that they dont even need the LCS mine warfare package until 2020, and by combining all four increments it will be a more efficient deployment. In the meantime the large majority of the mission modules – the SuW and ASW – will be IOC this year and next, just as planned and scheduled.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            The Navy’s story on MCM seems to be that they needed the extra time to experiment and figure out what next after RMMV provided unreliable during testing – which is by definition a failure in development.

            My larger point was that you continue to call folks on this site “liars”, “anti-Navy” and “Putin’s stooges” for citing things like DOT&E, GAO and CRS.

            Yet you present few facts yourself. And as I’ve shown, the few “facts” that you do present are easily disproved as inaccurate with about five minutes of research.

          • Duane

            You see, you reveal that you always opposed the entire concept of a Littoral Combat Ship … so you endlessly troll and drone on about how it doesn’t meet requirements that apparently exist only in your little head.

            The LCS has a well defined mission set and set of requirements that it fully meets. The Navy has declared it so.

            As for the MCM mission package, it was originally scheduled and planned to go IOC in four distinct increments, the first of which was to be last year. But the Navy (not LM or Austal, which have exactly zero to do with the mission packages, which are all GSE (government supplied equipment) ) decided in May last year to instead combine all four increments into a single IOC now set for 2020. That decision has nothing to do with the LCS seaframe – it was driven by the Navy’s decision that it does not need the mine warfare package until 2020 because the existing minesweepers will all remain in service past then, and to give it additional time to integrate all of the increments into a single package which will be more cost effective.

            My previous statement that it was to be online by this year was based upon the actual schedule issued by the Navy, that was changed last year. I missed that announcement – but it was published here at USNI last May.

            In any event, the majority of LCS will be either SuW or ASW, and will be IOC this year and next year. All of the development testing is completed now.

            But go ahead, continue living in your tiny little world of make-believe where the entire US Navy doesn’t know what it’s doing, but only you know what is good for the US Navy. Why, if we only made you CNO for a day, you’d just fix everything the Navy has been doing wrong for the last 20 years.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Duane, DOT&E has said multiple times and in multiple forums that the LCS doesn’t meet the Navy’s own requirements.

            You really don’t know what you are talking about do you?

          • Duane

            The Navy disagrees with DOT&E. The DOT&E is just an audit agency … they don’t command or crew the ships, nor take them to sea to do battle. The Navy does. Anybody who thinks that auditors are more qualified to judge ships or weapons than the people whose lives depend upon them are not thinking logically. Auditors are fact finders – they are not judges of weapons systems.

            DOT&E has also been a relentless critic of the F-35 … to the point that their lead auditor for the program – a career employee, not a poltical appointee – was finally shown the door in January because he had turned his audits into a personal vendetta as a lifetime F-35 critic, just as you and other trolls have done the same on the LCS. The three services that actually fly and fight the F-35 are in total disagreement with DOT&E on the performance of the F-35. Again, those are the men and women who fly, fight, integrate with, and command the F-35 as the finest warbird on the planet.

          • Duane

            “We” (i.e. the ones on the side of the US Navy, and not the guys who oppose the US Navy like you and your fellow trolls) are so limited that, hmm, “our” guys happen to consist of the entire US Navy. The US Navy set the requirements for, designed, had built, and has accepted the LCS class of ships. The US Navy strongly endorsed, and still strongly endorses, the capabilities of the LCS and the extreme need for such capabilities.

            “You” are the loser trolls in your pathetic attempts to discredit a key element of our US Navy.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            I don’t oppose the US Navy. I want it to have the most combat effective and reliable equipment it can get for its (limited) taxpayer dollars.

            LCS does not fit this description. It has marginal combat power, insufficient self-defense and extremely poor survivability characteristics. It has also proven itself to be highly unreliable and a maintenance nightmare.

            The total cost of ownership for LCS remains uncertain since the Navy recently refused to publish seaframe costs. What we do know is that the cost per seaframe is well over twice what was originally projected.

            I’m sorry if things like DOT&E, CRS and GAO reports upset you. Facts can be very upsetting things!

          • SierraSierraQuebec

            This Duane fellow, whom prides himself as a veteran sailor in ships designed and built by people whom likely never went to sea in their lives, really has your ticket.

