Home » Aviation » LCS Mission Package Office Focused On Test, Fielding; IOC Dates Continue to Slip


LCS Mission Package Office Focused On Test, Fielding; IOC Dates Continue to Slip

The future littoral combat ship USS Wichita (LCS 13) conducts acceptance trials, which are the last significant milestone before a ship is delivered to the Navy. US Navy photo.

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Littoral Combat Ship mission package program office considers itself to be out of the technology development business and fully into testing and production, the program manager said last week.

All three of the LCS mission packages are in some form of testing this fiscal year and will hit various initial operational capability milestones in Fiscal Years 2019, 2020 and 2022, Capt. Ted Zobel said at a briefing during the Surface Navy Association’s annual national symposium. However, the anti-submarine and mine countermeasures mission packages’ anticipated initial operational capability dates have slipped a bit again, despite the progress being made on testing the mission package equipment on two separate LCS hull variants.

The furthest along of the three mission packages is for surface warfare. That package is set to deploy on as many as three LCSs later this fiscal year, with the initial version of the mission package having already reached IOC in 2014 and 2015. The program office is working as fast as it can to finalize the addition of the Surface-to-Surface Missile Module (SSMM) – a Longbow Hellfire missile – in the hopes that one of the ships set for a 2019 deployment, USS Detroit (LCS-7), could take the missile along on its maiden deployment.

Beyond the 30 mm and 57 mm guns, SeaRAM anti-ship missile defense system and small rigid-hull inflatable boats already in the surface warfare mission package, the Longbow Hellfire missile would give the LCS a greater ability to go after fast attack craft (FAC)/fast inshore attack craft (FAC/FIAC). That threat is especially prevalent in the Persian Gulf, where Bahrain-based LCSs would patrol, due to Iranian small boats, and could be relevant in crowded waterways in the Pacific for the Singapore-based LCSs.

“I think it’s pretty fair to say that SSMM, which is a Longbow Hellfire, really is the Navy’s premiere FAC/FIAC weapon,” Zobel said in his presentation.

The littoral combat ship USS Montgomery (LCS 8) departs Naval Base San Diego to conduct routine operations and training in the Pacific Ocean. US Navy photo.

SSMM completed its developmental testing and began operational testing two months ahead of schedule, Zobel said, and is on track to hit IOC for the Lockheed Martin-built Freedom-variant hulls in the second quarter of FY 2019. Throughout 79 live-fire shots during developmental, integrated and operational testing, SSMM has maintained a 91 percent successful engagement rate. The Navy is buying the first module this year and should wrap up procurement by 2024, but with the modules used for testing the Navy may be able to complete the test, integration and installation work in time for the Detroit deployment.

SSMM integration with the Austal USA-built Independence-variant hulls is a few months behind the Freedom-variant counterpart. USS Jackson (LCS-6) has been identified as the ship that will support SSMM integrated testing for the Indy variants, which should start in the third quarter of FY 2019.

Originally slated as the last to deploy, the anti-submarine warfare mission package will now be the second to reach IOC. This package centers around a variable-depth sonar that puts a transmitter and receiver in the same part of the water column, Zobel said.

“I believe this mission package represents a game-changing capability in the fleet,” he said, echoing previous comments from Navy officials about the leap-ahead improvement the VDS represents compared to current technology destroyers and other surface ships use to detect underwater threats.

In November the program office accepted a pre-production test article and began land-based testing in December.

Just last week the program office began testing at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center in the Bahamas, using a contracted civilian vessel to haul the mission package equipment. After this ongoing testing is finished, the program office will take the mission package and send it to San Diego, where USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) will be outfitted to accept the mission package and conduct developmental testing in the summer or fall.

Zobel told USNI News after his presentation that the civilian vessel was used for the AUTEC testing to avoid asking an LCS to sail from San Diego around to the Bahamas, the location of the only undersea testing site of its kind.

Congress cut all funding for variable-depth sonar procurement in FY 2019, but Zobel said this funding cut would not hinder the anti-submarine warfare mission package from reaching IOC in FY 2020 – the current plan, but a slip from a previous IOC prediction of 2019. The captain made clear that there was sufficient research and development funding to cover the AUTEC testing and the Fort Worth developmental and operational testing in California.

“If the system continues to perform the way it is, I can’t help but assume that support will follow,” he told reporters of congressional support for procurement funding.
“The zeroing of the funds in 2019 do not impact our ability to get to test in ‘19. That plan is still on glideslope, and we should be able to meet our IOC in ‘20.”

The Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) conducts operations with an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter, assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8, during exercise Phoenix Fire 2018, Nov. 1, 2018. Phoenix Fire is a small-scale littoral combat exercise conducted in southern California by Helicopter Sea Combat Weapons School Pacific to enhance combat readiness through robust, realistic training while providing joint and combined partners the ability to work with multiple assets in a maritime and littoral environment. US Navy photo.

Now the final package to reach IOC, the mine countermeasures package is headed for an FY 2022 IOC declaration, another slip compared to a previous 2021 IOC date and even earlier dates before that.

The Independence-variant ships are now certified to operate all three aviation assets – the COBRA Coastal Mine Reconnaissance system, the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) and the Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS) – after COBRA was certified recently. COBRA testing aboard Freedom-variant hulls will begin next month and should be certified by the end of 2019, Zobel said.

Integrated testing on the Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS) and the Knifefish unmanned underwater system began on USS Independence (LCS-2) just before Christmas and wrapped up last week, Zobel said. Those systems will be certified for Independence-variant hulls by the end of the year, and will be certified on the Freedom variant by next year.

In a separate news release, Naval Sea Systems Command noted that the UISS and Knifefish integrated test event was important because it validated the communications link between the ship and these two offboard systems as well as their ability to be launched and recovered – the final two to be tested on the Indy variant, after successful testing with the MH-60S helicopter and MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter.

The entire mission package will go through developmental and operational testing in FY 2021 and will reach IOC in 2022, according to Zobel’s presentation.

A view of the Marinette Marine shipyard from the Menominee River as the future littoral combat ships USS Billings (LCS 15), left, and USS Indianapolis (LCS 17) are moored in front of USS St. Louis (LCS 19), before St. Louis’ christening, Dec. 15, 2018. US Navy photo.

Separately in LCS news, the Navy last week awarded Lockheed Martin a contract for one FY 2019 Freedom-variant ship, LCS-31. In December the Navy awarded two 2019 ships to Austal and declined to say whether the third ship was guaranteed to go to Lockheed Martin or would be awarded competitively. With LCS-31 now on contract, Lockheed Martin now has 16 ships built, in construction or on contract, compared to 19 for Austal. This contract is for the last LCS, as the Navy will move to the frigate as its small surface combatant beginning in FY 2020.

  • Duane

    Very good informative article, Megan. Interesting that the Navy is standing up capabilities on the Indys in advance of the Freedoms … seems to reflect appreciation that the Pacific-based Indys are more likely to face near peer naval challenges sooner due to China’s rapid growth of its navy and its growing aggressive behavior.

    Also good to read the commentary from people who actually know what they’re talking about, instead of the incessant and ignorant trolling community.

    “I believe this mission package represents a game-changing capability in the fleet,” he said, echoing previous comments from Navy officials about the leap-ahead improvement the VDS represents compared to current technology destroyers and other surface ships use to detect underwater threats.”

