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LCS Alternative Weekly

December 9, 2009
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German Navy corvette Braunschweig ( F 260). Author Torsten Bätge via Wikimedia Commons.

Exporting Russia’s Littoral Ships

Here is a thought. After recent news that Russia’s Navy is on the downslide, headed for what some have called a fleet with only corvettes and French designed amphibious ships, perhaps there is room for concern. What if Moscow does start constructing numerous new corvettes, which unlike the old FACs they use to export can well handle any aerial defenses sent against them, like helicopters on Western frigates? Also, there might even be a place for the Mistral clone which, while not as effective as a supercarriers, would provide a regional power with considerable amphibious expeditionary capability (this is why Russia wants her, a fact which has her neighbors up in arms).

In contrast, America has few warships which are export-ready. Though many appreciate the qualities of the older ships we discard, few have the funds for say a Freedom class LCS, which prices as much as a European guided missile destroyers, but is greatly underarmed for this role. In a future combat at sea, instead of facing rogue navies in speed boats, the LCS could realistically contend with enemy corvettes which are better armed and more numerous. This, according to Strategypage, might be her future foe:

There is one Stereguschyy class corvette in service, with three more building. These are small ships (2,100 tons displacement), costing about $125 million each. These “Project 20380” ships have impressive armament (two 30mm anti-missile cannon, one 100mm cannon, eight anti-ship missiles, six anti-submarine missiles, two eight cell anti-missile missile launchers). There is a helicopter platform, but the ship is not designed to carry one regularly. Crew size, of one hundred officers and sailors, is achieved by a large degree of automation. The ship also carries air search and navigation radars. It can cruise 6,500 kilometers on one load of fuel. Normally, the ship would stay out 7-10 days at a time, unless it received replenishment at sea.

*****

Maritime Strategy Out, Bigger Fleet In

Seems that one of the architects of the 2008  “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower”, the Navy’s new Maritime Strategy, Bryan McGrath has had a change of heart. Now instead of a cooperative Navy, he says we need a bigger one:

When I speak of the Strategy, I can only reveal what was in MY mind in its writing–I cannot speak for Navy leadership. And what I considered essential to this requirement was a ship that could be built in numbers–not 55, but more like 155, which we could send out around the world to the very edges of the empire to work the issues of global system protection. Essential to this vision was that we would not and could not accept a diminishing of our power projection combat punch–and the only way we could do both (protect our combat punch and create the globally disbursed force) would be for the Navy to grow.

Hmmm…Where have we heard the same ideas somewhere else? Like on New Wars EVERYDAY!

*****

Outstanding Quote

This comes to us via Twitter, and Simon Staniland @Naval Warfare:

HMS Monmouth protecting Iraq oil fields, is a Type 23 really the best ship to do this? Should the UK be looking for a Littoral Combat ship.

Emphasis on “a” and not “the” littoral combat ship, we hope! Many off the shelf alternatives out there, without the gold plate and adding to the RN’s colossal financial burdens. One of these could be its own River class OPV, which we earlier put forth as a “Future Surface Combatant Alternative“, to operate alongside the highly capable Type 45 destroyers. The idea should then be that all of your warships needn’t be of the “exquisite” variety, or even most of them.

*****

Gold Plate at a “Bargain” Price

Well, if you like paying top-dollar for a ship less well armed than the one it is replacing, I suppose this is good news. From Chris Cavas at Defense News we learn “New LCS Costs Exceed Target, Yet Lower Than Earlier Ships“:

The contract for LCS 3, awarded March 23 to Lockheed Martin, is for $470,854,144, according to a Naval Sea Systems press release issued Dec. 3. The ship reuses certain materials from an earlier LCS 3 canceled in April 2007. Those materials, valued at $78 million, bring the contract value to $548,854,144.
For LCS 4, awarded May 1 to General Dynamics, the contract price is $433,686,769. Taken together with $114 million of materials from an earlier LCS 4 canceled in November 2007, the contract value is $547,686,769.

