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Thoughts on the LCS Program Overhaul

September 17, 2009

Just a brief mention of the Navy’s plan to overhaul the LCS, because I’m sure you’ve read all about it elsewhere. I think this is probably a good idea for this program, but it is a bad program overall. The admirals talk themselves into these wonder weapons hoping they can do many things on a single hull, then it becomes a boondoggle. Then they somehow control or limit the boondoggle they made and call it a successful program. You also recognize this in the recent article by Colin Clark on the DDG-1000 lauding the fact that the $5 billion dollar destroyer is coming in on time and won’t cost anymore, but its still a $5 billion destroyer which we only can afford 3! Thats like saying you lost all your money on the Stock Market but you are happy you won’t lose any more money. That is not a good thing and this is not a good program. Time to start over, to think smaller, and less ambitious. How about this:

Sea Fighter

Sea Fighter

51 Comments leave one →
  1. Bill permalink
    September 22, 2009 10:15 am

    @ Scott: “No debate you’re right about the typical SWATH attribute, and there’s ample evidence out there to prove your point,”

    The fact that I’ve personally comissioned and sea trialed so many SWATH vessels (~10?) with our stabilization packages installed helps ‘prove my point’ too. ;-)

  2. Bill permalink
    September 22, 2009 10:13 am

    Scott Asked:”In the specific case of SeaFighter, the reason why so little attention was given to the ride quality at low/moderate speeds remains somewhat of a mystery. I’d very much appreciate it if you could enlighten me on this specific point.”

    No mystery at all, really. First of all, one of the key objectives of the demonstrator was to explore vessel behavior at the extreme upper end of the spectrum. A state-of-the-art (but OTS and based on mature in-service equipment) motion damping system for high speeds was always included in that part of the experiment.

    Secondly, even IF there was an objective to optimize or control low speed motions (there was not), the maturity of the relatively new range of control technologies for low and zero speed motion reductions was in its infancy and very much unknown to the program participants for the most part. (Still is unknown to USN…it’s a megayacht technology at this point). A more traditional fin-based solution could not be considered..since conventional roll fins cannot survive much over 35 knots..and certainly not 57 knots.

  3. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 20, 2009 8:57 pm

    Grandpa Bluewater-We can only hope. I’m a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” kind of guy. We keep Vietnam era helicopters and Eisenhower C-130s in production, what not warship hulls? Just something to put new weapons and vehicles on as they are developed. In the future every warship will be a mothership for such weapons, so keep it simple and affordable. No radical breakthroughs needed.

  4. September 20, 2009 6:49 pm

    Grandpa Bluewater – thankyou, sorry did not have time to reread/or put it into word to check the spelling

    yours sincerly

    Alex

  5. Grandpa Bluewater permalink
    September 20, 2009 6:08 pm

    Alex:

    LOSE not loose.

  6. Grandpa Bluewater permalink
    September 20, 2009 6:06 pm

    Mike: Steel is cheap (comparatively) and the Ship’s Booklet of General Plans for the Gearing Class is availble. Keep the same dimensions and tonnage, and figure out how much systemic death, destruction, range and survivability you can stuff into it. Then do it. Then test it. Then revise it and build another. After about five trys, we should get something that is totally kick ass. Then build a hundred.

    Comments, anyone?

  7. Grandpa Bluewater permalink
    September 20, 2009 5:58 pm

    Ok kids, how about a radical solution?

    Let’s think not big, not small, but appropriate to the mission, the required operational capabilities and the probable operating environment. Let’s assume that the the ship is going to be in a great murthering WAR, and will get shot and get hurt.

    Let’s take everything we’ve learned about building tough hard fighting WARships over the most recent, most violent in the history of history, century.

    Then let’s design a mean tough little son of a bitch of a ship which if it can’t win, is damn hard to sink and will fight until the guns and the launchers go under.

    Then let’s find some FADM E. J. King, USN spec folks (“when it gets really tough, they send for the sons of bitches”, or words to that effect) and have them bird dog the yard birds every step of the way, until the CEO’s hire voodoo doctors to stick pins in USN officer in dress blue dolls.

    Then let’s tighten the screws on the shipyards more,until they squeal.

    Betcha we’ll we’ll get a good frigate aad a good inshore corvette and not pay too much for them.

    Or we can keep up the current BS and get what we’re getting.

    Comment, anyone?

