Lockheed Offers Navy New LCS Variant

140511-N-SK590-723Lockheed Martin is offering the Navy a slightly heavier, technologically re-configured multi-warfare variant of the Littoral Combat Ship that has added survivability features such as built in vertical launch tubes and a stronger radar.

It is part of Lockheed’s submission to the Navy’s Small Surface Combatant Task Force’s, or SSCTF, solicitation asking industry to come up with specs and designs for a new multi-mission surface ship engineered to address and correct some of the problems with the LCS.

Lockheed’s offering, which is based on their international variant of the LCS, is designed to engineer certain technologies into the hull itself, such as sonar. This approach is intended to prevent the need to swap out “mission packages” or sets of technologies as is currently the case with the LCS.

“We took the 118-meter hull and turned it into more of a multi-warfare platform. Multi-warfare means you have anti-submarine warfare capability built into the hull along with surface and anti-air capability,” said Joe North, vice president of Littoral Ship Systems, Lockheed Martin.  “It is basically putting everything in the hull that allows you to not have to swap out mission packages – and perform those missions with a single ship.”

The new ship design weighs 3,600 tons which is slightly more than the current LCS weight of 3,400 tons, North said.

Other technological adaptations include the use of a sophisticated anti-air radar than the one used by the LCS that allows for greater distance with air coverage, North added.

“You basically would integrate the radar with guns that you have on the ship, whether that be a 57mm or 76mm gun. You would put in a vertical launch capability which allows it to bring aboard missiles and address threats from over the horizon and for ASW (anti-submarine warfare) you would add sonar to the ship,” he explained.

The SSCTF emerged out of a request from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel earlier this year stating that the Navy issued no new contracts for the LCS beyond 32 ships. The Navy had been planning to buy 52 LCS vessels as they were originally configured.

As part of this announcement, Hagel instructed the Navy to examine alternative proposals for the remaining 20 ships that, among other things, offered more survivable designs.

Navy officials said the service still has a requirement for 52 LCS’ and that the SSCTF is exploring what the last 20 ships in the class will look like.

The Navy recently evaluated a range of proposals for the ship but has not yet announced its findings or identified the direction it plans to go in regarding the new vessel.

North added that the steel hull of the LCS design could be stretched and additional seven to 10 meters in order to accommodate more weapons systems.

The Lockheed offering to the Navy is based upon a special design configured for international sales. North said international interest in purchasing the ship from navies around the world continues to grow, particularly in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

So far, Lockheed has delivered two of its Freedom-variant LCS vessels and six more are in production, North said. LCS 7 is slated to launch in October of this year, he added.

“The Navy will have eight of these ships in their hands by the end of next year,” North said.

About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior.
  • This would certainly go some way in answering to the critics of an under armed vessel.

  • Pharsalus

    Okay, so they now take the International variant (which nobody wants) and use it without the fabled mission packages? With stuff integrated into the ship itself? That’s very 2006.

    All the marketing they spent on reasons why the LCS was a good idea is now overturned by their sort-of admission the concept doesn’t work ;)

    And for buying Britisch, Dutch, Swedish of French ships… hah! No American congressman wouldn’t want to be seen within a one mile radius of a working Euro ship – Euros are cheese-eating, dope-smoking and surrendering Krauts so they can’t EVER build better ships than the US!

    F$%k. Give me a Visby or MEKO any day.

  • anthony

    Maybe china can build better and cheaper?

    • Droggen26

      good one

  • rad

    Why is the General Dynamics’ trimarane illustrating a piece about Locheed Martin’s ship (the single hull one)?

    • sferrin

      Classic “journalism” at work. BTW this doesn’t sound like much of an improvement. Basically the bare minimum to say “we did something”.

  • xXTomcatXx

    What a crook. Don’t trust a word that comes out of Joe North’s mouth. He’s the reason the Freedom Variant came out as lame as it did. Undermined the customer and sacrificed capability in the hopes of delivering a higher cost ship. He never understood the vision and delivered what instead what he thought the Navy “needed”. What a disgust!

  • Jim

    The photo with this article is not he Lockheed LCS.

  • shipfixr

    ““The Navy will have eight of these ships in their hands by the end of next year,” North said.”

    Wouldn’t “ON their hands” be more descriptive?

  • blight_qwerty

    It’s fleecing time.

  • Andy

    I rather have a GOST than this junk..

    • xXTomcatXx

      Of course a couple hundred ton glorified movie prop vs a 3,600 ton vessel. Because that makes sense.

  • Nicky

    I think the next replacement for the LCS is the US Coast Guard’s National Security Cutter. I know Huntington Ingalls Industries is coming out with a version of the US Coast Guard’s National Security Cutter called Sea Control frigate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OJZ8eB_mPA

  • Lance

    Don’t worry DOD. its just as expensive and worthless as the other LCS…. Give me a break!

  • jsallison

    Still not doing underway VLS array replenisment. Buncha one shot wonders.

  • Big-Dean

    It doesn’t matter how much lipstick you put on this pig….

