7th Fleet states that the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is not up to the mission
The Littoral Combat Ship program was developed to field a new class of naval vessel that could operate in small waterways and provide support. The big selling feature was to have pre-loaded Mission Specific Support Modules, think plug and play, that could be removed or added to the ship based on the mission parameters. Now, after several years of wasting tax payer’s money to the tune of $432 million to $480 million per ship and a total projected cost of $1.8 billion and increasing, the US Navy announced that the LCS is not a good fit for the missions it was developed for.
So after spending millions of dollars developing this ship, the general consensus of the Navy is that the ship would be better suited for operations within smaller bodies of water like say, the Persian Gulf.
Yeah, that’s going to work.
What makes this vessel even more special is that its susceptible to stand off weapons launched from other ships, airborne platforms, and land positions. That means long-range anti-ship missiles like the Exocet. For all that time and money well wasted, the US Navy now has about four of these ‘amazing’ vessels.
Besides the ship not being able to perform its stated mission, there is the lack of protective armor, about 2”, and inadequate weaponry, one 57mm turret. I’m thinking, and this is just me tossing this idea around, or so I thought until I did more research, is that we have a proven platform for shore support operations, maritime interdiction and other related operations. Its an old but proven vessel design that I’d have to imagine would cost way less than $400 million per ship and possibly less than $1.8 billion to upgrade and operate. There are 3-4 Iowa class battleships in mothballs right now. BB-63, the Missouri, was upgraded for the first Gulf War and with some other minor upgrades could replace this white elephant known as the LCS. With the Iowa class firepower, there would be no need to approach the shoreline. The 16” guns can lay waste to shore positions very accurately from a safe distance, well outside of anti-ship missile range. If it was engaged by an anti-ship missile, the armor is thick enough to shrug it off. There are other options for engaging incoming missiles as well, see the link below.
The removal of all the 5” guns from the Iowa battleships would provide space below decks for Mission Modules or mission specific stores. Add more Phalanx CIWS systems, Harpoon and Tomahawk launchers and toss in some torpedo tubes along with the addition of what I’d call ‘beehive’ 16” gun rounds and the Iowa and its sister ships could fend off missiles and other stand off weaponry with relative impunity. Best part, they’re already built so money is saved trying to reinvent the wheel.
For more information on how multi-mission capable the Iowa class is, see this link:
By spending the money apparently wasted on the LCS program to renovate and upgrade the existing Iowa class ships, the US Navy could not only have a multi-mission capable proven seaborne platform but one that has total shock and awe over any potential hostiles not to mention an excellent force projection vessel. Nothing says force projection like a vessel packing 16″ guns that can hit their target at 25+ plus miles and rain down a total shitstorm on the enemy.
Why go into a battle with a less than capable vessel? That would be like bringing a knife to a gun fight. You can never have too much firepower and the Iowa class battleships have more than enough to shut down modern threats just as easily as they did back in the day. By the way, the Iowa class battleships have between 6” -16” of armor compared to the LCS’s 2” and their speed is 33 knots compared to the LCS at 40 knots (that’s the LCS at a sprint/speed run not a sustained speed whereas the Iowa’s can maintain 33 knots). To increase the speed of the Iowa it would only take, from what I’ve been told by machinists mates and engine room personnel, is a different set of screws (those are the big propellers at the rear of the ship for those of you who aren’t familiar with naval terminology).
As stated by Rear Admiral Samuel Perez in a 2012 report, “the Littoral Combat Ship is ill-suited for combat operations against anything but small, fast boats not armed with anti-ship missiles.”
The big problem with this is the Littoral Combat Ship would be operating in a, wait for it, littoral area. Guess what else is normally found in a littoral area? Anti-ship missiles are normally deployed in littoral areas and so are fast moving patrol boats with, you guessed it, anti-ship missiles. Captain Kenneth Coleman, the U.S. Navy’s requirements officer for the program, identified tactical aircraft, such as strike fighters and maritime patrol aircraft equipped with standoff anti-ship missiles, as a system the LCS would be especially vulnerable to and couldn’t survive. There’s $400 million down the drain.
Vice Admiral Thomas H. Copeman III is reported to be considering an upsized “Super” LCS, that would have space to install needed firepower, because he noted that the 57mm main gun was more suitable to a patrol boat than a frigate. Note, Admiral Copeman states ‘needed’ firepower. There’s a subtle hint that the LCS needs something besides a single 57mm turret. A little bit of history, the 57mm was deployed in World War 2 as light field artillery and anti-tank weapon. The German Panzer IV and the Panther would shrug off the 57mm round and keep on going.
One of the designers and builders, Austal, suggested that the ships should instead be used for UAV operations. Problem with that is that they were tasked to build a littoral combat ship not a dedicated UAV launch and recovery vessel. Most of the existing ships in the inventory have the capability to launch and recover UAVs including some of our SSGNs. Thanks for spending all that money on building a dedicated UAV launch and recovery platform, maybe if we contracted you to actually build a UAV dedicated vessel you’d build a LCS.
Here’s a pic of a UAV being recovered from the Iowa. Don’t think we need your $400 million boondoggle to recover and launch UAVs.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has called the lack of suitable missions for the LCS “one of its greatest strengths”. Anyone get the idea that this guy is not all there with that statement? It gets better, apparently the ships are also prone to cyber attacks. Can anyone picture some hacker taking control of a LCS and its systems?
Yeah, that would never happen.
Here’s a recap in case you missed anything.
The vessel is lacking sufficient armor for littoral operations, an area that it was designed to operate in.
Lacking sufficient weapon systems to defend itself and other vessels while conducting littoral operations.
The internet protocols make the vessel prone to be hacked via a cyber attack.
One of the builders recommends that it be used for UAV operations only.
A ranking Admiral states the existing LCS weapon systems are more for a patrol boat than a frigate class vessel and wants a ‘super-sized’ version that packs more firepower.
Another Admiral states in a report that the vessel is ill-suited for it specified mission.
Seems like a lot of money being thrown around for a product that doesn’t meet the requirements of the mission. But what do I know? I’m not part of the whole DOD procurement/contract process, but I do know that when something doesn’t work as advertised, you fire the contractor and get someone who will do the job right. Throwing more money at an idiot who can’t provide the product as contracted to do so does nothing for the existing problem.
I don’t know about you, but if I was going into harm’s way I’d want more than a lightly armed bathtub toy and its 2” of armor wrapped around my ass for protection. Here’s a picture of the 17” thick armor on the Iowa class USS New Jersey’s Citadel.
Personally, I’d want something totally badass when going into harm’s way. Something that clearly states that I can kick your ass and not break a sweat doing it. The Iowa class battleships fit that perfectly. Screw the whole littoral issue, that’s what the Coast Guard is for. The US Navy needs something that can stand off out of the enemies range, rain all kinds of hate and discontent down on them, and laugh at what they throw back at us.