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LCS Alternative Wednesday

October 28, 2009
tags:
Helsingborg

Swedish Visby class corvette HMS Helsingborg. Authored by Xiziz and Wikimedia Commons.

Speed

Last week, the Navy and the LCS builder General Dynamics celebrated the fact that the vessel “hit a top speed of 45 knots and kept a sustained speed of 44 knots“. But what is the point of the high speed? It was for the purpose of combating the small boat threat in littoral waters. But why have a helicopter hanger if you have the speed to catch an elusive small-boat foe, seeing as the chopper has the advantage? As I understand it, the need for high speed has greatly raised the price of these ships.

LCS began life earlier this decade for a less than $200 million corvette called Streetfighter (very similar to the Swedish Visby above) for returning reasonably priced but still capable warships to the fleet. What gave us the 3000 ton $700 million USS Freedom here at the turn of the next decade? Part of the problems was the high tech engines, according to this 2007 post from CDR Salamander:

Where did we go wrong? First, the 45+ knot requirement made the cost spike and required a lot of engineering work that costs lots of money and tradeoffs in other areas. 35 knots is more than fine. Then we forgot multi-mission and went modular. We went from a “nice to have but not must have” CEC (Combined Engagement Capability” into the fuzzy “distributed and networked.” Then we went from onboard to offboard weapons. It all cascaded from there.

The navy doesn’t understand littoral warfare, so it can’t grasp the concept of a focused mission ship needed to operate there. Nothing to celebrate here. Move long…move along…

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Israel’s souped up littoral ships

Hoping for a souped up version of the LCS, Israel has asked the German government to fund their plans for MEKO corvettes equipped with the American Aegis System. From Germany’s The Local:

Sources within the German government told the paper that Israel wants the Berlin to finance the MEKO corvettes, a sum that would reportedly reach hundreds of millions of euros.  The paper reported that the government has not yet reacted to Israel’s request. But “influential politicians from northern Germany,” where the shipbuilding industry is suffering from the global economic downturn, are apparently supportive in the interest of keeping German shipyards in business.

The shipbuilding contract would go to Hamburg company Blohm + Voss, the paper said.  But the internal weapons system would come from the United States, with the end result being a missile defence system on water.

I have a feeling these vessels with their high powered anti-missile suite will price the same, in hundreds of millions, as the much-underarmed LCS.

Some breaking news from the Debka file on this story:

The order placed during Israeli chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi’s three-day visit to Berlin this week as guest of the German high command surprised the defense ministry. Germany is contributing 500 million euros toward the two Dolphin submarines already on order for the Israeli Navy. The new order is worth several million more. German sources report that the Israeli request has been referred to Chancellor Angela Merkel for her to decide.

The German corvette is a 2,200-tonner, 91 meters long and 13.4 meters wide. It carries a crew of 94, a medium-sized helicopter on its deck and 24 weapons systems – 16 sea-to-shore and 8 ship-to-ship launchers adapted to US-made missiles, as well as missile defenses and automatic cannons. It has a range of 7,400 kilometers and maximum speed of 30 knots.

Here is the interesting part:

Also taken note of was the new clause inserted in the new Merkel government’s coalition agreement: promising to phase out the Germany fleet operating off Lebanese shores as part of the UN peacekeeping mission: “Within the scope of the United Nations we will work towards a phased reduction of our German contribution to the Maritime Task Force of UNIFIL with the aim to terminate it.”
Because the fleet to be phased out includes two corvettes, the possibility of transferring them directly to Israel instead of sending them back to home base in Germany is under consideration in view of the troublesome vibes besetting in the region.

An intriguing turn of events. Stay tuned.

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Fractured LCS Acronyms

Your LCS acronym alternatives! Please keep them coming within the comments!

  • Leveraged Cost Ship
  • Listing Capital Sink
  • Littoral Combat Gyp
  • Luxury Cruise Ship
  • Less Capable Service
  • Lickity Cwick Ship
  • Low on Combat Systems

Well done and thanks to Graham, Eric, D.E., New Alex, Heretic, and William!

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Early Deployment

The Navy plans to send the LCS Freedom overseas much earlier than planned, by early next year, some 2 years ahead of schedule. Though this may be good news, many questions remain. From Navy Times:

“Deploying LCS now is a big step forward in getting this ship where it needs to be – operating in the increasingly important littoral regions,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead said in the statement. “We must deliver this critical capability to the warfighter now.”

Question is, what specifically are these capabilities and why did the Navy need to “reinvent the wheel” for the purpose of fighting terrorists, smugglers, and pirates? The LCS is a very complicated vessel, with mission modules, advanced engines, designed to counter many various threats, but its enemies are old and numerous.

By deploying Freedom early, officials hope to fill littoral gaps “not previously seen in the modern cruiser or destroyer fleet,” officials said in the announcement.

All good, though we still wonder if we need a slightly less pricey ship to replace extremely expensive warships, and is it too much to ask  for the Navy to be able to expand quickly in a crisis as in decades past? The point being that COIN warfare at sea isn’t easy, but neither is it rocket science.

