LCS Mission Modules Not Working As Intended

A recent Pentagon war game that ran the Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ship through simulated combat in the Gulf didn’t unfold quite as expected, according to participants. The LCS is custom built with the Gulf combat environment in mind: narrow and congested waters, a wide range of low-end threats from sea mines and swarms of fast attack craft to higher-end air-breathing submarines.

The key to the LCS performing as the Swiss Army knife of the battle fleet is the ship’s interchangeable mission modules. While the “plug-and-fight” mission modules sound like a good idea by providing a range of flexibility within a single hull, the simulated Gulf exercises revealed some potential real-world shortcomings with the LCS concept.

The war game featured the trouble-making Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps navy sending out swarms of fast-attack craft to muck it up with a half dozen LCSs. The LCSs, equipped with the surface warfare mission module which includes the ship’s integral 57mm cannon, a pair of 30mm rapid fire cannons, vertically launched missiles and armed helicopters, were able to beat back the Iranian small boat attack.

Seeing their small boat swarm shot-up, the Iranians dispatched a bunch of small, air-breathing submarines to attack the LCS flotilla. The LCSs were forced to steam down to Diego Garcia to switch out the surface warfare modules with the anti-submarine warfare packages. That scenario repeated itself every time the Iranians changed up their attack and wrong-footed the LCS flotilla.

Beyond the conceptual challenges revealed by simulations, it now appears that the LCS mission modules themselves are in real trouble. The tenacious watchdogs at the Government Accountability Office tell lawmakers that the mission modules aren’t working, face serious delays and that work on the anti-submarine warfare package has been suspended: “Recent testing of mission package systems has yielded less than desirable results. To date, most LCS mission systems have not demonstrated the ability to provide required capabilities.”

The surface warfare package remains unproven, GAO says, in part because of the Army’s recent decision to cancel the Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System, which was to provide long-range strike for the LCS. The Navy is looking into alternative missile systems, the report says. There have also been problems with the mechanism designed to launch 11-meter rigid inflatable boats off the stern of the LCS. One Navy source told Defense Tech that it takes more than 45 minutes to launch a RIB boat off an LCS.

GAO said LCS testing remains in its “infancy,” with the first operational testing of a ship outfitted with a “partial” mission package pushed to 2013. A key part from the GAO report:

“Challenges developing and procuring mission packages have delayed the timely fielding of promised capabilities, limiting the ships’ utility to the fleet during initial deployments. Until these challenges are resolved, it will be difficult for the Navy to align seaframe purchases with mission package procurements and execute planned tests. Key mine countermeasures and surface warfare systems have encountered technical issues that have delayed their development and fielding.

Further, Navy analysis of LCS anti-submarine warfare systems found these capabilities did not contribute significantly to the anti-submarine warfare mission. These challenges have led to procurement delays for all three mission packages. For instance, key elements of the surface warfare package remain in development, requiring the Navy to deploy a less robust capability on LCS 1.

Mission package delays have also disrupted program test schedules—a situation exacerbated by decisions to deploy initial ships early, which limit their availability for operational testing. In addition, these delays could disrupt program plans for simultaneously acquiring seaframes and mission packages. Until mission package performance is proven, the Navy risks investing in a fleet of ships that does not deliver promised capability.”

— Greg Grant

  • Byron Skinner

    Good Morning Folks,

    While I’m a critic of the current LCS program, as being, to expensive, to big, and not mission defined. Greg’s story is not about the inadequacy of the LCS or its concept but of the leadership of the USN.

    The composition of the package on the LCS is determined by Naval Officers who’s job it is, is to anticipate what weapons and operational capabilities an enemy has at it disposal, and what platforms they are carrying them. It is very clear here that the Surface Warfare Officers assigned to this “War Game”, failed in this mission.

    This would be no different the air tasking/planning officers planning a strike and not accounting for the AA ground suppression fire and AADM’s before sending in the strike package.

    Granted this is only a “War Game” and air cover and SSN’s were obviously not included where. In real life it is assumed that the LCS would be operating with these assets in any hostile environment. This exercise does show, and quite clearly that the Navy has let its operational planning degrade to the point of what we see here. Which is not acceptable.

    The LCS program needs new officers who have experience in the “Green Water” war and understand the technological and operational capabilities of future adversaries. The officers who participated in this exercise clearly did not.


    Byron Skinner

    • joneys

      too expensive, too big not “to” BS.

      Your stupidity and liberalism never ceases to amaze…..

  • Jacob

    Mike Burleson is going to have a field day with this.

  • Scrap the whole program, give the existing hull to the Coast Guard, buy more submarines.

    • Day

      how about giving the hulls to SOCOM? im sure theyd love a fast, stealthy boat to fill the role of the cyclone class, and at least its more heavily armed then that.

  • AyeGuy

    The story’s title should more correctly read:

    “LCS Not Working As Intended”

  • DonM

    Better fleet design would have a flotilla of 6 ships with 2 surface warfare modules, 2 antisubmarine modules, 2 air defense modules. That way what ever the threat. two spiffy modules are available to meet-beat it. Of course every ship should have minimal ability in all three fields…so surface warfare module ships would have anti submarine warfare sonar and depth charge/torpedo dispensers, and Stinger air defense capability. ASW module ships would have .50 caliber HMGs, and sonar/depth charge/torpedo dispensers, Air defense ships would have .50 caliber HMG, sonar, and depthcharge/torpedo dispensers.

