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LCS Alternative Weekly

February 24, 2010
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The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) heads south from Naval Station Mayport, Fla., to begin her maiden deployment.

LCS versus NSC

USCG Commandant Thad Allen says his new National Security Cutter is better suited for soft power operations with foreign navies than the Navy’s LCS. Here is Greg Grant at DoD Buzz:

Allen revealed a bit of the tension that exists between Navy and Coast Guard shipbuilding plans, saying the National Security Cutter is better suited to partnering with foreign navies than the Littoral Combat Ship. “[The National Security Cutter] can operate independently, it can steam 12,000 miles, operate for 60 to 90 days without replenishment, and is used to operating independent of a battle group, without the need of an oiler, which the LCS would need.”

True but what is our Coast Guard doing in foreign stations anyway?

*****

Iranian Destroyer Watch

Now that we know the Iranian so-called destroyer is just a light frigate or corvette of 1400 tons, it is interesting the Jamaran is STILL more heavily armed than the over twice as large USS Freedom. Considering the ongoing animosity between the US and Iran, it is not unthinkable the 2 warships may actually meet some day…

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Doing the LCS Burn-Out

As if our sailors didn’t have enough to do, considering low manning issues thought the fleet, especially with shrinking numbers of ships in a continuously busy Navy, here comes LCS to tighten the screws even further. From Navy Times subscribers edition, here’s a report by the ever watchful Phil Ewing:

“Hybrid sailors” take three times as many tasks as their counterparts in the regular Navy, including jobs way out of their rating. On the cold, clear morning when Freedom pulled away from its pier, sailors from its helicopter detachment helped bring in the mooring lines. Roomba floor-sweeping robots kept the passageways clean. First class petty officers ran many operations on the ship, and in some cases even had chiefs working for them…

The fast-paced, constant workload demanded of sailors who are each responsible for two or three jobs beyond their own.
   “Sometimes it’s chaotic, and sometimes it’s all right,” said Gunner’s Mate 1st Class (SW) Michael Davis, with the surface warfare module. “It can get to a point where you are working all the time. You’ve got to make sure the guys don’t get burned out. You do not want to start seeing people burn out.”

Note, these are the sailors saying these things. So, with the smaller-fleet mindset, that you can build one warship to do the work of four others, you also expect the crew to do the work of numerous other personnel. As we recall in the Australian Navy, this hasn’t performed as planned, with widespread discontent and falling numbers of sailors reenlisting. Apparently the admirals failed to have the sailors in mind when designing the multimission warship concept.

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About those “Water Wings”

From the same Navy Times article, we learn more about the “buoyancy tanks” additions on the LCS stern:

An upgrade to the ship itself also could be a sign the ship is not quite conforming to the Navy’s expectations. In December, the Navy took the unusual step of welding two large, oblong boxes onto Freedom’s stern, on either side of the gate used to launch and recover small boats. The boxes, dubbed “buoyancy tanks,” enclose void space that rides above the waterline, canted to allow Freedom to get up on plane, skimming over the waves like a giant Jet Ski to reach its high sprint speeds.
   Garner said the tanks were there to give Freedom extra buoyancy in case it started to sink, and had been installed to bring the ship in compliance with Naval Vessel Rules. Garner would not comment about whether the boxes meant Freedom specifically, and the Lockheed Martin design for LCS generally were built with too little reserve buoyancy.

Never fear though, says Lockmart, since the extra reserve buoyancy will likely be built into follow-up vessels. Here from a separate Scoop Deck post:

Kim Martinez, a spokeswoman for Freedom-class LCS builder Lockheed Martin, said Friday that LockMart’s next ship, the Fort Worth, “is being assessed to preclude the same tank design,” and depending on that study, could get some modification while it’s being built to obviate the need for its own pair of water wings.

Meaning, even more weight added to the already overweight hull. Though I’m no engineer, this sounds like the seakeeping abilities are getting worse, not better. Remember the pic ScottB pointed out to use the other day, with Freedom struggling in fairly moderate seas?

Last year Tim Colton mentioned the weight issue:

Let’s be blunt (for a change).  LCS 1 is way overweight.  I’m told that her lightweight is about 3100 tons and her full-load displacement is about 3400 tons…Why are we building this ship?

