Home » News & Analysis » LCS Mission Package Testing on Track to Support IOC Dates in 2019, 2021


LCS Mission Package Testing on Track to Support IOC Dates in 2019, 2021

An MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter prepares to land aboard the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) on Feb. 20, 2017, following completion of routine operations in the Sulu Sea near the Balabac Strait. Coronado is specifically designed for this type of maritime security and counter-piracy operations and has a Surface Warfare mission package comprised of two 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boats, two visit, board, search and seizure boarding teams, two 30 mm machine guns, two Northrop-Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicles, and a Lockheed-Martin MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter. US Navy Photo

Navy testing of its Littoral Combat Ship mission package technologies is on track for two warfare mission packages to reach initial operational capability by 2019 and the third by 2021.

Earlier this month LCS Mission Modules Program Manager Capt. Ted Zobel said that “all of our mission packages, as I stand here today, are finishing up development, proceeding into test, and then from test into production and ultimately deployment.”

Zobel, speaking at a Program Executive Office for Unmanned and Small Combatants briefing at the Navy League’s annual Sea Air Space symposium, spoke of the three mission package warfare areas: surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures.

On surface warfare, the only mission package to have already deployed overseas, a surface-to-surface missile module (SSMM) will add a Longbow Hellfire missile to increase the lethality of the LCS. Testing begins this month on USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) and will move to USS Detroit (LCS-7) over the summer. Testing should wrap up by December, Zobel said, with Detroit planning to bring the SSMM with it on its maiden deployment about a year from now. Written testimony from the Navy at a March 6 House Armed Services Committee hearing states that IOC is planned for Fiscal Year 2019.

On anti-submarine warfare (ASW), Zobel said that this calendar year the program office completed testing the Torpedo Defense Mission Module with a lightweight tow at the Canadian Forces Maritime Experimental & Test Ranges in British Columbia. Though the details of the test event are classified, he simply said the system’s performance “met or exceeded all our test objectives.”

Also in the ASW mission package (MP), “the ASW MP Escort Mission Module (EMM) uses a continuously active Variable Depth Sonar, integrated with a Multi-Function Towed Array to provide a revolutionary surface ship anti-submarine capability,” according to the written testimony.
“Development and integration of the EMM, Light Weight Tow and Torpedo Defense Module are ongoing. The ASW EMM … is on track to fully integrate with the LCS to support IOC with the ASW MP in FY 2019.”

Zobel added that USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) would support ASW testing from about July 2019 until January or February 2020, and then move into MCM mission package testing later in 2020.

The mine countermeasures mission package, though, is more complex and is therefore looking at a later IOC date, in FY 2021.

To date, all the aviation-based mine countermeasures systems have been approved for use on the Austal-built Independence-variant LCS ships, including the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS), the Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS) and the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA).

However, surface and subsurface systems, to include a sweep system, an unmanned surface vehicle with minehunting sensors and more, are still in development and test.

“The Navy has scheduled three MCM systems for developmental tests (DT) and two for operational assessments (OA) this year, with Milestone C production decisions of the first two expected before the end of FY 2018. The MCM Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) is the tow platform for minehunting operations, and is based on the USV already used in the Unmanned Influence Sweep System program. The Navy’s plan is to conduct MCM MP DT/OA in FY 2020 and achieve IOC in FY 2021,” according to the written testimony.

Overall, Zobel said during the briefing, “I think by this time next year we will have made significant strides: we will have finished SSMM testing, we’ll have delivered the ASW mission module for the start of its testing, and we will continue to incrementally deliver the MCM pieces as they become available.”

The written testimony also outlines changes in the number of mission packages the Navy plans to buy. A previous concept of operations would have each hull capable of swapping mission packages on short notice, meaning many mission packages would have to be staged around the globe to support that concept. Now, each ship will be assigned a division within one of two LCS Squadrons (LCSRONs), which each division focused solely on one mission area. Additionally, the Navy will now have fewer LCSs overall, with the remainder of the small surface combatant requirement being filled by the frigate, which will have surface warfare and ASW capabilities baked into the design.

