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Breaking:LCS Contract Lags

August 20, 2010
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Expected before the end of summer was the long-anticipated award of who would build a projected 55 littoral combat ships (LCS) for the USN. The frigate which wants to be a shallow water speed boat is the Navy’s only attempt to join the ongoing fight for the coastal waters in an age lacking a peer Blue Water threat. No surprise the oft-delayed program, now pricing 3 times its original estimate is facing further hurdles. Story is from Reuters:

The U.S. Navy is expected to miss its target this summer for awarding a multibillion contract for new warships after reopening discussions with the two bidders, Austal USA, a unit of Australia’s Austal Ltd (ASB.AX) and Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N), sources following the issue say.
A contract award for the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship program is not likely now until this fall, several months later than expected, according to the sources who were not authorized to speak on the record…

…the Navy has now reopened the process and posed further questions about cost and technical matters, delaying a possible contract for some time, the sources said.

The article also gave another reason for the delayed decision-a Navy attempt to avoid a lawsuit and further delays by the losing bidder:

The Navy’s decision to ask more questions so late in the procurement process was “highly unusual” and was probably aimed at ensuring it would prevail if the losing bidder filed a contract protest, as is widely expected, said Jay Korman, an analyst with the Washington-based research group Avascent.

Perhaps a bit premature to say this is a done deal? The Burleson Plan is still on!

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70 Comments leave one →
  1. Observer permalink
    September 8, 2010 10:03 pm

    Disclosure statement: I live in Wisconsin.

    The reason for the delays is that Austal has been putting in low bids that are not supported by EVM (cost and production to schedule) data.

    During the delay, more data has come in to support a very high certainty that the LCS-3 will come in on budget. Launch day is scheduled for Dec 4 at a much higher level of completion than LCS-1. Five to six months ahead of LCS-4, whose keel was laid five weeks after LCS-3.

    Proponents of LCS-4 say the LCS-3 had a huge lead in long lead time material to explain this big difference in productivity. Not true. The real reason is the relative simplicity of the LCS-1 design and the (unheralded) skill of the MMC shipbuilders. Ask NOAA why they pulled their latest research ship away from VT Halter and offered it to MMC.

  2. Retired Now permalink
    August 26, 2010 8:07 am

    Photo of Helo firing on a US Navy destroyer:

    http://www.navy.mil/view_single.asp?id=73984

    could LCS-1 detect this helo ? The answer is probably not, if the helo flew up the stern of the LCS, since they have a huge (almost) radar blind zone facing aft.

    Just pump another $200 million into the program so LMCO can do a complete redesign of the topside sensors.

    And give them 5 more years to test and evaluate the new topside.

    No rush, either. LCS has only just begun to waste TAXPAYERS money.

  3. Fencer permalink
    August 26, 2010 12:53 am

    Al L.,

    The main scenario I’m imagining would be if an LCS on patrol is attacked by a vessel armed with cruise missiles, this could be further expanded to an attack by shore-based missiles if LCS carried either two types of SSM were or a dual-purpose missile. While fairly unlikely this scenario seems plausible enough to consider. The reasons why I don’t like the idea installing SAMs are that they would require greater changes to LCS, only SM-2/6 (might) have similar range to an ASCM, and that historically SAMs have preformed even worse than ASCMs.

  4. Al L. permalink
    August 25, 2010 6:59 pm

    Fencer,

    “Harpoon-like SSMs appear to be the most efficient way to enable LCS to combat targets armed with stand-off weapons.”

    This points out that you are focused too much on one-on-one ship on ship action.

    Harpoons do nothing but allow attack of mid to large size ships. They do not combat targets with standoff weapons such as airplanes,helicopters, boats, submarines, land, blimps, or the actual weapons any of them launch. They haven’t proven to be very useful against missile boats. They haven’t even been the 1st choice weapon for US ships. In fact in all the conflicts the US has been in since the Harpoon was introduced, to my knowledge only 3 have been launched ship-to-ship(or boat) and only 1 of those had any effect at all on the outcome.(Compare that to the dozens of air launched weapons used, the half dozen or so SAMs effectively employed as ASMs or even gunfire) If one looks at likely opponents the number of ships that would oppose the US Navy which would be suitable targets for a Harpoon is miniscule compared to the number of boats, aircraft, land based threats, submarines. etc. which could attack from over the horizon.

    So to introduce a missile like Harpoon on the ship seems like a very low priority to me, I’d much rather see a system that actually counters all those other threats, ESSM fits the bill plus it already exists as a well established tried and proven modular system off the shelf.

    Your analogy to an SSBN is flawed. The thing most likely to attack an SSBN is another submarine, for which a torpedo is the counter. The LCS analogy to this would be that since the thing most likely to attack it is an air borne missile then the counter is a SAM.

    This is interesting but it’s getting no where since I can’t seem to get you to discuss actual conditional employment of an ASCM instead of just doing comparisons to other ships.

    Just tell me one scenario where it would be employed. I bet if you think about it that scenario is of very low probability and/or it would be better carried out by another asset.

