I keep looking for missions or roles that the LCS can perform since it’s having trouble with its intended ones. Well, here’s a possibility – an electronic surveillance and intelligence gathering platform.
In the past we’ve performed this role using a variety of platforms. Do you remember the
, captured by the N.Koreans? Or, how about the powerful but relatively short-lived ES-3A Shadow which was a modified S-3A Viking? Submarines have always been a popular choice. Many other platforms have performed various facets of the electronic intelligence gathering mission, as well. Pueblo
We’ve got LCS’s that are literally going to be sailing around with nothing worthwhile to do while they wait for useful modules to be developed over the next decade or so. Why not outfit a few as electronic intelligence gatherers? Consider the advantages: huge amounts of space to mount antennas, unlimited power (on a relative basis), huge amounts of space to install the computers and signal processing equipment, and plenty of room for specialist personnel. All of the required equipment already exists so it ought to be a fairly quick process to put together a package.
Another advantage is that the LCS has defensive capabilities, at least compared to previous intel platforms. While the RAM and 57 mm gun are laughable for combat, they represent a fairly potent capability for self-defense during peacetime harassment incidents. It would be difficult for an enemy to pull off another
event. Heck, if all else fails, the LCS has plenty of speed to run away. Pueblo
A handful of electronic surveillance LCS’s off
, certain areas in N.Korea, Iran Africa, and prowling the South/East China Seas might prove beneficial.
Of course, the biggest drawbacks to such a proposal are the same ones that make the LCS a poor choice for sustained deployment anywhere. The ship has limited range and very limited endurance. Still, a group of a few ships could provide sustained coverage of an area via a rotation.
Hey, this may not be a perfect idea but I’m trying to come up with something useful for the LCS to do! If not this or something similar, we’ll see an endless string of Singapore-type PR deployments that aren’t worth the fuel they use.