Tuesday, February 9, 2016

LCS Range Downgraded Again

The LCS’ range has, again, been downrated.  According to the 2015 DOT&E Annual Report,

“Based on fuel consumption data collected during the test, the ship’s operating range at 14.4 knots (the ship’s average speed during the trial) is estimated to be approximately 1,960 nautical miles (Navy requirement: 3,500 nautical miles at 14 knots) …”


That’s 1960 nm at 14 knots.  Well, that gets the ship clear of the harbor, I guess, before it has to turn around to refuel.

39 comments:

  1. Look at the bright side. If she is tethered to the Carrier for Fuel, she won't have to worry about AAW. AND at 40 kts she can keep up with the Nuc Carriers!

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    1. Quite right. I should have made that clear. Thanks.

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    2. I, too, noted that and came to approximately the same conclusion that you did. The net result is that achieving that would require a unique set of operational circumstances that would not normally be encountered in typical use. Thus, I revert to the 1960 nm statement as the definitive "spec" on range.

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  3. Continuing from B Smitty

    Why do you normally just call the LCS, when there are two very different class that are being discussed? I confuses most people into thinking that we talking about all LCSs, not just a specific class.

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    1. Yes, of course there are the two versions and I should have made clear this was the Freedom version I and the report were talking about.

      The reason for just generically talking about the Freedom version as "the LCS" is probably because there is so little information available on the Independence version. Thus, the vast majority of the discussion is about the Freedom version.

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    2. "The cynic in me believes they did it to avoid the invariable protest by the loser during the downselect."

      The cynic in me is inclined to believe the cynic in you!

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  4. The 40 knot design constraint is the direct cause of the major failings of the LCS: The severe weight constraints imposed on the mission modules, the lack of proper hotel facilities, the lack of useful armament, the oversized and fuel guzzling engines, ...

    And the result is something amazing the world has never seen before: A 3000 ton, 40-knot minesweeper, with zero room for growth. The good thing is that it is too expensive to aquire in large numbers.

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    2. Of course, the "growth" would come by sacrificing the ship's "main battery" which is the module(s)!

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    4. The LCS program has already seen that module "growth" means weight growth above and beyond the module allowances. The Navy is desperately trying to shed module weight on one of the modules in an attempt to avoid having to develop module sub-sets.

      There's no reason why it has to be so, but module improvements invariable mean size and weight gains.

      It's also not clear to me that the overall weight margins have or have not already "confiscated" the module allowances. I've read some reports that hint that this may have occurred but I'm not at all certain about that.

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    5. I'm still perplexed by the lack of growth margin. So far as I can tell with the huge mission bays these ships are large boxes of air. Does the powertrain really suck up that much weight?

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  5. There seems to be some confusion over transit 'range' and average speed during a testing process which just happened to be 14.4 kts.
    If I drove to my sister's wedding at an average speed of 55mph mostly freeway and later that month did a car time trail test with some workmates which had a short transit there and back and average speed too was around 55mph.

    Which would be the most distance covered. of course it would be the constant speed freeway drive.

    AS we can see the requirements are 1000nm at 40 kts ( DOT&E says at 43.5kts the range is 866nm)
    Im pretty sure at the lower speed of 40kts the 1000nm will be achieved and the navy says at most economical cruise averaging 14kts, the 3500nm can be achieved.

    By the way distance from New York to Miami is 950 nm which can be done at 40kts, so Im not sure what harbour you are referring to when you have to turn around.
    Hong Kong to Manila 950nm, Gibraltar to Bierut is 2000nm

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    1. "... navy says at most economical cruise averaging 14kts, the 3500nm can be achieved."

      That's not what either DOT&E or the Navy says. Reread the post, the quote, and subsequent comments. The LCS cannot achieve the 3500 nm requirement.

      The harbor comment, by the way, was hyperbole.

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  6. Early in World War II, Stalin would have Generals executed for incompetence (or shot for other reasons). While I don't advocate shooting Navy Officers or DOD civilian personnel, perhaps there should be some consequences for gross incompetence (incompetence at a minimum - possible and more plausibly corruption). Billions wasted and our sailors provided with ships utterly incapable of performing under combat conditions and no one is held accountable. A familiar pattern with our government: VA scandal, 9/11, IRS scandal. In the 1930s Stalin purged the Soviet Communist Party bureaucracy and the senior ranks of the Soviet Armed Forces, killing millions. I'd settle for a few Admirals being recalled to active duty, court martialed and reduced in rank (as well as some Senior DOD civilians given similar treatment).