*****

N-LOS No Show

A primary defensive weapon for the littoral ships has failed in tests, according to Phil Ewing at Scoop Deck:

Even though the Navy is very proud that the littoral combat ship Freedom is underway right now in the Caribbean patrolling for smugglers, there are many parts of the LCS concept still in the works. The wham-o-dyne, helicopter-mounted, super-gun that will blow up mines, for example, is still under development, as are the Non Line Of Sight “precision attack missiles,” which are planned to give LCS ships a quick, extended ability to hit surface targets.

However, as reported by our colleague Kate Brannen, all is not well in NLOS land. Not only are the missiles doing poorly in live-fire tests, but as Brannen writes in the print edition of this week’s Defense News (on newsstands now!) they are proving to be much more expensive than planned. NLOS, which the Navy is developing with the Army, will cost $466,000 per round in 2011, according to Army budget documents.

Yet another black mark on a troubled program. Other than the fact that the LCS won’t float and can’t fight, this is really a great warship program, I tell ya!

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Merkava Goes to Sea

The Israeli Navy, er-Army has found a way to create an instant littoral ship. Craig Hooper of Next Navy reports:

According to a September 22, 2009 Jerusalem Post article (no direct link available, sorry), Israel purchased several landing craft (the IDF has not mounted an amphibious assault since the early ’80s).  Why?  Well, the Post article gives a hint–it all goes back to Gaza:

“In both conflicts, the navy faced almost zero resistance at sea, and during Cast Lead it was able to provide close artillery support for the Paratroopers Brigade – which maneuvered along the coast.”

In Gaza, fire support was provided by Sa’ar boats, and those little ships used their tiny guns to great effect, hitting some 200 targets during Cast Lead.  The most recent Jane’s Navy International (again, no link available) provided more details–it seems the Israeli Navy has purchased several 25 Meter/20 knot LCTs, sticking Merkava Main Battle Tanks upon them (or some troops, or, well, whatever fits…) and sailing away.

“It is the navy’s mission to support the infantry and the best way to do it is with LCTs,”  IN Captain (res) Mike Eldar, who commanded the IN’s amphibious flotilla in 1982, told Jane’s. “This is an important capability and will give the IDF more flexibility and maneuverability.”

For duty off Gaza or off Lebanon, these ultra-cheap littoral combat boats (along with their hefty ‘ole mission module) will be a game changer.

How cool is that? The Israeli’s are taking its cue from the Chinese who had the same idea but on a grand scale. Such thinking outside the box, warfare off the shelf is the way of the future. Certainly is affordable.

*****

LCS Alternative-Comandante class corvette

This class of 6 built by Fincantieri of Italy is labeled a corvette though armed much like an OPV. Its mission ability includes long and medium range patrols with an endurance of 10 days. Other duties include “establishing presence in and patrolling international waters, patrolling and guarding maritime borders and surveillance of the exclusive economic zone”, and combat operations.

Specifications:

  • Length-88 meters
  • Beam-12.2 meters
  • Draft-4.6 meters
  • Displacement-1520 tons full
  • Speed-25 knots
  • Crew-80
  • Armament-1 Main Caliber Gun – 76 mm OTOBREDA 
    2 Secondary Caliber Guns – 25 mm OTOBREDA 
    Flight deck and retractable hangar for AB 212/NH 90 helo

More info from Naval-Technology.

*****

35 Comments leave one →
  1. Scott B. permalink
    February 25, 2010 4:09 pm

    Another nugget from the excellent Phil Ewing :

    “The Navy’s ship [i.e. LCS] is a full-bore speed demon, designed to rip up the waves at 45 knots — with constant support from an oiler.”

    (emphasis added)

  2. Bill permalink
    February 25, 2010 9:57 am

    “Scott posted ““I assure you that I will not hesitate to re-compete or cancel programs when sub-standard performance demands change.””-Ray Mabus

    Well thats encouraging if he really means it.”

    Both LCS variants have already received the offical stamp of approval at the highest level as meeting ALL Navy requirements. Won’t be any backing up or changing of that position; it’s already cast in stone.

  3. Mike Burleson permalink*
    February 24, 2010 9:52 pm

    Scott posted ““I assure you that I will not hesitate to re-compete or cancel programs when sub-standard performance demands change.””-Ray Mabus

    Well thats encouraging if he really means it.