    • Andy Ferguson

      So tell us Duaney, where, and for how long have Little Crappy Ships been deployed?

      • David B. Brown

        Please tell us. Inquiring minds want to know. And now I hear they are not fully manned. So how are the ships going to deploy without a crew? And how is this phantom crew going to be trained?

        • Andy Ferguson

          Notice Diane hasn’t answered ANY questions?

          Typical troll behaviour.

  • NavySubNuke

    Shocking. But on the bright side- at least the modules actually fit within the space and weight capabilities of the ship and we don’t need another complete redo of the ASW module.
    Better late then never – as long as they actually work once delivered!

    • Duane

      Only shocking to the trolls who would have us believe that one of the greatest shipbuilding successes in the US Navy is somehow all effed up. Mostly they are shocked because the Navy didn’t listen to their tiny little band of ignorant brothers who thought they were all smarter than the rest of the Navy combined, if we’d only listen to them pounding their little keyboards in their basements.

      • NavySubNuke

        The “shocking” was sarcasm by the way. At this point no one is surprised by yet more delays for the LCS.

      • NavySubNuke

        Oh and the greatest shipbuilding program in the Navy is the Virginia class – they have been delivered on time or early and under budget for years.

        • Duane

          The Virginias are good ships .. but they are and were merely marginal adjustments and improvements to the formula for SSNs going back many decades, going back to the Skipjack class of SSNs in the late 1950s.

          As contrasted to the revolutionary, large leap ship design and system design of LCS. LCS essentially represented a whole new way of thinking about and conceiving surface warships that is now driving the Navy’s future fleet design today.

          The LCS is more akin to the USS Nautilus .. except that instead of being a one-ship class, it has been so successful it became a 34 ship class, and about 85% of it is being carried forward to the next class of small surface combatant, the FFGX. Virtually every capability on the FFGX but the Mk 41 VLS and EASR were pioneered, developed, tested, and succeeded on LCS.

          Including now the Blue-Gold crewing concept.

          • David B. Brown

            And how many of them have deployed?

          • NavySubNuke

            LOL. Yes, LCS was so successful they had to take a multi-year break after the first 4 hulls to go back to the drawing board and get the costs under control.
            Contrast that with Virginia — which was constructed in a revolutionary fashion never before utilized for nuclear submarines and was produced in a radically different manner in a labor agreement between two different private shipyards.
            And again, Virginia’s are not only delivering on time and on budget they are delivering on a faster timeline then ever envisioned at the start of the program.

          • PolicyWonk

            Heh –

            What I liked is the picture of those LCS’s all tied up to the pier that goes along with the article title, because it depicts LCS in its true natural environment!

          • NavySubNuke

            LOL. Hey it isnt bad duty if you can get it – lots of time home with the family.

          • muzzleloader

            LCS billets are considered shore duty.

          • Al L.

            Come on. Virginia is a technological step backward from its predecessor. The Navy in effect built the Seawolfs, called a halt and took about a 6 year break to figure out what it could actually build within budget resulting in the Virginia.( Hence its “revolutionary” build arrangements: the result of $20 billion spent learning lessons on 4 Seawolfs) Its the result of a bureaucracy and shipyards which have been almost continuously producing subs with relatively stable funding, work forces etc. for decades.

            LCS came about after a period where the Navy all but abandoned and resisted designing or building anything smaller than a DDG, had no established shipyards doing small ships, no bureaucracy prepared, had done next to nothing to maintain the capacity to build them efficiently, and little conceptualization, strategizing or exploring their future use.

            Virginia has gone well because the Navy was able to utilize decades of capital built up and maintained in the submarine industry. LCS has gone poorly because post cold war Navy leadership swore off small ships and did everything it could to ensure the ability to build or use them was thoroughly atrophied or dead.

            Little recognized is that only outliers in Navy leadership wanted to continue with small ships in the 90s and early 00s, much of the leadership saw them as a budgetary threat to the big ships for a peacetime unchallenged Navy. The only reason the LCS or any ship smaller then DDG-1000 got a start at all during that period was an insistence by mostly coastal members of Congress that if the Navy was going to get funding for its low volume behemoths to be built in the established shipyards, they wanted a more numerous ship to support the declining ship building industry esp smaller disappearing yards. We are lucky we are not much further behind in frigates corvettes and MIW ships. Had LCS not been initiated we would be.

            Your perspective is completely ahistorical.

          • NavySubNuke

            First of all we built 3 Seawolfs. Virginia is a step back in terms of overall capability but not in technology. Virginia is actually even quieter then Seawolf – by far the most important technology for a submarine. Second of all, only Connecticut had been building submarines for almost 7 years by the time we laid down USS Texas in Newport News. The submarine work force in Virginia was gone and the work force that remained in Groton was a shadow of itself.
            The modular construction methods pioneered by Virginia and continued since were a complete departure from any submarine construction program in history – including that of the Seawolf’s.
            The break in construction killed many of the sub-tier suppliers since, contrary to your claims, there was no stable funding or production, and a large portion of the workforce evaporated.
            Had the LCS program office actually defined and locked in requirements, not depended on vapor ware like NLOS, and had the Navy had the moral courage to down select to a single design the LCS program likely would have turned out a lot different.
            The concept of LCS was excellent —- the problem is the results are nothing like the original street fighter concept.

          • Al L.

            “we built 3 Seawolfs”

            Indeed, I knew that; don’t know how I brain glitched 4. Thanks for the correction.

            “Virginia is actually even quieter then Seawolf – by far the most important technology..”

            -Nobody of any expertise considers the block 1 Virginias functionally more advanced than the Seawolfs.

            -Its nice that you have and can pronounce knowledge requiring a clearance on a public venue. Or is that just your assumption?

            “The break in construction killed many of the sub-tier suppliers ..”

            At least there were suppliers and shipyards. The small combatant industry in the US was almost dead and buried by the time LCS started. Todd bulit 1/2 the FFG-7 class. They’re Dead. Bath built the other half. Bath moved on to anything that wasn’t small. Peterson built most of the Avengers. Dead. Avondale and Intermarine built the Ospreys. They’re dead.

            “Had the LCS program office actually defined….”

            Had the Navy not abandoned building small ships in the late 80s, a lot of things would be different. The Navy never abandoned subs, and in fact spent a whole lot of money on the Seawolfs to gain knowledge. It spent nothing, zero, zip, nada from 1988 to 2004, 16 YEARS , on frigates or anything resembling them nor any combatants between 1000 tons and 9000 tons. For much of that time Navy leadership also actively suppressed any attempt to resurrect small ships for fear that in a period of no peers, the large combatants would lose funding to small ships.
            There is no way to rationalize an historical comparison between the experience of the Virginias and LCS. In the last 70+ years the Navy has never said it did not want or need to build subs. It did claim it did not want or need to build (or even maintain in most cases) small ships for more than a decade.

          • NavySubNuke

            “There is no way to rationalize an historical comparison between the experience of the Virginias and LCS. ”
            Well on this we can certainly agree. The Virginia program managed to overcome it’s many difficulties and deliver functional ships that the crew can operate and regularly deploy with early and under budget in almost every case.
            You can feel free to make up whatever excuses you like to try and shift blame from the negligence and incompetence of the LCS program office but at the end of the day they still failed to execute and failed to deliver. The LCS program is in no way the Navy’s best ship building program as Duane claimed.
            The early San Antonio class vessels were plagued with problems but the Navy was able to turn that program around and now those ships are regularly deploying and providing a benefit to our fleet and our nation. We will see if LCS is able to make similar contributions some day. But as of right now —- nearly 14 years after the keels of LCS-1 and LCS-2 were laid —- we are still waiting for those contributions.

