Saturday, February 6, 2016

LCS Anti-Swarm Exercise Video

Below is Navy released video of the recent LCS anti-swarm testing that received such negative comments from DOT&E.  Watch it and then we'll discuss it.





OK, what did we see?  Well, for starters, and most importantly, it was clearly a highly edited and truncated video clip.  We did not see the entire exercise, the number of shots fired at each target, the ranges involved, etc.  We also did not see whether the boats were taken under fire in earlier sequences and, therefore, damaged.  We did not see whether the LCS was at speed and maneuvering which would degrade gunnery.  What we did see was just one or two boats approaching at a time with the remainder floating at rest in the background rather than a complete swarm and the boats did not actually approach - they motored across the field of fire rather than straight at the LCS as would actually happen in combat.  This is equivalent to firing at a tow sleeve being towed back and forth - it serves no purpose other than to prove mechanical operation of the gun which, according to the report cited in the previous post, was fraught with problems.  There was no indication how many shots were fired to achieve the kill.  In fact, in the brief sequence, there were multiple shots that were well off target.  How long had the boat been under fire before a successful shot occurred?  

We also see the single boat continue to advance after being hit.  This is the dwell time issue that we've frequently discussed.  The video sequence ends after the boat is hit and explodes and yet the boat continues.  The target is still alive and potentially viable as an attack platform.  For any of you who might claim that no one could have survived such an explosion, read any WWII combat damage report and you'll see nearly constant uses of the phrase "no one could have survived" and yet they did - routinely.  Further, the craft could well be remote controlled and not have any crew.  Thus, the boat continuing under power and with some or all of its weapons intact would still constitute a threat.  Again, dwell time.  How do you know the target is dead and its okay to shift targets?  That's the challenge and the weakness in using small caliber guns against a swarm attack.

Lastly, we didn't see the boats that made it into the Navy's "keep out" zone as they admitted happened in two out of three attempts in the previous post.  Instead, they edited the video to show what was, presumably, the most impressive result which was the single boat that exploded but kept coming.  

Look, Navy, if you want to convert me from skeptic to believer, conduct a true swarm test with 6-12 boats coming full speed, straight on at the LCS and let's see what the ship can do. Show me the full video.  If the LCS handles that then you've got an instant convert believer. If you won't do that then I can only assume the ship can't perform its stated function.  A transparently edited video accompanied by misleading claims that DOT&E directly refutes isn't going to convince any knowledgeable observer.  In fact, it's just going to reinforce the critics beliefs.

Far from demonstrating any anti-swarm capability, this video serves only to reinforce the shortcomings and warnings I've been posting all along.  

26 comments:

  1. I loved the rebuttal the test conductor had to the USN when they complained about that the Hellfire missiles would have easily taken care of the swarm. That they might be useful but they have no bearing on this test because they won't be on the LCS's until 2018 at the earliest.

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  2. That was so sad, it's unbelievable that even qualified as a trial. Maybe a weapon trial to see if the gun functions properly but that's it.

    I watched the video 3 times and I can't see where the small boat attacks with more than one at a time. Sure seems to me it was one boat at a time. Not much swarming from all directions and multiple boat attack. Plus, no maneuvering, straight line approaches, all the boats appear to be the same size and form. As you mentioned, it is interesting that even in this very easy exercise, gun needed a few shots each time to hit mark and "possibly" disable the small boat.

    Wow, after USN announced the trail, I thought things weren't too bad but how could anyone watch this and believe LCS could survive a swarm attack?!? This was far from comforting USN released info.

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  3. Instead of a handful of RHIBs with machine guns and RPGs, imagine an LCS squaring off against something like China's Type 056 corvette. In its present configuration, I'm not sure the LCS would come out on top.

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  4. Let's face it, the LCS is a joke. A ship with the name "Littoral" in it should be able to fight in the littorals, but it can't. Not only can't it defend itself, it can't begin to defend any landing operation by Marine forces. And what if a hostile fires a land-based rocket or missile, what then? It's quite clear that the Perry-class frigate, although much derided and later neutered when missile capability was removed around 2003, is a much better ship than the LCS and was produced at less cost. I argue that a frigate could survive in the littorals, so let's dust off the blueprints and build a modernized Perry-class frigate to replace the "Little Crappy Ships." Since the Navy decommissioned the Perry-class with no replacement, we now have a gaping hole in Homeland Security in protecting US territorial waters and drug interdiction, passing that along to a woefully underfunded Coast Guard. At the recent SNA Symposium, there was talk of "distributed lethality." Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden said distributed lethality is about “increasing offensive power … defensive hardening of individual ships” and employing the ships “in a more distributed manner.” Well, let's talk about the elephant in the room. There aren't enough ships to distribute lethality! Hopefully, the next president will fund a larger Navy.

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    1. "There aren't enough ships to distribute lethality!"

      That's a great point. I'll have to do a post about that.

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    2. Thank you sir for that acknowledgment. Distributed lethality sounds eerily like "Strategic Homeporting." We all know how that worked out, Norfolk and San Diego got a bigger share of ships while Mayport and Pearl Harbor continue to be starved out of existence.