Here, though, is the gist of the matter:

Those numbers contrast with the original $220 million-per ship cost forecast by the Navy in 2004, and a congressionally imposed cost cap of $480 million per ship to take effect with the fiscal 2011 budget.

*****

A Mothership or a Corvette?

The LCS may be alright if it only expects to fight pirates in speed boats, the old “fighting the last war” syndrome. But as we pointed out earlier, foreign navies have learned the lessons of the past, and are uparming their old missile boats to corvette status. In nearly all cases, corvettes of 1000 tons or more (or even smaller) are better armed than the 3 times as large LCS. The Navy and its supporters see its LCS frigate/corvette as a mothership, except with lightly armed motherships you require escorts. A corvette and especially a squadron of corvettes can take care of themselves against peer threats. As we see with the RFA Wave Knight incident, heavy underarmed warships just can’t manage the fight against light and lethal pirates in speedboats. Likewise, the better armed missile destroyers are needed elsewhere, and are too large for service in the shallow seas.

So the Navy must have corvettes and motherships, not “either, or” and certainly not motherships alone. Sadly, the under-armed LCS is adding another escort-required burden to an already stretched-thin fleet. Those poor over-worked Burke DDGs  have found yet another mission.

*****

21 Comments leave one →
  1. CBD permalink
    December 12, 2009 11:55 am

    Smitty,
    Fair enough (re Frigates). As I’ve posted recently elsewhere on this blog, I think that the USN needs frigates for patrols and they could serve for some of those roles (I looked to the F100 on the high end and Formidable on the low, as designed with US VLS, radar and Torp systems swapped in on the Formidable). I think that goes a long way towards resolving the patrol problem…but I also see a role for smaller ships.

    The crew numbers for Sa’ar 5 and K130 both already include crews for weapons systems…if you eliminate your anti-ship missiles then you have berths available for ASW/MIW/VBSS crews. Yes, it is more manpower intensive than the LCS, but the LCS-1 crew numbers rose because of basic organic needs that were unfilled. Recall the numbers of crew added to the Perry-class once they were actually deployed…now note that LCS-1 has none of that extra space to convert and has yet to even have all of its systems in place. I strongly doubt that the final crew requirement will stay below 90-100.

    As has been said here, steel and air are cheap. The Sa’ar 5 suffers from a lack of displacement and space for upgrades. The costs, weight issues and crew requirements are partly because they run so many different combat systems simultaneously (conducting ASuW, ASW, AAW and helicopter simultaneously, effectively a small frigate). 64 crew for those functions and 10 to keep a helicopter going are pretty good.

  2. B.Smitty permalink
    December 11, 2009 9:04 am

    CBD,

    No, it wasn’t a problem with the sonar. They weren’t sure the MH-60S was powerful enough to tow whatever it was for significant periods. They may have resolved it by now.

    I agree that a smaller corvette could carry a slice of an LCS module, but is it really realistic to expect it to be half the price of an LCS, given that it will have a significantly more expensive organic combat suite? The K130 and Sa’ar V are around $300 million each already. Neither has the set of organic systems and modularity you want. Just running them through the US procurement system will add a $50-100 million, easy.

    How many more crew will two vessels need? Braunschweigs already need 65 and Sa’ar 5s need 75, with no module specific crew. Granted, the LCS’s will ultimately require more crew than they have allocated, but one LCS with 80-90 is still less than two corvettes with 140-160 (total).

    No, I think a better way to get cheaper hulls in the water is just to junk the 40+kt requirement and build an old fashion, 3-6000 tonne, 25-30kt monohull. Maybe work with the USCG to define a common set of requirements between this vessel and the USCG OPC. Or license build an existing, foreign hull design (e.g. Absalon, Nansen, Meko A200, La Fayette, FREMM) customized to carry a single LCS module in addition to modest, organic armament.

    Choose one of the existing LCS designs to compete against this frigate-style LCS, build a few of each, and then down-select to one going forward.