  8. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 19, 2009 7:17 am

    Hudson, all jokes aside, if the Gearing hulls weren’t all worn out due to age and over-use, they’d be as relevant today as in the past. Speed, maneuverability, short draft for littoral work. Just update their electronics and weapons, add Fire Scout UAVs, and there’s your future LCS.

  9. Hudson permalink
    September 18, 2009 10:56 pm

    I see that my suggestion for a reinvented Fletcher class hit nerves instead of funnybones. Still, the ship as I outlined it could fight. It would certainly provide better ship-to-shore fire support than the LCS even with its surface module–and it would cost far less.

    The Navy needs to get away from the architecture of one this and one that: one main gun, one missile set, one helo, in most cases–ships costing into the hundreds of millions of bucks that can barely defend themselves much less project seapower.

    And remember the modestly upgraded Iowa class BBs that proved useful until the Navy struck them from the register. Iraqi soldiers waved a white flag to a drone launched from one of them (Wisconsin?) in the first Gulf War. We still have a stock of some (guessing) 50,000 16-inch shells which cost nothing except storage–I know, I know. BUT the 155mm smart shells currently in use by the Army in Afghanistan and the same ammo for the Navy’s Advanced Gun System, cost the equivalent of a year’s tuition at Harvard. Now, isn’t that a laugh.

  10. Scott B. permalink
    September 18, 2009 10:06 pm

    WTH said : “With 10 or so you get the cost savings (production/training/maint/manning) of a class, with 3 you don’t get anything.”

    You’d need much more than 10 or even 15 to generate any meaningful cost savings, especially in terms of support infrastructure.

    This specific problem is merely starting to hit the surface, e.g. with the recent announcement that over $900M will be needed from FY2011 through FY2015 to cope with *unfunded issues* due to *LCS challenges*.

  11. Scott B. permalink
    September 18, 2009 9:52 pm

    Bill said : “Her semi-SWATH hull is fairly easy to actively control..a typical SWATH attribute.”

    No debate you’re right about the typical SWATH attribute, and there’s ample evidence out there to prove your point, e.g. various reports on the seakeeping trials of SSP Kaimalino, or the undeniable superior ride quality of the SWATHs T-AGOS over their monohull predecessors (the motion of which at their very low operating speeds was intolerable).

    In the specific case of SeaFighter, the reason why so little attention was given to the ride quality at low/moderate speeds remains somewhat of a mystery. I’d very much appreciate it if you could enlighten me on this specific point.

  12. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 18, 2009 8:54 pm

    WTH-I thought LCS was FFX? We don’t want to bring back Fletcher’s, just something as cost-effective, useful, and durable. For its size one of the most heavily armed warships of the era, comparable to the American built Israeli Sa’ar. which proves the saying “we did it before and we can do it again!”

    Alex-again I don’t want to bring up old arguments, but it is much like the “next War Itis”. The admiral was so focused on what might happen in the future, he didn’t think about his immediate problem of defeating the enemy in front of him, so he lost anyway, though it took a while and certainly other’s helped. But Germany didn’t have to win a battleship engagement, the British did since their empire was founded on seapower. Germany’s was on land power so they had less to lose here.

  13. September 18, 2009 5:12 pm

    Mike, you are in a way right about jellicoe, he was a St Vincent not a Nelson; but the point is he did not loose the empire, he was the only one who could have lost in an hour, but he did not loose it – the empire was lost by they politics of those nations, but it produced from its ashes the commonwealth a lasting alliance of common values and tradition which I think has the ability to be of even greater consequence in the future.

    yours sincerly

    Alex

  14. WTH permalink
    September 18, 2009 4:39 pm

    Can we please stop with the “bring back the FLETCHERs” refrain. You can’t just swap an old mount out for a new one. The vast majority of cost of new warships is the combat system and FLETCHERs had about 1% of the combat systems we use today.

    Regarding the LCS program choice, I forsee a lawsuit when either design is picked. The other team will inevitably sue, so lets just get this over with and pick one because we need hulls, then build 10-15 of them. 3 or 4 of something very specialized is worse than zero. With 10 or so you get the cost savings (production/training/maint/manning) of a class, with 3 you don’t get anything.

    I know LCS is unpopular but with AEGIS platforms getting shoehorned into BMD we will need other assets. Roughead is right, as imperfect as it is we need LCS now.

    We also need an FF(X) program yesterday.