          • Jffourquet

            The LCS is not a small ship. It made no sense to built a 3000 ton ship to chase speed boat armed machine guns and RPGs. It made no sense to built a ship before you knew how much weight and space were needed for the mission modules. It would have better to built new mine warfare/ patrol craft and a new frigate class 15 years ago. Like you said, big navy does not like small ships.

          • Without endorsing the LCS, I’m sure Navy brass is averse to small combatants (smaller than LCS) for a few legitimate reasons.

            One is geographical reality. USN vessels must conduct blue water ocean crossings to reach their AOR, which favors larger hulls. This largely explains why all American SSNs are nuclear powered while much of Europe, Asia and the Mideast build short-ranged diesel boats.

            A second reason is crew retention. The all-volunteer Navy won’t reenlist for seasickness or a matchbox lifestyle. Small combatants toss about and everything is smaller – berthing, messing and recreation. ‘Proud ships make proud sailors.’

            These are not ideal short-term parameters for warfighting, but have been deemed geographically and socially necessary.

          • Rocco

            Subs are boats not ship!!! Hmmm & your a submariner?? Really?

          • David B. Brown

            But Nautilus deployed pretty much out the gate. She was not welded to a pier. 34 ships seems excessive for a test program.

          • Refguy

            Perhaps LCS hould have been a one-ship class until it was debugged.

          • Duane

            Effectively LCS was two two-ship classes that were fully debugged. They then went on to two 10-ship block buys, since extended by several ships each. Very successful and fully debugged.

      • Ed L

        The LCS program might have faired better if a Hard Nose Warrior had run the program not an administrator

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        Duane. The former ASN(RDA) stated that LCS is the program that broke Navy acquisition.

        This is not something one would expect to hear about a great shipbuilding success.

        • PolicyWonk

          Right you are.

          And this great shipbuilding success is seemingly compromised by the LCS Mission Module PEO, who’ve repeatedly demonstrated incompetence by delivering mission packages that were so heavy they had to be redesigned from scratch, delaying the program for years.

          Duane doesn’t seem able to accept the fact that more he attempts to sell the program as a success in light of the staggering evidence to the contrary, the less credible he becomes in everyone’s eyes.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Less credible? I don’t think that is possible.

          • PolicyWonk

            Grumble.

            Ok – you got me ;-P

        • Duane

          The Navy says the opposite. The Navy is the Navy. That a small handful of critics say otherwise is true of every single program the Navy has ever had. There are always critics and malcontents who claim they are smarter than everybody else.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            The Navy is about 350,000 people. Hard to know what its opinion is.

            The Assistant Secretary of the Navy is a malcontent? How about the managing director of GAO? Or head of DOT&E?

            They all pretty much said the same thing about LCS during Congressional testimony in 2016. A goat rope.

  • Duane

    Couple of interesting tidbits from an interview by David Larter at Defensenews with Adm. Boxall.

    LCS:

    “One of the exciting things about LCS is its flexibility – everyone who steps inside one of those mission bays says “Wow, I could do a lot with this.” So, as you get them out there, the fleet commanders are seeing the same thing. So, what you see is a capability that can expand in the future or be adaptable for something you don’t know about.

    “They’re coming fast, every couple months we seem to be commissioning or christening one of them. So as we get them out there you are going to see some excitement about what else we can do with them. We haven’t even thought of the best use of LCS is yet, if you ask me.”

    Boxall also listed the new anti-ship missile as an exciting new capability, and said the team was working to make sure the first deployer would have the missile on it.

    FFGX:

    “We’re looking at the blue-gold construct on FFG(X), we’re planning on it, which gives us a larger operational availability – it should double it. So, these ships are going to be out there half the time while the [off-hull] crews are back training in higher-fidelity training environments. And what [commanding officers] will tell you is that as we get to higher and higher fidelity training, time to train becomes equally as valuable. So, in an increasingly complex environment, it’s just intuitive that that you have to have time to train.

    “We think Blue-Gold makes sense for those reasons on the frigate. We’ll look and see if that makes sense on the large surface combatant or not. Maybe those are better ships to keep as a surge force, maybe they’re fine operating on a lower rotational model.”

    Yet another instance of the learning done on and by the LCS program, leading the way for reform of the rest of the surface Navy, coming kicking and screaming into the 21st century two decades too late.

    • NavySubNuke

      It is good to see the Navy learning from the failures of the LCS program rather then repeating them. The original crewing concept of LCS was an utter disaster but going to the SSBN-proven blue and gold model for both LCS and FFG(X) is a step in the right direction.

      • Duane

        Only you little bitty tiny band of incessant trolls think the LCS is a failure. The entire rest of the Navy knows better.

        Only someone with the perverted mentality of an auditor would claim that an experiment in radical new crewing concepts is a “failure” when, as a result of attempting the radical crewing structure, rationally collects operational data and experience, makes a relatively minor adjustment, and discovers a fantastic crewing concept that the organization now intends to push throughout the fleet.

        You certainly would have derided our Founding Fathers as “failures” because, after the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War, discovered within a few years that the Articles of Confederation didn’t work so great … so instead they came up with the Constitution of the United States of America, “in order to form a more perfect union”. My god, what losers they were, they didn’t get it right the first time!

        Your ignorance and intolerance and unrelieved negativity is literally astounding. The only surface ship class in the history of the Navy to go blue-gold and make it work to you represents a failure, somehow.

        Oh I get it .. it’s a failure because the LCS refused to fail, in your dim lights.

        • NavySubNuke

          So you think the original crew concept of LCS was a success Duane?
          Even though the Navy admits it was an utter failure and abandoned it?

          • Duane

            So you admit that the LCS was planned for a particular crew structure never before attempted, the Navy wasn’t happy with the results, then made a quick and extremely successful adjustment, and is now so happy with the results on LCS that the Navy is re-applying it to the FFGX and is already thinking hard about applying it to the rest of the surface warfare fleet?

            You trolls are just like the proverbial auditors I was warned about decades ago when I served in the Navy:

            The definition of an auditor is those are the guys who come in after the battle is over and bayonet all the wounded.

            You make a great auditor. But a lousy sailor. You are literally the US Navy’s Official Ensign Debby Downer.

          • NavySubNuke

            How many millions of dollars and how many months of sea time was lost before the Navy recognized the problem and went back to the SSBN proven Blue-Gold crewing model?

          • Duane

            There was no “going back” to the SSBN Blue-Gold crewing model. It never ever existed in the surface Navy at all, and never existed in the vast majority of nuke submarines, our SSNs, either. Blue-Gold was developed to keep our fleet of SLBMs at sea longer, which was and remains a very specialized operational objective unrelated to normal warship deployments.

            On any other warship that does not attempt to keep a fleet of SLBMs at sea more or less continuously, the Blue-Gold model never existed until LCS.

            Amazing that you so stubbornly refuse to acknowledge something so painfully obvious … at least to current surface fleet leaders like Admiral Boxall.

