Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Distributed Lethality

I used to watch my beloved Detroit Red Wings hockey team back when they were derisively referred to as the “Dead Wings” due to their inept play.  I recall one game where I watched the Wing’s only decent player, a center, flit about the ice going from corner to corner, always out of position, and accomplishing nothing.  Finally, a fan several seats away stood up and yelled, “Hey, [player’s name], pick a position!”  I chuckled about that and never forgot it because it illustrated a life lesson.  You can’t accomplish much if you’re trying to accomplish everything.

Similarly, the Navy seems unable to pick a position.  They’ve jumped from Hi-Lo to SC-21, the 21st Century Family of Surface Combatants, to the Zumwalt, the mandatory future of naval warfare which quickly gave way to being unwanted, to littoral combat, to AirSea Battle, to Pacific Pivot, to Third Offset Strategy, to UCLASS – no UCLASS, and so on – each the guaranteed future of naval warfare and each abandoned in short order.  Every year or so the Navy throws out another game changing, future of naval warfare concept and tries to sell us on it.

The current concept du jour is distributed lethality.  This concept envisions anti-surface (and land attack?) missiles on everything that floats, according to the Navy.  This will greatly complicate the enemy’s strategy, operations, and targeting since they will have to account for every floater in the Navy, so the story goes.  Let’s look a bit closer at this concept.

Attack missiles on every ship.  That’s the fundamental concept.  Okay, what ships are floating today?

The combat fleet, meaning Burkes, Ticonderogas, carriers, and amphibious ships constitute around 190 ships.  Burkes and Ticonderogas already have Tomahawks, Harpoons, and Standards (anti-ship mode) to varying extents.  Thus, those already have distributed lethality.  The carriers don’t need distributed lethality since they already have aircraft that far out range likely missiles.  That leaves amphibious ships.

Are we really going to load anti-ship missiles on our amphibious ships, loaded with Marine troops and equipment and send them on anti-ship attack missions in forward areas?  Remember, these ships have no credible self-defense capability.  Will we risk amphibious ships and entire Marine units to launch a handful of bolt-on Harpoon missiles?  Not unless we’re dumber than a roomful of Admirals.  So, there’s nothing to be gained from attempting to modify the 190 combat ships.

Well, what about the remaining 100 or so ships in the fleet?  These are the tankers, and various replenishment ships, LCS, JHSV, hospital ships, MLP/AFSB, MCM Avengers, and the like.  Are we going to risk the tankers and replenishment ships, the key to fleet operations, in an attempt to mount and launch a few Harpoons?  I certainly hope not!  Are we going to risk the 2-4 MLPs, the key to offshore basing, in an attempt to launch a few Harpoons?  No way!  Hospital ships are out for obvious reasons.  Are we going to risk MCM Avengers, our only functioning mine countermeasures ships, trying to engage in some misbegotten attack mission?  I hope not.  That only leaves JHSV and LCS.  The JHSV is, by law, prohibited from front line combat since they are crewed by civilians.  They also have absolutely no self defense capability.  That leaves the LCS. 

The LCS could accommodate Harpoons and the newer version might be able to accommodate Tomahawks depending on the VLS cell size.  The problem with the LCS is that the weapons far outrange the ship’s sensors.  Thus, the LCS must have an off-board platform supply targeting data.  During combat, in an electromagnetically challenged environment, this may prove problematic.  If the LCS attempts to close with the enemy to the point where they can employ their own sensors, the LCS will likely not survive since it has little effective AAW capability.

Thus, the much touted distributed lethality concept being pushed by the Navy amounts to putting Harpoons on LCSs and hoping to find a way to get them close enough to a target, with actual targeting data, to be useful.  Given the LCS’ extremely limited range/endurance, the need to put back into port every two weeks for scheduled maintenance, and the need to put back into port every 4-6 weeks for extensive maintenance, the odds on the LCS being a useful strike platform are poor.