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44 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2014 4:08 am

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  2. Al L. permalink
    November 1, 2009 6:35 pm

    Mike B.:

    “Thinking in hundreds and even tens of million dollars in cost, a 1000-1500 ton corvette would be the high end vessel for such a fleet,”

    As a concept that sounds good, but it can fall apart when you sit down with a calculator, and start running some numbers.

    Look at a 2500ton ship which can fully operate 1 MH-60 and 3 uavs. It can operate them to a distance of 150 miles from the ship. The MH-60 is effective against subs, boats and ships at that distance. 3 uavs together can fly 24 hours a day. Lets say the ship costs $600 million dollars fully equipped. So it can cover an area of 70650sqmi.
    600m/70650=$8493/sqmi

    Now look at a 1000t ton corvette with no on board helicopters or uavs. It can only cover effectively to the limit of its sonar and radar. Even against a huge ship its radar horizon is only about 30 miles and against a small boat 20 miles. Lets say it costs $150m. It can effectively cover an area of 1256 sqmi.
    150m/1256=$119,426/sqmi or 14 times as much per sqmi.

    Why in the world would a Navy whose weakness is excessive concentration of assets on a small number of very large hulls, and therefore lacks coverage against low end threats take the 1000t ship over the 2500t ship?

    A 1000 – 1500t ship which carries a single helicopter or UAV is a poor compromise between the two because it can either observe all the time but not attack or attack but not observe. And the price goes way up. A Visby is $180m. Sa’ar 5 is $260m. without helicopter, and it has lmited helicopter capacity.

    Now if one wants to cover the same 70650sqmi area by saturating it with small ships (which have nearly the same horizon as a 1000t ship with no helicopters) it could probably be done with 10-12 ships. $600m /12 = $50m which buys a 300-400ton patrol craft like the new USCG Sentinel.

    The 400- 2000t ships will not be cost effective for the US Navy.

  3. Mike Burleson permalink*
    November 1, 2009 6:43 am

    Al L said “one must consider whats the best use of resources to fill the need.”

    I agree, but before you make that choice, also ask “does this ship add or take away from other fighting resources”? In search for the perfect frigate, destroyer, submarine, and aircraft carrier, the USN says it will not compromise, but it has, first on ship numbers, now on essential functions of sea power such as anti-mine, and small escort ships (the flotilla). Pretty soon we will say we can’t operate in this ocean or that, because no matter how capable individual warships are they can’t be in many places at once.

    Basically the USN has a peacetime Navy operating at a wartime tempo, and this has been going on for some time. The same answer seems to be “make ships more capable”, and we get the same problems such as high operating tempos, worn out ships and crews, and even ships like LCS which are so costly after we add its advanced features, it becomes woefully underarmed for its size. For most of the functions of the flotilla, such as anti-piracy, narcotics patrol, watching Third World countries, you don’t need battleships, or frigates which now cost as much as a battleships.

    Thinking in hundreds and even tens of million dollars in cost, a 1000-1500 ton corvette would be the high end vessel for such a fleet, taking advantage of the revolution in micro-electronics to deploy new weapons on a low cost hull. The bulk of the fleet then could be offshore patrol vessel type, what I call low end corvettes of the same size perhaps a little less, armed with a helo, and could be deployed in larger numbers. Such vessels would be vastly more economical for peacetime patrol work than an Aegis battleship or a supercarrier, would not be detriment to fleet numbers, and in wartime take the first attacks until the battle fleet arrives, when they would resort to convoy escort, harbor defense, ect.

    Unless the Navy wants to become the world’s most expensive Coast Guard, it must increase ships numbers and learn to build at a reasonable price.

  4. Al L. permalink
    October 31, 2009 6:14 pm

    Mike B.:
    “I understand Sea Fighter has a spacious cargo hull for launching small boats, ect. Why not an elevator from that to the top with nothing added to the displacement? Still, a UAV for this ship would be better with a helo loaded on a nearby mothership.”

    It has an elevator for standard containers. Presumably a small UAV could be lifted also. But then why not just use a 400ton ship to do the job if the helicopter will me on a nearby mothership.?

    “A dedicated helicopter corvette, without any other weapons would be useful in such a situation, since it would be operating with other armed vessels who don’t have aviation facilities.”

    As I’ve established in previous comments a dedicted 2 helicopter corvette will be 2000 tons or more. A reasonably armed one might go 2500 or so. If another ship has to be near by to carry the weapons then you have the same tonnage and the same gear on 2 separate hulls which are now entirely dependant on each other and have to remain together. Why not just build one ship and have less operational expenses?

    “To keep the cost and size of ships down, I don’t think every warship needs a dedicated helo and hanger.”

    I don’t think so either but one must consider whats the best use of resources to fill the need. The U.S. Navy needs most of all a way to more widely scatter its assets to achieve better coverage of the seas, especially in the littorals and irregular conflict. Those assets aren’t just ships, they are also submarines, helicopters, planes,and uavs. Planes and subs are outside this conversation. Helicopters have to have a platform and it can’t be effectively done under 2000 tons.
    So my belief is the least needed size of ship is 400 – 2500 tons. They’re bigger than needed to operate the small cheap drones needed to extend the observational envelope, and too small to operate the current and near future armed drones.

    Now 3-400 ton PCs with RHIBs and catapult launched compact UAV’s accompanied by a commercial build 2000t tender could make a lot of sense. 4 such ships + 1 tender could be built on a generous budget for 500 million dollars and would be an excellent asset for near shore work, such as in combo with the LCS picket line I described in my previous comment.