  3. CBD permalink
    December 11, 2009 12:02 am

    Chuck,
    I hope it all works.

  4. Chuck Hill permalink
    December 10, 2009 8:32 pm

    This looks like good news and a good reason to go with this design:

    From
    Heretic permalink

    Navy: InSurv recommends accepting LCS 2

    “In fact, G-D has said the Independence has enough room to accommodate two mission modules, but Landay said that for now, the Navy plans to only equip the ship with one module at a time.”

  5. CBD permalink
    December 10, 2009 4:11 pm

    “The USV towed array doesn’t just replicate the functionality of the towed array on the corvette. It affords a survivability advantage, allowing the LCS to stand off from threats (mines, SSKs). For the corvette to use its hull sonar and towed array, has to get much closer.”

    That’s fair and may well be, but if you replace the normal onboard RHIBs with the USV (same size as ribs, higher mass) and some CRRCs (to maintain short distance ship-to-ship transport) then you have that.

    The LCS are reported by some sources to have a basic obstacle avoidance sonar (other sources don’t even mention a sonar set) that could also serve in an emergency capacity to detect nearby mines…but not submarines or mines farther afield. Additionally, the LCS-1 and LCS-2, due to small crews, have only minimal organic technical support, so if a piece of their MIW package fails the LCS will not have that resource until the ship visits a tender (ie, leaves station to maintain mission effectiveness).

    “What sized corvette are we talking about here? K130s are already 1800 tonnes. Enlarging it to carry an H-60 and half the offboard MIW/ASW capability of an LCS along with its normal armament and systems could put it over 2000 tonnes. Are you really going to be able to afford two for the price of one LCS?”
    I wouldn’t recommend buying the K130 (nor the Sa’ar V) for US needs. The Israeli K130, however, is said to weigh just over 2,000t (likely with H-60 and some added mission space).

    “Also, IIRC, there has been some question as to whether the MH-60S can effectively tow either AQS-20A or OASIS (I don’t remember which). So I’m skeptical about using it with an H-65 or Fire Scout.”
    That may well be.

    Is this what you are referring to?
    April 28/08: Inside Defense reports that the US has halted its OpEval (operational evaluation, realistic tests) of the MH-60S AMCM mine-countermeasures helicopter. A discussion with NAVAIR reveals that the problem is with one specific system, and OpEval is continuing with the rest of the AMCM package in its current state.

    The problem is related to the AQS-20 towing sonar. The sonar works fine, but the mechanisms that deploy it out the side of the helicopter are encountering reliability issues. A team of engineers has been formed to look into the problem. Once they report back, the US Navy will have a better idea of the time and effort required to deliver a fix. AQS-20 OpEval will be rescheduled at a later date, once the Navy is confident that a fix is well underway. (DID on MH-60S). If so, sounds more like a technical than weight problem (it weighs 978lbs according to the manufacturer).

    Since the LCS (especially LCS-1) won’t be able to maintain its full (ASuW) suite of weapons in addition to the special mission module, why would we hold a corvette to a higher standard? The corvette would be reconfigurable. Using a small ship for MCM/MIW pretty much means that it is focusing all of its resources on that task (an amphib or carrier can do it with a handful of air assets, although not perfectly).

    For MCM/MIW a ship that would normally (in wartime) carry a 57 or 76mm gun, 24-64 defensive missiles (miniVLS or ESSM in SDL VLS), 4-8 AShMs, several torpedoes, a secondary/CIWS gun, boarding teams and related equipment would strip down to the main gun (reduced ammo stores), the CIWS and a partial load of defensive missiles. A lot of weight and personnel are freed by the reduction to this core package would then be redistributed to accommodate the added weight of mission packages.