  15. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 18, 2009 4:33 pm

    I could be wrong about Beatty, but I don’t think I’m wrong about Jellicoe. The proof is, he lost an Empire. Maybe it was meant to be, for the former colonies to take their place on the world stage. But still it was such an amazing empire, not perfect, but I’d take it over Rome anyday!

  16. September 18, 2009 3:08 pm

    Mike

    sorry, I have met and interviewed a fair number of people who worked with both, and who worked with people who worked with them….all are unaminous Beatty was an ‘image’ which got promoted due to family connections and wealth. Most of his successes were due to luck and the judgement of others.

    Jellicoe showed caution when caution was right – if he had charged in and got the fleet anhialated the world would have been very different. I do not think it is right to critique because he did not achieve the same success as a battle for over a 100 years previously under a quantum of different circumstances.

    yours sincerly

    Alex

  17. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 18, 2009 2:34 pm

    Alex-I think they had the commanders backward at Jutland. Caution was needed on the part of the battlecruisers, there’s Jellicoe. Audacity and decisiveness with the dreadnoughts, a description which fits Beatty perfectly. They had their Nelson in the wrong command!

    I can just hear some of the officers back then saying “the purpose of the Grand Fleet isn’t to fight”. Lessons still relevant today.

    Straying a little off topic here. the point is we can become so enamored by a particular type of capital ship we forget why we are building these, not for show but defend and die if necessary for their country of origin. We seem to want to build ships we can’t afford to lose in wartime.

  18. leesea permalink
    September 18, 2009 1:19 pm

    ScottB did you not get the memo from CNO? LCS is THE Program of Record. Some version of the ship type WILL be built. No discent allowed from mere mortals or taxpayers! LOL

    Given the congressional types with backyard shipyards, and given the influence of the big corporate overseers on the Hill, a class of LCS will be built, its just a matter of how many and how much?

    It will be interesting to see the new RFP though. Think KC-X problems infect Navy?

  19. September 18, 2009 11:37 am

    Hudson – I agree about that; especiall when you are making the hulls smaller trying to make a ‘one size fits all’ is impossible; you need a flottilla…or at least a pair (one warship, one transport).

    what ever hippers reason, he managed to charge straight back into the main strength of the Grand Fleet; it is a battle which would have been different if there had been better communication between the british commanders, and the improved night drills that were developed post battle.

    yours sincerly

    Alex

  20. Hudson permalink
    September 18, 2009 10:23 am

    Why not scrap the very notion of the LCS–namely, that there is ONE such ship for all littoral duties. There is no such thing as a BWCS: Blue Water Combat Ship.

    A further note on the Battle of Jutland. The German admiral (Hipper?) escaped the British fleet only to return and re-engage it. When asked about this later, he replied that he didn’t think the battle should end so quickly!

  21. Bill permalink
    September 18, 2009 9:42 am

    From Scott B.: ““Ride Quality :

    Ride quality was better at higher speeds than at lower speeds in both low- and high-period waves, independent of wave height (sea state). …At speeds below 15 kts, ride quality degraded. ….Vessel motions at low speeds (5 kts) often adversely affected the launch and recovery of deployable surface assets RHIBs.”

    A very fair and accurate assessment. A bit of the rest of the story: The motion stabilization suite on the x-craft was designed and optimized for speeds to 57 knots. As such, it is inherently weak and inefective at lower speeds..and in fact it is oft noted that at Sea Fighter’s maximum cruise speed on her diesel’s (23-24 knots) the effect of the active motion control is barely noticeable and sorely missed. At 45-50 knots, the motion control system has a firm grip on the vessel motions in pitch, roll and yaw combined..the “control forces proportional to speed-squared” thing really bites. ;-)

    But the low-speed motion deficiencies noted are easily rectified by the incorporation of motion control solutions for low- and zero speed operation..of which there is a range of mature solutions routinely employed on large luxury yachts. In fact, some preliminary work has already been done to estimate the effect of various low/zero speed motion damping solutions on the x-craft specifically. Her semi-SWATH hull is fairly easy to actively control..a typical SWATH attribute.

  22. September 18, 2009 9:28 am

    Mike

    Beatty – is not a good example – he would have got the whole force sunk probably; his job was to gather information for the Grand Fleet and using that information Jellicoe would organise the trap…beatty failed to accomplish even this – as well as failing to communicate properly with his junior officers (Thompson of the 5th Battle Sqdrn)

    Nelson – he was a one off, a brilliant product of his age, but he only commanded at trafalgar less than 3rd of the RNs battleship strength…victory would end the war, but defeat would not have been the end of it. added to that he was faced against the french and the spanish, who were not well exercised or organised, so he had a clear superiority in qualitative skill and unit cohesion….something which Jellicoe did not have thanks to the keel cannal and the exercise opportunities it afforded the german High Seas Fleet.