So, as a result, “the Program of Record (PoR) requirements for LCS Mission Packages (MP) have been updated. The new MP PoR requires 10 Surface Warfare (SUW), 24 Mine Countermeasures 9 (MCM), and 10 Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW) for a total of 44 deployable MPs,” according to the written testimony.
“Due to the expeditionary and modular nature of the MCM MP this capacity can be fielded by both LCS and other Vessels of Opportunity. The Navy plans to leverage the modularity and flexibility of elements of the ASW and SUW MPs for the FFG(X) design, however these elements will not be complete MPs nor will they be included in the LCS MM PoR quantity of deployable MPs.”

  • Kypros

    Better late than never, I guess. I just hope the USN can find a mission which these ships will be effective at.

    • Brian C. Lee

      They’re pretty good at getting stuck in Monreal. 🙂

      • Duane

        Just like every other ship in the US Navy fleet would have been stuck in Montreal in winter when the St. Lawrence Seaway closes for navigation between December and March every year.

        Or didn’t anybody ever tell you that the Navy has not owned or operated an icebreaker since the early 1960s?

        SMH

  • RunningBear

    Now that our Naval armchair SMEs have accepted the fact, LCS will not attack Battleships!; the three modules look promising.

    Intriguing comments on ASW!
    IMHO.
    🙂

    • Bryan

      When the lcs asw module finds the sub….does it have torpedoes to kill it? Or does it have to launch an alert helo in order to launch a torpedo?

  • Bubblehead

    It is possible in about 5 years the USN would have developed some worthy modules for these ships but Im not holding my breath. Hellfires are going to worry anybody with their 3-4km range. We have to wait & see how the variable depth sonar pans out. And at this point I haven’t seen much to give confidence in the Mine warfare package. They will always be severely handicapped by their noisy waterjets and excruciating short range. And they still have practically no air defense.

    • PolicyWonk

      The addition of Hellfire, while a great weapon for what it was originally intended for, is simply an act of desperation to give LCS *something*, given the tiny iota of incremental capability it adds. They might serve, OTOH, as a backup, if the 57mm cannon suffers a failure.

      These mission packages are finally making some incremental progress, 10 years after launching. They’ll be lucky to make it to IOC (let alone full use) before the fleet has gone through mid-life upgrades.

      LCS still stands zero chance of prevailing against near-peer navies coastal patrol boats a tenth of its size, such as the Skjold class, that are stealthier, far smaller, far harder to hit, and vastly better armed. Facing opposition like that, LCS is better off staying far away from the littorals.

      • Duane

        As always, you write not a single factual or truthful thing in your comment. Repetition of a lie thousands of times does not make it a truth.

        • ShermansWar

          So then why do you keep doing it???

          • Duane

            Nothing but facts and logic from me … always.

            But the poor ship-hating dears just cannot handle all those inconvenient facts.

            And of course, I simply support what the US Navy long ago figured out and have decided accordingly. The ship haters are merely annoying dead ender losers.

      • N

        Last time I checked the Norwegians were our ally. The Skjold class is a poor comparison example for multiple reasons given the differing requirements for each. The LCS may not have the range of a burke but it certainly can self deploy. The Skjold class and other costal patrol craft carry even less self defense capability. SeaRAM, 57mm and Hellfire missiles are more than what our current PC ships carry.

        • PolicyWonk

          Gad…

          The Skjold class was offered as a mere example, and they aren’t the only ones building small coastal defense ships that are far more heavily armed than an LCS (even with its SUW mission package).

          • N

            I understand it was just an example and that plenty of other coastal patrol craft have long range missiles but how many of those ships have any form of long range targeting? I’m no LCS homer but the flight deck puts it in a different league. No ship bound sensor will ever have the range of an airborne one (size, weight, power being equal).
            Now the cost of the LCS, manning issues, and two hull inefficiencies are worth criticizing for sure but the platform has utility.

          • ShermansWar

            You need to realize that if you are forced to cite the ship borne helo ( an entirely separate acquisition and procurement process), that kind of says all that needs to be said. by that logic anything with a landing pad qualifies as an excellent anti surface/ ASW/ minehunting ship.

          • NR

            The Navy sure seems to think that way for the mine hunting mission with the ESB-3 being an example. I’m not saying that is the best option vs dedicated platforms. It’s just what the plan is moving forward.

          • Duane

            No … helos are heavily integrated into the design, tactics, and operations of the LCS … you cannot airily discount aviation assets on LCS ant more than you can on a CVN or an America class amphib.