  5. Fencer permalink
    August 25, 2010 4:42 pm

    Al L.,

    It is tactically doubtful that the torpedo tubes on SSBNs will ever be used. My point is that LCS’s only weapon for dealing with anything more powerful than a patrol boat is a single helicopter. Harpoon-like SSMs appear to be the most efficient way to enable LCS to combat targets armed with stand-off weapons. Delegating valuable units to support LCS seems to be a waste off assets; if LCS needs an Arleigh Burke to be survivable than the whole point of a cheap patrol ship to do tasks that don’t require a DDG vanishes. Only using LCS in low threat areas would be fine if the Navy had built an OPV instead of a Littoral Combat Ship. How solid is the rational behind a warship that has virtually all of its combat power concentrated in a single helicopter? I believe that ESSM or NLOS modules, while excellent against the current Iranian small boat threat, would prove insufficient against any of the multitude of missile-armed FAC. In addition ESSM would require more infrastructure than a SSM. While launching missiles could compromise a ship’s defense a vessel than spends its entire time defending itself isn’t contributing much to the operation. LCS already has mission modules; an ASUW module with SSMs geared towards combating missile corvettes instead of speed boats could probably be created without sacrificing more than any current module or your ESSM module. While the LCS doesn’t have all of its capabilities simultaneously the only mission module I see being much use outside of the Persian Gulf is the MIW and possibly the ASW.

  6. Al L. permalink
    August 25, 2010 3:49 pm

    Fencer,

    You seem to miss my whole point.

    I explained why tactically its doubtful dedicated asm’s would be useful to LCS and your response is basically “they will fit so they should be on it”

    But under what operational conditions would they be useful?

    In order to believe they would be useful you must first believe that either a) some foreign navy will send a ship to attack an LCS and that an LCS will best respond by launching an ASM or b) the Navy will select to use LCS to directly attack a foreign ship over the horizon in lieu of other means.

    If that’s what you belive tell me why and how it would work.

    On your specific points:

    “constant support”

    Well that depends on the threat environment; for Somali pirate hunting no, for patrolling off the coast of Iran yes. That’s how the U.S. Navy rolls. It uses combinations of assets to defeat a threat, not single ships. The LCS would be just one of many assets in a med to high threat environment.

    “Most of LCS’s ASUW capability resides in a single MH-60…”

    This is why I advocate for an ESSM and NLOS(or similar) modules.

    “With three Firescout UAVs…”

    Targeting isn’t the problem, the problem is targeting while defending, manuevering to avoid an attack or counter attack and radiating the emissions that come with an ASCM launch which enable targeting of launch platform.

    “..FACs carry 4-8 missiles…” What do you want to sacrifice to carry these missiles? Do you know what the MMC version of LCS-2 sacrifices? Is it 1 helicopter, 1000 miles of range, mission deck area? One can pack all kinds of things on a ship if the plan is never to fight it across an ocean. The GD-MMC target customer is not transoceanic navies.

    “In what other theatre would the USN need it combination…”
    The question is fallacious. The LCS isn’t meant to combine those abilities all on 1 hull at one time,that’s the point of modularity. You fit the ship to the conditions, instead of carrying around and maintaining crew and equipment needed on the other side of the world.

  7. Fencer permalink
    August 25, 2010 12:02 pm

    Al L.,

    You did an excellent job explaining the Navy’s current position on ASCMs but I still have doubts.

    LCS was designed to be an affordable patrol frigate so I don’t see how it can expect to have constant support from aircraft, submarines, and large surface combatants.

    Most of LCS’s ASUW capability resides in a single MH-60 so in a situation where the helicopter is either malfunctioning or unable to safely attack the target LCS becomes effectively weaponless.

    With three Firescout UAVs the amount of radar on LCS shouldn’t be a problem for targeting. Also, most FACs carry 4-8 missiles on much less displacement so LCS should be able to carry at least 8 Harpoon-sized missiles (in fact there is an “multi-mission combatant” concept for LCS-2 armed with 8 ASCMs, 32 VLS, and AN/SPY-1).

    It appears to me that LCS could easily been called the Persian Gulf Combat Ship. In what other theatre would the USN need it combination of shallow draft, small-boat ASUW, shallow-water ASW, and MIW? Against any other threat it’s either under-armed or overkill. Is the Navy planning on not deploying LCS to any other major combat theatre?

  8. Al L. permalink
    August 25, 2010 12:50 am

    Fencer said:
    “I think it’s probably better to have a little more than the 30 nm of ESSM.”

    I am not sure that extra range would be useful on LCS.

    The ESSM is limited by the radar horizon of its illuminator. But all ASM systems are limited by this to some extent. Unless a ship relys on information relayed from an off board system it has no way of knowing the location of a ship over the horizon accurately enough to target it no matter what the range of it’s missiles is.

    If a ship is over the horizon from an LCS and LCS can’t see it, but it’s location is known because of an off board system, wouldn’t the LCS be better off to keep it’s position unknown by not launching an ASM and instead rely on an off board system to attack the ship such as H-60, F-18, AV-8, P-3, P-8, Harpoon or SM-2/6 from a CG or DDG, torpedo from a submarine, etc.?

    If the LCS does the shooting it will reveal its position and limit its maneuver and observation opportunities. If LCS launches an ASM it invites a counter launch of enemy ASMs toward the launch position.

    Secondly if an LCS is attacked by an ASMs from a ship over the horizon would it not be better to defend against the missiles than waste time on a counter launch? Then rely on those other off board systems to counter attack the enemy ship?

    Lastly, what kind of ship is likely to do the attacking? If one looks at most of the world’s Navies that are possible opponents most likely its a FAC, and not just 1 but several from different angles, perhaps combined with other assets like submarines. ASM’s would be near useless in that situation because the LCS wouldn’t possibly have enough systems power to both target and guide ASMs and defend itself, its not an Aegis ship. Not to mention that an asm large enough for effective over-the-horizon attack against large ships is often times too big to carry in quantities sufficient for such a situation.

  9. Fencer permalink
    August 24, 2010 10:05 pm

    Al L.
    I think the greatest drawback to ESSM is its short range. While the battle against Joshan only took place at 13 nm the Russians and China continue developing 60+ nm ASCMs and range has always dominated naval warfare. It could be that it has proven impossible to utilize the full extent of Harpoon’s range but I think it’s probably better to have a little more than the 30 nm of ESSM. Also, a medium-range cruise missile could have a useful role in land attack.