          • NavySubNuke

            You do realize swapping out forward deployed crews on small combatants is actually routine right? Minesweepers and pcs and other vessels have done that for decades — successfully.
            Also, SSBN’s don’t try to stay at sea more or less continually — they try to stay at sea closer to 2/3 of the time. The ship still needs maintenance. That is why we have the nominal patrol and refit lengths with the opposite crew off in off-crew getting certified to operate the ship without causing multi-million dollar breakdowns that rob the Navy of months of deployment time.

          • Andy Ferguson

            So Duaney…..for how many YEARS has the Royal Navy been swapping out their mine-hunter crews in the Persian Gulf?

            Remind me.

          • Lazarus

            The US surface navy does not have that tradition and it’s DDG centric leaders have resisted rotation crews for decades.

          • Andy Ferguson

            Yeah, what a waste of resources.

          • David B. Brown

            Why is anyone happy with ships that cannot deploy? I just wonder if the LCS folks get sea service ribbons?

          • NavySubNuke

            The ones who were trapped in Singapore for nearly 10 months because the Navy didn’t have a crew they trusted to relieve them certainly did — those poor guys keep getting extension after extension!

          • David B. Brown

            Not a bad place to be stuck. Could have been Alexandria!

          • Rocco

            Yeah the armpit of the world!!

          • Ed L

            Or Djibouti

          • Lazarus

            Try 4 months for the time that the Coronado rotation crew was delayed in relief.

          • NavySubNuke

            I am counting total deployment time not just the extra months they spent trapped there because there was not another crew the Navy trusted to safely operate the ship.

          • Lazarus

            What it shows is the ethics of the LCS training program that does not allow untrained, undermanned ships to go to see and potentially get into accidents.

          • NavySubNuke

            LOL, you mean besides the multiple major engineering accidents caused by undertrained crew that resulted in tens of millions of dollars in damage and months/years of lost sea time right? You do remember that was the actual cause of the navy changing the entire manning and training plan for these ships right and also why crew 204 was marooned?

          • NavySubNuke

            Just double checked — deployed on 22 June for a 4 to 5 month deployment, supposed to be home for Thanksgiving (see Navy Times “LCS crew marooned in Singapore on an open-ended deployment” dated 20 Feb 2017) was actually not relieved until 15 April.
            Total deployment: 298 days (9 months, 25 days) —- hence my “nearly 10 months”.

          • Lazarus

            That’s a total and not a delay. It also includes time stateside in training; something not normally included in a traditional deployment. That crew was only away from the states for 5 months.

          • NavySubNuke

            Please provide a source on when they actually left the states and by states I mean specifically homeport because what matters is the time away from family. This crew was supposed to be home for the holidays and instead spent them marooned in Singapore with no idea of when they were actually coming home as a direct result of the damage undertrained crews caused to their own ships.

          • Lazarus

            They did not deploy until after RIMPAC 2016. Deployments get extended and go over holidays. Its part of the job. I spent a number of holidays underway.
            The crew swap delay was not due to damage but a lack of a trained crew as a relief.

          • NavySubNuke

            “By Commander, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron 1 Public Affairs
            SAN DIEGO (NNS) — Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Crew 204, which had been deployed aboard USS Coronado (LCS 4) since June 2016, returned to San Diego April 16 following the ship’s maiden deployment in support of operations with regional navies in the 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility.”
            Source: “Littoral Combat Ship Crew 204 Returns to San Diego Following Deployment to Western Pacific”
            Story Number: NNS170417-30Release Date: 4/17/2017 1:49:00 PM
            Feel free to take up your argument with LCS Squadron 1 Public Affairs but they disagree with you.
            Also, the swap delay was directly related to the damage inflicted by other crews —- that is WHY there was no trained relief crew.

          • Bubblehead

            Diane has to call everybody he disagrees with a troll and minimalize them bc he doesnt have facts to back his case. He doesnt realize it makes him look petty and insecure and instantly proves he lost the argument.

            Its pretty much a given fact up to this point in time LCS is a complete failure. Maybe in the coming years they will turn it around? Maybe they just need more time to figure it out?

            But right now the USN is begging Congress to stop funding them while, at the same time begging for $$$ for more ship hulls. The entire existance of FFGX is because LCS hasnt lived up to its design. There are about 16 of them sitting in ports, not going to sea, with no mission and no capability and the USN isnt even manning them.

            So I ask you, if everything above is a fact, and it is, is that a success?

      • Rocco

        Not in agreement!! Only subs should be doing this!

    • Refguy

      “We haven’t even thought of the best use of LCS is yet, if you ask me.” In other words, we still haven’t figured out what they’re good for.

      • Duane

        Not what the Admiral said or remotely suggested at all. The three roles initially given are clear – SuW and ASW in the littorals, and MCM. Additional roles are already being designed as new mission modules to supplement the original three MMs.

        • Refguy

          Not what he said or suggested, but the way things are.

  • Ed L

    Time is long overdue to put the LCS in the deployment rotation. Get them out there, and see how much of the equipment is really sailor proof. Sailors that man the LCS must have a gunboat sailor mentally. Meaning they need to do all kind of jobs. Like my uncle did prior to WW2, He was a gunboat gunners mate. He also drove the ships boats, clean toilets, wash dishes, stood bridge watches. knew enough morse code to copy a message, rotate through the boiler room shoveling coal. Just like now a days a gun boat sailor needs to be a jack of all trades.

    • NavySubNuke

      2018 was supposed to be the year they were continuously deployed.
      Now the Navy is saying 2019 will be.
      Hopefully they do — it is past time the tens of billions of dollars invested in this program started delivering.

      • Curtis Conway

        Yeah . . . how about them ‘Big Brothers’ that will still be out there to protect them?! Of course it will take double the fuel to accomplish the mission sending both, unless you tie the LCS to the Carrier or replenishment ship, then they will be scheduling the next UNREP as they complete the current UNREP so they can keep their fuel at 80%. WHO is running this SHOW? The Russians and the Chinese are rolling on the floor in their offices…

    • Rocco

      Agreed! Kudos to your uncle!

  • PolicyWonk

    More delays in the “program that broke naval acquisition”. That said, frankly, its good to hear the LCS mission package PEO is out of the technology business, because they haven’t demonstrated much talent in that regard, especially given the whopping 100t of growth they have to contend with (sarcasm intended), and the embarrassing redesigns for the MCM and ASW packages.

    The only discernible change to the SUW package is the addition of the Box o’ Hellfires, which I’m certain will cause commanders of potential peer naval opponents to lose control of their bowels, retire, commit hari-kari, instantly surrender upon discovery of an LCS in the same hemisphere, or volunteer for the army (this assumes our current LCS fleet can be un-welded from the pier without further damage).

    While the Box o’ Hellfires could be useful, the better news is that it could be installed on a lot of other sea-frames, further reducing the need for LCS.

    • Lazarus

      It only takes one or two Hellfire hits to destroy or at least “mission kill” a smsll craft or micro-combatant. Do not be so dismissive of them.

      • PolicyWonk

        I’m not dismissive of the “Box o’ Hellfires” being useful.

        I am dismissive of the usefulness of what is called the “littoral combat ship”.

        I am not dismissive of the wanton waste of taxpayer funds on these floating corporate welfare programs, which leaves the taxpayers $36B poorer, and the USN still lacking a littoral combat platform.

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        The problem with Hellfire is the limited range when launched from a surface ship. It is around 5 nm – which is not much further than the effective range of the 57mm gun.