  6. Heretic permalink
    December 10, 2009 11:52 am

    Navy: InSurv recommends accepting LCS 2

    hat tip: ELP

  7. Mike Burleson permalink*
    December 10, 2009 11:13 am

    Smitty, it is not just about cost but a mindset. The idea that “1 ship can replace 4” is wrong and a dangerous one. Multi-mission is a fantasy, and also death spiral for a global navy which must do presence. Presence requires many hulls in the water. We can see this with the admirals constantly announcing defeat in the War on Piracy.

    You are right that big doesn’t necessarily mean expensive, but it is too tempting to place ever more capabilities on a larger hull, which in turn raises the cost.

    Smaller hulls would naturally force discipline. Navies like Denmark can get by with a few large, multi-purpose hulls like Absalon, but the USN can’t if it wants to stay global.

  8. B.Smitty permalink
    December 10, 2009 9:27 am

    This “obsession with small” for an LCS replacement is completely misguided. “Large” does not have to mean “expensive”.

    An LCS based on a 15,000 tonne hull could cost less than the existing LCS. It all depends on what you put in it (and how well you run the program).

  9. B.Smitty permalink
    December 10, 2009 9:03 am

    The USV towed array doesn’t just replicate the functionality of the towed array on the corvette. It affords a survivability advantage, allowing the LCS to stand off from threats (mines, SSKs). For the corvette to use its hull sonar and towed array, has to get much closer.

    What sized corvette are we talking about here? K130s are already 1800 tonnes. Enlarging it to carry an H-60 and half the offboard MIW/ASW capability of an LCS along with its normal armament and systems could put it over 2000 tonnes. Are you really going to be able to afford two for the price of one LCS?

    Also, IIRC, there has been some question as to whether the MH-60S can effectively tow either AQS-20A or OASIS (I don’t remember which). So I’m skeptical about using it with an H-65 or Fire Scout.

  10. CBD permalink
    December 9, 2009 4:02 pm

    “How big of an ASW or MIW module can a K130 or Sa’ar V carry? Sa’ar Vs are already top heavy as it is right?”
    How big of a module or what capabilities? Sa’ar V already has 2 sonars (in the hull and towed). A significant portion of the LCS MIW package is required just to duplicate that. The LCS doesn’t support a sonar dome (doesn’t mesh well with the high speeds) and doesn’t have a towed sonar.

    “I seriously doubt either has the space or weight margins to carry a 200 tonne module (especially since they already give up 1000+ tonnes of displacement to the larger LCS).”
    If the LCS had a lower speed requirement (since speed is the opposite of what is desired for MIW and as its speed capabilities are not useful in the shallows, where such high speeds soon result in beached ships) then it wouldn’t have such a large weight ‘benefit’ over the other two ships described. It also wouldn’t need some of the equipment.

    “Neither can hangar even a single H-60 (critical to US ASW and MIW plans), let alone 2. K130 can’t even hangar a helo, just a pair of UAVs.”
    LCS-1’s ability to support a ‘200 tonne’ module is also suspect. Neither Sa’ar V nor the K130 was designed to hangar an H-60. It’s all about design requirements.

    LCS-1 was “designed” to hold 2 H60s and 3 VTUAVs (if you aren’t planning on any other activities, like maintenance, in the hangar), but more practically it will hold 1 MH-60S and maybe (with WD40) 2 VTUAVs. LCS-2 could hold 2 MH-60S and probably 1 VTUAV besides. Unfortunately, the full LCS MIW ‘package’ calls for much more than this (2 MH-60S, 3 VTUAV).

    What is the official LCS MIW package (as it can be deployed)?

    2 MH-60S with the AMCM suite elements or 1 Helo and 3 VTUAVs*
    1 USV with towed sonar
    8 UUVs
    1 EOD team

    2 Corvettes could readily carry all of these system components. 1 Corvette could likely run all of the above minus the second helicopter. As far as the H-60, its payload capacity and size isn’t relevant for any of the airborne systems with the exception of RAMICs. So put it on a H-65 or a VTUAV and save your corvette lots of space requirements.