    • Die LCS Die

      While your remark is correct, the other point is why spend money on six half-assed ships plus mission modules, when you could just build two full sized CRUISERS that do it all better (individually) and at lower total cost?

      The LCS program is simply too ridiculous to continue.

      • Ed!

        Because a cruiser is a big hulking ship that doesn’t have the maneuverability to be near as effective in the littoral and near-shore environments the LCS was designed for. Even destroyers and frigates have difficulties in near shore engagements. A 5 inch gun works well for big ships but how effective is it at taking out a speedboat or a jet ski?

        • Die LCS Die

          Entirely wrong frame of reference – the killing component should not be the vessel itself – so putting the vessel into the enemy kill zone is asinine – the cruiser/destroyer has helos, UAVs, and missiles – send the killer into the danger zone, not the platform itself.

          Maneuverability is no defense at sea, especially in the littorals. That extremely perishable speed provides no defense against missiles, small arms fire, tank main gun rounds, basically everything our most likely littoral enemies will throw at the LCS.

          In the above scenario, you really prefer six LCS, of which only two are actually relevent to the fight at hand, instead of two fully capable cruisers that can handle every threat at once? Honestly? The quality of quantity has no applicability when the “quantity” can’t even engage in the fight at hand. If we need pure fodder, we can built it a whole lot cheaper than just under a billion per unit.

        • Rick W

          Assuming you are smart enough to use the sort of timed airburst fuses that have been around for decades – 5″ guns work just fine against pretty much any kind of soft target. And that’s whether you are talking a single boat or an entire flotilla. With modern range finders and computers setting the fuses they’d work even better and do it for a fraction of the cost of even a small guided missile.

          I imagine that’s why you won’t see them – nowhere near expensive or ‘gee-whiz’ enough.

    • navyboy

      DonM I definitely agree with you, but don’t forget that the navy isn’t realising that every ship already has a 21-cell RIM-116 SAM launcher and that the VLS modules can launch ASROC missiles

  • Marcase

    Visby is good, Absolon is better, as that one has a battery of ready modules available. Those are off-the-shelf and proven former Flyvefisken plug-in modules. Combined with the large hangar and flex-deck, it’s a sure winner.

    • John

      Yes, the Absolon is a good Lt CRUISER design, but it weighs 6,300t about 10 times the size of the Visby. Ideally in a balanced fleet you need a mixture of both types or similar vessel using the Flyvefisken modules on both ships. Especially, if both ships were armed with the new version of the new Norweigan Naval Strike Missile.
      An alternative to the Absolon is this proposal from BAe:
      This is basically a Type 45 Destroyer for use as a hybrid UAV Carrier/Cruiser carrying a variety of helio’s, UAV and Cruise Missiles, it is smaller and more versatile than the flawed Zumwalt class Cruisers.

  • Mastro

    Anyone who’s actually used a Swiss army knife can attest that the knife is OK, the corkscrew is too small, and the bottlecap popper doesn’t work on actual bottlecaps.

    The LCS is the F111 of the seas (or is that the F35 of the seas?)

    As for the test- why do all 6 LCS’s have the same modules?- maybe it should be 2 Surface, 2 minehunter, 2 ASW?

    • Mastro

      Oh- I just think that LCS is fighting our enemies fight-

      just destroy the subs with cruise missiles in harbor- there

    • William A. Peterson

      Because 2 of each isn’t enough to get the job done, more than likely!
      It was a suspect idea to begin with…

  • STemplar

    Same problem the Army had with their GCV. Too many capabilities in one vehicle. The plug in module thing is a nice idea but it obviously is not working as intended. Time for a mission review most critical to least, design something baseline that addresses most critical down the line, or consider something OTS that adresses the needs. The whole boat swarm thing always struck me as Hollywoodesque, somehow I think some ISR and carrier based aviation is going to make a mess of Republican Guard speedboats.

  • Ergo the Qualmed

    I think the plug/play modular-ness of the LCS is a good concept, but ultimately what is the point when all the modules for the ships are the same at once…I guess that was the flaw of the exercise…gotta diversify!

    I also agree with Mr. Templar’s suggestion that the speedboats are going to be…ah, blown up. At range.

    Has the navy considered answering small boats, with small boats? Like maybe a remote operated, armored solid-hull small boat of some kind? Perhaps impractical, but like an open-sea, unmanned riverine, or PT or something.

    • EJ257

      “Has the navy considered answering small boats, with small boats? Like maybe a remote operated, armored solid-hull small boat of some kind? Perhaps impractical, but like an open-sea, unmanned riverine, or PT or something.”

      You mean something like this?

      • Ergo the Qualmed

        Exactly! I’d forgotten about that thing!

    • John

      The US Navy has already bought one Dockstavarvet CB 90 H Combat Boat and is apparently buying at least another 20 boats. The CB90 CB design can be adapted for Armed Patrol and Strike Roles using a wide variety of Guns and Missiles, the Royal Norweigan Coastal Artillery have a variant armed with a Hellfire Missile Launcher and the Royal Swedish Army’s Coastal Rangers not only use it in the Troop Carrying Role but are buying a bigger vesion armed with a twin barrelled 120mm Mortar System capable of firing 80rnds a minute. The Mexican and Malaysian Navies use it for Coastal Patrol missions as well. A very versatile design and a worthy successor to the old PT and Swift Boats.

