The Office of the Secretary of Defense is backing a plan that would reduce the numbers of Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) from 52 to 24, ending the purchase of both variants of the ship in 2015, according to a Monday report in Defense News. Read More
A long-awaited report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says “a pause is needed,” in the Navy’s acquisition of both variants of the littoral combat ship (LCS) until the service proves it has overcome the myriad difficulties it has had fielding the ships and their three proposed mission packages, which allow the ships to act as either minesweepers, sub-hunters, or close-to-shore combatants. 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.
Christopher P. Cavas’ much-discussed March, 18 Defense News story about the recommendations of Vice Adm. Tom Copeman revealed that even one of the Navy’s top surface warriors has become something of a littoral combat ship (LCS) skeptic, given his reported willingness to recommend a major course correction for the program.
The Navy’s LCS never has had a shortage of skeptics, but for a long time they seemed to be a minority in the surface-warfare world, on the outside looking in. Until now. Read More
Capt. Kenneth Coleman knows more about the Littoral Combat Ship program than most any sailor. Currently Coleman works at U.S. Surface Forces as requirements officer for the LCS program and from April 2010 to Sept. 2011, he was the commander of the Blue crew of USS Independence (LCS-2). USNI News recently interviewed Coleman on the latest of the deployment of USS Freedom (LCS-1). Coleman discussed manning changes for the ship, how the ships will be maintained while deployed and what it’s like for a ship commander to do his own dishes. Read More
The U.S. Navy’s chief shipbuilder is defending Monday’s $1.4 billion awards for the next four Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) in the midst of the current congressional battle over military funding, the service told USNI News on Monday. Read More
Proceedings, September 2012
In a series of 1990s simulations, the LCS concept was born; the Strait of Hormuz was the hypothetical scenario, and ‘the fight against sea and shore’ became the mantra.
The recent findings of the Perez Report and related coverage in Defense News enumerated significant problems with the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). It therefore seems worthwhile at this point to take a look at how the LCS was conceived and ask, “Is it up to the tasks it could soon face?”
In the mid-1990s, the Navy conducted a series of war games in which the LCS concept was born. The wargaming process was called the Joint Multi-Warfare Analytical Game (JMAG). The computer models included all areas of joint forces: command-and-control, intelligence, environment, political-military actions, land warfare, air warfare, sea warfare (including antiair, antisurface, antisubmarine, mine warfare and mine countermeasures), and special warfare. JMAG employed experienced subject-matter experts (SMEs) at the flag/general level in all the services for “Blue” and “Red” forces.