  10. Chuck Hill permalink
    August 24, 2010 5:37 pm

    As I understand it most AAW missiles including the ESSM are semi-active, meaning they require an illuminator to reflect waves off the target, so they are only good if the target is within the illuminators line of sight, which limits the range against surface targets.

  11. Al L. permalink
    August 24, 2010 3:53 pm

    Fencer said:
    “..but even if it works perfectly the USN would still need a smaller missile if they ever want to arm LCS with ASCMs.”

    The Navy already has a smaller antisurface capable missile in ESSM. Same question as SM-2/6: how capable is it? Is it capable enough for LCS?

    It’s somewhat analogous to SM-1 four of which did a job on the Joshan in 1988.

    I believe the Navy should be developing an ESSM module for LCS using the Mk48mod0 or mod3 VLS, preferably the DP-48 mod3:

    http://www.raytheon.com/businesses/stellent/groups/public/documents/legacy_site/cms01_048612.pdf

    Dedicating space for ASCMs on small US ships seems like a waste, they can only do 1 thing and only against a limited set of targets.

  12. Fencer permalink
    August 24, 2010 1:32 pm

    Al L.,
    I was also wondering about how well the SM-6′s active radar would preform in ASUW, but even if it works perfectly the USN would still need a smaller missile if they ever want to arm LCS with ASCMs.

  13. Hudson permalink
    August 24, 2010 11:06 am

    Al L.,

    “In a Naval context I would define the littorals as that area nearest a land mass where the physical or human geography of the land mass and adjacent ocean bottom influences maneuver.”

    Interesting, thoughtful definition. I don’t think I would include blue water off of Somalia because the landform itself does not influence maneuver out there.

    I think the USN became a enamored of the concept of the littorals when it first designated the LCS concept, that is, the littorals became a ship rather than a mission that could be performed by dedicated amphibious ships or multi-role blue water vessels. I think that this decision has led to the ambiguity of the ship itself, which has certain shallow water sensors like its sonar, and the capacity for mine warfare. But LCS is mainly meant to replace the Perry frigates, which are blue water ships, which like similar ships, can operate fairly close to shore–like DDs providing close off-shore fire support in WWII. On the whole, as others have expressed, we would be better off building a multi-role frigate, and leave other littoral tasks to true amphibs.

    Is any other nation producing an LCS?

  14. Bill permalink
    August 24, 2010 7:36 am

    Al asked: “Couldn’t it also work on a trimaran with a real long center hull projection?”

    The bouyancy distribution of a tri like the Austal one
    (and most tris I have seen including our own demonstrator) is such that ballasting down forward would simply sink the forward part of the hull, with little corresponding rise in the stern.

    It might work with JHSVs, the flooding of bow compartments to clear the waterjets..but I’m quite certain that the ‘forward flooding’ feature is not being designed in to those vessels.

  15. Al L. permalink
    August 24, 2010 2:27 am

    Hudson said:

    “What are the littorals, anyway?”

    To me arbitrary distances are just a cursory way to discuss the littorals.

    In a Naval context I would define the littorals as that area nearest a land mass where the physical or human geography of the land mass and adjacent ocean bottom influences maneuver.

    There’s a hell of a lot of littorals in the world, some places they start at the shore (Antarctica) some places they are 1000 miles out. (off of Somalia right now)

    As the last example illustrates a properly(or poorly) executed strategy can influence the human geography of the littoral and therefore it’s extent.

    This also explains why I believe “irregular” and “hybrid” warfare is synonymous in a Naval context to “littoral”. Irregular warfare can be used to delineate the littoral space, something our bluewater Navy seems to give only lip service to most of the time.

    We have to just keep trying to drag it back out of the blue into the green or the blue will just keep shrinking and the maneuver space with it.

  16. Al L. permalink
    August 24, 2010 1:49 am

    Bill said:

    “Only works on a catamarn hull though”

    Couldn’t it also work on a trimaran with a real long center hull projection?

  17. Al L. permalink
    August 24, 2010 1:46 am

    G Lof said:

    “One last point, as Galrahn has point out, we have not developed a new anti-ship missile in decades,..”

    True, but that doesn’t mean there has been no work on ASMs.

    The SM-2/6 has antiship capabilities. Over a couple of years of trying to figure out how much capability I’ve yet to nail it down. I’ve yet to see anyone else on the web nail it down.(Thats possibly a very good thing, afterall who doesn’t know what a Harpoon can do?)

    So to me the question is: does the Navy need an ASM or does it alredy have a good ASM that just happens to be disguised as a great SAM?

  18. Bill permalink
    August 23, 2010 8:30 am

    To my last..there was an interesting exception developed by the folks at Incat. They designed the forward hull voids to be completely floodable after removal of electrical equipment. They could flood the forward hulls to the extent necessary to elevate the stern to the point the jet pumps could be removed.

    Only works on a catamarn hull though….

  19. Bill permalink
    August 23, 2010 8:27 am

    This comment: “This will also simplify maintains on the seajet since it allow removal without drydocking.

    ..simply illustrates that somebody has not been around waterjet propelled ships or craft much…or ever.

    Untill they design a jet that mounts above the displacement waterline (something not considered since the 70s-era multi-stage jet designs were on paper), if it needs any attention, it can only receive it in dry dock.