            Like you I don’t have polar extreme views about such matters, there is a need for AIP submarines of the diesel or aluminum-lithium-sodium and lox/air fuel cell types to supplement the nuclear boats, a view similar to yours and the original articles author.

            LCS was a bad idea that has as well fallen on technical failures that further undermine the concept. Why on earth would you combine 40 knots and minehunting in the same ship? Was there something wrong with the previous century of separate minehunters, fast gun boats, coastal corvettes, and general purpose ocean frigates?

            As for the last paragraph of the original article, it isn’t destroyers packed with million dollar missiles that are needed to supplement an eventual network of medium attack and amphibious carriers and the fleet area air wing operating from them, its an economical modern variant of the cannon like the Paris Gun of a century ago that can lobe $100,000 glide shells and mini drones out to continental ranges through the upper atmosphere a couple of times farther than naval aviation that are just big enough to easily destroy every armored vehicle, airplane, and missile battery that can be found by the drones and satellites.

            When you are told you are “lying”, well that’s an absolute or polar state that is not true and suggests more about the person making the comment.

          • Duane

            A lie is a lie, Weaponeer. There’s no sugar coating it.

          • Duane

            No – you could not be more wrong. The LCS is the classic inshore small surface combatant, reinvented for 21st century warfare. Bluewater sailors seem to have a hard time comprehending the need for such capabilities, hence they are forever making invalid comparisons between LCS and frigates, or even worse, with corvettes. It goes with the territory, that people ignorantly dismiss what they don’t know a damned thing about in life. Witness the rise of Trump and Trumpism – the triumph of ignoramuses.

            When I served on nuke attack boats, we sub sailors routinely dismissed the entire surface fleet at worthless in a real fight … hence the old (and incorrect) submariner’s saying that “there’s two kinds of ships – submarines, and targets”. It was always ignorant, but it wasn’t til long after I left the Navy that I began to realize how wrong that was.

            Same thing today with the ignorant blue water navy dudes who can’t comprehend what an LCS does and why no other ship in the navy can do what it does so very well. After all, if big bluewater ships are all that we need, then how did a single small boat take out the USS Cole in a single attack? A big combatant could not survive a small boat swarm, exactly the swarms that Iran already has and uses against large combatants today, whereas the LCS thrives in such a threat environment with its rapid firing guns and Hellfire missiles.

          • El_Sid

            the classic inshore small surface combatant, reinvented for 21st century warfare… invalid comparisons between LCS and frigates, or even worse, with corvettes

            Well… corvettes _were_ “the classic inshore small surface combatant” going back to the days of sail, so in that respect LCS is a corvette in the pre-WWII sense of the word. The Flowers were only intended for coastal convoys in the North Sea, but they got thrown into bluewater ASW because the RN had nothing else and the meaning of the word “corvette” has become ever more distorted since.

            So I wouldn’t get hung up on words, because some people will be using them in the pre-WWII sense and some will be thinking of something more like the Sa’ars.

          • Duane

            I gave you facts. But you prefer your made up “alternative facts”, every one of them. You said the LCS doesn’t meet requirements. The Navy says it does. I believe the Navy, and you are unbelievable. You could not cite a single source that says the LCS fails to meet requirements. You cite audit findings – and I replied that every single ship we have, and have ever had, and ever will have, will have a slew of audit findings throughout its development.

            That’s why they call it “development”.

        • Curtis Conway

          It is not just ‘bait and switch’, its ‘chasing good money after bad’ in this case, much to the detriment of the US Navy, US Taxpayers, and lack of mission capability except in the most benign environments. Even the Saudis won’t have anything to do with this platform unless it is up-gunned well beyond anything the US Navy has proposed for the new frigate version of the LCS . . . AND this is what the US Navy has represented as ‘The Platform’ for the Persian Gulf! These people are living in the Emerald City, and this certainly is a ‘Horse of a different color’. The folks behind the curtain’ have been found out, and they have nowhere to go.

          • Duane

            The LCS is the only vessel we have that can do and survive small boat swarm combat in the Persian Gulf. An Iranian boat swarm would overwhelm a large destroyer or cruiser or the as yet non-existent frigate. Their guns and missiles are too slow, too unwieldy, and greatly overpowered for dealing with the prototypical Persian Gulf small boat swarm. That is precisely what the LCS is extremely good at defending.