  5. Mike Burleson permalink*
    October 31, 2009 7:21 am

    I understand Sea Fighter has a spacious cargo hull for launching small boats, ect. Why not an elevator from that to the top with nothing added to the displacement? Still, a UAV for this ship would be better with a helo loaded on a nearby mothership.

    A dedicated helicopter corvette, without any other weapons would be useful in such a situation, since it would be operating with other armed vessels who don’t have aviation facilities.

    To keep the cost and size of ships down, I don’t think every warship needs a dedicated helo and hanger. Multi-purpose is killing Western fleet numbers.

  6. Al L. permalink
    October 31, 2009 3:41 am

    Navark:
    I’m now certain sea fighter would exceed 2000 tons if it had full aviation facilities because it already has a full load displacement of 1600 tons according to the NVR:

    http://www.nvr.navy.mil/nvrservicecraft/details/FSF1.htm

    The LIGHT displacement is 960 tons

  7. Al L. permalink
    October 31, 2009 3:15 am

    Navark:
    “The Seafighter loaded displacement is ~1000t, do you really think the weight of a hanger (mostly empty space), some stores, fuel, personnel, etc., adds another ~1000t?”

    To add a hanger to Sea fighter you cant just throw a hanger on it and have a stable hull. For every pound added above the water line you have to add displacement to have a stable hull.

    Look at it another way. About the best that can be done on this type of ship is for every ton added, 2 tons of gross displacement are required to carry it. So lets see; add 100 tons of hanger + 75 tons of aviation fuel storage + 20 tons of aviation related gear + another 50 tons for aviation crew hotel capacity, planning space etc. + 20 tons for munitions storage=265 tons x 3= 795 tons of full load displacement. And thats before the ship has any added radar, guns, missiles, countermeasures, armor or shrapnel protection etc., etc added AND before we account for the added fuel and propulsion needed to power the added weight. It could easily reach 2000 tons.

    Aircraft require a huge commitment from a ship if they are to be operated to their capacity. Thats why a CVN designed to intensely operate 75-100 aircraft weighs 104000 tons. It takes at least a thousand tons per aircraft.

    “I think your stability argument just made a great case for a multihull…”

    LCS-2 is a multihull, supposedly its 2800tons.

    ” or cost anywhere near $700m”

    It shouldn’t cost $700m, but its a first in class and the Navy is historically bad at keeping costs down on the first of anything. I want to see what a multiship buy costs before I join the dump LCS crowd.

  8. navark permalink
    October 30, 2009 11:44 pm

    Al L, I think your stability argument just made a great case for a multihull…

    The Seafighter loaded displacement is ~1000t, do you really think the weight of a hanger (mostly empty space), some stores, fuel, personnel, etc., adds another ~1000t?

    Btw, I’m not in any way proposing that FSF-1 is where a better LCS should start – imo a catamaran has too many limitations and compromises locked in, but what I am saying is that there is no reason for the realisation of the LCS concept to be 3000t+ or cost anywhere near $700m.

    I am curious as to why you think that ‘someone out there would be doing it’, is not the USN the world superpower and leader militarily and economically?

  9. Chuck Hill permalink
    October 30, 2009 8:19 pm

    The Coast Guard 210 foot WMEC is one of the smallest helo capable ships, at about 1,100 tons full load. It can only operate small to medium sized helos and there is no hanger and no significant magazine space.

    The 270 ft cutters can handle the MH60. A collapsible hanger is provided, but service facilities are limited.

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

    To get to two H60 size helos with hangers and service facilities the Coast Guard’s design is the size of the FFG.

    http://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/NSC/features.asp

  10. Al L. permalink
    October 30, 2009 6:33 pm

    Navark:
    “I don’t think it’s fair to label any type of vessel a ‘pipe dream’ simply because there are no other navies operating such a ship. After all, how many other navies are operating Nimitz class CVNs?”
    Other navies aren’t operating CVN’s because they haven’t been able to afford to.
    If someone could build a 2 helicopter capable warship under 2000tons that was actually useful they would do it because it would be cost effective. But no one has or will in the forseeable future because no helicopter pilot could land on the thing except in nice weather.
    Its very simple to explain why. Helicopters are dynamic not static loads which must be placed relatively high on the ship, along with their hangers and support gear. The higher the weight goes the more it moves the ship and the less stable the ship is. Take a smaller ship with less deck area and the higher the helicopter deck has to go in order to fit all the other needs under it. How does one restore stability? Add more displacement low on the ship.
    Its not hard to see this at work, its evident on seafighter, thats why it has a draft of almost 12 ft, deep for a ship this size.
    Now take Seafighter ,which is more radical and lighter than anything else that can land 2 H-60’s, and tell me how you add the space and weight for a hanger, support gear, fuel, parts, munitions storage and about 25 aircrew and their needs not to mention all the weapons, sensors, self defense gear, etc. the ship currently lacks without turning it from an 1100ton ship to a 2000+ ton ship.

    If it could be done someone out there would be doing it.

  11. Graham Strouse permalink
    October 30, 2009 5:40 pm

    How about an LCS “Party Package Mission Module.” Fold-away dance floor, laser-powered disco ball, full bar, maybe a hot tub.