I’ve read that the Navy has conducted wargames that demonstrate the tactical validity of distributed lethality.  Specifically, the games involved LCSs with (Harpoons?) involved in some type of fleet action and the remarks from Navy spokesmen claim that the ships cause immense problems for the enemy.  What is not discussed are any details.  How did the short-legged LCS arrive in the battle area?  How did they get there undetected and undestroyed since they have no significant AAW?  How did they manage to stay on station long enough to strike given their lack of endurance?  How did they acquire targets given that their weapons outrange their sensors?  Are you getting an inkling of the likely wargame scenario – that the game started with the LCS magically in place and with targets acquired?  Well sure, in a scenario like that the LCS (or a rowboat with a Harpoon, for that matter) would constitute a threat.  In a real world scenario, the odds on achieving that kind of pre-strike arrangement is near zero.  But the Navy wouldn’t conduct a rigged wargame, you say?  Answer – Millenium Challenge 2000 which we recently described.

Distributed lethality appears to be just another Navy marketing ploy to entice Congress to allocate more money.  I wish the Navy would “pick a position” as my fellow hockey fan put it.  I wish they would pick a strategy and approach that is consistent with their core mission and stick with it rather than grasping at new fads every year.  Of course, that assumes that the Navy understands what their core mission is and, horrifyingly, there is no indication that current leadership has any grasp of what that is which probably explains the desperate flailing around as they try to find a justification for existence. 


I wonder what the next revolutionary Navy concept will be?

38 comments:

  1. Nice post.

    Its interesting to me to see some of the debates over the LCS. One of the posters at information dissemination makes a (decent, IMHO) case that small surface combatants shouldn't worry about things like ESSM because current missile technology, and the size of the raids, really mean that its very hard to have a small surface combatant that's survivable.

    The argument is that basically, we need ships to do peace time stuff like anti piracy, and we need MCM platforms, so the LCS is just ducky. Now ignoring the giant elephant in the room that the MCM and ASW modules don't work, and its a decent start to an argument, I think.

    The Navy does do anti piracy work, and a ship that's LCS sized could do a decent job at it. But then to me we shouldn't even bother with the mission modules. Give it the 57mm canon, the helo pad, DECENT ENDURANCE, and figure out the MCM mission and call it good. Make it as cheap as possible. if a real war comes, it would do MCM stuff and stay the heck out of the way as much as possible.

    There; a rough outline of a CONOPS and a mission. Wheee!

    What scares the devil out of me is things like Mabus spouting off 'It can run with Carrier Strike Groups (!) has a robust ASW and MCM capability (!!) and the like.

    The Navy is essentially saying we want a cheap ship to do cheap things but oh by the way we're going to throw missiles on it to make it play with the big boys, but it doesn't need any defenses like the big boys...

    This whole thing sounds eerily familiar to me; the way Battlecruisers could get mis-used.

    The whole point was that they could out fight what they couldn't out run and out run what they couldn't out fight. Logical enough premise. But because they were available, and had big ship size, they got used against that which they couldn't out fight. Michael Spinx against Mike Tyson.

    The LCS doesn't have a mission. The Navy is searching for one. And because it looks like, and is replacing, a multi mission frigate, its going to get used like one.

    And that's a horrible outcome

    And now, with ideas like distributed lethality..... we're going to do that with other ship classes too?????

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    1. There is a very good argument to be made that small, low end vessels shouldn't worry about survivability. However, the corollary to that argument is that the vessels must be CHEAP and the LCS is anything but. A realistic price tag for an LCS (not the Navy's accounting manipulation price) is around $750M.

      For MCM, we don't need a 380 ft, 3500 ton ship. An upgraded Avenger would do just fine.

      For anti-piracy, again we don't need an LCS. A Cyclone would do just fine.

      I'm sorry, but there's just no way to spin the LCS that isn't a horrible, expensive waste.

