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Ramping Up LCS Production

February 19, 2009
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Bob Work of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA)has a new study out concerning how to fix the Navy’s shipbuilding woes. Specifically he calls on building more T-AKE sealift vessels, constructing modern escort carriers, and increasing littoral combat ship procurement to 4 annually.

First,  this  plan makes  better  sense  from  an  industrial-base  perspective.  After
building the capacity to produce up to six LCSs per year, closing it down for over a
decade will make future start-up costs quite high.
 Second, this plan will help build partner maritime capacity. US “hand-me-down”
frigates and guided missile frigates have been a popular choice for small navies the
world over since the 950s and 960s. As a result, it seems likely that used LCSs
will be highly sought out by allied and friendly navies as the US Navy retires them.
By continuing to produce four LCSs per year after reaching the TFBN requirement
of ffty-fve ships, replacing the oldest four LCSs on a one-for-one basis, and then
selling or transferring the decommissioned ships to US allies, the Navy will have
a small combatant shipbuilding plan that is perfectly suited for its new maritime
strategy. Moreover, such a plan would allow constant capability upgrades for the
TFBN small battle network combatants. 
Third, this plan would hedge against the need to get back in the open-ocean convoy
business. Foreign navies have already explored modifying LCS sea frames for use
as  general purpose  frigates  or  corvettes. For  example,  the  Israeli Navy  recently
signed a  letter of  intent  to buy a Lockheed Martin LCS equipped with  the small 4   CSBa  >  Strategy for the long haul SPY-F Aegis radar, sixteen VLS cells capable of carrying up  to sixty-four short-
range surface-to-air missiles, eight to sixteen anti-ship cruise missiles, and a he-
licopter. By keeping the LCS production line open, the US will be well situated to
respond to a future threat to the sea lanes or a broader, global maritime competi-
tion with a capable protection of shipping combatant.

Yours truly plans on studying the report in greater detail over the next few days. Our initial reaction? More of the same.

H/T to Springbored.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. leesea permalink
    February 25, 2009 5:09 pm

    order more JHSVs! Bob Work is right on that point and they can pickup some of the missions modules that the too few LCS won’t be around to handle.

  2. Mike Burleson permalink
    February 24, 2009 1:39 pm

    Still order some HSVs I hope, which run about half to a third the cost of the LCS. I would rather lose the LCS, count it as a lesson learned, than the HSV program.

  3. leesea permalink
    February 24, 2009 1:21 pm

    The USN has spent a lot on LCS already and the program should not be dumped but reformed. IF the USN changes course, the new ship (not called LCS) can go forward more quickly than any new ship acquistion program, saving probably 5 years and $50 mil in SCN funds.
    I go back to my idea for the LCS program, split it in two. The LM/MMC hull could become thenext-gen corvette warship which the USN will need. Start with full NVR only rules, add armor and weapons, reduce the speed rqmt. Hell maybe even drop out of the HSV realm?
    The GD/Austal design could become the mothership which the USN needs now. It might be re-spec’d as a naval auxiliary?

  4. Mike Burleson permalink
    February 20, 2009 2:26 pm

    Until recently, I was a booster of LCS since it was the ONLY USN major warship program coming in under a billion dollars. Now, with the price running near some of the European Aegis frigates, much more capable vessels I’ll add, I could no longer support it and keep faith for my reform agenda. I am thinking we need a vessel 1/3 the size and cost if we expect to see significant numbers return to the fleet. Also, as a matter of principle, I am against the ‘bigger is better” mantra of modern navies in the cruise missile age. The Big Ships might operate safely in benign threat environments where we’ve most often been since World War 2, but in a major conflict at sea against jet aircraft armed with smart bombs, plus ships armed with missiles, torpedoes, and old fashioned mines, the miniature navies of the West would be in dire straits.

  5. Douglas permalink
    February 20, 2009 12:01 pm

    You know, Galrahn is pretty critical of the LCS, and I agree with some of what he says… they’re too expensive and underarmed. He refuses to call them battleships because they’re so lightly armed, and I have a hard time disagreeing with him on that. I’m not the stickler against aluminum construction that he is… I wouldn’t make a cruiser or carrier out of aluminum, but I see no problem with a high-low strategy in ship construction. In fact, I think it’s a necessity if you want to be able to afford a fleet of any respectable size.

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