    To clarify,
    AMCM suite (based on the H-60*):
    – AN/AWS-2 Rapid Airborne MIne Clearance System (Supercavitating rounds)
    – AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (LIDAR)
    – AQS-20A (an Air-towed sonar)
    – AN/ASQ-235 Airborne Mine Neutralization System (Self-sacrificing drone)
    – AN/ALQ-220 Organic Airborne and Surface Influence Sweep (Magnetic)

    2 helicopters are required to both sweep and clear an area (if you don’t mind only sweeping for 1-2 types of mines at a time). Several of these systems could likely be carried by a VTUAV instead (excepting the ALMDS, RAMICS and perhaps the towed sonar). The VTUAVs are designated to carry 2 COBRA multispectral imaging/mine detection systems (apparently a 2:1 operational to maintenance cycle is expected), which aren’t much good once you leave completely uniform sandy beach and can’t do much to detect naval mines.

    3 UUVs- Battlespace Preparation Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (BPAUV, high endurance bottom Sonar scanner)
    3 UUVs- SCULPIN
    2 UUV- AN/WLD-1 Remote Minehunting System (same role as BPAUV)

    1 USV (Spartan) – 2 ton RHIB with towed sonar array (AQS 14/24)
    – Just replicates the role of a towed sonar array for a smaller vessel. The large mass of the LCS means that it is readily detected by pressure mines and thus cannot itself act as a sweeper.

  11. CBD permalink
    December 9, 2009 3:47 pm

    “Hanit was hit, so clearly opponents can distinguish corvettes from the clutter.”
    Right. Reportedly with either a video-guided or radar-guided missile against a target without ECM or any of its numerous defensive measures active, yes.

    I doubt that in conventional war situations (or anytime in the future), the INS or USN would allow a radar station to operate for several days without being struck (in that case, a station supposedly belonging to the Lebanese army but serving a different master).

    “Opponents will fire against whatever they have in reach, for PR victories alone. Carriers and their escorts stay much further away.”
    If it’s a relatively weak force, maybe. But they won’t be firing low-RCS sea skimmers (the C-802 is certainly not in that category).

    “IMHO, Netfires is preferable to Spike, even Spike NLOS. Netfires gives you 15 instantly available missiles in a compact package that can be ripple fired in any direction. Spike NLOS gives you four on a trainable mount that must be targeted one at a time.”

    Netfires will also have to be targeted one at a time in most situations. Ripple firing of a PGM against small waterborne or airborne targets doesn’t make much sense.

    Unless you’re dedicating more than one missile to a target or have abundant time to individually program each missile to attack in a separate, very limited target area, you would just end up sending all of the fired missiles at the same target. At best you might be able to fire on two targets at a time. In that case, what’s the benefit of having your H-60 designate the target rather than firing a Hellfire (or its replacement) and thus eliminate the target?

    In a landing-support role (pre-planned strike mission) or against larger vessels it makes much more sense, but a maneuvering, low-RCS AShM makes more sense against the larger targets.

    One of the three targeting systems (GPS-INS) can’t be used on such moving targets, the second system (SAL) depends on a laser designator within a target area (2, let alone 15, of these available at once is unlikely), and the third system (IIR) depends on the availability of specific target data (like what its IR image looks like).

    Further, the extensive time required for the limited crew to track and fire on each target is better used firing on each target as its track appears (negating that benefit). Is NLOS hardened against the ECM systems normally carried by ships? Is it designed to distinguish between IR flares and the true target? If not, it is of no benefit.

    The Spike NLOS could account for any of those by being commanded from the firing vessel via a direct link, no ECM susceptibility and plenty of control over targets. Each system has its benefits and drawbacks.

    Netfires, as it stands, can’t complete precision strike munitions when ripple fired (especially not against moving targets)…so I see it as about even.

  12. December 9, 2009 3:17 pm

    “What ever the reason for the failure to protect the British couple, it had nothing to do with RFA Wave Knight being “heavy” or “underarmed.” She had all the requirements need to fight pirates–gun, helicopter, boat, boarding party. You have to look elsewhere for the problem.”