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    2. I agree. And the point I was trying to make was that the size and 'mission modules' of the LCS mean its going to get mis-used.

      You can't do that with a cyclone. But Mabus is talking about doing it with the LCS. Especially given the numbers its being built in.

      That's going to get sailors killed, IMHO.

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  2. It's probably worse (or more fundamental) than you describe...you're providing Burkes with a greater anti-ship capability that currently exists. The Flight IIA and later Burkes do not currently have Harpoons, and the SM ASuW capability is fairly limited. The distributed lethality concept involves putting more teeth on those (and other) platforms, developing new/better teeth, developing the concepts for using those teeth, and instilling the mindset in the crews that have largely been conducting defensive and land attack operations since Desert Storm.

    -interestedparty

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  3. Here is the basic rule. You can't have a small, cheap, compact littoral ship with all the seagoing cruise ship luxuries found in our big surface combatants. No galley, gym, library, shops, wardroom, or hangar, but a landing pad is must. You have a squadron of 12 fighting boats/ships with two tenders with helos that has all that support stuff. One tender remains far off shore (maybe anchored near an island) while the other rotates to a big naval base for replenishment. The streetfighters go and fight or whatever for a few days, and then tie up alongside the tender for a couple days.

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  4. Nice post. Well thought through. I’m not too sure this Idea holds as much water as I thought.

    Theoretically of course what they are saying is that IF all ships carry say LRASM. Attacking USN assets just becomes a bit more of a problem, and the possibility of an over the horizon response from an untracked vessel becomes a risk factor you must calculate for.

    I don’t really think Harpoon or NSM will really support this formula as well, as it will risk the asset and the range is limiting for an undetected asset to exert a threat.

    Certain European navies equip their helicopters with a variety of ASM, some up to the punch of Harpoon type missile. These helicopters could equip virtually all of the assets you mentioned, and extend range, targeting and response time without risking the asset themselves. Many of the sealift could carry multiple assets and a deep magazine. ( and get round civilian legality issues possibly )

    In addition the ASuW helicopter and support crew “may or may not” be with the vessel in question. And might deploy \ redeploy mid patrol. This does in no way hinder the tactical uncertainty and difficulty in countering USN operations. As you will have to calculate on maximum helicopters and missile magazine residing on any possible vessel.

    Extended support on lighter vessels might of course be an issue.

    Beno

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    1. What USN ship would you put an anti-ship missile on that doesn't currently have it?

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    2. Flight IIA 'Burkes. Submarines.

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    3. Burkes have the capability to accept bolt-on Harpoon quad launchers, if needed, plus they have Standards with anti-surface mode and Tomahawk ASMs on the way so I class them as already having anti-ship capability.

      The Virginia/Los Angeles subs have Mk48 torps with a range of 30-50 nm depending on speed so, again, I class them as having an anti-ship capability.

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    4. "I class them as having an anti-ship capability."

      with respect, that wasn't the question.

      Yes, the flight IIA's have a vestigial capability in their standards. But its a pretty inefficient capability.

      And the Mk48 torps max range is, to my understanding, alot like the max effective range of a rifle. Sure, it can put the bullet out there, and if it hits something, it will do alot of damage. But good luck hitting something.

      A torp moving at 50 kts over 40nm against a manuevering warship is going to have trouble.

      I'd rather have our best warships with the best weapons we can produce.

      We should be at least considering putting LRASM on subs and 'Burkes, with the possibility of creating a better supersonic AShM, before we start talking about tacking missiles on 'phibs and LCS'.

      Just IMHO.

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    5. Don't misunderstand ... I'm all for upgrading our anti-ship capability across all platforms. However, the distributed lethality concept is aimed at putting weapons on platforms that currently don't have any capability like LCS, JHSV, hospital ships, amphibs, tankers, etc.

      Burkes and subs have anti-ship capabiity already. It may not be the best but they aren't the focus of the distributed lethality push.