    The risk you talk about can only really be run when you outclass the opposition in most other categories…and Jelicoe lost three ships, three lightly armed and old battlecruisers maybe, but he had already lost three ships. He was a very good admiral; but it was not his fate to be presented with the circumstances which had so favoured Nelson at trafalgar…thus he chose to fight a battle that was a strategic victory – even if it was not the glorious battle imagined in the pre-war papers and jingoistic writing.

    The final thing for Jelicoe is that each of his big ships had nearly 3x the crew that had been each of nelsons instead of 600 deaths pership lost it would be 1500+….that is a huge burden of life to put on any commander, and any person worth their salt would not risk them easily. sometimes it is necessary to do so, and if it had been I am sure jellicoe would have; but he did not need to, all Jellicoe needed to do was kick the High Seas Fleet back home – it was loose blockade…not a close one, not one requiring the destruction of the enemy battlefleet, just its continued in activity.

    yours sincerly

    Alex

  23. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 18, 2009 9:13 am

    It’s not nasty to tell the truth Alex! (will set you free). You must ask the question What would Nelson do in the same situation?

    I think he would have —-ed the torpedoes! (and Beatty too)

  24. September 18, 2009 8:43 am

    Mike

    don’t be nasty about Jellicoe – he managed to cross the German T twice; on instinct alone.

    his intelligence estimates said that the germans routinely steamed with submarines and that their destroyers carried more mines and torpedoes than they actually did – his orders were to preserve supremacy. In such circumstances with the fate of your nation depending not on victory but the survival of your force…ask yourself would you have ordered the fleet to charge through the smoke? would you? as for the night battle, communication broke down, and no one was trained for it…however one destroyer did return with part of a battleship on its bow so the RN aquited itself reasonably well.

    yours sincerly

    Alex

  25. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 18, 2009 8:34 am

    Another way of looking at the exquisite large vessel, a commander might think his very costly battleship is too good to lose. we have a historical example in this with Jellicoe at the Battle of Jutland who turned away three times when he had the German fleet in his sights. He won the war but lost an Empire.

    Lee, I think Sea Fighter is only limited when compared to our giant Blue Water ships. What are these vessels’ limitations? They can’t or shouldn’t do littoral warfare because they are too big, costly to risk, and vulnerable to suicide boats in such waters. Also, because they are so expensive, we can’t afford enough of them to tackle the myriad threats we now face. The Navy has admitted as much and with even a multi-national force of vessels, we still can’t contain all the pirates.

  26. Scott B. permalink
    September 18, 2009 8:24 am

    leesea said : “We can all agree that the LCS program should be truncated at no more than 15 (assuming the Congress buys off on the Navy’s latest version of the LCS acquisiton plan)? Read Tim Colton’s comments before answering that.”

    It’s all too clear by now that LCS-1 is a fatally and irremediably flawed design. OTOH, even if one assumes that LCS-2 doesn’t suffer some major deficiencies (and we’ll see how optimistic an assumption it is pretty shortly), it’s all too clear than the dual sourcing strategy won’t work with this design (read Colton’s comments). IOW, going for LCS-2 essentially entails a single source strategy, meaning the Navy will get screwed sooner or later.

    The conclusion is obvious : the new strategy proposed by the Navy is not realistic. As a result, there’s absolutely no reason to even buy 15 LCS. The program should be truncated at 4, and the last two hulls (LCS-3 and LCS-4) shouldn’t even have been ordered in the first place (though it’s unfortunately too late for a cancellation, at least as far as LCS-3 is concerned).

  27. Scott B. permalink
    September 18, 2009 8:09 am

    Sid said : “Survivability MUST no longer be either disregarded, or patched on as an ineffective afterthought by the USN Surface Community as it has done since the end of WWII.”

    Vulnerability Reduction was actually a key priority in the design effort that lead to the DDG-51 class, aimed at reducing some of the deficiencies observed with existing ships, e.g. aluminium structure vulnerability, lack of fragment armor, blast resistance…

    As a matter of fact, the general guidance assigned to DDGX Study Group specifically stated that “the design should emphasize combat capability and survivability to the maximum degree possible within limits of affordability.”