    ROE and political will.

    If pirates stopped coming back from the sorties how long do you think it would be before the problem stopped.

    (And I don’t mean giving the pirates asylum…………..)

  13. B.Smitty permalink
    December 9, 2009 3:09 pm

    Netfires isn’t a production system yet.

  14. Hudson permalink
    December 9, 2009 2:39 pm

    What is the problem with NLOS/Netfires that it is not already mounted aboard LCS-1 & 2? R&D problem, budget, what?

  15. B.Smitty permalink
    December 9, 2009 1:36 pm

    CBD,

    1&2) This was in response to Mike’s statement, “A corvette and especially a squadron of corvettes can take care of themselves against peer threats.”
    3) No it’s not useless, if it can effectively perform its other missions.

    CBD said, “How many such missiles are there?
    Will an opponent force be able to distinguish a small vessel from the clutter?
    Will an opponent use such missiles against the many corvettes or will they be concentrated against aircraft carriers and destroyers?
    Can the AEGIS radars pick up the lower RCS sea-skimmers?

    There are not many now, but we are building ships that will be around in 30-50 years, so we need to plan ahead.

    Hanit was hit, so clearly opponents can distinguish corvettes from the clutter.

    Opponents will fire against whatever they have in reach, for PR victories alone. Carriers and their escorts stay much further away.

    IMHO, Netfires is preferable to Spike, even Spike NLOS. Netfires gives you 15 instantly available missiles in a compact package that can be ripple fired in any direction. Spike NLOS gives you four on a trainable mount that must be targeted one at a time.

    How big of an ASW or MIW module can a K130 or Sa’ar V carry? Sa’ar Vs are already top heavy as it is right? I seriously doubt either has the space or weight margins to carry a 200 tonne module (especially since they already give up 1000+ tonnes of displacement to the larger LCS) . Neither can hangar even a single H-60 (critical to US ASW and MIW plans), let alone 2. K130 can’t even hangar a helo, just a pair of UAVs.

  16. Mike Burleson permalink*
    December 9, 2009 1:35 pm

    CBD and all, or the Navy could just say piracy is just a distraction, a temporary problem, it must be fought on land, we don’t have enough ships so why bother, we must prepared for the next war, ect.

    Does every mission have to be geared for the battlefleet, first the Soviets now China as an antagonist? Who have we physically clashed with in the past 70 years that calls for high end platform-only, exquisite capability-only, to the detriment of fleet numbers?

    I am not prepared to say the corvette is ready to take over the functions of the Aegis ships, just take up the slack where the DDGs can’t be everywhere at once, get them out of the shallow waters where they have no business. Also make fighting terrorist smugglers and pirates at sea more cost-effective without bankrupting the defense budget over this “minor insignificant” threat.

  17. CBD permalink
    December 9, 2009 1:14 pm

    B. Smitty,
    “A squadron of corvettes can only marginally “take care of themselves”. They can’t carry large enough AAW suites to effectively deny the upper altitude bands like larger destroyers and frigates.”
    A few counter-questions:
    1) Would anyone be sending these corvettes into an environment where DDGs or a CVN are better suited for the job?
    2) Why does a corvette need to support TBMD or act as the AAW supremacy vessel in the area? I thought that was the job of the DDGs.
    3) Is a vessel capable of only local air defense in addition to its other roles useless?

    “Their smaller missiles and radars are only mutually supportive if they stay close together. Are their radars powerful enough to pick up lower RCS sea-skimmers?”

    How many such missiles are there?
    Will an opponent force be able to distinguish a small vessel from the clutter?
    Will an opponent use such missiles against the many corvettes or will they be concentrated against aircraft carriers and destroyers?
    Can the AEGIS radars pick up the lower RCS sea-skimmers?