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  5. As long as we're talking about 'distributed lethality' wouldn't a good first step be getting anti ship missiles back on submarines?

    Why are we playing around with adding bolt on missiles to the LCS and, so far as I can tell, not adding cruise missiles to our most lethal platform?

    Also, this does beg the question.... who is going to be targeting for the 'phibs/LCS/etc. that are shooting?

    LRASM seems somewhat plausible because its potentially autonomous. But we'd never use that short of full on declared war.

    Otherwise we are depending on shared networking that will be one of the first things an enemy tries to deny us.

    Instead of transformational ideas I'd feel alot more comfortable with fewer ships that were reliable, maintainable, and had demonstrable capabilities in defined missions.

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    1. "As long as we're talking about 'distributed lethality' wouldn't a good first step be getting anti ship missiles back on submarines? "

      I see both sides of this.
      At the end of the day, a missile is never going to the same damage as an equivalent torpedo, a missile gets you range, but I dont really see the use for it in a likely conflict.

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  6. I think this comes up on a regular basis so I'm sure you remember my views :), but here goes.

    The concept as it goes is fine, its nothing ground breaking for an airborne radar to direct fire from a surface vessel, extending that to allow one vessel to direct fire from another isnt exactly a leap either.

    Execution sounds like its going to be poor, but thats another issue.
    The LCS is of course a poor poor poor choice for this, its simply a bad ship thats a poor choice anything.

    Ideally, things like tankers and amphibs do make a great platform for this from a SAM perspective, they are big ships with lots of space, a 4x4 VLS block carrying 8:4:16 Big, medium and small missiles gives a big firepower boost to whatever is escorting them. Throwing in some Harpoons / NSMs / ect may make a little bit of sense from a defence perspective, if there is a fox in the chicken coop, but at the point it might be a disaster that cant be averted.

    If you want to take the fight to the enemy, I remain somewhat unconvinced that the best way to kill a ship is with a ship, submarines and *properly equipped* aircraft are a better choice, but, if you are wedded to the idea, a pair (or more) of parasite craft, something like the CB90, carrying a pair of anti ship missiles gives a single ship a pincer capability.

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    1. Bear in mind that the distributed lethality concept is purely offensive, from everything I've read. I've not seen anything describing putting defensive SAMs on non-combat ships.

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  7. I think, and this is just a theory.

    That distributed lethality, relies on “over the horizon” technology.

    The concept is about being able to apply threat as much as actual destruction, as it is designed to hinder enemy strategic operations, purely due to the threat of a massive lethal response.

    As we all know the sea is big, I mean really really big :) . You just can’t know where all assets are at any given time, or even if you could, you don’t know where they are in an hour. And this of course works both ways round.

    With OTH anti-ship strike for instance, attacking an oiler can get really messy, as you could be looking at an unpredicted response from multiple angles off multiple assets you didn’t even know were there. As all you really need is targeting. In my example you might encounter every asset in a 500nm area responding with a LRASM when the oiler squawks bloody hell.

    And just the possibility is the threat that royally F*cks with your planned attack.

    It suddenly makes it an advantage to spread your fleet wide as long as all units remain networked and can strike reliably and promptly in naval terms.

    Let’s call it a natural extension of Cooperative engagement (CEC).

    Interpreting distributed lethality as “lets stick loads of missiles on everything”, might be a bit simplistic.

    Beno

    ASIDE: This may be why Harpoon is getting its networked retargeting, to allow an asset being attacked to call in strikes from ships spread over the horizon, purely firing on a rough heading, and only acquiring their attack instruction as they clear the horizon.

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    1. You may be thinking one dimensionally, if I understand your scenario. You're thinking that if an enemy attacks an oiler just because it has a few Harpoon missiles (or maybe just because it's a high value target, inherently), the enemy opens himself up to a massive counterattack from all our distributed lethality ships in the area. OK. But, what about the more likely scenario in which the oiler is attacked with an aircraft launched cruise missile, or anti-ship ballistic missile, or submarine torpedo? In those cases, there is no enemy fleet to counterattack. Instead, we risked the oiler for no reason.