  20. Mike Burleson permalink*
    August 23, 2010 6:26 am

    “Is it also building a littoral combat submarine? ”

    That would be the Virgina class. The 8000 ton, $2.4 billion Virginia. Sigh…

  21. Scott B. permalink
    August 23, 2010 5:54 am

    Scathsealgaire said : “I had only woken up when I read the title of this article and it put me in a good mood. I read it as “Breaking LCS contractor legs”.

    Then I had my coffee. Nothing changes. Ho hum.”

    LOL !!!

  22. Scott B. permalink
    August 23, 2010 3:26 am

    Russia goes Plan Burleson ?

    Russia to hold competition to choose new Navy corvette

    “The competition should produce a mobile, fast-moving ship with a helicopter hangar and a distinct modular layout for weapons, Kommersant said.”

  23. G Lof permalink
    August 23, 2010 3:15 am

    Leesea. I agree with you the Freedon is a trouble design, and very likely has some fatal problem. I suspect that the plaining hull design may have something to do with that. And of course there is the problem I alway blame- that she simply to small, like most warship the US designs (they seem always to be cramming too much into every hull the design).

    My reason for bring the design change up was to point out that the LCS can not be considered an finished design. Changes are being made,and those changes will effect the final choice. Indeed, the only way we going too avoid lawyers is there being a clear cut winner, which there is none now. By waiting and allowing the two teams to continue working, we greatly increase that one will win outright and we can avoid the courts and maybe even the CBO appeal.

    One last point, as Galrahn has point out, we have not developed a new anti-ship missile in decades, and without effect ASuW weapons it does not matter which ship you send to fight. I therefore propose the USN put a crash program to develop a new anit-ship missile based on the Land Attack Standard Missile.

  24. Hudson permalink
    August 23, 2010 12:42 am

    What are the littorals, anyway?

    By one naval definition, the littorals extend from shore to 200ft. from shore. I would think that is an extreme definition. So what is it, from shore to the horizon? Fifty miles out, 100 miles?

    Aren’t we basically talking about amphibious operations and the ships and boats necessary to carry out those operations? In which case, where is no one littoral combat ship, but a variety of ships and boats, some more fit for disembarking troops than others?

    The Navy is building what it calls a Littoral Combat Ship. Is it also building a littoral combat submarine? Why not?

    Just wondering.

  25. Scathsealgaire permalink
    August 22, 2010 7:38 pm

    I had only woken up when I read the title of this article and it put me in a good mood. I read it as “Breaking LCS contractor legs”.

    Then I had my coffee. Nothing changes. Ho hum.

    Cheers,
    Scathsealgaire.

  26. Juramentado permalink
    August 22, 2010 6:23 pm

    While some may consider the delay to be “par for the course,” it simply reinforces the sad state of procurement that the US government has promulgated over the course of the last 20 years.

    Let me play the worst case scenario – down-select finally happens and a lawsuit occurs anyway. In a fit of misplaced “justice,” the presiding Federal District over the lawsuit (potentially DC or Maryland, depending on how long the backlog is for such cases) grants an injunction over any construction of the Flight I Wave. In the meantime, lame-duck SECDEF, in his quest for ensuring his downsizing plan is carried out to the letter, increases the decommission rate for the OHPs – so from a high of about 19 ships, we’re suddenly down to the final dozen or so – the ones who are just at the 30 year mark. We have two LCS hulls in the water with no main battery and two more that are still two years away from operational deployment. And the missions keep rolling in as the focus now switches from the Army to the Navy to deliver missions in the post OEF/OIF world. It’s very pessimistic, but quite frankly, it’s also very plausible.

  27. August 22, 2010 5:25 pm

    No probs Chuck.

  28. Chuck Hill permalink
    August 22, 2010 5:18 pm

    X, sorry, I misunderstood. Now I see your point.

  29. August 22, 2010 4:05 pm

    Chuck Hill said ?

    I am following events in Arizona and Texas with great interest. Until I left my course at Christmas I was a mature student studying double major in history and IR (specializing in security.) I find the idea of “wars amongst the people” quite fascinating.

    So I was being a bit silly. Sorry.

  30. B.Smitty permalink
    August 22, 2010 3:37 pm

    Scott B said, “Given that the 155mm AGS have exactly ZERO ASUW capabilities, bringing them in a *knife fight in the littoral* doesn’t strike me as a particularly smart move…
    But, hey, whatever…

    It does have a pair of 57mms and AESA-directed ESSMs. However, not having an over the horizon AShM is a problem.

  31. D. E. Reddick permalink
    August 22, 2010 3:05 pm

    X,
    Tangosix,

    For a fictional ship that Project 1187 cruiser looks like a mighty impressive improvement on the Slava class cruisers. Here are two discussions about it, with multiple artists’ impressions. Oh, no pop-gun on that ship – it’s a twin 130 mm mount.

    http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?71621-The-SUPER-battleship-Soviet-never-built

    http://warships1discussionboards.yuku.com/topic/9487/t/hear—Soviet-ship-Project-1157-cruiser.html?page=-1

  32. Chuck Hill permalink
    August 22, 2010 1:59 pm

    X said: “It is a good think Arizona is land locked.” ?

    The Durango is about the same size as an APD of WWII and they carried up to a company, ie 200 men.

  33. Scott B. permalink
    August 22, 2010 1:56 pm

    G Lof said : “If I was going to a knife fight in the littoral, I bring two guns, 155mm ones. That is I would want a Zumwalt class ship instead of any other destroyer type, even a Burke.”

    Given that the 155mm AGS have exactly ZERO ASUW capabilities, bringing them in a *knife fight in the littoral* doesn’t strike me as a particularly smart move…

    But, hey, whatever…

  34. August 22, 2010 1:53 pm

    Hello X,

    where’s my gold star?:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_1157_cruiser

    tangosix.

