Friday, July 15, 2016

New and Improved?

Why do we build new classes of ships or aircraft?  The answer is to incorporate new capabilities that can’t be achieved simply by adding upgrades to existing classes.  Further, the presumption is that the new class will have several new capabilities that render the previous class hopelessly obsolete.

The WWII Essex class carriers were a vast improvement over the Yorktown class.

The F-86 Sabre was a vast improvement over any previous propeller driven aircraft.

The Forrestal was an immense improvement over the Midway class.

You get the idea.  Each major new class (for you nitpickers, I’m not talking about tweaks that produce sub-classes like the Sumner/Gearing) was an inarguably vast improvement over the preceding class.  Unfortunately, that trend may be coming to an end.  Let’s look at some recent new classes.

LCS.  OK, this is everyone’s poster boy for a messed up program but, seriously, even if the modules ever pan out, they’ll not represent a vast improvement over existing ships and technology.  The Avenger MCM vessels are arguably more capable than the LCS.  The Perrys were better ASW vessels than the LCS will be – not surprising given that the LCS ASW module will consist purely of existing technology and the seaframe is not optimized for ASW (meaning quieting).  Almost by definition it won’t be an improvement.  The Perrys, before the Navy neutered them, were worlds better at ASuW than the LCS.

Could we not have kept building the Perrys and simply slanted the superstructure to add a bit of stealth?  Add to that some new build Avengers and you’ve got the LCS (actually, a far more capable “LCS”) without all the added developmental costs.

Ford.  Where is the huge leap in capability?  The claimed increase in sortie rate has been debunked.  The EMALS catapult is of dubious value.  It’s claimed to be easier on aircraft but there has never been any data supporting that.  Aircraft were built to take the steam catapult stresses so that claim is highly suspect.  Same for the Advanced Arresting Gear which the Navy has just recently hinted may be a complete failure and have to be replaced by a conventional arresting system.  The ship has some increased automation which is nice (until damage control is required and we find out the price we’ll pay for reduced crew size) but that’s something that could have been easily incorporated into the next Nimitz.  The vaunted dual band radar has already been downsized and replaced for subsequent ships of the class.  There is simply no need for a massively capable radar on a ship that carries only short range AAW missiles and is always accompanied for Aegis ships and Hawkeyes.

Could we not have added the EMALS to the next Nimitz and achieved the same capability as the Ford without the billions of dollars of developmental costs?

F-35.  The F-35 is nowhere near as capable as the F-22.  It’s aerodynamically on par with the F-16/18.  It’s steadily losing any capability gains it might have as each year of development continues, decade after decade.  The only real improvement might be the 360 degree sensor fusion if it ever works and sensor fusion is already being incorporated into upgrades of other aircraft.  The F-35’s sensors are already technologically behind those of many other aircraft.  Advances in IRST and anti-stealth detection technology are quickly negating the aircraft’s stealth advantage.

Could we not have added some stealth to the Hornet (oh, wait, we already have – the Advanced Super Hornet) and incorporated the 360 degree sensor technology if it ever matures?  Or, could we not have simply continued building the F-22 with whatever bits of technology we wanted to add from the F-35?  After all, we’ve already looked at the possibility of restarting the F-22 production line and found it to be feasible and cheap relative to continuing the F-35 debacle.

America.  This one is the most baffling.  This is just a rebuild of the Wasp class with a few minor tweaks and the loss of the well deck.  Did we really need to spend billions designing a new class?

Could we not have simply continued the Wasp class with whatever tweaks were incorporated into the America?  Heck, we didn’t even improve the flight deck to the point that it could handle the F-35B.  We’re having to go back and rebuild the flight deck and the compartments immediately under it.  Surely, we could have done that with new Wasps?

Virginia.  Is this sub significantly better than the Los Angeles class?  No one, including the Navy knows because of the extreme security measures surrounding the sub.  The Navy won’t even let the Virginias take part in ASW exercises.  My suspicion is that the Virginia is better but not significantly so.  The technologies that are in the Virginia could have been incorporated into new 688s.

Could we not have continued building 688s with some of the new sonar arrays?  We certainly could have added the proposed missile modules to the 688.

LX(R).  The replacement for the LSD-41 class has only half the well deck which makes it a poor substitute let alone a successor.  Even more baffling is that we’re retiring the LSDs before we need to.  Could we not simply keep the LSDs and toss in a few modest upgrades?  What leap in technology or capability does the LX(R) offer? 

There’s nothing wrong with new ships.  There is something wrong with spending billions of dollars designing new classes when we could simply add capabilities to existing classes.  Yes, there would be some money spent to figure out how to incorporate new technologies but nothing even remotely approaching the cost of a new class. 

Where are the leaps in capabilities that are typically associated with new classes?  The problem is that the Navy has opted to forego conventional leaps in favor of generational leaps – none of which have panned out.

Conventional leaps would include the latest sensors, missiles, and systems that actually exist.  The leap in capability would come from incorporating the cutting edge, but existent, technology with new, better platform designs.  Instead, the Navy seems stubbornly fixed on repeating existing designs under the misguided notion that this will save money.  ComNavOps is all for upgrades but there comes a point where upgrades simply won’t get you where you need to be.  At that point, a new design incorporating the latest, existent, technology is the preferred approach.

Consider all the development programs that are just expensive repeats that don’t really offer the needed improvements.

The Burke-AMDR may be the poster boy for failed repeats.  The AMDR requires a bigger, or at least differently designed, ship than the Burke.  Because the Navy has opted to repeat the Burke design, the ship will have only a fraction of the desired performance.