      That's the whole problem and the point of the post. In order for oilers or hospital ships or JHSVs or amphibs or whatever to get close enough to launch an anti-ship strike (Harpoon only has a range of 60 miles or so) we have to expose high value units to counterattack. Risking a multi-billion dollar amphib, for instance, just to be able to launch a few bolt-on Harpoons is tactical idiocy. That only leaves low end ships like the LCS/JHSV and they have no self-defense so their life expectancy in trying to get within launch range is going to be very short.

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    2. Well I think if we are talking OTH missiles like LRASM then I’m not sure you do open them up to counterattack ? With a coordinated saturation attack on the enemy, no significant data will remain to triangulate such a response. (I’m assuming a way-pointed attack). Enemy base will know where the oiler is for now, but they certainly aren’t going to come get it unless they are idiots.
      Harpoon just doesn’t hack this sinario unless is helicopter bourn.
      But I think we know Harpoon is past its prime anyway.
      I think the focus here is if you remove the attacking asset, you no longer have to defend against the incoming missiles.
      In my example, you may lose the oiler, but you defiantly just lost you attacking assets. And the point really is the perceived Threat and how that complicates enemy tactics and freedom of movement.
      However.
      You hit the nail on the head there with the carrier bourn fixed wing or sub attack. This whole idea seems to focus on standard ship to ship anti surface warfare; even though we haven’t had a serious ship vs ship engagement since…. Errr Yamato no ….. errrrr Midway no …. Err Well quite a while ago anyway?

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    3. You also need to bear firmly in mind just how few oilers and replenishment ships the Navy has. Losing just one of those would severely degrade overall fleet operations. I think it's safe to say that oilers and replenishment ships are more important than carriers or any other ship. Without those auxiliaries, the rest of the fleet ceases to operate. To risk one of them for the sake of a few bolt-on anti-ship missiles is a huge mistake.

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  8. It’s a big question isn’t it LONG RANGE anti-ship missiles, like the Russians have possessed since the cold war, have a massive disadvantage in that they need to be targeted.

    No point having a 300nm missile if you still have to sail your ship \ sub to within 50nm of a target to identify it.

    However as we know from carriers being able to find and strike your target from way off over the horizon and who knows where is defiantly the way to go, if you can.

    This is great for carriers. Maybe even Anphibs with F35 :S ? You can do an amount with the right helicopters ( with a favorable sea state and god on your side ). But nobody is really explaining how a lot of the fleet will possibly acquire a target before it’s much much too late.

    UAV’s? Most of those aren’t all weather by any stretch.

    I think this is where distributed lethality falls down.

    Beno

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    1. The other part that gets glossed over is how the defenseless ships get to within launch range even if they can magically get targeting data when they get there. How does a JHSV survive to penetrate hundreds of miles of enemy waters to reach its launch position? A single helo can lay waste to a fleet of JHSVs, as an example.

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    2. You have to get Harpoon or NSM on Sea Hawks.

      I read the penguin missile was fitted once ?

      NSM(or JSM) is from the same company.

      JHSV although equipped with a pad, doesn't really look very capable of operating a helicopter attachment permenantly, I may be wrong ?

      Otherwise, its a complete non starter isn't it. ( realistically )

      It is starting to look like another "branding" exercise :(

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  9. You still watch this older posts, CNO?

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    1. ComNavOps sees all and knows all.

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    2. If we are to follow distributed lethality, we need platforms suited to that role, not the LCS or Ford. If we wanted to keep tonnage the same (Lcs), why not use an updated Perry or Charles F Adams class? Both could be heavily modernised relatively cheaply and already offer increased combat capabilities as they were designed, in their unmodernised configuration.

      For CV operations, if were going to have small airwings, why not rebuild a modernised midway class and tailored to the F35?