  4. leesea permalink
    February 24, 2010 6:57 pm

    If you goto the Fincantieri site you will find several small warships which could be built at Marinette Marine a subsidiary of Fincantieri. Existing ships and designs not demonstators.

  5. Scott B. permalink
    February 24, 2010 4:44 pm

    LCS quote of the day :

    “I assure you that I will not hesitate to re-compete or cancel programs when sub-standard performance demands change.”

    Statement of the Honorable Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, before the House Armed Services Subcommittee, 24 February 2010. (Link)

  6. D. E. Reddick permalink
    February 24, 2010 3:53 pm

    Scott,

    I suppose that I wasn’t precise enough. The problem isn’t price when the weapon system doesn’t work. Instead, the problem is that it simply misses its intended targets. At that point, the numbers associated with price / cost of the weapon become meaningless as the damned sorry-@ss thing is missing at a 67 percent rate during its most recent firings. It simply doesn’t work. Thus, price doesn’t matter.

    To paraphrase your own words: “Think big, not small!”

    Instead – think nonexistent effectiveness, not exorbitant cost!

  7. Scott B. permalink
    February 24, 2010 3:40 pm

    D.E. Reddick said : “About NLOS – price does not matter.”

    Of course price does matter.

    $300,000+ might be fine for a missile with a dual-mode seeker and GPS/INS, as long as the package is working fine.

    However, this is twice what a SAL missile with GPS/INS would cost (assuming it works of course).

    In the present case, they seem to have problems with both SAL and UCIIR, but the big issue is this :

    “The missile failed to hit its target both times it relied solely upon its infrared seeker, the document also states.”

    Which means that, unless ONR somehow manages to get the MT3 thingy up and running real fast, you can say goodbye to the multi-target capability.

    Alternatively, if ONR can get the MT3 thingy up and running real fast, what’s the point of paying $300,000+ for a missile where a solution that would cost $100-150K (i.e. SAL with GPS/INS or SAL alone) would do the trick.

    If a world with finite resources, price does matter.

    And it always will.

  8. CBD permalink
    February 24, 2010 3:28 pm

    Scott,
    That was my general impression of the water wings…you can also see the problem in the photo of the LCS-1 digging a furrow in relatively calm seas…those floats are going to be in use as soon as the helicopter is on deck (let alone the weight of any mission systems in the bay).

  9. Mike Burleson permalink*
    February 24, 2010 2:38 pm

    DE wrote-“LCS-1 USS Freedom has just been involved in its first drug smuggler interdiction.”

    Big surprise right? It’s like fishing in a catfish farm down there. Just stick your pole in the water!

    Concerning the buoyancy issue, I think you guys have given us fodder for next week’s post. Thanks!

  10. D. E. Reddick permalink
    February 24, 2010 2:16 pm

    Scott,

    About NLOS – price does not matter. What matters is that in six -very- recent test firings it missed four of its six targets. And two of those missed targets were stationary. And if true, one of the targets was missed by 25 kilometers. Talk about not bein’ able to hit the broad side of a barn! Again, the cost of the NLOS system isn’t the problem.

  11. Scott B. permalink
    February 24, 2010 1:49 pm

    D.E. Reddick : “LCS-1 USS Freedom has just been involved in its first drug smuggler interdiction.”

    It definitely shows how desparate for good news *some* involved with this entire program might be.

    BZ to the so-called *combined team* though (i.e. core crew + mission package crew + aviation detachment + LEDET).

  12. Scott B. permalink
    February 24, 2010 1:43 pm

    B. Smitty said : “LCS was never meant to be a land attack ship. NLOS-LS was supposed to be an anti-small boat system.”

    Bad news is that the big problem area seems to be with the infrared seeker, while IR mode is the primary mode in ASUW (especially against the much touted small boat swarms).

    Might be one of the reasons why there has been so much emphasis recently on an ONR project called Multi-Target Track and Terminate (MT3)

    Now, if there’s a switch from UCIIR to SAL as the primary ASUW mode, that’s one more reason why the US Navy shouldn’t pay $350,000 to $500,000 for this missile.