            After all, the USS Cole was taken out by a single small boat. A Saudi frigate was recently taken out by a relatively small boat swarm earlier this year. To be taken out does not mean “sunk”, but so severely damaged as to take it out of the fight. We couldn’t even tow the Cole back to the states for hull repair without putting it on a floating drydock barge – it wouldn’t even have survived a short tow on its own hull.

        • Duane

          Bullhonkey, dude. The LCS meets its requirements. You just don’t like the requirements because they don’t fit the very small confines of your (mis) understanding of littoral combat.

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        Plenty of “ifs” and “buts” wrt LCS performance.

        Ref: everything GAO, CRS and DOT&E have ever written on the subject.

      • Curtis Conway

        “LCS currently meet the LCS ship class mission and technical requirements.” ONLY because the United States Navy redefined it to be so, so as to hammer a square peg in a round hole, and redefining every directing and governing standard to support the conclusion, to great detriment to an LCS that will EVER see surface combat, yet carry the title of Surface Combatant. The Navy is living a lie, in a new universe (not reflecting reality) they have created, in furtherance to reduce cost, at the expense of survivability of our platforms. The counter argument is that increased situational awareness increases the ability to avoid danger. So, when the chaos ‘that is combat’ transpires, these folks are no where to be found to answer questions of why platforms failed to function, or provide desired/(required) protections (that once was REQUIRED by USN Regulations) that have been redefined, and excepted . . . and loss of the platform with all hands needs an explanation. The US Navy has been planning to fail w/r/t the LCS Program goals by ignoring the lack of capabilities of the LCS platform, including the [so called] up-armed frigate. A new multi-warfare, all-ocean, frigate is required in numbers to replace the 50+ FFG-7s that were removed from service, and the Unified Combatant Commanders counted on for Presence and Show the Flag missions, in most every AOR. The addition of the Arctic to the list in the future should flavor the missions/ capabilities these frigates should be able to perform, in the areas of concern, and these vessels must be able to SURVIVE when attacked by prolifically available Tactical Ballistic Missiles (more being added to the list with every passing year), and outrunning Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles (ASCM) particularly of the supersonic type, is out of the question. When designing this new frigate we cannot forget that operating in a 2D environment, against a peer who has national assets . . . is impossible for a surface combatant, that cannot trade altitude for energy like aircraft, or perhaps a submarine, for a SHIP doing so will only create fish food . . . nor can one outrun a supersonic ASCM just like criminals cannot outrun the radio waves used by the authorities who are placing the tire piercing strips ahead of the criminals vehicle. We must have numbers and capabilities well in excess of what we have now.

      • Angie Nathan

        Time my friend, is not to the advantage of the LCS program. Instead of excuses for the past, and promises for the future, lets look at the empirical data reflecting their cost vs. effectiveness. At present 12 of that equation is not being released by the GAO at request of the Navy.
        It has been known that these “Swiss Army Knife” ships do not “plug-and-fight” since at least 2010. Was that not their intended purpose? CNN Dec. 11 2015 CNN -“A mine-detection system the U.S. Navy invested nearly $700 million and
        16 years in developing can’t complete its most basic functions,
        according to the Pentagon’s weapon-testing office” and reports of other mission failures go on and on and on. Mission modules swaps take months not weeks (if at all), software issues are unable (at present) to be rectified, even the expected size of the crew turned out to be pie in the sky.
        90 percent of the “hype” originates from the Navy and its contractors. For years the media has reported what they were told to say verbatim without the slightest bit of investigative journalism. Camera crews are given tours of the ship and shipyards where their footage is edited like a movie trailer to hype a soon to be released Hollywood action film.
        If there are are no ifs ands or buts meeting requirements why would the Navy not allow the LCS to finish shock trials? Was LCS-5 not intended to withstand a shock of 1/3 of what it would be expected to survive in combat? I suppose the builders did not get that memo until after the first seven ships were built.
        Tip of the iceberg my man. Corrosion issues concerning paint failure, from the absence of a cathodic system, from dissimilar metals on the even ships( for now), weld issues, hull cracks….it goes on and on.
        “Fraud is equivalent to theft, for fraud is committed
        when one part of an exchange contract is deliberately not fulfilled
        after the other’s property has been taken.”- Murray N. Rothbard
        These ships were originally promised to be delivered at a certain time for a certain price for specific combat purposes….PERIOD.