        Hellfire is just bringing a better knife to a knife fight. The originally planned Non Line of Sight (NLOS) missile with its 30 mm range would’ve been useful.

        • ElmCityAle

          Israel’s Rafael Spike/Tamuz NLOS is deployable in a naval version with range of 25 km (16 miles). The missile has a video link to provide both final targeting and surveillance.

        • Lazarus

          The NLOS represents an earlier armament scheme. LCS is now getting an ASCM and a Hellfire armament. It is a much improved armament plan and combined with improved sensors make LCS a more formidable opponent.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Some LCSs are getting a whopping four ASCMs. Let’s put that in perspective.

            A single P-8A can carry four ASCMs much further and faster than an LCS. It has better long-range sensors. It can be rearmed much faster. It only risks a crew of nine and costs ~1/3 what an LCS costs.

            Note: I don’t consider one P-8A a formidable SUW capability. Yet it is superior to LCS in every measure that I can think of.

            As I’ve stated before, the LCS puts the Navy squarely on the WRONG side of Prof. Hughes salvo equations. It is far too expensive for the number of weapons delivered.

          • PolicyWonk

            Indeed – this is exactly why the allies that were initially interested in LCS turned it down cold, saying it was far too expensive with far too small ROI.

          • Lazarus

            Typical response by an aviator; it’s my platform or none at all. Parochialism at its finest!

            Your airplane is also a target that must operate in a very permissive environment.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            P-8 isn’t “my” airplane any more than LCS is “your” ship. Neither of us are in uniform anymore. We are analysts. So let’s talk some parameters:

            ASCMs:
            LCS: 4 Harpoons.
            P-8A: 4 Harpoons.

            Max Speed:
            LCS: 45 kts
            P-8A 440 kts

            Radius of Action:
            LCS: 1,750 nmi.
            P-8A: 1,200 nmi (4 hrs onsta).

            Radar Horizon:
            LCS: 13 nm (mast at 125 feet)
            P-8A: 212 nm (30K feet).

            Crew Size:
            LCS: around 100.
            P-8A: 9.

            Average Per Unit Cost:
            LCS: $650M (approx).
            P-8A: $220M (approx).

            As for operating in a contested environment, LCS is at least as vulnerable as P-8A. Probably more so, since the LCS cannot really run and will likely stick out like a sore thumb.

            Bottom line: LCS is a naval hermaphrodite. Too poorly armed to contribute to the salvo fight, and yet too expensive to risk as a scout / skirmisher.

          • ElmCityAle

            LCS can likely carry more than 4 NSMs; the vendor concept graphics showed 8 cells on each type of ship. Whether this should be the mission of the ship is another question entirely.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Thanks. If Navy actually ends up integrating that way, it would be a step in the right direction.

          • PolicyWonk

            If there is one lesson that should be learned by naval officers, PEO’s, and naval architects, its that betting the farm on weapons that haven’t been built, or tested, without reasonable alternatives, amounts to irresponsible gambling with taxpayers funds.

            Alternatively, LCS shares many problems with the USS Ford, in that both programs gambled on a lot of technologies being mixed together for the first time that were completely new and unproven. And LOST.

            After expending far more money than we should to fix the mess that is the USS Ford, she at least was designed and built as a warship, and will eventually deliver real value to the taxpayers because of a solid foundation.

            No matter how well LCS is armed, by virtue of poor judgement on the part of the PEO and commercial-grade construction, it’ll only be an armed merchantman manned by USN crews and nothing more.

            If NLOS had worked, LCS would still be a lousy ship, but it would’ve been better and more usefully armed than it is today (or is likely to be).

          • Lazarus

            No one ever lied about the standards to which LCS was built; it was about a need for a large number of affordable ships. You cannot have robust, heavy armament and low cost in one platform

          • PolicyWonk

            You are grossly misrepresenting the FACTS.

            PEO LCS deliberately lied to the HoR’s and US taxpayers when they used the “we’re upgrading the sea-frames to meet the Level-1 standard while the ships are a-building on the slipways” excuse to defend the staggering cost increases.

            They went on to explain they were doing this because of the tremendous blow-back (they called it “feedback”, but no one was fooled) from the HoR’s (that were justifiably angry the PEO wanted to build ships that weren’t survivable).

            It wasn’t until over a year later that Defense Industry Daily published the article in which PEO LCS finally admitted that no version of LCS past, present, or future would EVER meet the Level-1 standard. When I posted this discovery on Breaking Defense, even the editors on that forum joined the fray (indeed, a rare occasion).

            Of course, that doesn’t count the blatantly deceitful designation of “littoral combat ship”, to which Adm. Greenert stated in an interview on Breaking Defense was “never intended to venture into the littorals to engage in combat…”.

            The above represents two concrete examples of blatant deceit on the part of PEO LCS/USC, where they demonstrated a clear intent to defraud the HoR’s and taxpayers.

          • Lazarus

            Ok, when so start suggesting that professionals in NAVSEA are liars you have totally lost ant objectivity.

      • Ed L

        How fast and easy can the hellfire missile launcher be reloaded. And can it be reloaded at Sea? A hellfire missile weights about 108 pounds seems the launcher could be reloaded easily enough with a portable gantry

    • RunningBear

      “Box o’ Hellfires could be useful”, in filling the layered surface attack of the LCS;
      NSM – 100mi.
      57mm – 9.1mi.
      Hellfire – 5.0mi.
      30mm – 2.5mi.

      Aviation Weapons
      MH-60R – 450nmi./3+hrs.
      – four weapons stations; AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System/APKWS (70mm guided rockets)
      – three ATK mk50 or mk46 active / passive lightweight torpedoes
      – pintle-mounted 7.62mm/.50cal machine gun, mini-gun,

      MQ-8B/C –
      B – 110nmi./5+hrs.
      C – 1,000+nmi./15hrs.
      – Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System/APKWS (70mm guided rockets)
      Fly Navy
      🙂

      • Ed L

        For real world situations one might think about reducing those ranges by 30 to 50 percent. For optimum affect

        • RunningBear

          A naval gunner knows his ranges and the effects of his weapon. These ranges have been proven and tested. I am not aware of a seeker or guidance for only the 30mm, all others are advertised.

          Every target within my range is “mine”.

          IMHO
          Fly Navy
          🙂

          • tpharwell

            The NSM is a very useful and practical ASuW armament. As you may know, it homes by comparing the profile of a target selected for it from a database, and downloaded to its onboard computer with surface objects found upon reaching its estimated location. And it is not so large. So LCS can carry them. Heck, an NYPD harbor patrol boat can.

            But the effective range of any armament is only as good as the target data it is given. And aboard an LCS, where is that to come from at ranges beyond the horizon ? Other friendly vessels ? “Eyes in the sky” ? The helo ? A naval attache somewhere ? A little bird ? How does one know what to look for and where to find it ? How does one get close enough to a potentially hostile warship to identify its sillouette, and yet not get harmed by it, nor be in a position to do it harm ? How does one know its appearance will conform to any known threat ? And or, how does one track such a threat from beginning to end ? What if there is confusion ? What if the threat is made to look friendly or is screened ? What if the database is out of date, or the threat an unknown contact ? What if it is IDed only by an electronic or acoustic signature ? What if its sensors are jammed ? What about a clutter of surface contacts in busy shipping channels or near shore – just where the LCS were intended to be.