  13. Scott B. permalink
    February 24, 2010 1:23 pm

    Some more random comments on the ballast thingy :

    1) It’s a quick & dirty fix : it might help some people to save face, but that’s not the way to solve the problem in the long term. And obviously, they are still trying to find out what they should be doing to fix the damn thing. Again, the excellent Phil Ewing provides the quote (bold emphasis mine) :

    “Kim Martinez, a spokeswoman for Freedom-class LCS builder Lockheed Martin, said Friday that LockMart’s next ship, the Fort Worth, “is being assessed to preclude the same tank design,” and depending on that study, could get some modification while it’s being built to obviate the need for its own pair of water wings.”

    *Being assessed*, *could get* : that doesn’t sound too encouraging, does it ?

    2) What impact does it have on watercraft operations ? Might make launch slightly easier when the sea is not so calm (to be confirmed), but what about recovery ? What impact does it have on the design of the stern ramp ?

    3) What impact does it have in terms of EM signature (nice corners there) and acoustic signature ? What impact does it have on the wave begin produced and what does this mean against wake homers ?

    4) How much weight does it add aft ? How much additional stress does it create on the structure ?

    And, of course, I’m expecting some more nuggets in the forthcoming GAO report on major weapons programs due March 31.

    Stay tuned !

  14. D. E. Reddick permalink
    February 24, 2010 1:22 pm

    LCS-1 USS Freedom has just been involved in its first drug smuggler interdiction. It does seem to be suited to some task, after all. Or, its embarked MH-60S Seahawk helo was suited to the task…

    LCS 1 seizes drugs in smuggler encounter

    By Philip Ewing – Staff writer
    Posted : Wednesday Feb 24, 2010 11:24:22 EST

    The littoral combat ship Freedom seized a quarter-ton of cocaine in the Caribbean on Monday in its first encounter with smugglers during a “trial deployment” to the 4th Fleet area of operations, according to the Navy.

    http://www.navytimes.com/news/2010/02/navy_lcs1_drugs_022310w/

  15. Scott B. permalink
    February 24, 2010 1:04 pm

    Byron said : “Scott: what do YOU think those so-called “ballast voids” are really for? My personal opinion is that it’s stupid to put additional bouyancy A) at the ass end of the ship, and B) above the waterline and just below the main deck.”

    The ballast tanks (or whatever they call them in LCS parlance) are more or less what Bill said they were for : to increase the reserve bouyancy to meet some damaged stability criteria.

    Below are some more things I’d speculate upon at this stage :

    1) Last year’s GAO report on major weapons program made it quite clear that LCS-1 did not meet the Navy’s damaged stability criteria.

    2) Robert Work, the current UnderSec knew about this problem because he mentioned what he called at the time a *stern extension* for the LockMart about a year ago over at Pritchett’s place.

    3) IMHO, the root cause of the problem is right there in this comparison chart published in the March issue of the National Defense Magazine.

    4) See where it says 6,400 ft² mission bay, sitting merely 3 feet above water ?

    5) Initially, the LCS program office tried to deny (quite akwardly) that this was likely to be a problem. See for instance this January 2009 article from Defense News :

    “One item the program managers don’t seem too worried about is damage control. Despite the large, open mission bays that take up much of the Freedom’s aft hull, the ship can float even if the two largest areas are flooded – a key factor given the small, 40-sailor LCS crews.

    “Oh, absolutely,” Murdoch said. “You’ve got all this compartmentation forward of about the midships area of the ship.””

    6) OK, fine, but what happens when the 6,400 ft² mission bay, which is essentially a very large open space, starts to take on water ? And the sea is not calm (you know, it’s not like the Great Lakes out there) ?

    7) 1/2 feet of water in the mission bay, and you already have about 100 tons of water ready to oscillate from one beam to the other. You can do the maths with 1 foot, 2 feet, etc… Coupled with all the topweight that’s accumulated throughout the project, what this produces is insufficient stability after damage, making the ship likely to capsize, even though it may have enough reserve buoyancy to remain afloat.

    8) It’s hard to say what’s due to a design problem and what’s due to the overweight problem, but it’s almost like they focused almost entirely, from a design POV, on reserve buoyancy and forgot about damage stability. Ooops…

    9) So what’s the solution ? Keep the mission bay above water, at all costs, because if you get water in there, you have a big problem.

    10) And what does the quick fix look like ? It looks like ballast tanks on each beam that will somewhat keep the mission bay above water (or under not too much water) and will mitigate the effect of water oscillating from one beam to the other should partial flooding take place.