    Likewise, vulnerability reduction was a key consideration for DDG-1000 ever since the start of the program, even though some questionable choices (e.g. tumblehome hull) are likely to have a negative impact on the end-result.

    OTOH, LCS is the typical program where VR was patched on as an ineffective afterthought. Despite the late incorporation of the NVR, which is said to have generated much delay and additional costs, LCS fundamentally remains an expendable (war)ship, one that may (or may not) at most “take some battle damage and still survive long enough for the crew to be rescued” as ADM Sullivan conceded.

    Surviving long enough for the crew to be rescued might be an acceptable philosophy for a FAC, but is a totally inadequate approach for a 3,000-ton (war)ship that costs $700 million (and still counting).

    Finally, I’ll observe that some FAC designs out there, e.g. the Norwegian Skjold, have much more ambitious VR objectives than merely surviving long enough for the crew to be rescued, even though there’s only so much you can expect from a warship with a displacement of 270 tons (and composites remain a big question mark as far as I am concerned).

    But then of course, in the case of the Norwegian Skjold, Vulnerability Reduction was a consideration right from the start, and not just an afterthought.

  28. Scott B. permalink
    September 18, 2009 7:09 am

    Sid said : “While there is no need to build just a few impregnable ships, Survivability MUST no longer be either disregarded, or patched on as an ineffective afterthought.”

    During a recent conference on Naval Strategy held in Sweden, Norman Friedman conveyed pretty much the same ideas. Below are some quotes from his presentation (bold emphasis added) :

    “It can be argued that the appropriate insurance against such reduced capability, which amounts in part to vulnerability to surprise attack, is the kind of passive survivability which has largely been abandonned in modern warships (the US Arleigh Burke class is a notable exception). Passive survivability generally entails size, but not necessarily much additional cost. It probably does entail duplication and dispersal of key shipboard functions.

    (…) If ships are much likelier to survive than to sink, surely we can design them so that they can take a few hits and keep fighting. Accepting that a few hits can be survived would cap requirements for either extreme stealth or extreme ability to deal with saturation, and that in turn would bring down the cost of high-end warships, perhaps dramatically. This is not a call to abandon active defense, but rather to consider it on a more realistic basis.

    (…) Finally, remember that current expeditionary operations often involve ambiguous circumstances. A commander who believes that one hit will finish his ship will be much more prone to make expensive mistakes than one who thinks he can, in a pinch, accept a hit and fight back.

  29. leesea permalink
    September 18, 2009 2:44 am

    Ok I’ll agree that the SeaFighter as built has its limitations. But I say make it operational with weapons and a good sensor suite and deploy it off Somalia.
    That is the kind of laboratory which this expensive test ship needs to be in (not running in circles in the Gulf of Mexico!)

    I think there is a place for FACs and/or OPVs in the USN inventory. They have their pros & cons. I think even Sid would have to say that survivability depends on which construction standards are used AND they do not have to be the NVR?

    We can all agree that the LCS program should be truncated at no more than 15 (assuming the Congress buys off on the Navy’s latest version of the LCS acquisiton plan)? Read Tim Colton’s comments before answering that.

  30. Hudson permalink
    September 18, 2009 2:23 am

    Sid is right that armor + redundancy = survivability. That, plus its armament, is what makes the A-10 such a fearsome predator. Sid also mentions the Fletchers as having these traits. So, I say, bring back the Fletchers.

    Forget about stealth for a moment. If your head is above water, some kind of short or long wave radar will find you. What you’re building here is an all steel monohull brawler. Instead of the original 5/.38 guns, you substitute Mark 45 mod 4 127mm with ERGMs–that’s five of those. Use RAM packs, 30mm & Phalanx for the old 40mms. And keep some of the original 20mm Oerlikon deck mounts. You laugh, but this is the only gun I have heard of that actually shot down an incoming cruise missile in battle.

    Keep the stern racks for depth charges and mines. You smile, but the Finnish Hamina class FACs carry depth charges, and the Finns are smart people. For the old 21″ torp tubes, put in Harpoon/land attack missiles. Add decoys, jammers, a few hand-held uavs, a bit of luck, and this is your real seafighter/fire support/general hellraiser/semi-littoral ship.

    How is that for a late night idea? When your head clears in the morning, you start building Absalons and shallow draft fac/fire support/rigid launch vessels.

  31. sid permalink
    September 17, 2009 9:52 pm

    so bogged down with so much armor they became easy targets and were still taking causalities. I hear this is still a problem.

