As you know, the Navy has been directed to terminate the LCS program and evaluate a follow on, more lethal and survivable small combatant vessel. One would assume that would mean carefully analyzing the role of the follow on vessel in the context of the overall fleet structure and the strategies and missions under which the vessel will operate. What gaps do we have in the current force structure that need to be filled by the vessel?
For example, we’re in the midst of a Pacific Pivot. Setting aside the wisdom or even the reality of that movement, how will the follow on vessel fit into a Pacific Pivot and what roles and tasks will it be expected to perform? Having determined the requirements, the actual conceptual design becomes a relatively straightforward exercise.
Is a corvette/frigate type vessel even needed? Most of us would think so but it would be nice to see such a conclusion supported by an actual analysis. For instance, it could be easily argued that a dedicated MCM vessel to replace the Avenger class is a far more pressing need. One could also make a good argument that a simple, dedicated shallow water ASW vessel to combat diesel subs is a more pressing need. Perhaps a focused ASuW vessel to act in concert with the AAW Burkes is what’s needed, given the Navy’s lack of anti-surface warfare outside of the carrier airwing. The point is that an analysis of needs is the first, logical step.
Unfortunately, the Navy appears to have skipped right over the needs, roles, and missions analysis and leapt straight into the design of an LCS replacement. The lack of a rationale and developed concept of operations was the major failing of the LCS and the Navy appears set on repeating history. I’m being as polite as I can when I say that the collective wisdom of Navy leadership is at an all time low, at least during my lifetime.
Alright, it’s obvious that the Navy is going to approach this thing ass backwards. So be it. We can still salvage something useful. The next step is to at least make sure that the ship fits the requirements rather than forcing the requirements to fit the ship. This means that you design the ship to be the size and shape that the requirements dictate rather than pre-selecting a ship and then seeing how many of the requirements you can fit on the ship. Again, unfortunately, the Navy is going to choose the LCS as the follow on to the LCS. This is simple, idiotic Navy logic. They want hulls in the water as fast as possible and with as little oversight and justification as possible. That means selecting the LCS with its pre-existing production line and pre-existing Congressional justification. The Navy is going to add a bigger gun and some VLS cells to the existing LCS and call it done. We will not build the ship around the requirements; instead, the Navy will attempt to force the requirements onto the LCS hull.
Yet another opportunity wasted.
I really hope that someday I can write an apology piece stating that I was wrong about this.