  • Bob

    Is anyone really suprised? However, we cannot buy a foreign design. Some manufacturer in Norway would be getting paid to build ships for the U.S. fleet. Talk about sendinng jobs overseas!! Make it in the U.S. and still have to pay royality to a foreign nation. There is no reason a small effective ship cannot be designed and developed in this country. Part of the problem may be Navy higher higher wanting to over complicate and gold plate everything. KISS should apply.

    • tee

      It would be cheaper to pay the royalties and build them ( which ever foreign designs work best for the different missions ) here in the states and get ships that actually work. Than to hope maybe some day they just might make this LCS work. I’ve followed the mission modules closely because I love the concept. But after the NLOS missle failure and the new problems there having with the third & forth hulls. Their cost are going to skyrocket even more and at this point it’s a glorified tug boat with a gun.

    • mat

      You are paying licence right now ,austal is australian design an LM boat has italian hull design ,both ships are based on ferry designs ,but the way things are handled make both design are way more expensive than of the shelf designs that are already in service with smaler navies and have proven track reckord of being built on a budget. It sems that FCS is strongly focused on speed ,armament on teh other hand is minimal at best many much smaler boats have both 76mm rapid fire gun and long range antishipping missles
      For example even Visby a 600t vessel is heavily armed(57mm main gun,Umkhonto surface-to-air missiles,Saab RBS 15 Mk3 anti-ship missiles 200km range vith 200kg warhead ,ASW siute 127mm grenade launchers, depth charges and torpedoes )compared to this LCS is underarmed and Visby costs cca 180-200mio$, LCS about 3+ times more

    • Icysquirrel

      Allow me to summarize.
      “Oh noes! We’re ‘murricans! We don’t pay royalties; people pay royalties to *us!*”

      So does the US have effective allies or false fronts to wave around for PR purposes? And if they *are* effective in a military R&D sense, why should the US insist on reinventing the wheel? Just so it could have a “made in the ol’ USA” stamp on it?

      I thought the whole point of allies was that the US couldn’t solve every problem out there on its own. This does include research, believe it or not.

      • Jay

        We paid Mauser royalties for the M1903 Rifle.
        Then we used it to great effect on them in both world wars.

        If it works, use it. The Europeans build small boats that work for half the price.

        • Mastro

          We actually were accused of violating Mauser’s patents and paid a penalty. We fooled ourselves that it was a “royalty”

          The 1903 was an attempt to design around the patent – but it failed.

  • Craig Hooper

    Who put this war game together?

    Haven’t some PR types someplace chortled that one of the LCS platforms carry not one–but two (!!) mission modules at once (presuming the mission modules survive the procurement process)?

    And…wait…didn’t I read, waaaay back in 2007, some RAND report that strongly suggested we use Bahrain–NOT Diego Garcia–as a point to change out mission modules?

    • STemplar

      The Diego Garcia option is probably a worse case scenario. War games tend to be done with the worse case scenario option. If you can handle that, anything better is gravy.

  • Jack Rabbit

    The LCS design is supposed to support mission module change out at sea (like connected underway replenishment). The Navy has leveraged so many requirements on this ship class — minimal manning, mission modules, speed, range, displacement that you an not compare to any existing ship class. The two cruisers mentioned above have enough personnel onboard to man 12-15 LCS ships — big difference.

    The ships are supposed to leverage MH 60R (not yet out there) and VTUAVs (not yet out there) — both should have significant impact on the ability to support any of the mission modules.

  • justin

    Sounds like they need a tender. Something that could swap modules while underway

  • Byron Skinner

    Good Evening Folks,

    Leesa, your production estimate for the LCS is most likely in the ball park. The price is currently at around $700 million a copy and most likely will go higher as the Navy starts loading the vessel with additional weapons and systems. The report that came out in mid July on what the Navy will look like in 30 years has only 50 “LCS’s” of all types planned.

    That figure includes besides LCS’s, mine/counter mine vessels, a self deploying costal patrol boat in the 1,200-1,500 Gross Ton range, Special Operations/Small Boat Service Craft (think something like the current Hurricane Class) and what ever else they designers might conceive.

    The USN is already putting out RFQ’s for a Corvette size ship in the under $100 million range, and mine/counter mine craft at less the $25 million each.

    The Swiss Army Knife approach has not been successful in weapons platform design. Dedicated platforms are cheaper. more robust, and make for a more successful platform.


    Byron Skinner

  • Joe

    It would be one hell of a technology that would allow the navy to win while only reacting to the enemies moves.

    I think that the concept of mission modules in not what is lacking here.

    Issue of implementation are another matter.

  • blight

    We can’t even do safe VLS replenishment underway, and I imagine swapping out bigger modules isn’t going to be an option either.

    Swiss army knife is a poor analogy…it can’t do everything at the /same time/, its a swiss army knife where you have to plug in the bits before you leave home in the morning (and then you better hope you brought the right “modules”!)

    If it turns out to be cheaper to have built a variety of mission-specialized ships on a common hull, that will be the day…

  • Wildcard

    Doesn’t LCS 2/4 have the ability to have any two mission modules installed and operating simultaneously… I take it this article relates to LCS 1 only?

    • blight

      From wikipedia:

      With 11,000 cubic meters of payload volume, it was designed with enough payload and volume to carry out one mission with a separate mission module in reserve, allowing the ship do multiple missions without having to be refitted. The flight deck, 1,030 m2 (11,100 sq ft), can support the operation of two SH-60 Seahawk helicopters, multiple UAVs, or one CH-53 Sea Stallion-class helicopter. The trimaran hull will allow flight operations up to sea state 5.[9]

      Impressive. But I thought the aluminum hull had some problems…?