    Oh, wait, then you’d just have a smaller version of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich’s new party yacht, which incidentally has TWO pools, a missile defense system and I kid you not, an automatic anti-paparazzi laser defense grid. It’s also 566 feet long, about the same length as the Ticos, I believe.

    Maybe we should just sub-contract to Abramovich…

  12. navark permalink
    October 30, 2009 4:25 pm

    Al L., my point was only that the misconception that the provision of air capability and/or high speeds can be achieved these days with much less trouble than either of the LCS teams are going through. There may or may not be some link between displacements around the 500-600t mark and their ability to support air operations, but certainly not in the ship size we are discussing.

    Air vehicles are generally a rather low density payload, meaning that a lot of volume may be required in your ship but not a lot of weight. Stores, JP-5, etc., all require a certain weight allocation as well, but this is generally rather small when compared to the ship’s own supplies. One of the great advantages of multihulls is that an internal volume disproportionate to their displacement (when compared to monohulls) is inherent in their form.

    Furthermore, the power required to move the multihull at higher speeds is generally significantly lower than the comparable monohull due to the lower wavemaking characteristics, part of which is due to the lower displacements on a given length.

    Neither of the LCS designs are really that radical, possibly radical for navy ships but not in terms of what’s possible. I don’t think it’s fair to label any type of vessel a ‘pipe dream’ simply because there are no other navies operating such a ship. After all, how many other navies are operating Nimitz class CVNs?

  13. Graham Strouse permalink
    October 30, 2009 3:17 pm

    Lehman-Citibank Ship?

  14. Graham Strouse permalink
    October 30, 2009 2:11 am

    I know this is breaking the LCS name game rules a little, but how about we just call it the LSD?

    “Dude, I’m so totally tripping on the exploding pink giraffe mission modules…”

  15. leesea permalink
    October 30, 2009 1:59 am

    Hey guys, lets get something strait, the LCS may be a mothership to Galrahan and helos and boats, BUT it is not a logistics ship with totally inadequate tankage, storerooms and no cargo handling gear. So as much as the LCS motthership to Visbys sounds like a great idea, it ain’t !!
    I don’t know why a logisitics support ship has to be bigger than an Absalon which seems to me to be good fleixible platforom, or a German Berlin class AOE for more limited functions.
    And T-AKE is a dry cargo ships, it does NOT have sufficient tankage to support a large number of small boys besides, the LCS will probably have to astern refuel due to speed/handling issues.
    BTW the SeaFighter can be weponized IF the Navy wanted to. And a small combatant does NOT have to have a helo deck ($$$) but can quite easily have a UAV or UAS if you prefer pad thereby not adversely affecting the size.

    IMHO the USN does need a small combanant and as we all know there are plenty of good designs to choose from.

  16. Hudson permalink
    October 30, 2009 1:46 am

    Of the various USN hulls in the water, for the role of pirate chaser, Sea Fighter fits the bill. US bases in the Horn region (Manda Bay, Djibouti, etc.) are adequate to service the helos and resupply the ships for their relatively short mission cruises of days or weeks not months. As far as operating in high sea states is concerned, SF is better able to ride out the storm than pirates in open skiffs.

    LCS is too expensive for the task and is mainly intended to replace the remaining Perry class frigates. The Navy might eventually build more economical anti-pirate ships, or take them from the Coast Guard, but why wait? Order up a half dozen SFs and get this show on the road.

  17. Al L. permalink
    October 30, 2009 1:38 am

    Navark:
    “Neither of the current 3000-3500t vessels resemble the streetfighter concept they were initially proposed for,”

    Streetfighter was a concept for the Navy to conduct ,for lack of a better term, asymetric warfare against a near peer competitor. It demonstrated (if you believe the assumptions) that lots of small ships could be leveraged in a war between 2 major nation Navies. Thats all it showed. The purpose of the concept was to get the Navy off its big ship kick which was largely driven by an obsession with war between major nations. It assumed all those little ships were connected to the assets provided by a big ship Navy. The concept had no applicability to the numerous other things the Navy does. To use streetfighter as a broad basis for building a Navy would have been wrong then and its certainly wrong now after years of experience in the current conflicts. The real issue is not how close any ship is to streetfighter but how close is it to filling the current and potential defense needs of the nation.

    “the earlier comments that FSF-1 (Sea Fighter) is actually a better LCS than the LCSs are not without merit.”

    I can’t disagree more. See my comment above comparing operations of such air incapable ships to LCS.

    “Whilst it is certainly true that landing a couple of SH-60s is not the same as providing for them to be ’serviced, rearmed, equipped and sheltered in bad weather’, this *can* be implemented in a ’small’ ship of under 2000t.”

    Then point out where in the world it has ever been done operationally or where a naval engineer says it can be done. This is a pipe dream.

    “It should be noted that neither of the LCSs can provide for two helos either, there is only hangar space for one along with a UAV det.”