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  5. I think I'm confused. The test uses the word swarm, and all we're shown are 4 boats strung out and being shot at one a time with long gaps between.
    I simply assumed was just that. 15-20 boats, (these things are cheap and extremely plateful) all at vmax streaming straight at the target, counting on a few making it into range to offload either RPG's or some suicide strikes, explosives in the bow and ram.
    I simply can't see how this qualifies. I was assuming we'd see modern day linked fire, computer controlled, main gun training from target to target and the smaller auto cannon's adding their fire to the fray.

    I dont see how anything we've seen is useful against anyone other than pirates. Crappy ones at that.

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    1. *GASP* !!! Are you suggesting that the Navy is being misleading and that the LCS is not a miraculous, wonder warmachine able to win entire regional wars singlehanded while simultaneously conducting humanitarian assistance across the global commons and spreading democracy and love for America? Why would the Navy mislead us?

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    2. Our Navy likes to pretend that "small boats" are just guys with machine guns. If they can kill them before they are within 2000 meters, all is well. But the huge threat are self-guided torpedoes. The North Koreans and Iranians know this too, and have semi-submersible attack boats with two torpedoes. If a dozen of these come charging from shore, expect several torpedoes to impact, even if they kill the boat.

      http://www.hisutton.com/Demystified%20-%20Taedong-B%20submersible%20infiltration%20craft.html

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  6. Can anyone think of a surface ship (US or otherwise) that is really GOOD at repelling swarm attack? Personally, I think attack helicopters are a good answer, and the LCS has a nice big flight deck...

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    2. I've already explained why helos are not a viable solution to a swarm attack unless it can be identified long in advance.

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    3. Juneau, yes! Even a Fletcher.

      The CB-90 may be the best we have today. They present a small target, are fast, and are heavily armed.

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    5. I would be curious to see a link to the helo article. Seems to me that in confined waters like the gulf you could cycle them more or less endlessly from friendly airstrips ashore with refueling hops on LCS or whatever. Plus you'd probably have a couple big decks around. And, as you've already stated, by the time a surface ship can detect and engage a low profile attack boat, there may already be trouble.

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    6. and on your swarm of 20ish boats, you dont think 5-10 stingers, or strellas would mean those choppers have a real bad day?
      I dont think having a couple of attack help's on deck would make the difference in this scenario.
      Sure, if you've got air superiority over the battle space then hell, why even bother having the LCS there in the first place?
      Nope, these things are purpose built to handle exactly this scenario, else, what purpose could the possibly serve?

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    8. "I would be curious to see a link to the helo article. Seems to me that in confined waters like the gulf you could cycle them more or less endlessly from friendly airstrips ashore..."

      For starters, check the Nov 2015 post, "Swarm Reality". After that, read through the archives. That's why they're there!

      Have you worked out how many helos would be needed to provide continuous coverage over even a single location let alone the entire gulf region? Sure, if you know the exact time and place that a swarm attack will occur, you can muster an overwhelming aerial force and utterly destroy a swarm. Unfortunately, lacking that kind of clairvoyance, it would take hundreds or thousands of helos to continuously cover the entire region!

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  7. I'd like to see this against a Russian ship carrying multiple AK-630 mounts.

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    1. The problem is that the AK-630 is a short range weapon. If the boats are in range of the AK-630 then the AK-630 ship is probably in range of the boat's weapons. The same applies to Phalanx CIWS.

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  8. Just wait till they start using air burst instead of these pointless direct hits !

    Its not important that they dont pass the test at first, as its important they know they dont pass. Most new sytems have been useless at first, but its a continuing concern for the taxpayers that they have paid plenty for some particular sub system that doesnt work all that well essentially from the beginning. The LCS needs some one like a Rickover who makes its his career and stays around for 15+ years to keep on the case.

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  9. The thing is, anyone can make anything look good in a very highly scripted exercise. Judging by what you are saying here, this is not representative of what an actual combat situation would look like.

    What we need to satisfactorily prove that everything is well is that the conditions that DOT&E claims the LCS was defective tested. If and only if the LCS performs up to par in such conditions will there be a satisfactory refutation of the DOT&E claims.

    I get the feeling that the USN will not be testing soon because they know the LCS will not do well.

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    1. "I get the feeling that the USN will not be testing soon because they know the LCS will not do well."

      This is the same reason why the Navy has thus far refused to perform shock testing on the LCS. They know it won't go well. Ditto for the Ford.

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  10. And yet the DoD Establishment continues to call for the reduction or elimination of the DOT&E office. If anything examples like this show why it should be strengthened.

    Prototype prior to production! A VERY successful business man made that recommendation years ago.

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  11. as for mine hunting...
    this
    http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/naval/2016/02/08/israels-elbit-unveils-usv-anti-sub-anti-mine-missions/80001006/

    i dont know what to make of it. Not sure how relevant it would be to the LCS, perhaps carried as/instead of the ASW modules, but its likely too big. Its a littoral mine/sub hunting option, but perhaps too littoral?
    Think we need to hear more about its capabilities.

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