            Upon information and belief, these are non-Aegis ships, meant to operate in squadrons indepedant of a SAG or CVBG. But in the absence of communication and coordination with friendly warships possessed of superior information, or marine patrol aircraft, the NSM now being their main armament, the effective range of the LCS is at best now limited to that of its onboard helo, when it is in the air, and otherwise, to 30 miles. In such a case, it will be in all probability, on no better than equal terms with an adversary similarly possessed of an ASW cruise missile: of which there are potentially very many, of all different sizes and shapes.

            From which follow two conclusions. First, survivability, broadly conceived to include defensive armaments and countermeasures, does matter. A lot. So does range and endurance. Speed: not at all. And such vessels offer essentially no contribution towards meeting the ASuW requirements of the US Navy if they are not set up to be driven by Aegis vessels.

          • RunningBear

            OTH for any US ship is provided by networked systems from; Satellite, Aviation, Submarines, ASW and other Ships. In the case of the LCS, data links would be provided by the 450mi. MH-60R or the 1,000mi. MQ-8C, both with on board radar. The broadband networked data link would provide both localization, tracking and identification data along with the raw radar data for review and confirmation onboard the LCS. Precision strike with the NSM and the strike data confirmed by the LCS.
            IMHO
            Fly Navy
            🙂

      • PolicyWonk

        Not very impressive when compared to potential peer platforms of similar (let alone half the) tonnage.

        But against a pirate or other non-governmental (read: naval) ship, that should be sufficient.

        • RunningBear

          I am rather disappointed that the MK46/54 torpedoes are not employed with the MK32 launcher aboard the LCS.

          The MK54 Mako with a 6.5mi. range, 1,200ft. depth, 40kn. would round out the LCS complement of weapons.
          IMHO
          Fly Navy
          🙂

          • PolicyWonk

            You aren’t the only one who’s disappointed with how LCS is armed (or isn’t armed, etc. as the case may be).

            Welcome to the club.

          • Lazarus

            LCS as delivered does have a corvette armament but has the “plug and play” capabilities to take 180 tons of other weapons, sensors and fuel. Buying it all together. ( as was the case with FFG7 and now FFGX) was deemed too expensive in 2003. Even with FFGX the navy is getting only 20 vice 52. The $$$ issue always takes first priority.

          • PolicyWonk

            A corvette was a simple, inexpensive, quickly designed/built, but reasonably armed escort vessel intended for anti-submarine warfare, and in that mission they acquitted themselves well.

            In contrast, LCS is monstrously expensive, very complex, poorly armed, is not designed/intended for continuous deep water (let alone littoral combat) operations, and that’s before you get to the mission package balancing act.

            We all know what LCS was supposed to be.

            Most of us have regrettably come to accept how it turned out, including the USN, who refers to LCS as “the program that broke naval acquisition”, while its own IG declared (to paraphrase) “neither class of LCS is likely to survive the missions commanders would probably assign them…”.

            As if the above weren’t bad enough, to address your comment about the now 180t’s (up from 100t) for sensors, armament, and fuel (now all inclusive): we know that the LCS mission package PEO demonstrated such wonderful leadership and design skill, that both the MCM and ASW mission packages had to be redesigned from scratch because they completely blew the weight restriction balancing act.

            Even if team LCS manages to fix the above, the USN is still stuck with little more than an armed merchantman crewed by USN sailors, while still left high and dry without a littoral combat platform – after blowing $36B of taxpayer funds on a “littoral combat ship” program.

            Unfortunately, I agree with Duane (and have stated a number of times on this forum) that LockMart and Austal have the inside track in the FFG(X) effort, for the sole reason that the PEO has demonstrated zero qualms about doubling or tripling down on error.

          • Lazarus

            Just a lot of patently false information there just not worth further comment.

          • PolicyWonk

            Admittedly, its harder to support your opinion when the facts don’t support them.

          • Lazarus

            You troll every LCS-related article on USNI and fill the comment section with inaccurate and in some cases abject false information. What’s really bad are your incessant, ad hominem attacks on the people who work for Naval Sea Systems Command; suggesting that they are some sort of evil cabal working to defraud taxpayers and enrich defense corporations. That sort of message demonstrated a complete lack of understanding into how program management and naval acquisition works.

          • PolicyWonk

            I look at what the goals are for a given project, and then I look at the results.

            Most of us who follow US naval affairs had high hopes for what became known as the littoral combat ship.

            The vast majority of us (and our allies) were deeply disappointed by the result, as was obvious the USN, who since referred to it as “the program that broke naval acquisition” (which is hardly a glowing endorsement) and represents a cold hard fact.

            The USN’s own IG scorched both classes of LCS in its own report, declaring “neither class of LCS is expected to survive the missions commanders are likely to assign them…”.

            Then there’s the multiple, and less-than-favorable reports (to be generous) form OMB, and DOT&E, etc.

            There are also the documented lies told to the taxpayers and HoR’s regarding LCS construction, let alone the ships completely fraudulent designation, and the PEO’s thoroughly documented willingness to double-down on tragic error.

            Outside of the mission packages forcing the development of new weapons combinations and innovations to give LCS some teeth (as opposed to the laughable armament originally planned), there is little good to report about LCS.

            And the USN apparently agrees because it killed the program well before its stated goal of 52 sea-frames (they didn’t kill the program nearly fast enough, despite the disappointing performance and blatantly missed design goals).

            All the above is documented thoroughly. That you don’t like it because it doesn’t support your opinion isn’t my problem.

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        An MH-60R cannot stay aloft 6+ hours. Try 3 hrs.

        • RunningBear

          Thanks

    • tpharwell

      I am not sure what there is of importance to this warmed up press release that we should note, other than the fact that the IOCs in all three categories have been pushed back again. This is not the first time the Navy has declared its LCS mission packages to be out of development and in to operational testing and [wishfully] deployment. Since the last time it did so, over 5 years ago, and found out they did not work and/or could not make weight, it has been back to the drawing board. So long as testing remains, PEO-LCS/Modules has got nothing to show for itself, and no other news to report. One thing we can infer from it is that the delays are for the sake of the Freedom class, for which the bar must be lowered.

  • Graeme Rymill

    The Navy has decided to accelerate the deployment of the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) on the LCS. USS Detroit is expected to get the first installation. If all goes well Detroit may make its first deployment with both the short range Hellfire and the much longer range NSM.

    The surface warfare version seems ideal for the Persian Gulf against Fast Attack Craft. Against the much more dangerous and varied threats it would face in the South China Sea it will be more a liability than an asset.

  • airider

    I’m more interested in hearing progress on the Ford-class … LCS program is done. Between the tech challenges on Ford, and the likelihood that the first, second, and third ships of the class will be significantly different, I’d really like to hear how this centerpiece of the U.S. Navy is moving forward.

    • Rocco

      Stick with the program!! Or go back to the Ford thread 2 weeks ago!!

      • airider

        Yeah, I hear ya, but the continuing LCS punching bag opportunities are getting old.

        This program was screwed very soon after it started and the various leaders that have spanned its development and fielding haven’t had the guts to do anything about it, except at the end when it is politically feasible to do so.

        Somebody could do a thesis showing the correlation between how the leadership for the LCS program mirrors and echos the issues with recent collisions in 7th fleet.

