The Navy has issued $1.38 billion in contract modifications for four Littoral Combat Ships split between shipbuilders Lockheed Martin and Austal USA, according to a Monday Pentagon contract announcement. Read More
Defending the decision to cap the littoral combat ship (LCS) buy at 32, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Wednesday “it was a big, big question whether we want a sixth of our Navy” in those vessels. Read More
The Navy has abandoned its plans to buy 17 additional Northrop Grumman Fire Scout rotary wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for the next five years as part of its Fiscal Year 2015 budget submission. Read More
Golfers may not realize it, but they have a keen understanding of combined arms.
I’m not a particularly good golfer myself. Some may suggest what I do is not actually “playing golf,” but I know well enough not to use a putter in the sand trap or use my sand wedge from the tee and certainly not buy any club that claims to cover all those situations. Read More
At least one Congress member is expected to try and slow development of the Littoral Combat Ship program during debate this week over the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, according to a report in Defense Daily.
The LCS backlash follows the leak of a draft copy of a Government Accountability Office report that called for Congress to slow development of ship construction and the accompanying mission packages. Read More
Interaction with partner navies around the world is a centerpiece of “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Sea Power,” the document that guides U.S. Navy maritime operations. One of the strategic imperatives in that directive demands that the Navy “[f]oster and sustain cooperative relationships with more international partners.” That task is extraordinarily difficult because of the disparity between U.S. ships and partner vessels in size and capabilities.
The recent decision to retire seven aging Aegis cruisers eases the disparity to some extent, but also highlights an ongoing debate about the future of the naval force structure. Those seven cruisers are in addition to the five Ticonderoga-class ships scheduled for decommissioning in 2013 and the six Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates also designated to leave the fleet this year. The retirement of the frigates raises old issues. The current naval construction program will replace the “low-end” warships with littoral combat ships (LCSs). The Navy needs the high-low mix across the spectrum of tactical mission areas, but how can this best be achieved?
A new book by former deputy undersecretary of the Navy Seth Cropsey stirs this boiling pot. Read More
Congress will likely hold hearings on the state of the Littoral Combat Ship program, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) , the chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection forces, told reporters on Tuesday.
“We are going to do some intensive oversight of this program, which will include hearings,” Forbes said in a report from Reuters.
The hearings are prompted by an anticipated Government Accountability Office report that will likely advise Congress to slow down acquisition of the program so the ships and the planned mission packages.
“I have felt that LCS had bumps in the road but it was moving. The only thing that’s really raising this flag is what this GAO report may or may not say,” Forbes said.
Excerpts of a draft GAO LCS report have appeared in several press outlets. The draft recommends Congress slow down acquisition of the ships and the mission packages pending further study.
“The apparent disconnect between the LCS acquisition strategy and the needs of the end user suggests that a pause is needed,” a draft of the GAO report was quoted in a Friday Bloomberg story. “Congress is in a position to slow funding… pending the results of the technical studies that are already underway.”
The U.S. Navy currently plans to acquire 52 LCS hulls to round out the low-end of the Navy’s surface combatant roster. The two hulls being built — Lockheed Martin’s Freedom-class and Austal USA’s Independence-class — are part of a dual acquisition strategy formulated in 2010. After a fierce competition between Austal’s aluminum trimaran and Lockheed’s steel mono-hull design, the Navy elected to buy both versions in a deal for 20 ships with an estimated value of $8.9 billion.
In addition to four ships the Navy funded outside of the 2010 deal, the Navy’s current plan is to buy 24 ships with both hulls.
In November, Vice Adm. Tom Copeman, commander of U.S. Surface Forces, sent a classified memo to Navy leadership that advised narrowing down to a single LCS design modified to carry more weapons than the current version or an entirely new class of ship.
From the May, 23 2013 House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee mark:
The committee notes the critical nature of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)
program and the importance of the initial deployment of the USS Freedom to the
Republic of Singapore to test and refine operational support and sustainment
concepts. The LCS class takes a unique approach to maintenance which relies
heavily on contractor-provided maintenance in contrast to other Navy ship classes,
which typically use the Navy’s organic capabilities and U.S. shipyards to provide
maintenance. Read More
The Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan warns Congress unless the Pentagon can find more money to complete the Navy’s planned 12 new Ohio-class Replacement ballistic missile submarines the service will be unable to meet its future obligations. Read More
The complete Fiscal Year 2014 30-year U.S. Navy shipbuilding plan.
The report, approved by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, was issued to Congress May 10, 2013. Read More