    11) That’s why the ballast tanks are where they are, at the ass end of the ship (i.e. close to the mission bay), with one on each beam, above the waterline.

    Anyway, that’s MY very uninformed opinion on the subject. FWIW.

  16. D. E. Reddick permalink
    February 24, 2010 12:29 pm

    I placed the following in the Breaking News section two days ago:

    The Netfires NLOS-LS missile system has missed four out of six times during recent testing by the US Army. NLOS is the modular missile system meant to provide distant fire support capability for the US Navy’s LCS program. That the Army’s testing of NLOS found that the missile system would miss stationary targets would seem to call into question what might happen should the Navy decide to depend upon the missile system with its LCS platform.

    U.S. NLOS-LS Misses Four of Six Shots in Testing
    By KATE BRANNEN
    Published: 22 Feb 2010 17:17

    The U.S. Army’s Non Line-of-Sight Launch System’s (NLOS-LS) Precision Attack Missile failed to hit its target four out of six times during recent testing, according to a testing document.

    The six test shots took place at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., between Jan. 26 and Feb. 5 and were part of a flight-limited user test for the system, Army spokesman Paul Mehney confirmed.

    Test missiles failed to hit a moving tank 20 kilometers away, a moving infantry vehicle 10 kilometers away, a stationary tank 30 kilometers away, and a stationary truck 35 kilometers away. It missed the infantry vehicle by 20 meters, and the truck by 25 kilometers.

    http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=4509667&c=AME&s=LAN

  17. B.Smitty permalink
    February 24, 2010 12:15 pm

    Hopefully these are just LRIP prices. Not terribly encouraging though.

  18. papa legba permalink
    February 24, 2010 11:53 am

    Matthew S. said: Great point regarding the Coast Guard. Why is our Coast Guard deploying abroad? We really need to get away from our entire military being an expeditionary force that has little or nothing to do with defense of our own nation.

    I agree, but the coast guard has a long history of deploying to foreign waters. Coast guard assets fought in Vietnam, and coast guard servicemen have been to the Persian Gulf in recent history– see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Firebolt_(PC-10) .

    But even when they’re not doing military adventurism, the coast guard ships have a real need for long endurance. They’re doing more than just patrolling the local port. they might do a drug-interdiction cruise of the Caribbean, fisheries patrol in the north Atlantic, or a freeze-your-butt-off tour of the Alaskan islands. These are a lot more than day trips.

  19. Distiller permalink
    February 24, 2010 11:43 am

    That missile thing: If the Netfires NLOS doesn’t work, buy Spike-ER or Spike NLOS. Crazy to spend half a million on a Hellfire-type missile! Lots of things with “Lockheed” in them seem to go wrong these days …

  20. February 24, 2010 11:40 am

    Smitty said “LCS was never meant to be a land attack ship. NLOS-LS was supposed to be an anti-small boat system.”

    Perhaps I was to free in my interpretation of the great man’s words. I take them to mean that ships have no place fighting close to shore.

    I thought NLOS was to be used for fire support and interdiction against (major) land targets. I didn’t realise that the USN were hoping to use for above water warfare.

    I am not going to apologise for mentioning the Mk71 as its awesome!!

  21. B.Smitty permalink
    February 24, 2010 11:01 am

    x said, “Remembering Nelson’s maxim of never setting a ship against a fort I think the idea of a small land attack ship is flawed.

    LCS was never meant to be a land attack ship. NLOS-LS was supposed to be an anti-small boat system.

  22. Bill permalink
    February 24, 2010 10:46 am

    Byron;

    It is obvious enough to me why those tanks were added, where and how…..those are to increase the reserve bouyancy to meet some damaged stability criteria.

    The only question for me is whether or not that criteria was met, and with what margins, in the original deisgn at 2800-something tons FLD?…or were those tanks added only because in the overweight condition the vessel is now, it no longer had the reesrve bouyancy needed to meet the requirement(s) for flooding of ‘some’ compartment(s) that it otherwise once had at the intended design displacement.

  23. February 24, 2010 10:45 am

    I could never get my mind around NLOS.

    Remembering Nelson’s maxim of never setting a ship against a fort I think the idea of a small land attack ship is flawed.