      That and I imagine LCS2 doesn’t look traditional enough for surface warfare admirals. I mean, haven’t we marginalized “weird” catamaran/trimaran/hydrofoil craft before?

      • Wildcard

        GD state LCS 2/4 can have any 2 mission modules installed and operate at the same time.

        No actual problems with the aluminium hull on the LCS 2 arose during testing. However the Navy raised questions regarding its long-term durability. But other warships have utilised Aluminium (at least for their super structures) with no issues.

        Aluminium hulls:
        Don’t require corrosion resistant coatings
        Offer up to 20% better fuel efficiency than steel hulled vehicles
        Low overall weight means it can accommodate higher loads (equipment/weapons)
        Non magnetic hull – counters mines etc

        They need to sort the firepower issues.

        Well if the admirals want traditional looks over capability maybe they should bring back 19th Century 36 gun frigates.

    • paperpushermj

      That’s my line of thinking. The LCS 1 area for modules is smaller then 2. Another reason to go forward with the 2 design

      • STemplar

        Good comparison article. Not really as easy a choice as one might think. Both have distinct strengths and drawbacks. The export version of LCS1 for instance can accommodate full size VLS cells as opposed to LCS2, which can only fit tactical length weapons. Given the dubious progress on the mission modules, I’m not sure saying you can carry two of something that works crummy and the platform costs more is much of a selling feature.

        • Wildcard

          It’s about the only selling feature at the moment, and it doesn’t appear as though the US Navy going to ask for a major redesign or shop elsewhere. So in that respect having an expensive platform with two of something that may work crummy is better than an expensive platform that carries one of something that may work crummy. Future growth potential, and open architecture inherent in the design should mean non US systems / modules could be integrated, so maybe keep the ship and install foreign ‘modules’ that work?

  • mareo2

    Deploy LCSs sounds like play rock-paper-scissor.

  • Maxtrue
  • blight

    Tidbit from wikipedia:

    Austal has proposed a much smaller and slower trimaran, called the Multi-Role Vessel or Multi-Role Corvette. Though it is only half the size of their LCS design, it would still be useful for border protection and counter piracy operations.[22] Navy leaders said that the fixed price competition offered the Austal design an equal shot, in spite of its excess size and cost and limited service.[23]

  • The GAO is telling us what we already know. The LCS program is a failure.

  • Cole

    1) Cost and problems will come down in mass production. The Navy can’t afford 55 more Arleigh Burke destroyers or subs instead from both a cost and personnel standpoint as they have much larger crews. Doubt we will buy a foreign “built” corvette.

    2) A CSBA study had vignettes showing LCS spaced every 50nm to cover a broad area of coastline. That seems critical since small speed boats, pirates, and drug runners could launch from anywhere, choosing any route. Small diesel-electric subs are slow so excel by sitting and waiting in shallows rather than trying to go deep. Would you rather have a 275 sailor destroyer going shallow to find them or a 70 man LCS?

    3) The strength of these things is the ability to carry two multi-function helicopters and unmanned aircraft and underwater vessels. Helicopters have short legs so you want to be in more places with more lily pads. The GAO study shows how helicopters contribute.

  • Cole

    4) Think how much cheaper it will be to upgrade mission modules with new technologies and reliability improvements without having to return ships to port. Flexibility

    5) Unlimited other possibilities for these ships. Envision them sailing in front of carriers to lay a multi spectral smoke screen when ASBM are inbound to prevent IR and radar final acquisition. They can escort JHSV carrying Army and Marine equipment and personnel.

    6) The CSBA study also mentioned the potential for teams of 2 LCS with one DDG to gain better air defense protection for the LCS and counter-sub protection for the large crew, more expensive destroyer. All 3 also carry helicopters and can exploit each others decks. With deck hardening, F-35B could land on LCS. With a 20 foot elevator, a shorter than current 21′ HIMARS truck could be elevatored to deck or placed there by crane. Instant 70 km GPS rounds available with more below.

  • leesea

    What is it about the USN when it comes to materials handling rqmts, aka Cargo Gear? I have been hammering on the LCS lack of ANY crane to move the modules on & off for years now. One of the advantages of Cdr Hendrix’s Influence Squadrons was that he included a forward logistics support ship to help with the problem.

    If the JHSV can have a decent hydraulic crane on it, why can’t the LCS? The one crane on the LPD17 class is a joke (I’ve seen that in operation!)

  • leesea

    Bob we CAN buy a foreign design its been done before! BUT with the lock hold the corporate shipyard overseers have on our congressional types, it would have to be built here. Ok I can live with that IF the build contract went to a competent shipyard not necessarily in you know who’s backyard.

    • Infidel4LIFE

      Where? In Mississippi? Haley Barbour the f-ing hypocryte. This ship is 1 w/ out a specific mission. It can do alot of things, IF you got the right weapon systems.

  • leesea

    Anybody want to bet there will ONLY be 14 or 19 LCS built?

    • tee

      If that many since nothing really works the way it was supposed too.

    • Moose

      That much work for the yards would not be the worst thing inn the world

  • Brian

    Did anyone game out scenario where the Iranians use subs and boats at the same time? Sounds like we would be screwed. Good thing iranians are too stupid to do something like that!!