  • G Lof

    Well, I see we have our normal choir of naysayers. It is a mystery how Military.com stays in business with all this bashing their advertisers

    Frankly from my point of view, Lockheed Martin has given what the current generation of Pentagon Bigwigs want, a ships that can survive politically even if it loses. any purpose for existing.

    Now if L-M add a few meters to the hull so that the retain the mission modules which provides 75 percent of the LCS reason for existing, then maybe this idea will work. That be especially true if the dump the on hull sonar, as those are only effective when the LCS enters the SSK kill zone. We be better of using the LCS with a larger USuV that cares the sonar for the LCS without endangering the ship and crew.

  • retin88

    crap begets crap begets crap.

  • Curtis Conway

    Some recent reports are that the LCS is more survivable than the FFG-7. We should take an LCS-1 and conduct a shock test similar to an M-08 Naval Mine under it and see how it does (Sammy “B” Test). Don’t think that is going to work out so well. The United States Navy needs a REAL multi-warfare Aegis Guided Missile Frigate with a 5′ gun (guided projectiles) and Directed Energy weapons. NO Diesels! Too many moving parts. Use the same Gas Turbine Generator (GTGs) going on the DDG-51 Flt III, or a GE38 derived GTG, and put electric motors on the main Reduction Gear (MRG) for more efficient cruise to stretch your fuel. SPEED will ALWAYS be a requirement for a combat vessel primarily based upon a constantly changing situation of which you are not in control, but when stuff hits the fan you want all the speed you can get, it just probably will not be 40 knots. We need planners dealing with reality in decision making, not selling products and wishing for the best. Plan for the worst, and hope for the best. All this ‘it will be alright’ business is going to get our sailor sons and daughters killed.
    Really like the idea of a single hangar with extra missiles. Put strike length cells on the bow, and perhaps the short ones down the side. Really like the idea of a non-rotating 3D AESA (SPY) radar with the ability to be on the threat bearing and be able to take out a Theater Ballistic Missile, probably via tippers and OTH data before the organic sensors pick it up. If we are talking supersonic ASCM on the deck you only get one shot, if you see it at all. Now there is a challenging missile exercise. Let’s not build multi-million dollar floating coffins. Let’s give our sailors a real combat system and a fighting chance. Take care of your people and they will take care of the tasking. The LCS program to date has treated our sailors without respect. As it is an LCS needs a crew of super sailors just to survive the PMS schedule. The crew had better be big enough to fight the ship and do damage control, and provide normal preventative maintenance schedule and still get to sleep from time to time.
    The future holds a lot of rocks and shoals, and the current evaluation team is acting a penny wise and a pound foolish.

  • FWGuy

    It is my understanding that the Navy has only contracted (to date) for 10 hulls total and that would be the perfect point to stop at and switch to the new larger and more capable design.

    • The one armed man

      I think it’s 12.

  • Gunnerv1

    Go back to DE’s/FF’s, DDG’s and CG;s (CG’s with a 5′ gun, what a joke) with Gas Turbines, forget about “Stealth Tech.” The Main purpose of a Carrier Group Screening Escort DD (type) is, Wait for it, “Block that Torpedo” in other words, Take the hit, but do as much damage as you can before you are taken out. 8 DD ship types in 21 years, I think I can offer something here.

  • Nick987654

    A weapon system to replace the FCS NLOS must absolutely be restarted by the Army. There are a number of possibilities to base it on existing missiles.

    A small missile weighing no more that 150 lbs would have a range of around 25 miles and could be carried in large numbers by the LCS in miniaturized box launchers.

    And these missiles would be light enough that they could be reloaded manually.

    Now the 57mm gun is not very useful because it doesn’t launch guided munitions. It could be replaced by a box launcher of 32 NLOS missiles.

    The LCS also needs a small number of Mk 41 launchers, like 8 launchers for 2 anti-ships missiles and 24 ESSMs ( 4 per tube ).

    With a better radar and OTH capability with advanced stealthy drones to guide its missiles it would be very good, no need for a new ship design.

    • blight_qwerty

      That’s pretty optimistic. A Hellfire weighs ~100 pounds with a declared range of five miles. Depending on that range is measured, it might be ground range (with flying platforms possessing greater than five mile range). If measured from an aerial platform, ground platforms would have less range.

      Also, we have no anti-ship missiles that go into Mk 41 VLS. Harpoons are launched in their own launchers. The VLS fitted to small ships LCS-sized are short-length, limiting the types of missiles that can be carried. I suppose they can carry ESSMs…

    • edree

      I may not know much about ships, so I defer to those who do. But I used to know OTH radar very well. It needed a lot of room for the transmitter and receiver antennae to handle the frequencies involved with OTH. If someone can explain how to do it with higher frequencies than those with which I am familiar, and the long antennae required, I would appreciate it.

  • Rob C.

    Having Aegis armed Frigate made from the designs of the Freedom maybe questionable. All aluminium (if they build it with that instead of steel) would ignore the lessons learned on the fires USS Belknap when Kennedy collided with her. Hopefully if the Navy goes with this design they’ll make sure the removed the problem the Freedom design has. Including that faulty propulsion system of theirs.

  • There’s definately a lot to learn about this issue.

    I love all of the points you have made.