  35. August 22, 2010 1:39 pm

    Off topic, but a gold star if anybody can tell me what this is,

    http://www.darkgovernment.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/russian-battleship.jpg

    I am still looking so I may have the answer soon.

  36. August 22, 2010 1:34 pm

    I have thought of something new to say about LCS!!!

    It seems even the Mexicans can get a 57mm to sea cheaper………..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durango_class_patrol_vessel

    Can these really carry 60 troops?

    It is a good think Arizona is land locked.

  37. leesea permalink
    August 22, 2010 11:38 am

    Glof, Yes LM’s steel hulled marvel is a distinctly case. I will defer to Bill to explain why LCS1 and probably 3 are “failed designs”

    I agree that the littorals are dangerous waters, I just doubt LCS1 will have any reserve to add ANY systems/modules over what is planned currently which are NOT enough in terms of organic weapons systems

  38. G Lof permalink
    August 22, 2010 4:34 am

    leasea, I assume you are talking about LCS-1′s reserve displacemnt problem, which I believe is going to be solve in LCS-3 by extending the true transom out to the fake transom ( I think that what the they said.) This will also simplify maintains on the seajet since it allow removal without drydocking.

    If I was going to a knife fight in the littoral, I bring two guns, 155mm ones. That is I would want a Zumwalt class ship instead of any other destroyer type, even a Burke. The Zumwalt was intended to fight in the littoral while the Burkes are still basically open ocean ships intended to protect other ships.

    And yes Scott, that post was a pop shot, since I did not have time to compose a better answer. Still I think I cover the most numerous points of the critics of the current LCS designs.

  39. Marcase permalink
    August 22, 2010 4:05 am

    Don’t feed the trolls.

  40. Chris permalink
    August 21, 2010 11:06 pm

    Scott B, stop being retarded.

  41. Anonymous permalink
    August 21, 2010 11:05 pm

    Scott B, least he’s not a jackass like you.

    Are you on medication? Wondering what the reason is for your terrible behavior. Autism?

  42. leesea permalink
    August 21, 2010 7:15 pm

    First some facts Mike. this solicitation is just for 10 firm and 5 optional hulls – not 55. The follow-on procurement IF ANY will be mostly done in increments. Next the recent SARs for LCS put the average cost of first four around $550 per basic hull. One can only hope that a production run of 10 hull MIGHT bring that cost down??

    From a acquisiton viewpoint I see NOTHING significant about the delay. Going back for a second round of clarifications (aka “reopening technical discussions” in contracting lingo) is unusual but NOT unheard of.

    Iit is too late to re-design the hull though some systems which fit and basic allowance might be changed. Remember acoording to CNO the LCS is the POR Program of Record. Until he says otherwise that is LITTLE chance tha the Navy will buy something different to cover the missions intended. Maybe when current naval leadership changes?

    Glof, I agree with you EXCEPT that the LCS1 hull is already overweight (a “failed design”) and I see little chance more systems/modules can be added to it without a major redesign. Ordinarily a monohull is cheaper to build but such a significant redo will cost money showing up in the bid. Remember production cost is a major evaluation factor.

    I agree with Moose’s comments.

  43. Scott B. permalink
    August 21, 2010 5:01 pm

    G Lof : “Would name one problem with the LSC program that do not fall in the following catagory”

    Your poorly thought-out categorization, with little (if any) connection with your initial statement that *most LCS problems can be easily fixed, illustrates the point I made earlier : you’re desperately clueless.

    Not to mention that the lack of spell-checking in your posts clearly shows the lack of respect you have for the people who may be reading your *stuff*.

    Poor in both substance and style : complete waste of time (and bandwidth) !!!

  44. Chuck Hill permalink
    August 21, 2010 4:29 pm

    As Retired Now said the Coast Guard also need ships and they are planning on getting 25 of a class that might evolve into a half priced replacement for the LCS, but they don’t seem to be in much of a hurry, even though the projected schedule looks like it will mean 16 ships will be over 54 years old or older before they are replaced.

    http://cgblog.org/2010/08/20/the-coast-guard-meets-with-potential-opc-builder-but-no-rush/

  45. August 21, 2010 2:07 pm

    Um. I was joking about the stealth semi-submersible ship’s boats…….

    ………..I just can’t think of anything to say about LCS that hasn’t been said before.

  46. August 21, 2010 1:48 pm

    Precision guided (long range) shells, helicopters, and the speed of aircraft/missiles make the need for high speed moot.

    High endurance (20kts per hour) is more important than high speed.

    (We need semi-submersible stealthy ship’s boats…………..)

  47. Mike Burleson permalink*
    August 21, 2010 1:18 pm

    The question is:which ship would you want to have in a knife fight, a real showdown with missiles, guns, and aircraft flying in the littorals? The LCS, like every USN ship with the exception of the Arleigh Burke, is built to work in benign environments. Thats why we have so many Burkes because there is nothing on the surface any better, and they can’t figure out a replacement. They need little destroyers like the Egyptian vessel, but such is heresy to the all-battleship navy. But you won’t never have enough DDG-51s to be both battleships and patrol ships.

  48. G Lof permalink
    August 21, 2010 1:09 pm

    Scott,

    Would name one problem with the LSC program that do not fall in the following catagory

    1) Enginnering/design problems such as LSC-2 weak cross member or LCS-1 poorly placed seajets, which the builders are not address.

    2) Manpower issues that stem for attempt to underman them from the first place (a tradition problem with most USN ships.) A problem that can be simply corrected by increasing crew size.

    3) Not being what the critic want, it is not a FF or a DDG or a blood PGM. Most of which we don’t need.

    4) The ship don’t not have some favorite weapon system.