  • leesea

    STemplar there are plenty of good warboats on the market. The problems are:
    how many can be supported by each LCS, and will the USN ever buy a good design NIH.

    The WW2 PT boats were the last time a large number based on UK design were built.

    Event the CB-90 a highly successful warboat has YET to be bought in numbers for NECC as their RCB, why?

    The USCG seems to have few problems with buying foreign designs from companies like VT and Damen.

  • Mitch S.

    I just want to give the Navy a little thumbs up for doing a realistic war game BEFORE buying a fleet of the things.
    Wonder if someone’s in trouble for not doctoring the game to make LCS look good…

  • Cole

    Poor assumption to use Diego Garcia. Poor assumption not to rotate ships and payloads during resupply. 20 boats, 10 on station, 10 resupplying just hours away that can switch out modules if necessary.

    Can’t the crane be on the dock?

    Or how about you put rock and paper on one ship, paper and scissors on another and cover twice the area with twice the helicopters and half the crew as one destroyer….and you can still have the destroyer with all three teams exploiting the destroyers air defense radars and ability to reinforce as needed.

    Just asking sans any Navy background but seeing the potential.

    • blight

      Cole: What if the wargame opens with a strike on all support bases in the Middle East? The only viable assets are those who are at sea or en route, and that would be where the LCS’ come in.

  • GAO tells us what we already know. The LCS program is a failure.

  • Sev

    How about changing OUR tactics in combat? Really we have better tech than they do. If they can find a way to beat ours, Then we sure as hell can find a way to counter their tactics and defeat them without the all-in-one weapon and defense system.

  • roland

    And anti missile capability.

    • Thomas L. Nielsen

      And if you want to fit all that, you’re talking a cruiser-size hull…..

      A vessel of the size and displacement of the LCS will necessarily be limited in capability. It should still be optimized to the greatest extent possible, of course, but there’s only so much you can do.

      Regards & all,

      Thomas L. Nielsen

  • roland

    How ablut Tony Stark Jericco missiles.

    Even though its just a movie it has it’s great idea.

  • roland

    How about Tony Stark Jericco missiles.

    Even though its just a movie it has it’s great idea.

    Sorry about my typo

    • anonimous

      YOU don’t make any sense

  • John

    And how many navies around the world have operated LCS’s aka corvettes for the better part of a century? Do any of them change out mission modules? No. Wonder why?

    It seems to me that changing out mission modules is “gold plating”. What is needed is a basic ship common design specialized in 4 versions:
    Anti Air
    Anti Surface
    Anti Submarine
    Anti Mine
    All 4 would operate together as a squadron. Or you could build an updated FFG capable of handling all 4 assignments, which seems a whole lot simpler. In fact, I often wonder why the USN is scrapping, blowing up or giving away FFG7s that could be updated and reconfigured. Not perfect, but perfectly good enough.

    History repeats itself, particularly when technology is pushed too far. For example, when USS Enterprise, Bainbridge and Long Beach circumnavigated the world, about 1961, the only operational weapon systems on the ships were a pair of 5″ 38s and 3″ 50s, and torpeados. The big Terrier and Talos systems didnt work and it took until the early 1970s to get them operating.

    • Die LCS Die

      RE: Do any of them change out missile modules? No. Wonder why?

      Exactly! Dead on target. The swappable module thing will not happen. It is just too daunting and ultimately useless as a module sitting at a port is useless. The technical issues of getting swappable modules to work are simply too much – yes it could be accomplished but not within the cost constraints that are required to keep this program even jokingly viable. At best we will see ships hard-linked to specific modules, with crews, probably several per ship, trained and rotated through just that ship and trained for just that module.

      The swappable crap is pure comic book, as is the idea of swappable crews that can seemlessly take on new modules along with some missions specialists and carry on without any loss of proficiency. Fantasy land.

      Ships, and specific modules (and helos, jets, tanks, etc), have presonalities, and the only way to operate proficiently is through experience and knowledge of those personalities – that means the same folks working with the same gear over and over.

  • Locarno

    Rules of engagement issue – you pretty much have to assume that you’ll be required to play nice until something acts in such a manner as to classify itself as a clear and urgent threat before you’re allowed to blow it out of the water; in any situation where there’s unrestricted engagement of enemies, you’re kind of outside the realm LCS is supposed to be operating in…

  • JEFF

    Maybe the LCS modular concept should be used as a carrier group level flexibility tool. Use the modularity to supplement whatever capability is at a particular moment lacking, rather than trying to use it in fleets of LCS flotilla.

  • Tony C

    Where’s the PT boats when you need them? A swarm of PT boats with missile systems could engage an Iraniian swarm more effectively than a large ship. As for the conventional submarine threat, counter it with unmanned underwater hunter/killer drones. They can use active sonar without putting lives at risk. I think the US Navy expects high technology to counter every threat, when there are low tech solutions that costs much less.

  • Cole

    Noted the CSBA study had 16 LCS in the Gulf and only 2-3 destroyers during a scenario escorting ships and protecting ports. It also mentioned something like 5 destroyers (273 man crew) needed to have one on station. In contrast, LCS was cited as possibly having 4 smaller 75 man crews for 3 ships to have one on station in peacetime. But LCS has the speed to show up in theater or switch theaters rapidly.