            You ship haters constantly trip yourselves up over facts and logic. Once facts and logic enter the equation, your entire argument vaporizes.

          • PolicyWonk

            Well, it might’ve been better if the flight deck had access to the ships magazines to load/configure ordnance on said ship. One *might* think someone designing a “navy” ship to carry a chopper that is really the only method of stand-off defense/offense the ship has, would have ready access to said ordnance.

            However, in the case with these “littoral combat ships” they would be wrong.

            This seriously compromises the usefulness of the flight deck – and this is only the latest of so many indignities LCS cheerleaders have had to endure.

            Short legs; too big for the littorals; too small for blue water; little/no room for growth; unreliable; appallingly expensive to acquire and maintain; inadequate construction/inferior design; no quick change mission packages; vastly larger crew than sold to taxpayers; weakly armed; poorly protected; and not arctic capable.

            There’s not much to be happy about.

          • ElmCityAle

            So let’s keep the comparisons relevant to the likely potential opponents that a LCS would face for various proposed missions. Seems simple, but sure cuts out a lot of the fun in making up scenarios in which it would likely fail.

          • Duane

            Yup … the ship haters never run out of ridiculous fact free comparisons to support their inane emotional diatribes.

          • Duane

            Just how do you get “far more heavily armed than a LCS” armed with any of the Harpoon, Naval Strike Mussile, or LRASM, and using long range aircraft equipped with AESA synthetic apperture radar, and a COMBATTS-21 (a downsized AEGIS) combat management system?

            btw .. the Sjkold class is a high speed missile launcher, but it is totally lacking in long range sensors, having no embarked aircraft and so depends entirely on other units for long range sensing. It can get away with that weakness because it is not designed or operated to act independently in forward deployment like the LCS, but is strictly a short range (800 nm) home water coastal defense boat, where it is surrounded by friendly forces, and does not have a battle management system as the LCS does.

            The Sjkold class is just a modern equivalent to the old coastal gunboats in the age of sail, or the old motor torpedo boats of the second world war. LCS if pitted against Sjkold (a silly prospect, as Norway is one of our closest allies) the LCS would make quick work of a Sjkold … if not with NSM, then more cheaply with the MH-60 firing one or two Hellfires.

          • Niki Ptt

            If you’re not convinced by the Skjold (which, by the way, is equipped by a more than capable battle management system, the same as in the French Navy…), you can take the example of the Baynunah class corvettes in the Emirates.

        • ShermansWar

          lemme get this right, you are comparing a 330 ton boat with a 3500 ton LCS?

          Even so, the Cyclone class PCs carry an SSM in the form of the Griffin missile module/launcher, while the LCS has NOTHING in the way of anti ship missiles. future promises mean nothing for the a debate about the current state of the ships vs each other.

          • NR

            The Griffin missile is even less capable than the Hellfire. Millimeter wave radar targeting and a larger warhead makes it so. The LCS is the planned replacement for the Cyclone class. I’m not arguing that makes financial sense but that is the Navy plan. The LCS is no first line, major surface combatant but it is more capable than the ships it replaces (osprey, avenger, cyclone).
            It’s ironic people on hear complain about how much of a death trap the LCS is but say nothing of the ships that came before.

          • Duane

            Why do you insist on lying about OTH missiles on LCS? LCS have been testing and deploying overseas with OTH missiles for years, including Harpoons and Naval Strike Missiles. The Navy is wrapping up a large OTH missile buy for LCS in June, and has already land tested a modified LCS deck launcher for LRASM, the newest and most capable ASCM on the planet.

        • Bubblehead

          Distance from Hawaii to Philippines is over 5,400 Miles. LCS range is about half that. Just for comparison, a NSC range is 12k miles.

          • NR

            LCS range is 4300nm, the OHP was 4500nm. The short legs of those ships isn’t being criticized now but it certainly was during construction. That comparison is apples and oranges though… the LCS is a replacement for Osprey, Avenger, and Cyclone class ships. They only have ranges of 1500-2500nm!
            I understand the arguments on the price tag with these new ships but to say they are wildly inferior to the ones being replaced is silly.

          • Duane

            Don’t confuse these military experts with facts. It is like casting pearls before swine, in the biblical sense.