      My main complaint with the distributed lethality is how the US naval institute worded the operations theory; 3 ship teams spread apart a wide area looking for targets relying on networking to coordinate strikes. I feel the problems with systems being able to communicate effectively to do that in ECM environment makes it unreliable, which is why I would rather see more combat capabilities per ship.

      In addition to that, as is the main shooters of the navy is the Burke and the main weapons is the missile. On the chance we've underestimated a near-pears anti-missile defenses, the ships will be forced to withdraw for reloading. Distributed lethality can reduce that disadvantage or make it worse, depending how you look at it.

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    3. Andrew, before you can like or dislike something, you need to thoroughly understand it. At the moment, you've got only a cursory understanding of distributed lethality. There's nothing magic about it. Apply some common sense analysis and see what you come up with. Imagine a 3-ship group of, say, LCS's cruising around enemy (or at least contested) waters.

      What threats will they encounter and how many of those threats can they reasonably hope to survive?

      Which threats are most likely to be encountered?

      What is the sensing range of the LCS on-board sensors relative to their weapon ranges (assume Harpoon)?

      What kind of targets are you looking for?

      How many Harpoons will it take to sink your preferred targets? Does your group even have enough weapons for the targets (assume 4 to 8 Harpoons per ship - one would hope its 8 but it may well only be 4 due to weight concerns)?

      What's the probability of each individual Harpoon surviving to reach its target, which goes to the number needed for each target type?

      How long can the group stay at sea?

      What are will their sensors cover relative to the size of, say, the South China Sea?

      What other tasks might this group be doing instead of trolling around the South China Sea? This is opportunity cost. Could the group be more productively engaged in some other activity?

      And so on. In other words, imagine yourself on one of those ships and think through what you can and cannot accomplish.

      When you've thought all that through, you'll have a solid basis to like or dislike the distributed lethality concept.

      Let me know what you come up with.

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  10. Its an offensive oriented doctrine, that in my opinion thats has alot of problems to be overcome.

    The ability to coordinate joint strikes is always difficult to plan and implement. The possibility that one ship squadron gets exposed and eliminated before it gets supported, added with smaller ships lower survivability and payloads, is plausible.

    In further regards to limited payloads, it means more frequent port refits, which opens up more opportunities to be exploited by possible adversaries. Even during peacetime, port visits are where we have been most vulnerable. Can an LCS survive a USS Cole style attack?

    These are my biggest concerns in regards to distributed lethality, the survivability of it. I suppose that could be improved if ships tavelled and trained as a squadron, but I doubt that will happen much in reality due to monetary & maintenance restraints.

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    1. "If we are to follow distributed lethality, we need platforms suited to that role, not the LCS or Ford."

      What platform is suited to the role? If you make a platform that is so powerful that it can sail around "distributed" (meaning unsupported, while waiting for a target to appear) then you've pretty well violated the concept of distributed. Distributed is meant to put offensive weapons on all vessels, not just powerful ships. If you can't put them on all vessels and have a reasonable expectation of their survival long enough to be of use then the very concept of distributed is flawed.

      Even a Perry or Adams, sailing around by itself, without support, can't survive for long. If we build platforms so strong that they can survive on their own, they will be so expensive that there will be very few to "distribute" weapons to - violating the very concept of large numbers of threatening ships.

      So what platform did you have in mind?

      As you begin to think this through, it becomes obvious that there are some serious flaws in this concept.

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  11. To be honest, modernised midway class carriers would be suited for distributed lethality. An heavily modified LCS could be suitable for the doctrine as well. Replace the 57 with a 5in, remove the helicopter hanger and you could install VLS there instead, and simplify the powerplant, essentially a Perry.