    Surely two fire inchers with guided shells would be a better option.

    Or what about the Mk71?

  24. February 24, 2010 10:28 am

    CBD–

    You’re right, of course, and I am guilty as charged–of highlighting the cool vs. the likely utility. In the end, landing craft are, well, landing craft. And they, naturally, will enable maneuver warfare! But they can do cool things outside the narrow mission-set we oft consign ’em to.

    It is, however, interesting that the IDF is, in this era where conventional strategists scoff at the utility of amphibious landings, re-awakening their long-lost amphibious capability.

  25. Byron permalink
    February 24, 2010 10:22 am

    Scott: what do YOU think those so-called “ballast voids” are really for? My personal opinion is that it’s stupid to put additional bouyancy A) at the ass end of the ship, and B) above the waterline and just below the main deck.

  26. Matthew S. permalink
    February 24, 2010 10:22 am

    I doubt the LCS will be canceled. Remember here in the USA, getting work in individual states and keeping industry alive is more important than producing capable, low cost weapons systems.

    Great point regarding the Coast Guard. Why is our Coast Guard deploying abroad? We really need to get away from our entire military being an expeditionary force that has little or nothing to do with defense of our own nation.

    Regarding the N-LOS, I had no idea each missile was that expensive. Hasn’t work on the N-LOS been going on for 10+ years? It should set off alarms to the Navy that they are paying $400 for a gunboat with helicopters.

  27. Jed permalink
    February 24, 2010 9:17 am

    Scott B said: “To whom it may concern : the USCG doesn’t need LCS, and doesn’t want LCS either. Please get over it and move along.”

    I understand that, but the whole thing often seems backwards to me. The USCG has a “National Security Cutter” which with some tweaking could probably replace the Perry Class frigate as a general purpose escort – put a towed array where the stern boat bay is and you have your specialist ASW ship. Why indeed does the ‘coast’ guard need such long endurance and range ?

    On the other hand the LCS has limited endurance when utilizing its speed, and where might that speed by useful – in missions that belong to the USCG – Search and Rescue and anti-drug ops.

    So Scott I understand your point that the current USCG does not want the LCS and should not have it foisted upon them – but the whole thing seems backwards to me !

  28. Scott B. permalink
    February 24, 2010 8:42 am

    Mike Burleson said : “I was amazed at the half-billion each pricetag on the N-LOS rockets!”

    As happens more often than not, the perspicacious Phil Ewing asks the right question :

    “Elements within the Army are recommending the service’s top decision-makers back off NLOS, one of the survivors of the monster known as Future Combat Systems. What would that mean for the Navy?

    IOW :

    “Could LCS lose its missile?”

  29. Scott B. permalink
    February 24, 2010 8:28 am

    Phil Ewing said : “NLOS, which the Navy is developing with the Army, will cost $466,000 per round in 2011, according to Army budget documents.”

    1) According to the US Army FY2011 Budget documentation (page 60), PAM is expected to cost :

    FY2011 : $466,000 per unit for a buy of 485 missiles
    FY2012 : $368,000 per unit for a buy of 1,180 missiles

    2) For (non-) comparison purposes, based on the US Navy FY2011 documentation :

    * a Hellfire missile costs about $95,000 per unit
    * a Tomahawk missile costs about $1,500,000 per unit

  30. Mike Burleson permalink*
    February 24, 2010 8:19 am

    I was amazed at the half-billion each pricetag on the N-LOS rockets! A high tech answer to a low tech problem.

  31. Scott B. permalink
    February 24, 2010 8:03 am

    Mike Burleson said : “A primary defensive weapon for the littoral ships has failed in tests”

    So NLOS-LS is not ready for the show. What a surprise !!!

    All we have to do now is wait for someone to discover that the Mark-50 Gun Mission Module (i.e. the 30mm Bushmaster chain gun to keep it simple) isn’t working sooo well…

    Stay tuned !!!

  32. Scott B. permalink
    February 24, 2010 7:51 am

    Mike Burleson said : “USCG Commandant Thad Allen says his new National Security Cutter is better suited for soft power operations with foreign navies than the Navy’s LCS.”

    1) I like the USCG emphasis on platform-centric attributes like endurance.

    2) It sounds like somebody (e.g. Bob Work) has been trying yet again to cram the LCS boondogle down the USCG throat, and is now getting some return fire.