      • LCS would destroy a Skjold with ease. MQ-8 detects the target from far away, MH-60 finishes it off with Hellfire. The Skjold would be completely defenseless. If the LCS is Coronado, then it can fire Harpoon OTH based on info from the MQ-8 (demonstrated in exercises) while the Skjold has no clue where the attack is coming from. Even if the Skjold somehow gets a bearing for a AShM launch, the LCS has 11-22 RAM and a 57mm gun firing 3P ammo so the odds are no missiles get through.

        • PolicyWonk

          Possibly, but only if the Skjold was unarmed, everyone aboard was asleep, and it was anchored in the open. Skjold is vastly more stealthy, and the MQ-8 and/or MH-60 would have a very hard time finding it – and both of those are incredibly simple to detect (i.e. choppers are NOT stealthy).

          In short – Skjold would slaughter LCS long before LCS even knew it was in the region.

          • So, just to test how much of this is ignorance and how much is LCS hatred, how do you see a battle between a Skjold and, say, a Type 23 frigate going? 100% total victory for the Skjold?

          • PolicyWonk

            In the littorals, the Type 23 would have a most difficult time finding it, and the Skjold would have the advantage (they are very hard to find, given their construction). In open water, that might be a different story – but that isn’t what Skjold was designed for.

            But we’re talking about the so-called “littoral combat ship”: the same floating claptraps that then CNO Jonathan Greenert declared were “never intended to venture into the littorals to engage in combat”, and that the USN’s own IG said was “unlikely to survive the missions commanders were likely to assign it…”.

            I’ll take their word for it long before I take yours, or the Grand Admiral of the Fleets, etc.

            What shall we compare either class of LCS next? A Nimitz-class carrier? Or a newly commissioned/updated USS New Jersey? Or would the battleship Potemkin be more appropriate? Perhaps a Zumwalt or Burke would be better?

            Gadzooks, I can hardly wait!!!!

          • You suggested these comparisons. Come on, give us more details about how a fast attack craft can hunt down aviation-capable ships without being detected. What do you think the helicopter detection range is against a Skjold – have you seen the wake the create when moving at high speeds? Turn it around as well, the Skjold is less than 20m tall so what sort of horizon do you think it has? And why would a Type 23 perform any better than an LCS when the latter has more aircraft and higher speed?

          • Duane

            Now the veil is lifted, and all that there is is blind ship hate, unaffected by any sense of 21st century warfighting hardware or tactics.

          • Duane

            No no no. Exactly the opposite!!!

            Preposterous. Sjkold has no long range sensors, period. It is nothing but a coastal patrol with a 8 cell missile launcher, effectively just a short range coastal patrol, no eyes and ears, no missile defences, no aircraft defenses, no long range sensors, no battle management system. Zip, nada, not at all.

    • Duane

      Hellfire Longbow has 8 km range … plenty for its role in taking out swarming small boats, drones, attack helicopters, etc. And the same missile is also fielded by the MH-60 that deploys from the LCS.

      • ShermansWar

        That’s air launched, not vertically launched. Go ahead and try and pretend you have rad anywhere the range will be the same for ship borne missiles. You can’t. But please , amuse us and go ahead and explain the physics that will allow the same range as an air launched weapon.

        • Duane

          That’s the range for ground launched used against surface targets and low altitude drones. The Hellfires are not going up high at all.

          And as I write elsewhere, the Hellfire Longbows are but one of many overlapping weapons used against small boat swarns and low flying drones reaching out to 100+nm.

          And btw … the embarked MH-60s also sense and air launch the Hellfires out to beyond the combat radius of the chopper, and the embarked MQ-8s also sense targets with their AESA radars with synthetic aperture and deploy APKWS out to their combat radius.

    • ElmCityAle

      1. Short range missiles: the Hellfire surface launch module is a copy of a concept deployed years ago for patrol boats (Norway?) If the navy had instead chosen existing systems – which would mean buying outside of US firms – they could have gone with the Israeli Spike missile family, including the NLOS (“Tammuz”) model with a range several times longer than Hellfire (and video feedback via radio link).
      2. Anti-submarine warfare: I hope the sonar system works well, but it’s fair to note that LCS lacks a native mechanism for launching weapons against such targets. Of course, the MH-60R has that capability and is a proven weapons system, but the point stands.
      3. Air defense: again, the question is under what operating circumstances/missions more than the RAM/SeaRAM systems would be required. If required, ESSM would be a big upgrade, assuming such a “module” can be created using a small, lightweight VLS system like the MK 56.