    This is wrong. Both have been designed to at least hanger 2 H-60 class helicopters. This fact is confirmable all over the web from the builder’s literature, to those who have walked the ship.
    Go here:
    http://www.gdlcs.com/sites/default/files/LCS_brochure_1-09.pdf

    to read this:
    “Hangar for (2) SH-60 R/S
    Flight Deck Area for (2) SH-60 or
    (1) H-53”

    or here:
    http://www.lmlcsteam.com/solution.html

    to read this: “Hangar Space
    Two H-60 helos or one H-60 helo and three VTUAVs ”

    Not only that but they can store UAVS(depending on size) in the module bay and move them to the hanger and deck by elevator if thats ever needed.

  18. - Alex (the new'un). permalink
    October 30, 2009 12:58 am

    “Or it could be just the symptom of a larger problem. Because we can order so fewer ships annually, the lack of expertise building frigates is showing with each new design.”

    In my opinion this is a non argument, it’s not expertise in building a type of ship, it’s expertise in building a particular ship class, even if the Burke building yards were to re-tool for another conventional Destroyer prices would be high for initial units; frigate, destroyer, it’s all much of the same really. However expertise in building surface combatants is something that should be maintained this is something that has been forgotten in most countries outside the US.

  19. navark permalink
    October 30, 2009 12:08 am

    Al L. wrote “No one is going to prove this can be done with ships of less than 2000tons and most likely it will take at least 2500t ships.”

    The irony of the current LCS is debacle is the fact that unconventional (i.e. non-monohull) hullforms can and do give you the capabilities you described. Not only that, but as ship displacement, complexity and payload grows, capability actually declines whether it’s in the form of ridiculously large propulsion systems or mission creep, as experienced on the LCS program.

    Neither of the current 3000-3500t vessels resemble the streetfighter concept they were initially proposed for, which leaves one asking the question: does the Navy actually want the ships they decided they needed operationally, or are they to content to allow the current program to meander in its bloated, gold-plated state?

    I understand the downselect is seen by some as tackling these questions head on, but selecting one from two inappropriate designs still does not leave them in a very good position.

    My point is more of a technical nature, the earlier comments that FSF-1 (Sea Fighter) is actually a better LCS than the LCSs are not without merit. Whilst it is certainly true that landing a couple of SH-60s is not the same as providing for them to be ‘serviced, rearmed, equipped and sheltered in bad weather’, this *can* be implemented in a ‘small’ ship of under 2000t. It should be noted that neither of the LCSs can provide for two helos either, there is only hangar space for one along with a UAV det.

  20. Hudson permalink
    October 30, 2009 12:08 am

    Mike, what, more specifically, is your conception of a mothership? How would it resemble existing naval vessels? Would it constitute a separate class of supply ships? Would one size fit all? Would it have offensive capabilities? What support is there in the naval community to build such a ship?

  21. Al L. permalink
    October 29, 2009 10:44 pm

    “What is just plain nuts, building only high priced warships, thinking the fleet is going to grow.”

    Agreed 100%. But building ships that deliver little needed capacity in order to increase ship numbers is … a formula for growing the fleet just to grow the fleet. But a modern Navy is much more than just ships. It’s all about balance on, above and below water.

  22. Mike Burleson permalink*
    October 29, 2009 10:09 pm

    “The little corvette/mothership idea makes no sense.”

    What is just plain nuts, building only high priced warships, thinking the fleet is going to grow.

  23. Al L. permalink
    October 29, 2009 9:38 pm

    “Still, myself and others have envisioned such vessel operating with larger motherships, which easily can deploy the essential helicopter.”

    Let’s look at this “mothership and squadron” idea.
    Lets say the Navy needs to picket a coastline to prevent transport of WMD’s.
    LCS model: Take 4 LCS each with 3 UAV, 1 helicopter, 2 boats. Station them 160km apart. Each one has all it needs to monitor, patrol and interdict its sector.If one goes down for some reason the rest of the picket can shift positions to backfill. If one LCS needs help, an equal set of assets is only 160km away. Send in TAKE type ship once every few days to resupply.
    Visby model: Take 4 Visbys and 1 mothership. Space the Visbys 160 kilometers apart. In order to do this and get equal ability to the LCS model the mothership must now carry 4 helicopters and 12 UAVs. BUT those aircraft will have to shuttle up to 600 kilometers per day just to reach their station. So now to keep aircraft on station 1/3 more aircraft are needed. Additional helicopters are needed for VERTREP and security around the mothership. Now you need a mothership capable of housing and operating 6-7 helicopters, 16+ UAVS and all the stuff the Visbys don’t have room for. The mothership can’t be any less than 15000 tons at this point. And the Visbys will have to leave their station to go to the mothership for supplies since the mothership cant wander too far from the farthest operating helicopter . And a TAKE supply ship is still needed since again the mothership can’t leave to get supplies.If some mishap affects the motherships ability to operate the whole squadron may be inoperable. If the last Visby in the picket needs help, tough, the mothership is 300+ kilometers away and can’t leave its station until it recovers helicopters.
    Now lets say somewhere during this operation another 160km of picket needs to be added.
    LCS model: Add 1 more LCS
    Visby model: To do the job right there is one choice: send in 1 more visby and 1 more 12000t mothership.

    The little corvette/mothership idea makes no sense.

  24. Mike Burleson permalink*
    October 29, 2009 5:15 pm

    New Alex said “Frigate cost escalations is due to poor management among other things;”

    Or it could be just the symptom of a larger problem. Because we can order so fewer ships annually, the lack of expertise building frigates is showing with each new design.