    The only fair complains sofar are those that questioning the LCS concept, but we can not know if these are valid until we have a squadron to test it with, so that has to be wait and see.

    AS for money issues, frankly until you show me a final design, there is no real way to predict their cost. The only number I seen are those based on the prototyped costs, which is not a reliable way of estimating marginal cost of production vessels.

  49. ShockwaveLover permalink
    August 21, 2010 1:04 pm

    Probably should have explained why 2 classes:

    Bemoaned as it is on the LCS, speed is still a very useful trait, and the Skjold is up there with the fastest of them. I see it partnering with an Ambassador or Baynunah, doing scouting and chasing, while the more heavily armed vessel provides backup when required.

  50. ShockwaveLover permalink
    August 21, 2010 12:59 pm

    Bloody hell, the Ambassador III Retired Now mentioned is better armed than 10 LCSs. I vote the US purchase 40 or so of those, along with another 40 Skjolds.

    Or perhaps instead of the Ambassador, something along the lines of the Baynunah class corvette currently being built for the UAE?

    http://www.janes.com/events/exhibitions/idex2009/sections/daily/day1/baynunah-corvette-on-the-.shtml

    Apparently $820 million for the whole 6 ship programme, and an armament that has to be seen to be believed:

    1 x OTO Melara 76 mm/62 caliber naval gun
    2 x Rheinmetall MLG 27 27 mm guns
    8 x MBDA MM40 block 3 Exocet missiles
    4 x Raytheon MK56 eight-cell vertical launchers for RIM-162 ESSM (32 missiles)
    1 x mk49 mod3 21-cell RAM launcher for RAM block 1A missile system

    Plus a chopper deck, hanger, 2400nm range and 30+ knot top speed.

    Seems to be a French design, which means it’s unlikely to ever be adopted, but still – 32 ESSMs? And I’m guessing you could swap in other missiles, so replacing 3 or 4 of the quad packs with Tomahawks and putting Harpoons in place of the Exocets would give that little ship one hell of a punch.

  51. Moose permalink
    August 21, 2010 12:28 pm

    The Ambassador MK III was designed here and built at a reasonable price by a great yard. If Gene Taylor were just a bit slicker he’d be pushing for the USN to buy a batch of Littoral Patrol/Escort craft based on the Amb to go alongside the LCS. Just add a simple, Fire Scout-sized pad aft and a RHIB.

    I maintain that the LCS-2 has potential, even if it’s not for the role Congress was sold on. Hold the winning yard to its bid costs, iterate on the design to reduce unit cost while adding capability (like the Virginias), and start building. Great work for the yards.

  52. Bill permalink
    August 21, 2010 9:17 am

    I’m fairly certain that the EN FMC cost of 165 million each does not include Lockheed’s chunk..for the combat systems. I believe that Navy is buying that directly and GFEing it to Halter.

    Training, spares and logistics support are split out separately also.

    Still..not a shabby price tag for that size and capability of vessel I would think.

  53. Bill permalink
    August 21, 2010 9:12 am

    Having personally been in Sweden and Norway, and stood by as USN brass (inc CNOs..note the ‘s’) with lots of stars come visit whatever vessel we are working on, get briefed, go for a joyride, and then vanish..having seen that cycle repeat itself again and again since around 1986 or therabouts..I think the latest visit by Roughead means exactly the same for our Navy as have all previous:

    Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

  54. Mike Burleson permalink*
    August 21, 2010 7:52 am

    I agree, order more ships! This should not entail a budget increase though, with more carriers, destroyers, and submarines. Accelerate the JSHVs and find some type of patrol craft which can be built quickly and in large numbers, about 50 for starters. Buy off the shelf because we can’t wait another 2 decades for this to happen which is the traditional USN way of doing business.

    Over the long term, we should think about reducing the size and cost of destroyers, and submarines too. Specifically I would seek some foreign SSK design which we could copy to maintain the submarine fleet, which I expect to fall to 30 SSNs at best, when the last of the LA class is gone. This maybe enough to contend with China, but don’t forget we are also a 2-3 Ocean Navy these days.

    Frigates should be replaced, since they now cost as much as a destroyer, and can’t be built in large numbers. Buy corvettes, some of which can be armed with Aegis or Smart-L. Even such small ships are expensive, but only in their fully armed capacity, as deadly as a destroyer. The LCS cost too much already without any sort of adequate armament for defending itself. It is a gold-plated OPV.

    Corvettes today are the size of destroyers and destroyer escorts in the world wars. For their size, they are the most heavily armed warships in the world, as were the DDs of yesteryear. You can no longer say the same for frigates, which mainly are geared for seakeeping and long range. Thats fine for a cruiser or a submarine, but in an escort you must have numbers.

    I would also have real OPVs doing stuff like anti-piracy and anti-narcotics. Such vessels cost in the tens of millions, instead of hundreds millions. They would also round out our fleet numbers.

    Motherships should deploy with the very pricey and advanced helicopters now entering service, since a larger ship would provide better accommodations for operations.
    Someone said the main attribute of the LCS is its helos. Well, you don’t need a $700 million ship to carry a helo or RHIB. One or two helos should support an entire squadron, instead of every vessel now so equipped. The planes today are good enough so you don’t need many, which also add to the prohibitive price of building warships.

    Specifically, I see a train wreck in the fleet numbers happening this decade, and we will be sadly missing the 280 ship navy if we don’t stop building only CVN’s, DDG’s, and SSN’s, not to mention multi-billion dollar amphibs.