    Obviously the Navy requires destroyers and “something else” because it lacks the money and sailors for an all-destroyer navy. Unless the yards start building again, ANYTHING built will be overpriced. This is by no means just an LCS problem. The helicopters and unmanned systems provide identical capability whether on a destroyer or LCS…and aerial systems key to multiple missions don’t fit on a PT boat, sub, or mine sweeper very well.

    • John

      This is one reason that a US Merchant Marine was so important. No ships= no shipyards. The USN saw the USMM as a competitor for funds and therefore opposed the USMM. More US Merchant Ships meant more investment in escort ships. The elemination of the US Merchant Marine meant that fewer escorts were required and forcus could be on power projection forces. Military Sealift Command is NOT Merchant Marine. Virtually all US cargo is handled by ships built in Japan, South Korea and China and manned by Chinese, Phillipino, Ukraine, Russian, or Eastern European crews. Western European, American, Canadian, UK, and Japanese crews are virtually non existant. US shipyards only build ships and barges for the military and Jones Act (coastwise US) trade. Virtually our entire maritime industrial base has literally been given away by the US government. Monopoly military shipyards are costing megabucks and if the government puts them out of business, you have nowhere to go but overseas. Again: NO SHIPS=NO SHIPYARDS!

  • Sanchez

    The German MEKO-class corvettes and frigates have been very successful over the years. Build ’em in America, give ’em our electronics and sensors (most variants use our 5″ guns, ESSM, torpedo tubes, Phalanx and Harpoons anyways) and use them. They’re about $150 million a hull and are perfect for just about everything short of area air defense. There are stealthy versions too, used by Germany South Africa, Singapore, Malaysia and soon Poland (the A-100, K-130 and A-200 models).

    Maybe use a common US MEKO hull, in addition to the multipurpose/patrol variant, to put on a version of AN/SPY-1F or -1K Aegis like the Spanish or Norweigians with only 32 or 64 cell VLS. You don’t need 96-128 launchers to be an effective ship. That said, the USN really doesn’t need more area air defense ships. The 80 or so Burkes and Ticos are very capable of that mission. We need more low-cost green water combatants – we shouldn’t have $2.5 billion destroyers hunting down a couple of assholes with rifles in a skiff.

    I also really like the idea of the Danish Absalons. Multi-mission, large cargo/vehicle/module bay.

    We should also start looking at replacing the Cyclone-class PCs in the near future as well.

  • Tad

    Let’s face it, America is no longer a builder of innovative, great ships. Our shipbuilders are former aircraft companies that have deep contacts within the beltway.

  • Oblat

    Really the mission modules are performing exactly as intended – front load the program. Get the hulls in the water ASAP with all sorts of promised pie int he sky capabilities and then drag out the procurement gravy train to maximize profits.

    This is the process all the contractors are using now – do the easy stuff first, skip as much testing as possible, get the highly visible platforms in place with pork in as many districts as possible, and then hit the DoD for the cash to make them actually do something useful.

    The only way to stop it is to cancel whole programs – call the contractors bluff and make them fear losing everything. Going ahead with programs such as the F35 and LCS will just reinforce their exploitative behavior.

  • William C.

    Should it be really this hard to get something relatively cheap, fast, and with a decent amount of firepower?

    It looks like Lockheed’s design should be able to fit a 5 inch gun up there.

    • John

      You might be able to “fit a 5 inch gun up there”,-and UP is the key word- this thing is huge- but that doesnt mean that the structure is going to be able to stand that sort of stress. Remember, we are talking about an aluminum hulled, 3000 ton, 45 knot warship. LCS2 sure doesnt look like any 3000 tons and it has a wierd hull structure. Based upon appearance alone, if the hull were made of steel, I would estimate the LCS2 to displace 5000 to 6000 tons. I dont believe that this thing is even remotely capable of withstanding the stress of a 5 inch gun firing. The way that hull is constructed, the weight of a 5 inch gun would probably put it downn by the head. Weights such as the mission module have to go near midship or temporarily on the stern as in the case of an aircraft. This is an extremely specialized design. Im more interested in how this thing handles in a 30 foot sea and Beaufort force 11 winds. Anyone who thinks that this thing will not be subject to seas like that has not been to sea. That pyramid has a huge sail area. Things could get interesting when the wind and swell are near 90 degrees apart. The LCS1 seems far more predictable in an adverse sea.

    • Mastro

      The Lockheed Independence is steel – hulled – it might take the stress of the 5 Inch- but the 5 Inch has a pretty slow rate (the older , heavier 5 inch was faster)

      Its 57 mm because its faster- better for small ships/boats and aircraft.

      I still think they should have the Otto Melara 76 mm as a compromise.

      • John

        I dont see how that thing could possibly be steel hulled. It is nearly the size of a small sky scraper and downtown Mobile was visible for direct comparison. I dont see how that thing can possibly be steel unless the scantlings are paper thin. If that hull is made of steel, the hull should dish in as bad or worse than those old WWII destroyers that looked like they were starving to death. That thing doesnt look like any 3000 tons of steel, more like 5000 to 6000 tons.

  • Dean

    As I’ve said many time, the LCS concept if fatally flawed. The idea of mission modules is ludicrous!
    Back in the old days we used to build what were called Frigates, i.e. smaller/cheaper version of a destroyer, something that could do everything; ASW, AAW, ASuW, carry helos, it could do 30 knots and still have great endurance, and it could sail independently, and they were build to take a hit and survive.
    You don’t take out boat swarms with $100,000 missiles, you take them out with large guns (min 3in, 76mm). You don’t defend yourself with a single RAM system dependent upon short range radar, you don’t build warships to commercial standards entirely out of aluminum, you don’t need a warship that does 40knots but has only 2 days endurance, and lastly, you don’t build a warship and man it with only 40 sailors and send it to war, one hit would take out most of your crew!