        Nobody has guts to speak up anymore … we’re all too worried about offending someone …

        Some folks may blame it on the current generation, but I’d put a lot of it right back on the Hippie generation, who are the leadership currently in the places that influence all of this.

        The Vietnam War and the immediate results on the American psyche continue to take their toll.

        • Lazarus

          LCS crews require certification for every crew member as an individual and as a complete crew, unlike the DDG fleet that can beg and borrow people from each other.

  • RunningBear

    “Zobel told USNI News after his presentation that the civilian vessel was used for the AUTEC testing to avoid asking an LCS to sail from San Diego around to the Bahamas, the location of the only undersea testing site of its kind.”

    Strange that 1/2 dozen LCS sit at NS Mayport that is 500mi. north of the USN Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) ranges near Nassau and none are involved in the onboard system test of the ASW module????
    IMHO
    Fly Navy
    🙂

    • PolicyWonk

      The “Towboat US” plan for the LCS fleet doesn’t reach that far. This is why the picture used with the title of this article is so appropriate: it shows the LCS fleet in its true element – welded to the pier, awaiting their turn at the scrapyard.

      • RunningBear

        I sense your ambivalence toward the program but eventually the ships will have to be wedded to their preferred modules and the tasking can begin at that time (again, another future). Sadly the obvious delays, appear to be political rather than technological.
        I am looking forward to the new ASW sensors in the hands of the fleet technicians and tacticians. I again sense a new path forward for detection, tracking and defense against the “infernal” stealth subs. Fortunately, “We” have the best to train with and testing our LCS ASW against the Virginias and LA boats will prove and sharpen the skills of the fleets.
        IMHO
        Fly Navy
        🙂

        • PolicyWonk

          Well, ambivalence isn’t the term I’d used to describe the crime and incompetence that is LCS.

          Well, I for one hope your right about the ASW mission package, and that some reasonable missions for LCS are found that don’t unnecessarily endanger the crew simply because some in the USN still feel they need to continue deceiving the taxpayers into thinking these are combat ships.

          OTOH, one of my pals is an exec on a Virginia, and he said they discovered/tracked an unfamiliar target that turned out to be an LCS on closer examination. They found it, um, noisy. As in very. While its fair to say that the LCS didn’t know it was being tracked, the implication was that they didn’t consider it much of a challenge.

          Here’s hoping LCS is FAR better than every publicly available report says it is – otherwise those ordered to man them will be at more of a disadvantage than most of us are comfortable with (Duane-o-Laz, OTOH, is evidently very happy to send our sailors into battle on either class of inferior littoral corporate welfare program).

          • RunningBear

            I didn’t design the LCS program and offer no excuses.
            Every boat afloat is a target, even the mighty Virginia.

            In regards to the “unaware” LCS, no ASW module has been installed much less tested on the LCS when it goes “boating”, todate. “WHEN” the ASW is installed and commissioned, then I would be very interested in your pals opinion of the LCS “SA”. The combinations of the LCS towed arrays, dipping sonar and the aboard ship MH-60R dipping sonar and sonobouys will be a substantial challenge to all opponents/ targets in their ASW game.

            I “hope” eventually to see the MK54+ torpedo (6.5mi., 1,200ft., 40kn) and MK32 launcher added to the offensive armament of the LCS. MK54 is maintained onboard for the MH-60R.

            Hopefully the LCS proven ASW program will be incorporated into the FFG(X).

            PS: Green crews are all noisy.

            IMHO
            Fly Navy
            🙂

          • PolicyWonk

            I sir, hope you are right.

            And I truly hope that our SSN drivers are given severe migraines when pitted against LCS and its redesigned ASW mission package.

            Few things would make me happier than seeing potential sub-driver adversaries stuck in a less-than-fair fight against LCS. So far, however, unless you’re a non-naval opponent, LCS is seemingly scarce in the advantage department.

            While I freely admit my overall disgust with this program on multiple levels (shared by most others frequenting this forum), I would truly like to see these ships employed in some useful way, while hopefully avoiding unnecessarily endangering the lives of those ordered to man them.

          • RunningBear

            Foreign subs were tough but ours were near impossible, black holes! Had we but the tools they now have and the networking of the sensor systems.
            IMHO
            Fly Navy
            🙂

          • thebard3

            I think the navy will eventually get it right at put these things to productive use. It’s been a long, troubled road though.

          • RunningBear

            Amen!
            Fly Navy
            🙂

      • Curtis Conway

        Did you notice they changed the picture for the article?

        • PolicyWonk

          I had no idea I had such influence ;-D

          That said, the article picture from the USNI News Home page where one clicks to read the article, is still the same.

          • Curtis Conway

            Somebody is reading the comments.

    • Lazarus

      Depends on which variant of LCS was being tested; the LCS 2 variants are in San Diego and LCS 1’s in Mayport.

      • RunningBear

        If you are designing a system for a ship and several ships are available with crews assigned, then why do you “rent” a civilian ship to test the system? These ships were planned, scheduled and constructed; they didn’t appear by magic. The testing could have taken place aboard a LCS with the crew and provided a training environment for all crews in the same base! I think this was a waste of money if not graft on the budget.
        IMHO
        Fly Navy
        😀

        • Curtis Conway

          The problem with this is it makes the LCS a more inviting target via its higher priority for elimination, and the air defense on the LCS is not up to a coordinated attack by a determined foe with just a few resources like LCS now possesses in that surface attack equation. The Mk 110 57 mm gun with its guided projectiles can’t miss, and the SeaRAM must function correctly the first time at max range for the platform to survive a supersonic ASCM attack. This is something that requires a lot of practice, and no maintenance casualties can ever exist in those systems, for they are the source of your safety. Of course if the adversary decides that they deserve a crowd pleaser, then the potential limited nuclear yield upon intercept will do them in anyway, for their platform was not designed to survive in that kind of engagement, and far too fragile to do so anyway.

          • RunningBear

            Nukes are out!, that will be the end of the war!
            No doubt the LCS is less capable than both the CG, DDG and was not supposed to cost as much. I see the tasking as a picket and as such it is not expendable. Any ship can be defeated by swamping it with offense but within reason the LCS as tasked by CSG is under the umbrella of both the big brothers. Why overload it with armament and bog it down? The NSM should be the last revision at 100mi. range for the LCS, no more.
            IMHO
            Fly Navy
            🙂

          • Curtis Conway

            I would at least give it Mk29 launchers and some ESSM. The lack of organic torpedo capability in the presence of the ASW platform function seems antithetical/oxymoronic.

          • ElmCityAle

            Adding the ability to launch torpedoes without the MH-60R (even if that’s way too close to the target) as a part of ASW makes more sense to me than adding NSM, which increases the value of the LCS as a target and then arguably leads to needing to increase the layers of AA defenses via ESSM or other systems. It’s arguably mission creep to make LCS into a frigate, which it was never intended to be (like it or not).

          • Curtis Conway

            That’s interesting given the US Navy and a half dozen commenters on this timeline trying to sell the LCS AS A Frigate! Survival in the Modern Battlespace just doesn’t compute with these people. Writing off the sailors?

          • ElmCityAle

            I can’t think of any of the “usual” LCS proponents that have suggested the ship is a frigate; quite the opposite. Measuring it against the mission requirements for a frigate, it is certain to fail – which is why some of the regular detractors do so at every opportunity, it seems.