  55. Retired Now permalink
    August 21, 2010 7:14 am

    Shipyards floundering ? DDG’s (and related cruisers ) are down to only 2 shipyards left in our country. Capacity of both Bath and Ingalls is far more than being used in the past decade. Actually both yards have excellent facilities. No worry there. But the workforces are getting older, with not very many young folks choosing shipbuilding and sticking to it once they begin their work careers.

    Near term solution ? Navy (and CG) both need to order MORE ships. Right now. Order 6 new surface combatants every year for the next 3 decades. That gives 3 ships per yard per year. Bath and Ingalls can easily handle this level of work.

    Big picture: if Congress would fund 6 surf combatants (DD,DDG,CG) every year for 100 years, and if the USN managed to keep them modern and working for 2 decades per ship, then our country’s Navy would look like this:

    Total Surf Combatants: 120

    roughly 60 on East Coast
    and 60 on the West Coast.

    Actually deployed and overseas showing the flag and ready for anything:

    20 surf warships from East Coast bases
    and 20 surf warships from West Coast bases

    That permits 20 per coast to be in stand down, ovhl, repairs. And 20 warships per coast to be in training, working up to eventually go overseas. With 20 warships per coast actually full up deployed and ready of actions overseas.

    This plan would keep our surf fleet modern and our shipyards effecient and trained and industrial workforce viable. No doubt, costs of warships would cease their spiral upwards once both Bath and Ingalls were utilizing their shipyard facilities at a decent production level. And the Navy / CG would not have to perform constant major overhauls to extend their ship lives up to 30 or 35 years per vessel.

    Unfortunately, who can expect Congress or Navy admirals to stick with a plan requiring 6 surf combatants (DD,DDG,CG) per year ? that might last for one Congress or Presidential term. Let’s try funding 6 new surf warships every year for the next 40 years and then revisit this plan and see how it’s working out.

  56. Mike Burleson permalink*
    August 21, 2010 5:53 am

    Juramentado is right most likely that we are stuck with at least some of these, but here are a few predictions:

    1. They will never be built in the desired numbers.

    2. The Navy will belatedly return to sea control in response to continuous budget cuts.

    3. With its traditional shipyards floundering from lack of work, it will be forced to use small independent shipyards in order to build small warships.

    All of the problems Britain and the UK are suffering with legacy ships, planes, and armored vehicles (and LCS is a legacy frigate) are the fault of expecting too much from too few high tech platforms. A back to basics in weapons design is called for, especially for the navy in submarine and surface warships. This is the catalyst for change.

    The only revolution the LCS is bringing is its obvious failure and need for reform. I wrote a long while back when I was reluctantly supporting the program that it was the navy’s last hope. It was. Now for something new.

  57. Scott B. permalink
    August 21, 2010 5:09 am

    G Lof said : “And for all the problems that have shown up so far, with a except on a possible basic design fault (the skimmer hull) , most for them can be easily fix.”

    This is probably the most uninformed comment I have read in a while !!!

    Shows how desperately clueless you really are… :-((

  58. G Lof permalink
    August 21, 2010 12:28 am

    Hopefully this delay means that the Navy woke up a realized that it too soon to put the LCSs in to any type of product. The first two boats have issues that need correction, and neither of the second prototypes, where the needed correction will be tested, are wet. Until we have tested the two second prototype ships, the USN will have no reliable data to back up any decission.

    And for all the problems that have shown up so far, with a except on a possible basic design fault (the skimmer hull) , most for them can be easily fix. For example;

    1. Add an Harpoon quad behind the 57 mm should make the equal t most light frigates in terms of firepower. And look into other weapon and sensors that can be add. Mk32 torpedo tubes, Good old Mousetrap ASW rocket.

    1A. Is their any reason we can’t mount the LCS sensors in a Thales Intergated mast?

    2. Stop considering the Core crew as the minimum needed to operate the ship. If there is no module crew onboard, fill their bunks with the members of the ships second Core crew, if they go with the Blue/Gold. If not, create a “null module” crew that will be added when there is no module. The is no reason to treat the 40 man minimum crew as holy.

    3. Start working on addition modules and mission. The navy needs to replace submaine rescue/ salvage/ survey, . These missions don’t need 40 knots hulls, but they do need hull, and the LCS are available for such missions,

    But what ever the Navy does, it should slow down and take time to do things right. Making hasty choices, especially when they have no experince and data to work from is asking for expensive, time wasting, problems in the future.

    PS buying small cramped vessels like missile boats and corvettes is a waste of the Navy’s money as that can’t do many of the mission required, their crews won’t like them, and they are more expensive to maintain.

  59. August 20, 2010 10:00 pm

    Hello Retired Now,

    that is very interesting indeed.
    We keep hearing about the problems in ship building but we rarely hear any ideas about how to fix those problems.
    I think this should be one the the United States Navy’s highest priorities.

    There is no point spending more money on more technology if you can’t turn that technology into reality.
    Maybe what is needed is something like the old “subsafe” programme only aimed at efficient design and construction rather than safety – a “build right” programme.

    tangosix.

  60. Retired Now permalink
    August 20, 2010 9:37 pm

    Part 2. Give the Design shops more time to incorporate all the many (small) changes constantly being crammed into this old DDG-51 class hull. YOu’d be surprized just how many changes occurred (not just software either) between hulls 102 and 103-112.

    QUANTITY is needed. Just ask Fleet admiral commanders. They would accept now some more rudimentary DDG’s if they could get larger numbers of them.

    Bath can continue to S L O W L Y build those R&D next gen cruisers (DDG-1000 based) and Ingalls should never stop s l o w l y building large deck amphibs. We cannot lose the skills industrially to put together huge 40,000 ton LHD/LHA.