    • Die LCS Die

      Exactly right. Agree with everything you said.

  • Brian

    The problem is this: we don’t know what we need. Are we really that concerned about swarms of Iranian attack boats? Really? Do we actually need 11 carriers? Look at the FCS in the Army, or the F-35/F-22s in the Air Force. We’re building weapons systems today because our older stuff needs replacements. But we have no real enemy on the horizon that really requires our focus.

    We are in a holding pattern. There’s an old brain teaser that says a car gets X gas mileage at 30 mph, Y mileage at 50 mph, and Z mileage at 70 mph (each getting less efficient). When does the car get the worst miles per gallon? Answer: when it’s going zero mph. That’s what we’re doing right now. We’re going zero mph because we’re really not sure where we’re going. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, you’d hate to overcommit and buy 100 ships and then find out you don’t need them. But we’re just sort of hunting for a need right now.

    • crackedlenses

      Excellent point, although at the rate things are going we are in for flare-ups all over the globe. Just remember how we downsized after the Cold War thinking we wouldn’t need the stuff, and then had brush fires spring up all over the place….

      • Sanchez

        Yeah, but would the 2nd Armored Division or a couple of additional carriers really helped anything? We downsized and having all the same forces in 2001 that we had in 1991 wouldn’t have helped anything or made the world any safer. 9/11 wouldn’t have been prevented by additional B-2 bombers and F-22 any more than the disaster that Somalia became wouldn’t have been easier if we still had 15 divisions in the Army.

  • WhiskeyBravo

    how a bout a multi-puropse missile that is capable of striking targets in the air, on land, and in the sea while utilizing the deck gun for the small, fast attack boats. cut costs as u only need to buy 1 missile instead of 3 and save space with only 1 or 2 dedicated launchers. seems like that would make the LCS concept much more capable if it could use one module for multiple tasks.

  • John

    The problem is that the USN does not know what they want the LCS to do. They are experimenting. The lesson should be that if you are going to use single mission hulls, then you must have a squadron of ships, each configured to different missions in order to operate in a changing environment. Or, you can use larger ships each configured to handle 2 or more roles. Since the mission modules are not fully developed, it makes sense that whatever platform you put them on should be flexible enough to accept ever changing mission module updates. This is much easier to accomplish in a larger conventional hull than in a small ultra fast hull. From that standpoint, it should be easy to build a conventional 30-35 knot FFG hull desinged to accept mission modules as well as a much stronger basic weapon system. That is a ship we can build right now in large numbers with little risk and they dont need to be built by a specialized shipyard. .

  • Andrew

    Doesn’t anyone think that the LCS module idea is really smart because we can upgrade and switch out LCS’s with new roles for everywhere with the latest tech on said mods. Of course the hulls will have to be upgraded as time goes on as well but if it keeps the same slots for said modules they would be able to be used across the board for all LCS hulls. It would allow for variant hulls pretty well which is something that hasn’t really been seen before. Plus the LCS’s allowing for a cheap way to try out tech on the open seas without committing to making a new platform for the tech.

    It would take a severe investment in faith and hulls but I do think that a module type ship will be always able to keep up with naval combat for the rest of the current type of naval combat. To me I don’t see that much a a different between this and the F-35 of the air force once you can think of there separate theaters.

    • John

      I think that the issue has less to do with mission modules than lightly built, ultra fast, single mission ships that have to return to base to reconfigure and then sprint back to operating area. If you cannot define your mission or how you want to deal with the threat, then the ship must by definition be capable of taking mission modules. The Spruiances were built with weapons slots in order to make them easier to upgrade, but Ageis greatly exceeded the original idea. The FFG7s were designed to cost, with a fixed weapons system, which required a major conversion for upgrade, hence their demise. The LCS takes the fixed weapon system out of the equation, the only limitation being space and tonnage. If you use a larger more flexible hull, you can take 2 or more mission modules, giving the ship more flexibilty to stay on station. There is a big however to all this: The Mission module must work or you loose your capability in that area of warfare. Thats the reason older systems seem so attractive, because they have a known function and capabiltiy. Nobody seems to know what if any capability these things currently have.

      • Rick W

        The comment about the modules having to work is right on the money. The flip side of it is that if the modules do not work it will be much easier and cheaper to design and build new modules than to scrap or rebuild an entire ship.

        A prime example is NLOS-M. It may not work, but Hellfire works just fine. If the Navy would just get the sick out of their rear it should be pretty easy to build a module that carries it. If Hellfire is unacceptable for some weird reason then there are hundreds of naval missiles to choose from.

        • STemplar

          The Hellfire has no where near the range of what the NLOS was going to. The NLOS was ridiculously expensive per shot and, o yah, it couldn’t hit anything.

          The whole module concept is a good idea, unfortunately it is an idea they are having trouble making work. The death of NLOS was a significant blow, if the ASW isn’t working as well as they hoped, which is what was last reported, the whole system is really in question. There were export variants proposed that had a more traditional series of weapon options that didn’t rely on the whole module idea as much.