          • Curtis Conway

            One of the chiefs of which is me for almost a decade. I complained about the retirement schedule of the FFG-7 with no replacement, and the LCS was proposed as going to be the vessel. I did not agree based upon capability alone. The LCS Program tried to sell their vessel as littoral, blue water, and ASW platform (can you imagine a moving volcano prosecuting a submarine) which they insisted was going to be a real mission set. Two shipyards got a lot of business though, and some politicians got a lot of reelection funds as well.

          • PolicyWonk

            For those of us who’ve been following this program since its inception, the initial idea of LCS being kept under the umbrella of its bigger brothers only came about when it became clear that LCS could not defend itself from a naval adversary. Even then the idea was that they’d operate as a unit (in groups of three).

            The crew sizes, mission packages, armament, and mission profiles have been continuously changing since LCS-1 was launched, the LCS PEO belatedly discovered it had built a lemon, and caused the USN (ever since) to scramble to find some suitable purpose to justify the existence and expense of the program.

            If the USN’s philosophy is every ship a shooter, or anything with a “USS” designation should have the ability to defend itself, or alternatively “reach out and touch someone”, they (pardon the pun) missed the boat.

            The only reason why they sought to install a box o’ harpoons, or now the NSM, was due to a large amount of less-than-positive feedback the PEO got for building something so large/expensive that couldn’t defend itself, or give a reason for pause to a potential adversary who might want to attack it. Offensive capability was not part of the original game plan: If it were, LCS would have been built with sufficient room for growth to accept heavy weapons.

            But LCS was never intended for combat, which explains a lot about its design and construction. Sadly, they are not inexpensive given the marginal value they bring to the fleet.

          • Curtis Conway

            “…the USN (ever since) to scramble to find some suitable purpose to justify the existence and expense of the program.” AND . . . almost everything the US Navy has done with the program has insured higher cost in the program. Two: training systems, logistical support systems, propulsion systems, operations systems, and two crews so the technicians don’t even own their equipment, for each type platform. EFFICIENCY?!!!! Sad state of affairs.

          • PolicyWonk

            Sad or pathetic: whatever you want to call it, in the LCS program meets the definition of either (in spades).

            Such a waste of time, energy, and precious taxpayer dollars. For two woefully inadequate sea-frames that amount to little more than USN-crewed, hyper-expensive, armed merchantmen.

        • Lazarus

          It’s all in the module and the sea frame isn’t needed. That’s the whole idea behind LCS or was when modules were going to be swapped more often!

  • Rob C.

    Maybe it will take time for these modules to flesh out. Who knows, the LCS may pay off once the service ends up developing modules they never knew they needed.

    I do wonder if the Frigate their developing will retain something like bay for one or two of these modules. Still handy.

  • Lazarus

    It took some time to tease out, but it now seems that lack of a Congressional funding has been one of the primary factors holding back mission module development.

    • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

      Congress has been withholding funds because the mission modules haven’t been ready for test and evaluation.

      It’s a bit of a stretch to lay the blame on Congress for the PEOs inability to plan, coordinate and execute their program.

      • Lazarus

        Not true. Mission package components needed $$$ to pass assigned tests and Congress never appropriated the requisite funds. This has been documented in both Defense News and USNI.

        • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

          Ok. And why did Congress refuse to appropriate funds?

          From what I can tell from reading DOT&E reports: the PEO didn’t have a good test plan in place to justify the $$.

          • Lazarus

            DOT&E approved LCS test plans; Congress undercut them; partly from the Navy’s own lack of ability to explain how mission modules work. You also cannot have a mission module ready to test officially unless you have the funding to test and integrate the components.

  • Graeme Rymill

    Unless the Navy buys more Mission Packages there are 44 Mission Packages planned. Of these only 10 are SUW MPs. Of those 10 only 6 will go on deployable ships if the intention is never to deploy training ships and ships used for testing. Each 4 ship LCS division has 3 deployable ships and 1 training ship. There will be just two SUW divisions. Deploying all deployable SUW LCS to the Persian Gulf would be the best allocation of this scarce resource.

  • RobM1981

    “Beyond the 30 mm and 57 mm guns, SeaRAM anti-ship missile defense system and small rigid-hull inflatable boats already in the surface warfare mission package, the Longbow Hellfire missile would give the LCS a greater ability to go after fast attack craft (FAC)/fast inshore attack craft”

    I wince every time I read this, even now.

    How much money was spent to give us a “Cyclone with hangar and 57mm gun?”

    If you really want to interdict the Persian Gulf, the Cyclone is a great platform. The Griffin is certainly good enough. The 25mm chain gun is going to stop anything that it needs to stop. Stingers, M2’s, etc.

    Back up 5 Cyclones with a Burke and you have all of the littoral power that you need. Save the… how much money, again? How much did we spend for this incredibly narrow mission?

    Two different hull forms, for a single mission that can already be accomplished by a DDG and PC’s.

    Do you think that an LCS can operate in a swamp?

    • Lazarus

      The PC1’s are ancient. I precommed one of the last of them over 22 years ago. They are great as low end patrol ships but lack the sensors, flight deck/hangar and yes, the weapons of LCS. LCS is absolutely good for Persian Gulf ops.

  • Curtis Conway

    Looks like the LCS fleet regardless of location is going to be working for the US Coast Guard with a LEDET on board during the early part of 2019.

  • Marc Apter

    The article stated, “Originally slated as the last to deploy, the anti-submarine warfare mission package will now be the second to reach IOC. This package centers around a variable-depth sonar that puts a transmitter and receiver in the same part of the water column, Zobel said.
    “I believe this mission package represents a game-changing capability in the fleet,” he said, echoing previous comments from Navy officials about the leap-ahead improvement the VDS represents compared to current technology destroyers and other surface ships use to detect underwater threats.”

    So the VDS and SQR-18 on the 1052 Class over 50 years ago was just a dream. And what about the AN/SQR-19? Installed on surface warfare vessels: CG-47 Ticonderoga class guided missile cruisers, DDG-51 Arleigh Burke class destroyers, DD-963 Spruance class destroyers, and FFG-7 Perry class frigates.

    Think maybe the Captain needs a better speech writer who knows something about the USN?

    • Lazarus

      It’s not grandpa’s AWS system and it is being fitted to a smaller hull on LCS.

      • Refguy

        Smaller than a 1052?

        • Lazarus

          LCS is smaller than FF 1052 in terms of displacement (almost 750 tons full load) and in length (FF 1052 was 80 feet longer than the LCS 1 variant for example.)

    • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

      The VDS sound like a good piece of ASW gear which has the misfortune to be attached to a poorly suited platform (LCS).

      PS – Why on earth do you need a shallow displacement ship if you’re going to equip it with a variable depth sonar?

  • Refguy

    Were they afraid an LCS couldn’t make it from San Diego to the Bahamas without breaking down?

  • old guy

    Look at the photo of LCS 13 and you will understand one of many faults, of the ship. The wake of a ship is an indication if the propulsive efficiency of it. In simpllfied hydrodynamic terms WAKE is WASTE. If you observe a SWATH at the same speed, you would see two pencil line wakes.

  • old guy

    as usual, the “journalist’s’ ignorance of significant TECHNICAL OBSERVATIONS , has relagated my hydrodynamic observations to the nether regions of this post set. This will possibly escape their notice and let it remain in plain sight.