    To whom it may concern : the USCG doesn’t need LCS, and doesn’t want LCS either. Please get over it and move along.

  33. Scott B. permalink
    February 24, 2010 7:45 am

    @ Mike B :

    Excellent weekly LCS chronicle :-))

  34. CBD permalink
    February 24, 2010 7:39 am

    Re: The idea of tanks-on-LCTs
    While Mr. Hooper’s article is interesting given similar ideas posted elsewhere, I believe (and Israeli officials have indicated) that this is more about returning a maneuver capability to the IDF that they have lost since the 1980s. I’ve always really enjoyed his comments on projects (as Springboarder), but I think that this is the idea of the cool looking far past the likely.

    As I pointed out at his mirrored post on the USNI blog, the IDF last used such landing craft when they struck against the intractable terrorist/guerrilla tactics of the PLO, whose operations in Southern Lebanon and strikes targeted Israeli civilians, but who were able to resist (at Israeli lost lives) minor pushes into their territory.

    The 1982 Operation Peace for Galilee was a tremendously successful (militarily) raid that involved 3 major pushes. One of those pushes, to Beirut, was split between a force that attacked up the coastal roads and a fairly large amphibious landing. This was following the 1978 Operation Litani, which, like the 2006 conflict, sought to push with limited objectives against PLO forces in the exact same positions that Hezbollah now occupies. Litani was limited and had lots of problems.

    I think that at least some IDF generals are remembering Operation Litani as they look over the information from 2006. They’re seeing that the limited engagement plan and poor planning with regards to the enemy threat is making the same mistakes. I think that they’re also remembering how successful the Peace for Galilee operation was (being primarily limited in benefit due to coordination of each military move through political offices, since no objectives had been established beforehand and each move after their military success thus needed approval from Jerusalem…ruining momentum and limiting the campaign).

    In the 2006 conflict, Hezbollah put up a very hard shell as the IDF tried to approach via expected routes (which had, of course, been booby-trapped, prepared for ambushes and been targeted by all sorts of light artillery for months before the invasion). That the heavy mechanized forces of the IDF were restricted to certain routes was well known, so ATGMs were stockpiled at sites there. A few deep helicopter operations, meanwhile, were hugely successful as the IDF was superior in an unprepared environment. Ultimately, although Hezbollah likely lost many more men than the IDF and although Hezbollah operations had been disrupted, the IDF withdrew in what was pretty clearly defeat.

    The new plan for Israeli involvement in Southern Lebanon is thus likely similar to Operation Peace for Galilee, including an enveloping maneuver by amphibious forces. If the IDF were to attack into Lebanon from the sea with mechanized forces and paratroopers (as they did in 1982), they could outmaneuver Hezbollah (which has concentrated its rockets, ATGMs and fortifications at control points along the border) and take advantage of the situation.

    While Hezbollah has been credited with acting ‘like a military force’ in the 2006 conflict, this was primarily in that they knew how to shoot and had lots of heavy weapons thanks to Iran and Syria. It provides no guarantee that they could resist a multi-pronged attack (incl. amphibious landings, helicopter insertions, and, delayed, an armored push through the expected choke points).

    This is Littoral Warfare, without a doubt. A land force invading along a narrow strip of land has limited avenues of approach and invasion. By taking advantage of the opportunities provided by landing craft and patrol and missile boats, the invasion can leap around enemy concentrations and assault them from behind, ruining the enemy’s plans and sowing confusion. We did this at Inchon, it was done repeatedly during landings in WWII, the IDF did it in 1982 and I think it’s likely that they will do it the next time Hezbollah starts firing rockets. A quote from an Israeli article about the purchase:

    “‘This is an important capability,’ a top navy officer said. ‘This will enable us to bring forces into places like Gaza from two directions, giving the IDF more flexibility and maneuverability.’”

    I think that the key term is ‘places like Gaza.’ Israel already has many approaches into Gaza, it’s a horrible situation for Hamas as they cannot tell when and where the IDF will enter. It’s unlikely, however, that the IDF would ever bother with a mechanized push into Gaza. On the northern border, however, where there are also rockets being fired, such maneuver capability is golden.

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  1. The Balisle Report and the Navy’s Future Pt 2 « New Wars

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