    In the future, after most of these new 16 DDG are being completed, the DC POWERPOINTERS can resume their highly paid task of cramming ever-more hard to integrate “stuff” onto NAVSEA’s warships.

    Suggested rule: whomever dreams up new fangled kind of rudder shape or some new wireless thus-and-such, etc. must travel to Bath or Ingalls and live on site for 18 months and help build a few of these new warships.

    Stop pushing your WASHINGTON DC BELTWAY imaginations onto our warships and move into the shipyards and truly assist them in implementing these new changes which are more plentiful than most admirals realize.

    Our few remaining yards need QUANTITY and they need an extra 6 or 9 months per vessel to build them for a while.

  61. Retired Now permalink
    August 20, 2010 9:27 pm

    America’s Naval shipbuilding infrastructure is in shoal waters now. QUANTITY of new construction ships is needed as fast as Timothy Gueitner helped bail out his buddies on Wall Street in early 2009. Heck, the Navy shipbuilding program could even do well with the tiny fraction of Wall St bailout that just went into the GM Motors black hole.

    To save our future Navy, this is what needs to be done immediately:

    1. fund 8 new BURKES for Pascagoula and 8 for Bath. But stop this madness of always “improving” them ! The PowerPointers surrounding DC dream up far too many new fangled bells and whistles to confound the NAVSEA shipbuilders at both Bath and Ingalls.

    Make these 16 new BURKES more simple than the DDG-103 subclass, which is significantly more complicated than hulls 91 thru 102 were, by the way. Order 8 from Bath and 8 from old-Ingalls but delete some “features” not really to hold down costs, but to get them built relatively quickly, but more importantly with QUALITY. Emphasize QUALITY. Let these two yards take an extra 6 months just before each destroyer is launched to complete some production while on land. And after they are floated off into the water, don’t immediately rush to start ALO ( Aegis Light Off). Add a few months of sitting in the water for Production to complete spaces prior to letting the Aegis team of contractors and huge test team start their inexorable mad dash to test everything and push towards sea trials.

    Slow it down so the yards can get into the groove, and mostly finish production prior to going full bore on testing and fitting out and sail away.

    We need the yards to reorganize their basic processes as well as hire and train some new younger shipbuilders on these 16 new DDG’s.

    Stop the feature creep. Give them a slightly more leisurely time to finish and build their self confience, pride, and help their morale and retention and hiring .

  62. Juramentado permalink
    August 20, 2010 9:17 pm

    You’re all dreaming. LCS will live on, like bad movies made in the 70s such as Two Lane Blacktop. MUHAHAHAHA!

    Okay – now that I’ve gotten that out of my system – the reality now hits really hard. Will SECDEF now re-think his accelerated plan to decomm the OHPs as fast as possible? Well, I guess having fewer combatants *period* might mean really big savings for the Obama administration.

  63. August 20, 2010 9:08 pm

    Hello Retired Now,

    I have always thought the Littoral Combat Ships would have been great vessels…if they were both one off experiments.

    What would you be building to fill the yawning gap beneath the shadow of the Burke?

    tangosix.

  64. Retired Now permalink
    August 20, 2010 8:48 pm

    Tango-6, that’s a LOT of firepower for their Navy.

    I wonder who the enemy might be over near Egypt that they require such heavily armed naval vessels ? Has both offensive and defensive weapons where as LCS just carries defensive only. (can’t count helo’s because the tiny crew onboard LCS cannot conduct flight ops 24/7 as I have ridden FFG-7 class and experienced continuous helo ops round the clock for 15 days in a row once ).

    LCS makes really excellent CALENDAR photo’s. Perhaps they can be used to zip from port to port as a NAVY recruiting tool ? As a taxpayer I would spend $500 million per LCS to purchase a few good recruiting boats, travelling around the USA.

  65. Retired Now permalink
    August 20, 2010 7:01 pm

    After HALTER completes their 4 Fast Patrol Boats (180 foot long) for EGYPT, perhaps they could crank out 55 more of them for the US Navy ??

    After all, each FPB carries Harpoon, RAM and CIWS both, as well as a 76mm rapid fire gun mount.

    Could easily sink a half dozen pitifully armed new LCS go-fasts.

    Not certain what price HALTER is charging; but I will bet it is far under the $500 to $600 million that Lockheed will get for each LCS toy.

    And they probably have a greater range than an LCS at speed, too ! (that’s isn’t hard)

  66. August 20, 2010 6:54 pm

    Hello,

    the Department of Defence is in a position the Ministry of Defence must envy.

    When you absolutely have to make cuts somewhere,it must be rather nice to have programmes like Littoral Combat Ship,Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle,V-22 Osprey,Zumwalt class and F-35B.

    tangosix.

  67. Mike Burleson permalink*
    August 20, 2010 6:39 pm

    “I’m just dreaming”

    We all are, but I’m curious what is going though Adm Roughead’s mind with his pet project suffering yet another setback, after seeing firsthand how the Scans get it done!

    X-I’ll always have the Gerald R Ford and the LPD-17s!

  68. August 20, 2010 5:45 pm

    I smell the Obama administration are about to do a Comanche on LCS.

    Mike, what will you do with all your free time?

  69. D. E. Reddick permalink
    August 20, 2010 5:19 pm

    Mike,

    You know, this delay makes those rides in Norwegian Skojld-class and Swedish Visby-class stealth corvettes this week by CNO Adm Roughead take on a wholly new, possible set of meanings:

    1) Pressure being placed on the LCS contractors that there are possible alternatives being examined for littoral warfare;

    2) It isn’t about pressure being placed on Lockmart and GD – instead, it really is looking at workable alternatives to the LCS fiasco.

    Of course, I’m just dreaming… ;-)

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