  25. - Alex (the new'un). permalink
    October 29, 2009 11:05 am

    Sorry for double post but Frigate cost escalations is due to poor management among other things; in 2001 the last T23 was commissioned, HMS St. Albans, she cost ~£120m (although by this time T23 was an old design with 15 years experience although she and indeed the whole class are ASW specialists which doesn’t help the price, a hypothetical GP variant would have come at a price tag of £100m or less.)

  26. - Alex (the new'un). permalink
    October 29, 2009 10:53 am

    A mothership was looked into to satisfy part of the FSC requirement, the studies showed that a mothership required to support 4 Visby esque patrol craft would have to be around 45,000T and 270m long, and would bunker ~15,000T of fuel. so it would be reasonable if the superstructure was situated along 1 side for there to be 3 spots foreward of the daughterships and it would be possible to factor in a hangar deck foreward (although the more tinkering is done then the more money is wasted on a glorified tanker)

    While we’re on the subject of LCS and FSC, If Independence cost $700m imagine how much BMT’s F5 design would equate to! 180m, 6500T Trimaran with 64 VLS cells, top speed of 45kt, cruise of 35kt provided by 3 MT30s (2 connected to electric motors and 1 mechanically driven, all through 3 waterjets), ATAS, a retractable hull sonar, a 4 face MPAR and an EM railgun… I kid you not, this is a work of fact… You could finance revolutions with that sort of price tag, it’s almost science fiction.

  27. Mike Burleson permalink*
    October 29, 2009 7:26 am

    New Alex said “trying to replace a Frigate with a OPV/Corvette is a thoroughly stupid idea,”

    Thats true if you are trying to replace the frigates, but we are trying to rebuild the flotilla, where the main enemies are pirates and smugglers. Compared to these, a Type 23 or even a Perry is like using a battleship, a massive waste of firepower. And today frigates like the LCS come at a battleship price.

    This is not about replacing old-style designs and strategies one on one, but about facing new threats and problems at sea. COIN warfare at sea means more hulls in the water and the gold plated or high tech has little place here. Just as in our land wars we need more boots on the ground, but you won’t get more hulls with ships ranging from half-billion to $2 billion each.

    I also disagree with the notion that a 1000 ton corvette can’t handle helicopters. One of the early designs of Streetfighter was a wide hull catamaran design which would be very stable for helo operations. Then there are UAVs like Fire Scout which are much smaller than traditional vertol craft, ideal for a smaller vessel.

    Still, myself and others have envisioned such vessel operating with larger motherships, which easily can deploy the essential helicopter. The idea that ships being built without a hanger shouldn’t deter us from getting hulls in the water, recalling that even the 9000 ton Flight I Burkes had no such facilities.

  28. Al L. permalink
    October 29, 2009 3:18 am

    “Maybe, maybe not. At deadweight 950t, Sea Fighter (pictured above) is worth serious consideration. With a range of 4,400nm, it equals LCS. Costwise, it’s about one-third of USS Freedom. Has twin helo capacity”

    Landing 2 helos is not the same as supporting 2 helos. Where on FSF-1 are those helos supposed to be serviced, rearmed, equipped and sheltered in bad weather? Where are the ground crews supposed to keep their gear, where is the aviation fuel tankage to support persistent operations? You can’t wish it into a hull, all those things add space and weight. Look around the world and you can’t find a ship that can support and operate 2 helos thats less than 2500t. Most exceed 3500t.
    Not to mention the stability issues of small lightweight hulls vs. larger ones while operating helos in rough seas. Nope 2000t is a minimum and only then with compromises.

  29. Hudson permalink
    October 29, 2009 1:28 am

    “No one is going to prove this can be done with ships of less than 2000tons and most likely it will take at least 2500t ships. ”

    Maybe, maybe not. At deadweight 950t, Sea Fighter (pictured above) is worth serious consideration. With a range of 4,400nm, it equals LCS. Costwise, it’s about one-third of USS Freedom. Has twin helo capacity. Some Wiki below:

    “With twin gas turbine engines, twin water jets, and a streamlined hull, Sea Fighter is capable of speeds of 50 knots (90 km/h) and greater. It is designed to be a sea frame that can carry interchangeable mission modules resembling shipping containers. These modules allow it to be easily reconfigured to meet a variety of mission requirements, including mine warfare, anti-submarine operations, amphibious assault support, surface warfare, transport and logistical missions, cruise missile launch, and special forces interdiction operations. The mission modules are easily loaded and stored on Sea Fighter’s inner deck.”

