LCS Alternative Weekly
Just a reminder, from Defense Industry Daily, what we have against the LCS:
The emerging scenario in the USA, meanwhile, is a cost for the base ships that continues to hover around $450-550 million each, plus mission modules that bring the price per equipped ship to $600 million or more. That is no longer a cheap corvette class price tag. It’s a price tag that places the USA’s LCS at the upper end of the international market for full multi-role frigate designs. Even as future procurement trends will make LCS ships the most common form of US naval power.
In that environment, unfavorable comparisons are inevitable. A versatile surveillance and special forces insertion ship whose flexibility doesn’t extend to the light armament that is its weakest point, and isn’t flexible enough to deal with anything beyond token naval or air opposition, won’t meet expectations. Worse, it could cause the collapse of the Navy’s envisaged “high-low” force structure if the DDG-1000 destroyers and CG (X) cruisers are priced out of the water, and built in small numbers. That has already happened to DDG-1000/ DD (X), now that production has been capped at just 2-3 ships…
Especially if the low end has grown to a cost level that makes it equivalent to other countries’ major surface combatants, while falling short on key capabilities that will be required in the absence of higher-end ships.
Nobody Wants the LCS
I thought the following from Hampton Roads.com, which really is about the fight over the Navy carriers, quite amusing:
Now a report on the plan for the littoral homeport indicates Mayport will be the primary base for the East Coast fleet when the ships are ready for commissioning. Each ship, estimated to cost nearly $600 million, carries a crew of about 50, is designed to operate close to shore and can provide intelligence gathering, ground support and serve as a local command vessel, depending on which of several modules is installed.
Compared with nuclear carriers, which have crews of more than 3,000 each, the littorals don’t bring nearly the number of jobs or spending. U.S. Sen. Jim Webb suggests that – instead of spending money to make Mayport ready for nuclear carriers – the Navy should send all 32 East Coast combat ships there.
Bringing a Ship to a Knife Fight
Here are some interesting comments picked up at CDR Salamander’s site concerning the Cheonan, the South Korean corvettes that was sunk last week:
“…look at all the guns on that ROK boat.”
“That little corvette could kick the hell out of a flotilla of LCS. Glad someone else noticed. Definite cannon envy.”
“yep, definitely beats the hell outta single 57mm… plus has harpoons”
“Armed like ship of her size should be armed! Switch out the 3″ for 5″/38’s, and you would have a BUTLER, or RUDDEROW. Korea is still paying attention to how warships are really armed.”
“Looks like a nasty little sucker in a knife fight. Anyone else notice the crew size for a 1200 ton ship. No minimal manning there.”
Here again are the Specs for the “Pohang class corvette“:
- Length-88 meters
- Width-10 meters
- Draft-2.9 meters
- Weight-1300 tons full
- Speed-32 knots
- Range-4000 miles at 15 knots (?)
- Armament-ASW version: Torpedoes, depth charges, hull mounted sonar 2-Exocet ASM
AAW version: 2-40mm cannons
All-1 or 2-76mm OTO Melara cannon
My Faith Isn’t THAT Strong!
Steven M Collins writes about current events from a Biblical perspective. Thought his analysis of the LCS quite interesting:
Two things come to my mind as I consider this new ship. It offers unusual capabilities to the US Navy, but it also is uniquely vulnerable. When it is operating close to enemy shores in shallow water, it will be vulnerable to any and all land-based weaponry. I hope that it was built with exceptional defensive systems because it will need them to operate that close to enemy shores. I hope it has a defense against the many new types of Chinese cruise missiles and the Russian-made, supersonic, “sizzler” cruise missile. This ship will not only have the unusual ability to engage an enemy close to its shores, but it’s ability to operate in shallow water will also mean that it can travel deep into a nation’s land mass via navigable rivers. The ship has torpedoes, missiles, and helicopters. With helicopters it can deploy US Marines inland as well. Its most immediate assignment might be the type of warfare that looms in the Persian Gulf. Iran has a strategy to attack US warships with swarms of small craft and suicide vessels. The USS Independence, if it is ready for operations, could attack the bases of all these ships right at the shores of Iran. My final thought is, I’m sure, shared by many readers. I wonder what weapons systems and capabilities this ship has that are classified (not acknowledged in any press release).
Did you get that last sentence? If I’m interpreting this correctly, considering all the myriad missions this obviously underarmed sloop/patrol boat will have to perform close to enemy waters where missiles and other nautical threats lay, there must be some secret wonder weapon onboard to defend her. You’re right Steven. Going to take lots of faith and a miracle if this ship is to fight anything thing worse than a drug smuggler!
Cart Before the Horse
Here is N-LOS back in the news, fresh from failure to launch in recent tests. Greg at Defense Tech tells us:
GAO says the launcher was tested last summer, but failed due to a malfunctioning sensor and battery connector. The Navy expects delivery of another SUW package this year, this time with the launcher, but minus the missiles. As we noted in our previous write up, Army officials told us they think the missile’s targeting problems are pretty serious ones, considering how far along the NLOS-LS is in development. They’ve hinted they may look at a low cost alternative to the NLOS-LS.
Yet, the Navy is going ahead with delivery of the launcher. Why is the Navy taking delivery of a problematic launcher to fit in a mission module for an unproven missile?
Because Greg, its not about actually using the LCS in combat, but how really cool it looks chasing smugglers in speed boats. Plus, it makes the Navy appear like they really get this new shallow water warfare thingy. So if we can have aircraft carriers without planes, surely it is OK for the USS Freedom to go to sea unarmed! Because warships today are not meant to fight, duh.
For the Cost of Two Destroyers
Reuters posts on the total cost of the LCS program so far:
GAO said the total cost of the LCS program so far, including research and development as well as procurement funding, was $5.1 billion, nearly 300 percent more than the $1.3 billion cost projected in 2004.
What’s Klingon for “Lame”?
Scoop Deck’s ever vigilant Phil Ewing details the USS Independence’s (LCS-2) visit to Key West, with some locals liking it to a “Klingon Bird of Prey”. You Trekkies know what I mean:
There is one thing out of the ordinary, however — the alien bird-of-prey docked down on a long pier known as the Outer Mole.
The cabdrivers know about it. You can’t go far along the main drag without seeing a newsstand on which the Key West Citizen features an enormous bow-on shot of it, with the headline: “It may look NASA, but it’s Navy.” It’s the littoral combat ship Independence, and it definitely does look extraterrestrial compared to the ordinary fauna in these waters: glass-bottomed boats and boxy white cruise ships and the day-trampers bound for the Dry Tortugas.
Bringing up an interesting point, that the very large, trimaran warship is hardly “low observable” and would stand out like a sore thumb in a littoral environment. Unless your point is to scare the enemy to death! The cloaking device might come in handy after all.
And apparently Klingon for Lame is “rIgh”.