  • Duane

    The Mitre folks are all wrong.

    There is no purpose to the US Navy developing diesel subs, ever again. The Navy rep is completely right. If our forward existing allies, such as Japan, South Korea, the Republic of China, Poland, Germany, Italy, and the Baltic states view diesel boats as appropriate, that is fine – they can and will build and operate them and we can integrate them into our fleet. But for the USA, only nukes are useful in a real war. I certainly wouldn’t volunteer to go fight in a submerged deathtrap (I’m an ex Navy nuke 637 class vet).

    As for the LCS, you keep building LCS until we have enough to meet the LCS mission set and requirements, which frigates cannot satisfy. If we need additional blue-water small combatants, fine, design and build our own, built to our own naval specs and not the specs of the Germans or anyone else. The design is the easy part. Building them is what takes time and material resources – human resources, more than anything else. We rediscovered that when we doubled the production rate of Virginia class boats a couple years ago, and now all of a sudden we’re suffering material deficiencies in shakedown cruises and delays in delivery of current Virginia class boats.

    The fundamental misunderstanding of Miter and the entire legion of self-appointed LCS critics is that LCS and frigate are not interchangeable … any more than Arleigh Burke class destroyers are interchangeable with Ford class carriers … or Virginia class attack subs are interchangeable with oilers. Each class has a particular mission set and set of mission-specific requirements that are very different.

    • Gene

      As an old diesel boat sailor (SSK), I can attest to the effectiveness of a quiet undersea weapons platform in the right place at the right time. The nukes are wonderful machines, but they are huge and need plenty of water under the keel; they have a hard time operating effectively in say the Baltic, where the average depth is 180 feet, and can’t easily get into littoral areas to, say, recon amphib landing sites or debark special ops. Modern AIP (non-nuke, air independent propulsion) boats have other-than-diesel propulsion systems that can stay submerged for up to 14 days. And you can build 4-1/2 of them for the price of one SSN. The modern AIP sub is also quieter than a nuke (no water circulation pump that must run 24/7).

      • Duane

        The Virginia class boats are much quieter than the 637s and LA class boats, for reasons that are highly classified.

        AIP boats are still highly limited in range and speed – effective cruising speeds are similar to the top speeds on diesel boats, which is to say, very very slow. Which is a huge factor in survivability … while SSNs are faster than almost anything that floats on the surface, except maybe the LCS.

        We don’t need to operate SSNs in shallow littorals … but even for diesels and AIPs, shallow littorals are a killer environment within which to operate, virtually unsurvivable, actually, with modern ASW capabilities. For one, there are no thermal gradients under which the boat can hide, and for another a narrow range of operating depth makes it all too easy for ASW munitions to find and kill them.

        Again, I would never volunteer for service in such a deathtrap. Neither should any other American officers and sailors.

        The last time the US Navy fought a shooting war with diesel boats, they suffered the highest casualty rate of any unit of any branch of any US service in the war (WW II) – 52 out of 250 boats were lost, nearly all with loss of all hands. And that was when (1) ASW capabilities (both sensing and munitions) were extremely primitive compared to what even typical third world nations now have available, and (2) the American subs enjoyed mostly total American air superiority against their principal opponent, the Japanese Navy and Army Air Forces

        In the WW II Battle of the Atlantic, once the allies managed to close the mid-Atlantic Air Gap using long range bombers, it was game over for the German U-boats. Adm. Donitz literally ordered all of his U-boats back to port after the absolute slaughter in mid-1943, within just two months of our closing the Mid-Atlantic Air Gap. The German U-boats overall suffered a far higher casualty rate than did the US Navy subs – over 70% KIA during the war. After mid-1943 the U-boats did effectively nothing.

        Like I said, diesel boats and AIP boats are deathtraps.

        • PolicyWonk

          A Gotland class AIP boat cleaned our clocks routinely in war games against our SSN’s. These newer boats (that can stay submerged for weeks) represent a formidable adversary – and no sub-driver that intends to live to retire would be as cavalier as you if they had to face one in battle.