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    1. Agree completely. One of the problems is that, without BuShips, personnel come and go. The LCS, for example, is just a short term assignment for an officer and he's on to something else. There's not long term commitment to the project, no sense of accomplishment, and no accountability.

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    2. And no one wants to be the guy to declare the emperor has no clothes when the next assignment may go from 'Commander, USS Whatever' to 'Commander, Pentagon maintanance crew' by ticking people off.

      The lack of a personality like Rickover or a Sims back in the day hurts things as well.

      I wonder (Completely off the cuff, no real evidence) if the more 'corporate' structure of the Navy now discourages people like that.

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  7. At what point does this ship become downgraded to the point where it should be declared militarily worthless?

    This is not an deliberately inflammatory question or one intended to raise strong emotion, but a serious question. At one point do we declare this contraption to be totally pointless?

    I suppose we should also get a reality check on the Independence variants as well.

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    1. Alt:

      One thing I've noticed from the defenders is that because there is no CONOPS for it, its difficult to declare it a failure. They just adjust what the projected CONOPS might be.

      I'm quite cynical, admittedly, about our procurement model. And I think our military is in for a world of hurt in terms of the equipment its going to be getting.

      But given that LockMart and Austal both have strong congressional support I don't see these projects going anywhere.

      Compounding that there are folks in the Navy who really view the LCS' mission modules as transformational in an age of tighter budgets; and whatever the platforms shortcomings won't back off on it for fear of besmirching modularity.

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    2. In that case, we are seeing a mission made up to justify a platform.

      Not a very good way of designing weapons.

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    3. 100% agree.

      Look at the Standard Class battleship; a departure from what we'd done before. But in 11 years we'd cranked out 13 of them and they matched a specified mission.

      In 12 years we had nearly 50 FFG's. Again, to match a specified mission.

      The LCS is all over the board.

      I don't hate modularity, speed, or cheap warships. I hate that we just farted around with them for a decade, never really got very far, and then just went into serial production because 'we need a small surface combatant."

      The cynic in me thinks the Navy worked for this when they retired the FFG's. 'Whoops! All we got is the LCS. Better build them...'

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  8. Are those range figures accurate?

    If they are then either the LCS will run out of gas, run out of low caliber bullets or her engine will seize up due to oil fouling

    With a future like that maybe we need new leadership in the procurement department

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    1. I assume you're referring to the DOT&E range figures. Those are from actual operational data which is as accurate as you can get.

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    2. Yes in the range

      Looks like we built coast guard cutters instead of navy Fridays

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  9. Given the LCS is not going to go away, despite it's considerable shortcomings, new uses for it will have to be found.

    Two which come to mind are:


    1) tomahawk carrier- you can put some of those on the helicopter flight deck, manueveur LCS into position, and wait for the enemy, let loose, and return to a base in SEA and reload. Drones may help with senosrs and targeting.


    2) High speed marine and personel delivery ships. One thing no one has denied is that these boats can do 40+ knots. As Ztev Konrad says, many places around teh Philippines are about 1000nm, which the LCS can do. I'd be surprised if you couldn't bolt beds and chairs into cargo containers, and then load those containers into the LCS. The marines could stay in these.

    3) Short range bombardment of an unequal enemy- according to Navy Recognition http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/news/naval-exhibitions/sna-2016-show-daily-news/3473-sna-2016-lockheed-martins-new-freedom-variant-lcs-frigate-model-in-details.html

    they can put 2 x 30 cell Hellfire missiles on the frigate version of LCS.

    I'm guessing that they could do the same thingwith those empty mission module bays and load in a few more. LCS might not be surviveable, but if they can launch 60+ Hellfire missiles, I think that'd be some useful artillary support.


    Adrian

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    1. You are correct that the LCS is not going away and that some sort usefulness ought to be found.

      A Tomahawk missile barge is an interesting idea but the inherent limitations in range and at-sea endurance sharply limit the flexibility of such an option.

      The possibility of a SOF or small unit transport and support vessel has long been discussed but the same range/endurance limits of the ship not only apply but are magnified by having many more mouths to feed, shower, launder, water, and provide heads for. This would be doable for a very, very short duration mission but if it took more than a few days to arrive in position and execute, the ship cannot support the embarked troops.