    “Are large AShMs really valuable at all against small craft? The LCS’s NLOS system seems to be a better fit.”
    Who said anything about using large AShMs against small craft?
    Wouldn’t the latest Spike NLOS or something of that sort be even better than the NLOS-LS system?
    How far out are we trying to strike with shipboard systems alone?
    In the near range (under 12km), Hellfires, laser guided rockets (70mm or 127mm) and other small PGMs can or will be able to reach out to 8-12km with deadly precision. Why shouldn’t it be expected that these smaller PGMs would be integrated onto any new corvette?

    “Plus they add so much armament that they can’t perform the primary LCS missions as effectively (MIW, littoral ASW). How much minehunting gear can a K130 carry? How about a Sa’ar 5? How many ASW USV/UUVs? H-60s?”

    K130 could carry quite a bit (ie, the full LCS MCM/MIW system), but has no built-in sub-hunting capability (the Israeli variant will likely have this). 1 H-60 can be operated, 2 VTUAVs can be stowed in the hangar.

    For the Sa’ar V, quite a bit. Sa’ar V was built with insufficient expansion capacity to have much added, but it has quite a bit of ASW capacity (hull-mounted and towed sonars, torpedos, helicopter) that is also useful for MCM/MIW. If MIW capability was desired, you could free displacement by removing the phalanx and harpoons, modifying the crane (to drop items overboard and loading the LCS MIW package (the UUVs could be launched from the SVTTs, dropped overboard, or air dropped). 1 H-6o can be landed, 1 H-65/Dauphin can be stowed in the hangar.

    How much capacity does LCS-1 have for ASW, MCM or MIW at its baseline? Or a Burke? Is a single corvette (at 1/3 to 1/10th the cost) significantly less capable? How about a group of 2?

    The key is remembering that you can subtract as well as add. If you have a group of 4 Corvettes, 2 can be regularly configured for patrol, 1 can focus on ASW and another can conduct MCM/MIW. Within a day, those ships could all be changed over for a strike mission (AShMs, torpedoes), a major mine clearing operation (MCM/MIW), or to hunt a submarine (ASW).

    You don’t need AShMs to hunt subs (and so they’d be removed, freeing displacement), but 4 ships in formation present a moving sonar array of 8 emitters/receivers (1 hull mounted sonar and one towed array per vessel, not expecting any helicopter involvement or air-dropped hydrophones) is dangerous for any submarine. That each of these vessels could launch 6 torpedoes on short warning makes them that much more dangerous.

  18. Chuck Hill permalink
    December 9, 2009 1:02 pm

    What ever the reason for the failure to protect the British couple, it had nothing to do with RFA Wave Knight being “heavy” or “underarmed.” She had all the requirements need to fight pirates–gun, helicopter, boat, boarding party. You have to look elsewhere for the problem.

  19. December 9, 2009 11:31 am

    Aaaargh Mike, I thought we had already explained this:

    “As we see with the RFA Wave Knight incident, heavy underarmed warships just can’t manage the fight against light and lethal pirates in speedboats. ”

    It’s NOT a warship – R = Royal F = Fleet A = Auxiliary, its a bloody tanker with a few canon for self defence !!

    The issue is the UK gov. is such cluster f**k where it comes to defence they have trashed the RN and there are no real ships available, be they T23’s or River Class OPV’s or even Assault ships….

  20. B.Smitty permalink
    December 9, 2009 10:10 am

    A squadron of corvettes can only marginally “take care of themselves”. They can’t carry large enough AAW suites to effectively deny the upper altitude bands like larger destroyers and frigates. Their smaller missiles and radars are only mutually supportive if they stay close together. Are their radars powerful enough to pick up lower RCS sea-skimmers?

    Are large AShMs really valuable at all against small craft? The LCS’s NLOS system seems to be a better fit.

    Plus they add so much armament that they can’t perform the primary LCS missions as effectively (MIW, littoral ASW). How much minehunting gear can a K130 carry? How about a Sa’ar 5? How many ASW USV/UUVs? H-60s?

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