      • Ed L

        I remember the missiles the Soviets had during the cold war. some of them easily had over a hundred mile range and carried between a thousand and two thousand pound warhead. others were shorter range with smaller warheads. Anyone remember the Kelt, Kingfish, Karen, Kent. That’s the reason for the F-14 and the Phoenix were developed and I miss that weapon system. Now the Chinese have the Dong-Feng 21 or say they do.

  • Ed L

    Let me understand what’s going on. After almost ten years since the first LCS was commissioned. There is only on mission Module ready to go to sea. But it’s only one has been deployed and the other two are still in testing? Amazing, of this was the private sector a whole lot of people would have been fired. An Erie class patrol gunboat (1936 to 1945) 4 big guns (4-152mm) was better armed and could stay at sea longer (8,000 miles at 12 knots) They even carry a float plane

    • Duane

      You’re blaming the platform for the time it takes to develop new cutting edge GFE technologies and fully integrated combat systems.

      If all the Navy wanted was to reproduce early 20th century tech on a 21st century platform, it could have been ready with the commissioning of the first few LCS hulls.

      But no, the Navy has “stubbornly insisted” on building a mid-21st century fleet using never before seen advanced unmanned systems. You know, so that we don’t blow up ships and their crews sweeping mines like we used to do. And so that we can make surface ASW platforms that can finally detect target submarines below thermal layers, as we’ve not been able to do with hull mounted transducers on all our prior classes of surface ASW ships.

      Other than that, no big deal huh?

      SMH

      • CHENG1087

        It appears you may not realize that “… prior classes of surface ASW ships …” had the Variable Depth Sonar (VDS) since at least the early-1970s, and that the VDS “fish” was mated in the mid-1970s to the Tactical Towed Array Sonar System (TACTASS) passive “tail” in the KNOX Class frigate. And is it true that the LCS VDS will be an active-only system? That’s an ASW “throwback,” I’d say.

        • Duane

          But not today’s fleet That’s been a longstanding complaint, that the US Navy has allowed our surface ASW capability to wither since the end of the Cold War. The LCS ASW capability – which while having been developed on LCS is also a GFE requirement for FFG(X) – is the Navy’s answer to that serious concern.

          • CHENG1087

            The old KNOX class towed array (SQS-35 VDS fish towing the SQR-18 TACTASS passive array, down to a depth of about 600 feet) was followed by the much more capable SQR-19 TACTASS passive array installed in the FFG-7, DD-963, and CG-47 classes, and currently installed in the DDG-51 Class (as well as Canadian, Japanese, and other allied nations’ ASW units). The SQR-19 is capable of being deployed as deep as 1,200 feet. U. S. Navy surface ASW units have been capable of detecting “target submarines below thermal layers” continually since the early-1970s. We have not “allowed our surface ASW capability to wither since the end of the Cold War.”

  • D. Jones

    The LCS may not be deployed, but the mere threat of deployment makes enemies and evildoers rethink their plans.

    Look at NK. Tests nukes and missiles. LCS nears operational capability. NK backs down and vows to denuclearize.

    Coincidence?

    I think not.

    • Ed L

      i laugh if it wasn’t so sad

    • DaSaint

      ROFL

    • Duane

      USNI publishes yet another informative, fact filled post about the progress the Navy is making in developing cutting edge mid-21st century naval warfare technology.

      Then massive amounts of untruthful ship hating snark ensues, thrilling and sending tingles up the legs of the two dozen or so life members of the Ship Haters Club of the World, sustaining them for yet another 5 minutes of delirious ship hate.

      Coincidence?

      I think not.

  • D. Jones

    We’ve got better hulls than the LCS in the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facilities.

    Bring em out, clean & patch em up and throw LCS guts inside em. At least then they’d be survivable.

    Sell the LCS shells on eBay.

  • Adrian Ah

    There is a potentially good use for the LCS for the US. Use them as disaster relief ships.