    You pointed out my main complaint with the distributed lethality theory, "...sailing around by itself." currently, with the exception of CBGs, we send most of our ships around the globe by themselves, including the LCS. If we were to follow this doctrine, ships would always travel in groups. In reality, we tend to deploy piecemeal, which is disadvantageous normally anyway, but compounded with weaker ships designed for the distributed lethality model in mind. I understand distributed lethality main tenants, but I realize we don't follow those tenants. That is why I'm critical of it, or more so its implementation.

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    1. I think you're still not getting distributed lethality. A Midway is the exact opposite of dl. A Midway is concentrated lethality, not dl!

      I wouldn't get hung up on peacetime sailing practices. Those will be instantly abandoned when war comes.

      An LCS with its hangar removed will lose any chance of long range targeting it has with helos/UAVs. All those VLS missiles (whether AAW, TLAM, or LRASM) will have no sensors capable of feeding target co-ordinates much beyond the horizon. That leaves the ship wholly dependent on off-board, networked data which, in war, is unlikely to work.

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    2. If the LCS is relying upon UAV/helos as its sole source of long range targeting, is that not an example of networking?Another reason in my opinion, to remove the hanger to install VLS cells and additional targeting/ detection systems. That opens up alot of canned worms, helo maintenance, loiter times, ECM jamming of UAVs, etc. If said airborne targeting gets destroyed or jammed, are we not again relying upon the ships on-board systems?

      I was using an upgraded Midway as a starting point, the reasons why are: 45k tonnage, it was optimized for around smaller airwings, which is around the same size as todays airwings, and it is conventionally powered. Its a better fit then fo distributed lethality then say a Nimitz or Ford.

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    3. You haven't addressed my main concerns with the theory.

      1) Coordinating multiple ships to strike targets to maximize the usefulness of distributed lethality.
      2) The current procurement of ships ill-fitting to the concept.
      3) The navy not following the basic tenants of the doctrine, i.e. ships sailing and training as groups instead of individually.
      4) The increase strain this doctrine will have on logistics, with more ships needing more port refits.

      Thats why I said this theory discredited, (not disproven) because this were the main reasons it failed in the past under the French.

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    4. I'll say it one last time. A Midway is not an example of dl. It's the opposite. A Midway may be a good idea but as an example of dl.

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    5. "... remove the hanger to install VLS cells and additional targeting/ detection systems"

      There are no additional targeting systems that can be installed. The ship already has radar, EO, and probably some degree of passive sensing. What else is there that you have in mind?

      Helos/UAVs have short range, almost line of sight, comms back to the LCS so they have some chance of providing targeting data as opposed to trying to get targeting data from ships or aircraft hundreds of miles away. Also, the helo/UAV targets are, by definition, close and relevant, again as opposed to targets found by regional sensors that may be out of weapon's range. Helo/UAV is not a great or foolproof means of targeting but it's better than just a shipboard radar!

      Besides, if you remove the hangar, you're left with just a missile boat and there are far smaller and better missile boats than an LCS could ever be. Check out the Chinese Houbei missile boat as an excellent example. Missile boats are the classic definition of dl - small, cheap, deadly, and expendable. The LCS, however modified, is none of those things.

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    6. You seem to think I'm arguing FOR dl. I'm not. I'm on record as saying the Navy's version is idiotic. The version I've proposed is dl as a side effect of distributed cost. It's not true dl which would involve missile boats and the like.

      The classic dl concept, while better than the Navy's version, still has serious flaws. The most significant being targeting, followed by survivability and logistics.

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    7. I assumed you were playing devil's advocate. These are how most of our discussions go I thought.

      A simplified, offensive oriented LCS could be of use whether for DL or not. If it can over come the sensor issue or be paired with a Burke at all times that is.

      Why not the midway, In your carrier size discussion, you listed desired characteristics similar to it?

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    8. As I said, a Midway may be fine as a smaller carrier but it is not, in any way, shape, or form, an example of dl.

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    9. My apologies for misunderstanding you on that. I was citing the Midway not as a example of DL, but more fitting with the navy's interpretation of it, then what is offered by the Ford.

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