  30. Al L. permalink
    October 28, 2009 10:45 pm

    1000 or less ton ships will never fill the low end gap for the U.S. Navy. They cannot provide an effective platform for helicopters. Helicopters, manned or unmanned are the key to sea control on the low end of war for a Navy which cannot depend on land bases in the area of operations.
    A simple geometric construct explains this. Visby has a radar horizon of about 15 miles against a 20 foot tall target. Thats it, thats as far as it can see whats going. A ship with a substantial helicopter capacity can have a 100+ mile horizon. Grid out those radiuses and you can see that maintaining control of an area so that boats can’t slip through could require 40 times as many ships/boats without air assets as ships with air assets, and it doesn’t matter if the a/c free ships are DDG-51 flt 1’s or 100t patrol craft. Even a simple picket line requires up to 7 times as many Visby’s as air capable ships.
    (I know the ships may have off board air assets to draw on, but thats a whole nother issue, since the operative word in such situations usually is “may”, as in “may be available if their not assigned to the capital ships”)
    The quickest way to fill this hole in capability in Navy ships(and in an operation)is to put in place the smallest ships that will support a robust air section. That means at least 2 manned helicopters or preferably a long endurance UAV detachment and manned helicopters or shortly in the future several mid size unmanned helicopters.
    No one is going to prove this can be done with ships of less than 2000tons and most likely it will take at least 2500t ships.

    LCS has been poorly managed program and at least some of the program needs restructuring, but its a closer to fixing the Navy’s low end weakness than a 600t $300,000 PER TON Visby ever will be.

  31. Matthew S permalink
    October 28, 2009 9:59 pm

    “The idea of LCS isn’t bad but trying to replace a Frigate with a OPV/Corvette is a thoroughly stupid idea, what is needed is restructuring, at least 2/5 of the Burkes shouldn’t have been built in favour of more frigates and lesser combat solutions, for a properly balanced fleet the number of Burkes the USN has should mean there is 140+ OHP type ships. If the last 20 Burkes hadn’t been build 80 GP Frigates could have been and the remaining 30 or so OHP could have been replaced by 60+ cheap 2000T max corvettes a Navy with nothing between LCS and Burkes is in serious problems if the shit hits the fan. (and I make 60+80+40+25 over 200 surface combatants, that’d please the Republicans too no?)”

    That is way too optimistic. For one thing, the Burke class is a mature design and the yards are very experienced in building those. If the USN were to procure a frigate and corvette class then they would be from scratch designs rather than the dozens of off the shelf designs already available. Development would stagger along and the number of hulls would be cut and cut over the years until the unit cost would be quadruple the initial estimates. This is a more likely scenario of that situation. I do agree that maybe their should have been less Burkes, no LCS whatsoever and instead an actual frigate class and maybe some patrol corvettes.

  32. - Alex (the new'un). permalink
    October 28, 2009 8:18 pm

    Literally(or Largely) Corrupt Senators (nothing to do with the project but encompasses the main point of the argument)

    The idea of LCS isn’t bad but trying to replace a Frigate with a OPV/Corvette is a thoroughly stupid idea, what is needed is restructuring, at least 2/5 of the Burkes shouldn’t have been built in favour of more frigates and lesser combat solutions, for a properly balanced fleet the number of Burkes the USN has should mean there is 140+ OHP type ships. If the last 20 Burkes hadn’t been build 80 GP Frigates could have been and the remaining 30 or so OHP could have been replaced by 60+ cheap 2000T max corvettes a Navy with nothing between LCS and Burkes is in serious problems if the shit hits the fan. (and I make 60+80+40+25 over 200 surface combatants, that’d please the Republicans too no?)

  33. October 28, 2009 7:36 pm

    I’ve said it before, so I’ll say it again: U.A.E. Baynunah class corvette. Stretch it out to about 1,500 to 2,000 tons so that it will: have greater endurance; carry a stern ramp & deck for a pair of RHIBs; have an enlarged hanger and strengthened aviation deck for either a single SH-60 or a pair of MQ-8B Sea Scouts; mount a somewhat enlarged & enhanced weapons load-out.

    Galrahn was the first to recognize the -interesting- abilities of the under-1,000 ton Baynunah class.

    http://www.informationdissemination.net/2009/06/what-usn-corvette-might-look-like.html

  34. Anonymous permalink
    October 28, 2009 6:28 pm

    I don’t think NETFIRES could replace a proper gun; complement it yes. I have got concerns about efficient use of space. I think the PAM missile needs to be housed in the Mk41, of course that would put pressure on cell availability for other things.

    VLS are clever but they do take up deck space.

  35. leesea permalink
    October 28, 2009 5:33 pm

    Mike I guess I am one of the LCS detractors who don’t believe all the “stuff” about these being littoral ships. Sure the Navy wants them to perform littoral missions in dangerous green waters. Being the ultimate skeptic, I don’t think one is going to see a large 3000 ton lightly armed, unarmored ship in those waters. IMHO they will end up as blue water corvettes and not good ones at that.

    Its not that the USN doesn’t need small combatatants to do littoral tasks, they do they just picked the wrong ship design to do it!!!

    Now an Absalon plus Visbys squadron, I could see as effective in the littorals, but the USN won’t give up on LCS for another 5 years or so -(opps we didn’t realize it wouldn’t work – dahh)

    defiant I just said it was fascinating not it was doable – LOL

    Chuck sure there a lot of good platforms for the NETFIRES missiles, its just that the USN doesn’t want to do it that way (my ball my ballgame~)

    How about a PC replacement with several NETFIRES canisters onboard? about 1000 tons like Mike wants plus a UAV pad for spotting a/c and boat(s) to launch a raid?