    The US and Caribbean have natural disasters yearly. When they hit, send in the LCS’s. The LCS has several potential advantages:

    1) It can get there faster than any other ship. (finally, a use for the 35-40 knot recorded top speed)
    2) We all saw pics of roads and highways metres under water from the last flooding, right? Deep for a normal ship, but not a problem for a ship designed for shallow areas, aka littoral. (finally, a use for it’s littoral design).
    3) It has plenty of storage for supplies, setting up emergency medical facilities, emergency command centres, transporting staff, other RHIB’s
    4) It’s already set up to handle drones- carry several smaller ones for search and rescue, reestablishing communications. Simply letting people seeing something is enough to show there is something being done.
    5) It has a large side door from which to disembark. Even if it’s meant for piers, you can hang ladders off the side, and drop inflatable mats, liferafts. Use your imagination.
    6) There are lots of LCS’s. No shortage of ships for this function. They will spend the next 8 months at home anyway.
    7) If they pass by any looters, they can finally find a use for their .50 cal and 30mm guns.

    • D. Jones

      An excellent idea. As the Caribbean and Gulf coastal areas seem to be ill-prepared for hurricanes, a fleet of LCS can serve as disaster relief and impromptu housing. Put the FEMA trailer modules on the deck and set up shop.

    • Stephen

      You have nailed the mission statement for the LCS. Logistics Command Ships can be exactly what FEMA could not provide to Puerto Rico. The ships are a source of power, clean water, food & medical services. One thing that has never made sense; a littoral design that does not accommodate small boat operations. Sorry, just musing…

  • Lazarus

    I see that many fallacies about LCS persist. People suggest that too much time spent developing modules and lack of a regular deployment cycle automatically equal failure. AEGIS itself was 10 years late and $1b over budget in 1977. The Standard missile took decades to develop and first went to sea in the 1950’s as part of largely unworkable AAW systems. Despite that, these systems are not considered failures. LCS is also not a traditional rotational deployer as were previous frigates.

    • thebard3

      Right you are. I think one major difference is that previous systems that had similar issues weren’t developed under the guise of the internet, where it’s so easy to disseminate criticism. New platforms that employ new technologies with dynamic mission roles always encounter developmental problems. Remember the Bradley Fighting Vehicle? How about the B1 bomber? The Osprey? Even the Chinook helicopter had major issues. I don’t really understand why the Ford carrier class or the F35 program isn’t greeted so harshly but I’m sure somebody out there might leave some acerbic comments to explain why they should be abandoned in favor of some other platform that doesn’t exist, and would have developmental issues of their own.

      • Duane

        The prevailing conceit amongst many of the “usual suspects” in the comment threads at USNI is that all these geniuses proclaim themselves to be the only smart guys, and that the US Navy is hopelessly stupid, and that all other navies of the world are smart. Like a bunch of little Donald Trump Mini-Me’s declaring themselves smarter than all the admirals and generals, that being their justification to “blow it all up” and remake the world according to their own notions.

        They are unpersuasive, to say the least.

      • Refguy

        You must have missed all the negative comments on the F-35 discussion sites.

    • PolicyWonk

      “LCS is also not a traditional rotational deployer as were previous frigates.”
      =================================================
      So true – they are not a traditional deployer as they spend the majority of their time tied up to the pier. Nor are they traditional in that they aren’t designed, constructed, armed, or protected like traditional warships – simply because they were never “intended to venture into the littorals to engage in combat”, according to the CNO (Greenert).

      Everything else you mention, were all intended (and designed) to be directly used in battle. As such, they had to be able to take a punch as still take the fight to the bad guys.

      In the case of LCS: It’s too big for the littorals; too small for blue water; drinks fuel like we own Saudi Arabia; short legs/low endurance; no room for growth; all but unarmed; all but unprotected; monstrously expensive; not arctic capable; costly to maintain; poorly conceived; poorly designed; poorly built; requires frequent dry-docking; lousy ROI; and failed to meet even a decent fraction of the many promises made.

      Definitely untraditional. Definitely.

    • Donald Carey

      The mission modules should have been completely or nearly completely finished before any metal was cut for the ships. Its just common sense.