    Unbalanced designs get people killed…

    Two edged sword there.

    Hope this clears up my take on this some.

  32. sid permalink
    September 17, 2009 9:49 pm

    So I think small ships have a place in modern war

    We agree on that.

    don’t believe in the mythical unsinkable warship.

    Ain’t no such animal now, and never has been.

    Their place was taken by thin-skinned unarmored ships which often could take great punishment and continue to fight,

    The Houston, along with her sisters lost and damaged at Savo, were relatively well armored ships as well. They fell prey to poor doctrine…and having to take on the BB role. And the Fletchers and other small boys possessed design elements such as redundancy…and armor where it counted, such as the fire control cabling…which are the essence of sound “Vulnerability Reduction”. Which, in turn, is a vital component of “Staying Power.

    I just want a balance of capabilities.

    That’s what the design discipline of Survivability Engineering is all about.

    Friedman has noted its not that these ships were unsinkable; they were remarkable in that they could continue to fight hurt before they sank.

    As I’ve mentioned before, we will never have the luxury of numbers that we enjoyed in 1945. While there is no need to build just a few impregnable ships, Survivability MUST no longer be either disregarded, or patched on as an ineffective afterthought by the USN Surface Community as it has done since the end of WWII.

  33. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 17, 2009 8:53 pm

    Sid the word “over-emphasize” doesn’t mean ignore the problem completely. But it can easily become an obsession, as our troops learned in the Aghan, so bogged down with so much armor they became easy targets and were still taking causalities. I hear this is still a problem.

    So it was with the giant armored battleships in the 1930s, when we thought that armor alone would ensure our Big Ships would survive, but they received a rude awakening on a Dec. Morning. Their place was taken by thin-skinned unarmored ships which often could take great punishment and continue to fight, the aircraft carriers still with us today as well as cruisers and destroyers once thought unfit for the battleline .

    So I think small ships have a place in modern war, and don’t believe in the mythical unsinkable warship. I just want a balance of capabilities. Not something so heavenly capable it is no Earthly good, and a constant drain on shipbuilding funds ensuring we have a smaller fleet and that we lose the next war.

  34. sid permalink
    September 17, 2009 6:27 pm

    Don’t over-emphasize survivability, or range, or weapons load.

    Mike, you are dead square incorrect in your belief that “Survivability” is somehow too expensive and generally unnecessary.

    Its not a question of “overemphasis.” In the USN its a question of considering it at all. The LCS is screwed up even worse because NVR was an afterthought that wreaked havoc with the design.

    More than any other ship types, what has been achieved with Survivability in aircraft is the most directly applicable to the small austere types you propose.

    http://edocs.nps.edu/npspubs/scholarly/theses/2002/Jun/02Jun_Lillis.pdf

    As I’ve said elsewhere…Effective Survivability is NOT a function of tons of armor, nor need it drive the cost of acquisition through the roof. Nor is it a function of total hit avoidance through speed and/or stealth…Which has been the false trail the USN has taken with its recent designs.

    You really…REALLY…need to get more educated on the subject Mike.

    But don’t believe me. Take the word of the guy who turned “Survivability” into a design term, Dr. Robert Ball of the NPS (insert “ship” for “aircraft)

    “One of the major barriers to designing the right amount of survivability into an aircraft is the perception that survivability might be too expensive, particularly those features that make the aircraft tougher or less vulnerable. Some believe that a hit is a downed aircraft, and nothing can be done about it.
    There is also the perception that the benefits from survivability will never be realized if the aircraft is never used in combat; and if it is used in combat, a return on investment might not be achieved until late in the life cycle of the aircraft.
    These beliefs and perceptions are not correct, and they must be eliminated using realistic cost-effectiveness analyses. These analyses will show that designing for survivability pays off, an aircraft that is both mission capable and survivable in combat will achieve its mission objectives and return home more often, it will be used more aggressively in high risk combat scenarios, and it will win battles.”

    sans consideration of Survivability in design and doctrine, what you propose take will take many more numbers…many more than we really can afford…in order to compensate for scenes like this one:

  35. Scott B. permalink
    September 17, 2009 5:04 pm

    B. Smitty said : “I was specifically thinking about how to perform the LCS mission set (MIW, littoral ASW, anti-small boat ASuW) during a conflict.”

    Early in the project, UMOE Mandal suggested that the Skjold could be made *mission configurable* by means of *modular payloads*.