          • Duane

            You’re lying again, as usual. There was no “clock cleaning” administered by any Gotland class AIP boats to any American Los Angeles class or Virginia class boats, which have far superior sonar sensors and far superior performance in every important respect to the little coastal AIP boats.

            As I wrote, AIP boats are very slow compared to nukes – little more than half the top speed, and they cannot sustain that for very long or their submergence will be limited to far shorter than “weeks” … whereas SSNs can maintain flank speed for weeks on end, with no upper limit. AIPs are also very small, which necessarily limits their weaps load as well as their ASW capabilities, which are not remotely close to a modern LA class or Virginia class SSN. The Gotland class boat you mention is only 1,470 tons, compared to a Virginia class at 7,800 tons. Max depth for the Gotland is a mere 500 feet, while the Virginia class max depth is classified, it’s several times that at least.

            And dude, completely get over yourself and your lying trolling.

            I actually did (along with my officers and shipmates) face down the very best boats, both boomers and attack boats, that the Russians had to offer in the Cold War. They were vastly more capable and deadly than these little coastal boats. Nothing cavalier about it.

            What did YOU do in the Cold War, besides nothing?

          • PolicyWonk

            I was paying attention during the Cold War – and I have been long since – and its seems quite certain that you’ve done the opposite.

            AIP boats have made large gains in recent years, and not all of them are small (in terms of tonnage). Look at the boats the Australian navy is buying – they have long transit periods going to/from their patrol areas. Pretending AIP boats haven’t continued development over the years fails to give you credibility.

            Regardless of the small size of the Gotland class boats – they cleaned our clocks in war games (repeatedly) to the point that the USN extended their leases as they tried to figure out how to counter them. It doesn’t take many torpedoes to change the tactical situation – if you’d been paying attention to recent history you’d know that.

            You can cease with the arrogant comments – especially since you’re not nearly as well informed as you pretend to be.

          • Duane

            So you did nothing during the Cold War. You have no military experience or understanding, yet you continue to pose as military analyst or expert here, while peddling your anti-American defense trolling.

            Thanks, that confirms what I suspected.

          • PolicyWonk

            As is typical with the foolish, you come to conclusions despite the absence of fact.

            I’ve provided you with facts/references that you can look up so that you can do your own research – yet all you continue to offer is BRAVO SiERRA.

            You don’t do your homework, or are otherwise relying on information so old that you’d be wondering how you were going to pay for it to go to college if it were a child.

            Whatever experience you claim to have, is directly contradicted by the uninformed opinions you post.

            Cheers.

          • Duane

            You’re an armchair warrior, no military experience, yet you live here on the boards at USNI. You state wild and crazy things with no basis in fact or references in any reliable online source. You are the classic definition of a troll.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Duane, I have military experience. I just choose not to bring it up in every single statement that I make.

            Hint for you: credentialism is not the sign of a strong position. Might I suggest facts and logic for a change?

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            “A Gotland class AIP boat cleaned our clocks routinely in war games against our SSN’s”

            When?

            You stated this twice, but nothing more.

    • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

      If you read Chuck Wechardo (N81) response to MITRE’s diesel sub proposal: his principal reservation seems to be the requirement for shore support and the number of additional oilers that would need to be purchased.

      Yet the maximum range of a modern diesel submarine (i.e. Japanese Soryu class) is about twice as long as an LCS. LCS: 3,500 nm. Soryu: 6,500 nm. It doesn’t seem to add up…

  • Curtis Conway

    Yes . . . Americans built them and perfected the Monitor and Merrimack, and there was nothing like it on the rest of the planet. However, if you listen to your average Ivy League, or Left Coast Liberal . . . the United States is NOT a ‘Meritocracy’, and we do nothing first or special!