  • proudrino

    For me, the LCS is a failure. Not because it was a platform built solely to provide employment to small shipyards in Democrat-leaning Congressional districts but because of sustainment and the crowd of contractors necessary to do routine maintenance on these floating lemons. I don’t see anything in the discussion about modules that suggest that the sustainment problems have been solved. Until then the program is a failure even if time and overexpenditures of taxpayer dollars allow the LCS to claw its way abject worthlessness to mere mediocrity.

    • thebard3

      Mobile Alabama is hardly a democrat leaning congressional district.

      • waveshaper1

        Up until the 1960’s (Civil War to the 1960’s) the Mobile District (district #1) was a Democrat Bastion but that was when the Democrats ran the whole south/KKK.

        • thebard3

          Like I said.

        • Duane

          Alabama overwhelmingly voted for Trump, 1 of 2 their Senators and 6 of 7 Congressmen (including the one who represents Mobile), and Governor and majorities of the Legislature are all Republicans … being the deepest red of red states since 1972.

      • Duane

        Don’t interrupt his karma with facts. It upsets him.

        oh by the way, the Freedom class ships are built in Marinette, Wisconson, also represented by a Republican in the House of Representatives. Wisconsin also voted for Trump, as did Alabama and Mississippi.

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    The most important part of the “Surface warfare mission package” is the RHIB.

    It took years to learn how to put a RHIB in the water…. but all that effort and millions of dollars has been worth it.

    • Duane

      The SuW MM would have been declared complete years ago, but developmental progress made it clear that it was better to wait for tech to mature when the whole point of LCS was to field mid-21st century tech in the mid 21st century. Also the threat picture changed enormously between the early 2000s and the 2010s, when Russia emerged from its post-Soviet collapse to challenge the west, and the Chinese took on a hostile, aggressive stance in the ECS and SCS.

      On the tech side, for instance, the original program spec did not include any kinetic missile defense … a half dozen years later, SeaRAM was developed and then deployed on LCS.

      On the emerging threat side, the Navy did not come up with its present “distributed lethality” doctrine until 2014. With that, we added OTH missile launchers and COMBATTS-21 battle management system (a downsized AEGIS) to LCS.

      As for the small vertical missile launcher, it was decided in about 2015 that the originally spec’d Griffin wan’t sufficient so the Hellfire launcher was substituted.

      The bottom line is that in an environment of rapidly developing technology and rapidly evolving threats, the LCS has rapidly evolved and adapted. What the silly ship haters characterize as failure by latenesss actually is a huge success story. No other naval ship class has adapted as much as has LCS.

  • CHENG1087

    There is plenty of speculation in this string of comments regarding the relative combat strength of our LCSs in future battle with other nations’ littoral assets. I know we will never get an answer to this question (because of the security classification), but has the LCS ever been officially “war gamed” by the Naval War College? War gaming has always been a major mission of the NWC, and I am willing to bet that the LCS has already been extensively evaluated by the War Gaming Center at the NWC. I’d love to hear how the two LCS classes were evaluated during “hot wash-ups.”

    • Duane

      LCS regularly participate in joint fleet exercises. The weapons and sensors and ECM and battle management systems on LCS operate just like they do on any other ship so equipped.

      • CHENG1087

        Yes, I am sure the LCS has been integrated into some actual “real world” fleet exercises, and it would be very interesting to read the classified “after action” reports of the performance of those participating LCSs. But even more informative would be to read the reports of LCS performance in complex computer simulation war gaming. As we all know, both versions of the LCS are currently mere shadows, tactically, of what we hope they will be years in the future. In a Naval War College war game scenario, though, the computer-generated LCSs can be loaded out in any, or all her future “mission package” variations. She can be placed “in harm’s way” with any conceivable adversary, in any conceivable environment, with any conceivable ammunition and fuel loadout. As an example, her future Variable Depth Sonar can be evaluated to see just how deep it can be deployed in the LCS’s expected tactical arena — the littoral.

  • CHENG1087

    I have a recurring daydream that I have been ushered into the fluorescent-lit catacombs of NAVSEA, and given total, unrestricted access to the CASREPT files of every commissioned LCS. I believe it would be very interesting reading.

  • CHENG1087

    Can the SeaRam launcher on the LCS be reloaded at sea after an engagement? If so, how long does it take to reload the eleven cells and return the launcher to “ready air”? How many reload missiles are stored in the magazine, and must the cells be cleaned or refurbished in some way prior to reload?