          Both LCS 1 and 2 had a VLS option in the export variant, although with LCS 2 it was the shorter tactical version. I think that may be the way the USN will have to go for the program to work, or they are going to have to have the module elves deliver something that works pretty darn good, pretty darn shortly.

  • Juramentado

    So there’s a couple of things to think about here – some of you may be familiar with NDIA’s three-Phase SuW study over a period of about eight years as sponsored by the office of the CNO and N76, the most recent of which concluded in about 2 years ago. In essence, they validated that against organic single-ship or even small task force versus dedicated small boat threat – there has to be a certain baseline established. In all phases, they came to many of the same recommendations that TF Hip Pocket did – not only applicable for FP/AT, but also high-level TTP; you still need a speedy vessel (because you need to maintain stand-off distance else you will be overwhelmed in the case of swarms), you need precision guidance and missile capability beyond 2nm self-defense layer, and you need stabilized small-caliber gun systems, a very integrated sensor suite and excellent auto-tracking of targets. In fact in none of those situations did the use of a helo or a remote vehicle system make a difference to positive outcomes. That’s good and it validates the first half outcome of this so-called wargame.

    But the reality is anyone sending in a dedicated SuW team without thinking about multi-dimensional threats deserves to have their SWO wings taken away. Type commanders may not have a choice – they’re stuck with the LCS package they’ve been issued; with the low ratio of current MPs to hulls as projected by the GAO report, that’s likely to be a reality for years to come. But a TF commander who fails to account for threats other than small boats? Come on. I’m not an LCS fan, certainly not by the vociferous posts made elsewhere, but this really smells like grade-school anti-LCS propaganda to me. Opponents of the program shouldn’t have to resort to miserably amateurish FUD like this. There’s plenty of material from which to make a polished and coherent argument against the platform’s viability. Either someone’s pulling someone’s leg at DefenseTech or they need to vet their sources better. The “wargame” sounds like an urban myth.

  • Justin H.

    Sounds like those mission modules went from concept straight to production, and skipped testing. Personally I would have had 3 or 4 of the 6 LCS set up for surface warfare, and the other 2 or 3 set up for anti-sub warfare. Seems like 100% common sense to me.

  • Justin H.

    I know ‘common sense navy’ is something that makes your ears bleed. We are after all talking about a Navy that does NOT want the CG(X) to be nuclear powered… I remember a few years ago they did a war game scenario in which they fought Israel, cause they are the most advanced military in the Middle East. Well the ‘Israelis’ did a massive cruise missile attack on us, and we lost. But what did the Navy do? They said, “Redue! Pretend that never happend”. Then they changed the rules of the war game so that the ‘Israelis’ couldn’t launch a massive cruise missile attack again.

  • anonimous

    Turn off the X-box and back to reality

  • Infidel4LIFE

    I bet off the shelf would be cheaper. As far as swapping out modules, if they are gonna keep building this they better find a solution. Diego Garcia? Damn, thats pretty far.

  • Tim

    A half a dozen LCSs? There’s only one in combat shape (Freedom) right now. LCS-2 is still wrapping up it’s final outfitting stops. LCS-3 and 4 are still being build and the down select to choice which of the two LCS designs will be the design of the future keeps getting puched back (which means LCS-6 is a couple of years away from being build). They aren’t kidding when they say sim now are they?

  • blight

    Designing a boat that is expected to be fast, large, and operate in shallow water was probably not good for the LCS design. The “real” littoral version that will be doing the close-up delivery of SEALs and close support will be distinct from the slightly bluer version expected to screen the fleet, fight missile boats, do minesweeping and board vessels.

  • STemplar

    The whole DoD is going through the same issues more or less. Buying weapons for wars we aren’t going to fight. The USAF and the F22, no Soviet airspace left to escort bombers into. The Army and a myriad of systems, Crusader, Comanche. The USMC with the EFV. The USN sees the littorals as an issue, but then it comes up with a billion dollar per solution that isn’t working nearly as well as hoped. Too many retired officers and bought off Congressmen in the pockets of the defense industry. What we need for these fights aren’t sexy and in many cases aren’t expensive.

    As many have pointed out, there are a large number of existing platforms available for the corvette role we could buy/build on license. There are a number of platforms we have tested that have a clear potential, like the HSVs, or the Sea Fighter. Austal’s multi role corvette proposal.

    We are just stuck in this spend big mind set, maybe some extreme economic hard times is just what we need. Force some practical low cost thinking on the Pentagon.

  • DonP

    It isn’t that the switch-out modules do not work, the squadron was too specialized IMHO. If they had set say 5 hulls for Surface warfare and one for ASW, providing the commander with the flexibility required for a multimission area. It seems they had set the mission orientation as to being too specific for this exercise.

  • Krotch ScroteGuzzle

    It doesn’t work because they have to drive somewhere to refit? Here’s an idea: 1/2 the squadron anti-surface, 1/2 the squadron anti-sub. Nobody thought of that? Really?

    Also, while the US is bleeding jobs across the water and the economy is in the crapper you guys are seriously suggesting outsourcing ship manufacturing? Building them here in the US is an investment in the US economy. Buying them off the shelf from Europe is flushing the money down the toilet.

  • RCDC

    Probably if we mix the Aussies ship building with our ship building, steel and materials. We might end up with a cheaper tag price per ship or missile stealth boat. Probably 1 million or less (thousand dollars) per missile/ torpedo boat.