    The United States Navy needs 50+ multi-warfare, all-ocean, Ice-hardened, Hybrid-Electric Drive frigates with a non-rotating AESA Radar, that are constructed in two versions (AAW-centric, ASW-centric) that share the same hull, HM&E, and most support systems keeping commonality to the extent possible. Gas turbines should be the Prime Mover, and Ships Service Gas Turbine Generators should feed the Navy’s new 4160v Integrated Power System. Compete construction between two yards, and let ALL parts be purchased in MYP fashion just like in the DDG-51 contract. Let these new frigates be the introductory platform for Directed Energy Weapons (DEW) at sea with no less than four (4) on board. Let these platforms have very robust and integrated Passive detection, tracking, and fire control systems . . . and let us not take a decade making this happen. These new frigates will ‘go where they will without fear’ and be the go-to platform for Unified Combatant Commander presence missions for ‘Showing the Flag’. With the DEWs it will never run out of ammunition, and if the DEWs are correctly placed on the vessel most engagements will be ‘dual-engagements’ placing as much as 300Kw on target with today’s technology. The DEW mounts should be supported by space and power that can support the next three upgrades in power output.

    G-d has blessed the United States with success, and we have blessed the planet with more advances and carried civilization further along the timeline than any other preexisting civilization. Who else, but a Satanic mindset would not want the United States to thrive and prosper?

    Just my 2ȼ.

    • PolicyWonk

      Totally concur with the need for serious frigates to do serious work. Heavy power generating capabilities permitting the deployment of directed energy weapons would seemingly be an obvious requirement – but having it spelled out never hurts. The other requirements and/or features you recommend in a new frigate seems to exclude LCS-based designs – unless there is a major refactoring, lengthening, etc, of one of the current classes (which probably isn’t worth it).

      W/r/t the “ice-hardened” requirement – this is increasingly important these days and demonstrates pragmatism given environmental changes and ever-increasing traffic in polar regions.

      • Curtis Conway

        If the Fast Attack SSN fleet increases to 60, then we have the additional needed ASW support. Connectivity with the subsurface assets are less of a problem these days, and will only get better in the future.

        • PolicyWonk

          Agree. I’m somewhat concerned that we’re on our way to losing the Ohio-class SSGN’s, and the powerful offensive punch they provide.

          The Virginia/VPM equipped SSN’s will address some of that, while none of the Columbia class SSBN’s are slated to take on the SSGN role, due to cost concerns.

          But more VPM equipped SSN’s is a long way from none, and all of our new SSN’s should include that feature.

          • Curtis Conway

            Losing the SSGNs will take any possibility of Rapid Strike with them, unless we take a Columbia SSBN for that use, and I don’t see that in our future given the replacement of the current force will fewer FBMs, and no SSGNs in our future.

            My concern is that our potential adversaries suffer from no such compunctions about doing something untoward at present (like Russian and Nuclear Cruise Missiles, and the Chinese have many more), or in the future, and both of those countries appear to have programs that expand these capabilities in the future while we run away from these potential capabilities. All is fair in Love & War, and do our enemies take advantage of us? THAT is why the US Armed Forces must always be present, ready, capable, and Proactive in effect.

  • SierraSierraQuebec

    Petapixel 459nm wavelength sensors and a multi-kilowatt interrogator laser on a satellite with downlinked cloud computing would cost (vaguely) a billion a pop, a constellation of ten or so would render Russian, Chinese, North Korean, or potentially Iranian SSB(N)’s pretty much worthless given that their precise targeting grade locations even could be posted on a website 24/7/365. The $100-200B saved could be put to a 175-250 conventional/nuclear bomber force of Boeing B-19’s and Northrup Grumman B-21’s armed with ALBM’s, ALCM’s, ALSM-6’s as well as the force of silo and mobile ICBM’s safely harbored in a thousand mile buffer zone. That leaves an extra $100B or so for medium networked attack and amphibious carriers with their fleet area air wings, continental range gun cruisers, missile and laser armed destroyers, ocean frigates (possibly multinational built for interoperability advantages), the LCS program modified with some substituted smaller single purpose low cost vessels, and a submarine fleet with a mix of nuclear and alternate propulsion vessels to meet a numbers requirement far in excess of what 3% of GDP defense spending will ever provide for.

  • Andrew Doolittle

    The Chief Commissars of Wisconsin demand an industrial base?

    Maybe they should fund their People’s State with Wisconsin Bucks then.

    Nothing wrong with the combat version of the Harley Davidson motorcycle. Maybe the hapless warfighter and his support group could start with a few hundred of those next time.

  • jacob

    SS Detroit photo was makred as from late 2017 btw.