    Below are some of the mission configurable options they suggested at the time :
    * ASUW (Missiles / Guns / UAVs)
    * ASW (VDS / LFS / Torps)
    * MCM (towed sensors / UUVs)

    It’s not clear how far they went into the details of the aforementioned *mission modules*, but the idea was certainly there before KNM Skjold spent one year in the US in 2001/2002.

  36. Scott B. permalink
    September 17, 2009 4:55 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “Motherships or forward basing will ensure you have enough fuel stocks, supplies, and weapons.”

    What you forget is that *motherships* or forward basing aren’t cheap, as noted by the much regretted D.K. Brown in his now classical Future British Surface Fleet, e.g. page 142 :

    “Since WW2, warships have relied on replenishment at sea to keep their fuel tanks, store rooms and magazine topped up. This is a demanding and expensive operation which takes the ship off station for a considerable time. […]

    There would be considerable overall savings in eliminating not only the AOR but also the need for its escorts.”

  37. B.Smitty permalink
    September 17, 2009 4:49 pm

    Scott B,

    I really wasn’t aiming for “Influence Squadrons”. That concept emphasized low-end engagement and was not meant as an LCS replacement.

    I was specifically thinking about how to perform the LCS mission set (MIW, littoral ASW, anti-small boat ASuW) during a conflict.

  38. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 17, 2009 4:14 pm

    “Small ships are just too expensive for their size.”

    I still say you can have a high end corvette, $200-$300 million isn’t bad. Then you can fill out ship numbers with really low end vessels like an OPV, which comes in at $50 million and sometimes less.

    The key is to keep specifications low. Don’t over-emphasize survivability, or range, or weapons load. Make sure you have a well trained crew and your chance of survival increases. Motherships or forward basing will ensure you have enough fuel stocks, supplies, and weapons.

    The point is having ships you can build quickly, and have enough of them when you need them. Not decades long procurement cycles and shrinking force structures, or vessels in commission long pass their prime because they are too expensive to replace.

  39. September 17, 2009 3:52 pm

    I agree with the idea of splitting them; afterall you could buy a SAN Valour class and a Bay class Batch 2 (with a better weapons fit) – and still have change from the cost of either LCS.

    yours sincerly

    Alex

  40. Scott B. permalink
    September 17, 2009 3:47 pm

    B. Smitty said : “One idea I’ve repeatedly tried to play around with is splitting the LCS requirements into two ships.”

    This looks like the *Influence Squadron* (to use one of the most recent buzzwords out there) I did (not) suggest back in June 2009 : Skjold + YE + Endurance.

  41. September 17, 2009 3:44 pm

    Mike go take a look at the Valour class of the SA Navy

    they are great

    yours sincerly

    Alex

  42. B.Smitty permalink
    September 17, 2009 3:17 pm

    Mike,

    I said, “could easily top $200 million”. It could very well be $300 million, depending on the requirements. And that’s for two or three ships that can’t hangar a helo between them.

    One idea I’ve repeatedly tried to play around with is splitting the LCS requirements into two ships. The first would be a “surface interface” vessel, which would be smaller and geared towards deployment of UUVs, USVs, RHIBs, and so on. The second would be a larger “air interface” vessel, which would carry helicopters, and UAVs. You could play with the ratios and sizes of vessels.

    By the nature of their work, the surface interface vessels would be required to operate closer to threats (e.g. the shore, mines, SSKs, small boat swarms), so their survivability concept should reflect that. (e.g. more numerous, higher speeds, lower signatures, passive survivability designs, countermeasures and weapons) Unfortunately, this also means they will be the tip of the spear and suffer higher losses.

    The air interface vessel can use a certain amount of standoff in its survivability concept, limited by the range of its aircraft. It could also serve as a logistics and module swap out node for the smaller vessels.

    I could see using an FSF-1 like vessel as the surface interface vessel, however it would need a “survivability makeover”.

    I think an enlarged Skjold might be closer to the mark. Or a “productionalized” Sea Shadow. Both have significant signature reductions inherent in their designs.

    The air interface vessel could be something like the Absalon class, or a small flat top.

    The problem with the whole idea is I don’t see how the numbers add up. Small ships are just too expensive for their size. Maybe if we committed to a buy of 10+/year we could get the costs down enough. I don’t know.

  43. Scott B. permalink
    September 17, 2009 3:08 pm

    B. Smitty said : “She came in bare-bones without a working CIC or any weapons or sensors for $50 million. She was also built to commercial survivability standards.”