      Short range bombardment is feasible however Hellfire is very short range. I suspect there are very few scenarios that would require "artillery" support at that close range.

      Hey, I get that none of the proposed missions for the LCS are optimal and I'm not picking on yours any more than any others. This ship is simply a poor platform for anything!

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    2. Given the weight issues we've seen on it, do we really have any confidence its going to hit its speed targets?

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    3. In trials, it has failed to meet speed specs. DOT&E reports that a speed trial demonstrated 37-39 kts. Remember when the Navy talked about 45+ kts?

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  10. Loren Thompson has a piece in Forbes on the misunderstood LCS.

    Here's a line from the article, "Like the F-35 fighter, another revolutionary combat system under constant attack in the political culture, the Littoral Combat Ship never gets a fair shake from the general media. Headlines complain about the most prosaic deficiencies that testers uncover — the kind of problems endemic to every new class of warship — while ignoring any good news."

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    1. The deficiencies are pretty substantial and there are LOTS of them. What would be the good news?

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    2. Its important to consider who pays Loren Thompson's bills...

      http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/8035-lockheed-the-ultimate-pay-to-play-contractor

      Although the Lexington Institute does not disclose its donors on their web site, Thompson does disclose that the Institute receives funding from Pentagon defense contractors. (The founder of the Lexington Institute, James Courter, was a lobbyist for Lockheed in 2000.)

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    3. I do not know the facts of your claim so I can neither support not criticize it. Your point, though, is completely valid and illustrates why DOT&E is so important. We need an organization that is not beholden to the Navy to conduct the testing that the Navy is so reluctant to perform.

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    4. Meant to put quotes on the paragraph below the link as those are not my words. Its long been known that Lexington Institute is essentially a paid PR firm for the major contractors.

      To your point, system requirements are being driven by the contractors to fit their product lines.

      Time for a wholesale reform of DOD Acquisitions, and the outright ban of retiring Flags and SES's who have had authority to sign off these programs to enter into immediate employment with those contractors who have made billions from their signatures.

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  11. LOL. When I think about journalistic integrity in the defense industry, particularly when it comes to LockMart products, Loren Thompson isn't the first name that comes to mind.

    "adversaries like Iran know how to lay mines in maritime chokepoints and send swarms of speedboats into nearby sea lanes; a growing number also are acquiring very quiet diesel-electric submarines with an eye to denying U.S. military access in their regions. LCS is equipped with warfighting modules employing manned and unmanned systems for countering such threats."

    Given the state of the ASW and MCM mission modules that's only slightly less optimistic than Mabus' saying it will send enemy fleets to the bottom.

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  12. Hi,

    I was wondering what the weight issues actually mean.

    Does it mean that if we load an extra 1500 tonnes onto the LCS, it will sink? Or that the engines simply won't operate at full efficiency?

    Hope someone can clarify this for me.

    Adrian

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    1. Adrian, in theory, yes, there is a point where the extra weight can sink a ship. The reality, here, is no. Some extra weight wouldn't sink the ship although 1500 tons on a ship with only a 3500 ton displacement might well sink it!

      Of course, designers attempt to built in a safety margin for weight. Thus, the design weight limit can be exceeded by a small amount.

      The issue with no weight margin is that extra equipment can't be added without compromising the safety margin.

      Where small excess weight effects show up is things like reduced speed, poorer fuel efficiency, and reduced range. Depending on where the weight is placed, it may affect the ships's center of gravity and stability point making the ship less stable and more likely to capsize in storms or when taking on water during damage control.

      The stability issue has already reared its head. During early module swapping tests the Navy found that moving 15,000 lb (7.5 ton) loads (the weight of module containers carried on the ship) caused the ship to exceed its incline (tipping) limits. Thus, what should have been simple load movements had to be very carefully planned and co-ordinated with counterbalances to prevent the ship from exceeding its incline limits. This is one of the reasons the Navy has given up on the swapping concept.

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    2. Hi CNOps

      Thanks for your reply. I hadn't considered stability and capsizing issues.

      It's such a pity the LCS turned out so flawed. The Independence Class looks so amazing. (I still think it's great eye candy).

      I think they could make something from it by placing x2 Phalanx to protect from RPGs (they use them on land in Afghanistan for this purpose daily) and placing Hellfires.

      Anyway, thanks again CNOps

      Adrian

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