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LCS ‘Seems’ Like a Good Idea

January 28, 2009

I began to post on Loren Thompson’s opinion piece titled Listen to the Navy: The DDG-1000 Destroyer Is Not Needed, when this little snippet included on the littoral combat ship began to nag at me:

Navy leaders began to have doubts about DDG-1000 two years ago.  By that time they had made progress on a replacement for their cold-war frigates dubbed the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) that looked like a much better match for future military needs.  The modular design of the LCS enabled it to perform a wide range of missions without becoming a multi-billion-dollar behemoth.

So this is how far the Navy has fallen, with a warship type some had considered approaching obsolescence near the end of the Cold War, which is priced at nearly 3 times its original estimated cost, which is needed NOW but won’t enter service in any numbers until late the next decade, is now considered the warship of choice. And you almost agree with this mindset, considering that the LCS at $1/2 billion certainly sounds like a bargain compared to $3-$5 billion estimated for DDG-1000.

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It is not good enough. We need lots of hulls in the water in case we must face a war of attrition at sea, a scenario more likely than the Midway type battles the Navy still plans for. At 3000 tons, the LCS is also too big and vulnerable to mines and missiles to be chasing pirates in shallow waters.  $100 million for a FAC should be the limit, as should tonnage be no greater than 1500 tons full load. Such a sensible plan would ensure ships that could be built in adequate numbers, when they are needed, not in procurement cycles that span decades and where warfare has more likely than not moved on.

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