    Did I mention the totally inadequate stern ramp of SeaFighter ?

    From the 2007 USCG Evaluation of SeaFighter, page 23 :

    “Stern Ramp :

    The stern ramp was used to launch and recover surface deployable assets. The existing stern ramp was poorly designed with a 17-degree incline as seen in Figure 14. The steep angle required the coxswain in the 11 m RHIB to use full throttle upon entering the ramp. This was both unsafe for the RHIB and put excessive stress on the RHIB’s propulsion system (engine and waterjet). A missed approach to the ramp could result in the RHIB being trapped under Sea Fighter’s waterjet guards. Sea Fighter’s RHIB launch and recovery speed was limited to 5 kts, due to safety interlock positioning defaults on the waterjets (all four water jets were pitched full out). At speeds less than 5 kts, Sea Fighter’s ride quality is degraded, resulting in increased roll, pitch, and heave, which adversely affects the launch and recovery of the RHIB.”

  44. Scott B. permalink
    September 17, 2009 3:06 pm

    B. Smitty said : “She came in bare-bones without a working CIC or any weapons or sensors for $50 million. She was also built to commercial survivability standards.”

    Don’t forget the *not-so-impressive* seakeeping qualities as noted in the 2007 USCG Evaluation of SeaFighter, pages 20-21 :

    “Ride Quality :

    Ride quality was better at higher speeds than at lower speeds in both low- and high-period waves, independent of wave height (sea state). At high speeds, the vessel skimmed over the tops of low-period waves and followed the surface of long-period waves. In medium-period waves, high-speed ride quality was degraded due to wave slamming on the wet deck. Wave slamming could usually be mitigated by course and speed changes.

    At speeds below 15 kts, ride quality degraded. Vessel roll, pitch, and heave increased, with “jerky” motions rather than “slow” motions typically associated with a monohull. The ride control system (T-foils, active skegs, and interceptor control surfaces) did not have a significant impact on dampening roll, pitch, and heave below 15 kts, probably due to the reduced flow over those control surfaces. Vessel motions at low speeds (5 kts) often adversely affected the launch and recovery of deployable surface assets RHIBs.”

  45. Scott B. permalink
    September 17, 2009 2:33 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “We’ve tried bigger and now have a shrinking aging fleet”

    Actually, the Navy has been through this *small is beautiful* mantra you keep pushing for. Then we saw the initial 400-ton Streetfighter morph into the 3,000+ ton LCS monstruosity.

    Like I explained to you sooo many times before, what you’re suggesting with your *go small* proposal is to reboot the system and run the exact same fatally flawed software that led to the current LCS fiasco. And what you’ll end up with is yet another fiasco.

    That’s NOT the way to go. The only way to go is to THINK BIG, not small !!

  46. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 17, 2009 2:05 pm

    Smitty, that was the total number I was thinking $200 million. 3 for the price of LCS? Not bad! And take the OPV’s too!

    Scott. We’ve tried bigger and now have a shrinking aging fleet, with and handful of carriers we can’t build enough planes for. Need to try some alternatives.

  47. Scott B. permalink
    September 17, 2009 1:50 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “Time to start over, to think smaller, and less ambitious.”

    Think smaller, and you’ll end up with yet another LCS fiasco.

    Like I’ve explained sooooo many times, and most recently in this blog entry, what you want to do is THINK BIG, not small !

  48. B.Smitty permalink
    September 17, 2009 1:48 pm

    Not exactly Mike. It wasn’t just “without extras”.

    She came in bare-bones without a working CIC or any weapons or sensors for $50 million. She was also built to commercial survivability standards.

    If you were to “re-imagine” FSF-1 as a corvette, I bet you could easily top $200 million per ship.

    You can do the job the Perry’s are doing with a $70 million OPV. You don’t need 55kts or an exotic hull design.

  49. Scott B. permalink
    September 17, 2009 1:38 pm

    Mike Burleson said : “How about this: [SeaFighter]”

    Short answer : NO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  50. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 17, 2009 1:31 pm

    I think she might do the job the Perry’s are currently equipped for. Despite the helo in the photo, there is no hangar, but that is a huge helopad. Without extras she comes in at $50 million. Not bad.

  51. UndergradProgressive permalink
    September 17, 2009 12:54 pm

    Concur. Only problem with the FSF is the paucity of hard kill self defense systems, it seems?

    Of the OTS systems, any particular favorites?

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