  36. Chuck Hill permalink
    October 28, 2009 4:22 pm

    If it performs as advertised, I like the NLOS netfires for a number of reasons:

    It can be used against targets on land as well as at sea (and against helicopters as well). It should be able to quickly take out shore batteries, pillboxes and tanks. Compared to what we had for naval gun fire support (NGFS) in WWII it has the punch of a 6 inch gun, more range than a battleship and should be a whole lot more accurate.

    Operating in the littoral it has the advantage of imaging infrared /semi-active laser with automatic target recognition for target acquisition and terminal homing. This should mean it won’t be fooled by decoys. This will also be an advantage in heavily trafficked areas and where there are land masses that confuse targeting.

    To some extent it can independently perform recon and battle damage assessment.

    It does have a shorter range than most surface to surface missiles, but it is still well over horizon range, so it could effectively out range missile boats that rely on their own line of sight systems.

    It provides a relatively large number of rounds (four canisters of 15 rounds each on the LCS) and it looks like a 15 round canister could be mounted on some thing as small as the new Coast Guard Fast Response Cutter (153 ft, 353 ton, Sentinel Class, using the space forward of the bridge). We can put it on a lot of things like landing craft or put it ashore for harbor defense or to control a strait.

    Because it offers a large number of individually relatively small warheads we can scale an attack to suit the target. Single round attacks for small weakly defended targets or high numbers of rounds all arriving simultaneously to swamp the defenses of a large tough target.

    Some relatively recent info here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XM501_Non-Line-of-Sight_Launch_System

  37. Defiant permalink
    October 28, 2009 3:39 pm

    leesea,
    as mentioned in my post the German ship swap is very unlikely as replacement for their aegis-corvette. The ships may however be sold/given to libanon. But they would need to come to homeport to remove at least the RAM, as it is to be used for future german vessels.
    Moreover there is no replacement for these ships yet so they probably will complete their 30 years of duty first.

  38. October 28, 2009 1:35 pm

    Mike,
    Come on. It’s Little Crappy Ship.

  39. Hudson permalink
    October 28, 2009 12:03 pm

    The information on NLOS in the link given above is somewhat dated, I believe. The PAM missile is currently being tested, but LAM, the loitering version, is not going forward from what I have read. A PAM missile fired from a stationary platform in ’09 reportedly hit a moving T-72 tank downrange. What isn’t clear yet is whether PAM can be fired from a moving platform (LCS) and hit a moving target.

    If it can, it would be quite a useful surface weapon, with the equivalent destructive power of a Hellfire missile. I have read that the Israelis have tested Hellfire from their smaller boats. The Chinese have already deployed several smaller surface-to-surface naval missiles. The Iranians have, and may be manufacturing, these missiles for their FACs, which they have in significant numbers.

  40. Mike Burleson permalink*
    October 28, 2009 11:58 am

    Lee said “the Visby is not the be all and end all as it is shy on open ocean endurance.”

    Isn’t that the point of “littoral warfare”. But the Visby isn’t my ideal, just better than the LCS. I would see something over 1000 tons light, very similar to the DE’s and escorts of the world war. Such a vessel would be adequate for Blue Water sailing, but especially geared for warfare in the shallow seas.

    The 3000 ton LCS is too big, and too costly to afford in numbers. Over-engineered, it will be a hindrance to rebuilding (or even maintaining) fleet numbers.

  41. leesea permalink
    October 28, 2009 11:45 am

    Mike you are over-focusing again~ The point of speed is in prosecuting an attack, retreating from a dangerous area and transiting large patrol areas. High speed per se is not objectional or bad. Too high a speed for the intended mission POE in navy speak, is what has been mis-interpreted in the case of the LCS program.

    Its not just the engines which are part of the “speed problem” its the overarching concept of mission, payload, endurance, survivability, offensive power, sensors, etc etc.

    When coupled with the fautly applcation of mission module swapout, the sum total makes the LCS platform defective.

    Remember the Visby is not the be all and end all as it is shy on open ocean endurance.

    That is a fascinating catch about the German ship swap deal!!

  42. Mike Burleson permalink*
    October 28, 2009 10:53 am

    Matthew, this from Navy News says:

    The SUW mission package contains several sensor, weapon, and software components packaged in a modular fashion that easily and quickly swaps in and out of the LCS.

    These components include electro-optical/infrared sensors mounted on a vertical take off unmanned air vehicle to provide over-the-horizon detection; 30mm guns to kill close-in targets; four non-line-of-sight launching system (NLOS-LS) container launch units or “missile-in-a-box” systems, with each system containing 15 offensive missiles; and the MH-60R armed helicopter for surveillance and attack missions.

    http://www.news.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=31482

    For more on the NLOS-LS, check out this from Lockheed which gives detailed info:

    http://www.lockheedmartin.com/products/NonLineOfSightLaunchSystem/index.html

  43. Defiant permalink
    October 28, 2009 10:50 am

    The German Unifil ships include one frigate, one tender and 2 fac. The German Navy retires those FAC soon and replaces them with corvettes (k130 and k131 in the future) But FAC are clearly not something the israelis want, they have sa’ar 4.5 themselves.

  44. Matthew S permalink
    October 28, 2009 10:10 am

    So what exactly is the surface warfare mission module? So far its 2x30mm cannon turrets. I know netfires is part of it but is that even ready for combat? Also, does anyone know what the function of the netfires missiles are? Aren’t they fairly small missiles?

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