Admiral Blasts Littoral Combat Ship
Once a supporter of the only USN warship program for less than a billion dollars, we have become a critic of the LCS Freedom class, as had retired Admiral James Lyons in the Washington Times:
The LCS as originally conceived was to be stealthy; have a 50-knot speed capability; be operable by a small crew; and permit reconfiguration for different type of missions by changing onboard modules, including modules for detecting and countering mines. The costs of any of these modules are yet to be determined.
The overall costs of the LCS are largely driven by the speed requirement of 50 knots. It can be safely assumed that between 30 percent and 40 percent of the current hull, mechanical and electrical (HM&E) costs are directly attributed to the speed requirement. It is not transparently clear what a 50 knot capability (as opposed to 30 knots) confers in the threat today of Mach 1-plus air and surface launched guided-stealthy missiles plus 70-plus-knot torpedoes. Furthermore, in any type of seaway, the ship will not operate at 50 knots nor will it operate at 50 knots in 20 feet of water unless the intention is to dig a trench in the seabed.
Despite the stated requirement for stealth, it is not optimized in either of the LCS prototypes. Both ships display relatively large radar targets. The mono-hull (Lockheed) is derived from a fast yacht hull form and unsurprisingly, stealth was not an important consideration. The trimaran variant (General Dynamics) provides a radar “tunnel” to amplify the radar return from the ship when observed from certain aspects.
Sadly, Admiral Lyons’ answer seems to be more Big Ships like the Norwegian F-100 frigate, which is a less capable version of the Burke Aegis destroyers. So many battleships, so few peer enemies.