There are two ways to approach “new” ships.  We need to either do simple upgrades to existing ships or design new classes that offer significantly improved capabilities.  The former option saves the bulk of the design money and the latter, while costing more, gives us new capabilities.  The Navy is combining the worst of the two options by pouring lots of money into redesigns of existing ships that offer little improvement in performance – the worst of both options!



41 comments:

  1. Just to point out a pet-peeve of mine in discussions of new ship types or major upgrades.
    New equipment isn't built, nor are upgrades to current equipment conducted, solely to incorporate new capabilities. They are done to meet new or changed requirements. In a theoretical example, the system would allow for a re-build of a Cold War era vessel if the requirements were still being met by that gear decades later (an analogy might be the Ship to Shore Connector, aka an easier-to-operate LCU replacement).
    This doesn't invalidate your point above, indeed it emphasizes it by raising additional questions around whether the new and upgraded equipment is meeting requirements or how rigorous the requirements process was in the first place.
    But we should be careful to not desire new ships or ask for upgraded ships merely because technology is available.

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  2. If there are not regular updates of new ship types do the skills required to design military ships get lost?

    I've heard that designing the UK Astute submarines ran into trouble because of a lack of relevant skills due to a long design holiday in submarine design. If existing ships are just modified and upgraded how much of a problem would be caused when a full redesign is needed?

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    1. They should not unless we're stupid. I would expect a constant stream of what-if design requests from the Navy to industry to examine various configurations. These designs don't have to go as far as the number of rivets needed but the basics of hull-form, displacement, machinery, armament, etc. ought to be laid out. This used to be done on a regular basis in the days of the Ship Characteristics Board and alternate aircraft designs have been promulgated and evaluated routinely on the aviation side of things. In short, there should be a steady stream of design studies in the normal course of events.

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    2. Slighty random but relevant. Russia follow the practice religiously with their "objekt" designs. Alot of the designs didn't work or were impractical, but innovations learned from designing and prototyping were incorporated where applicable. Example would be the objekt 430 that then lead to the T64, which was basically a test bed series for a more easily manufactured tank, the T72. This has continue all the way to present with the T14 armata, with steady, incremental upgrading for various reasons. A completely new design should only be considered when attempts to use existing designs and parts fail. An example of that is when the army attempted to turn the M113 platform in to an infantry fighting vechile. They did it, but at a 50% increase of unit price for 10% increase in capabilities. They then embarked on a new design, the M2 Bradley (which had its on development program go over budget and later involved heavy redesigning to rectify shortcomings, sorta like the LCS and F35.)

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    3. I have two examples of upgrading and new platforms that were (mostly) successful.

      Russian tank designers were constantly doing design studies and prototyping, for example the objekt 430 tank was such. The 430 after prototyping was accepted with design changes to become the T64, which in turn had key features adapted or modified for the T72 and T80. This trend has continue, with streamlining of things the Russians like and removal of things they dont, culminating in the T14 armata of today, which is the latest expression of incremental upgrading and new capabilities in what is essentially the same design.

      For completely new designs, I point to the M2 Bradley. With the appearance of the BMP-1, designs and prototyping were conducted on the M113 to turn it into an Infantry Fighting Vechile (IFV). During prototype testing it was found that in in this configuration, the M113 IFV variant would cost 50% more and net only a slight increase in capability. It was decided to design a completely new platform based on what learned from testing and the need for a larger chassis.
      The resulting debacle that was the M2 development program, while similar to the F35 and LCS programs of today, offered a weapons system that was a major improvement over what an upgraded M113 IFV variant could have done, from the beginning.

      Those two examples highlight the need for both (upgrading & new), constantly re-evaluating current requirements, and generating designs not necessarily for production, but to eventually incorporate that research into to future platforms.

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  3. Build a little, test a lot... has been replaced by purchase based on 30 second sound bite from the contractor.

    GAB

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    1. Quite right.

      Leaping into 55 LCS based on non-existent technology was idiotic and the result have been predictable.

      Leaping into 2500 F-35s based on non-existent technology was idiotic and the results have been predictable.

      And so on ....

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  4. The 688 design had reached a dead end in terms of improvements. Remember, the basics go back to the early 70's. They had improved it but there's only so much you can do. So they took everything that had worked on the 688's and Seawolf's and added in newer features.

    The USN had built the Permit class which then went to the Sturgeon and then the LA/688 and now the Vinginia. Natural progression. The Seawolf was an overbuilt off shoot that while good, couldn't be afford.

    Its like Boeing ending production of the 707 and replacing it with the 767 and then 787. They all look kinda of the same on the outside but what's inside is what counts.

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    1. It seems like with each block of the Virginia class they are actually introducing an new subclass of boats. Each block has significant improvements over the other. Eventually we will have, in effect, a new class of boats. These under the radar new class of boats should keep people from going ape sh*t over the high prices of a newly designed class.

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    2. You're making a general claim without backing it up with any data. You may be right but you need to back it up. Cite some specific, verifiable examples that support your case.

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    3. This is exactly the kind of incremental upgrade of existing ships that I endorse.

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    4. Howabout the fact that you can't keep using the same design for everything? Especially in submarines. Those incremental upgrades you liked are possible because the Virginia's were designed with such things in mind. If you did that to a 688 you have a completely new design.

      The Virginia's are quieter, have a reactor that doesn't need refueling, and fiber optic fly by wire control system using electric motors instead of hydraulics on control surfaces, sonar arrays built on the sides instead of just on the bow, and lot more automation.

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    5. "Howabout the fact that you can't keep using the same design for everything? "

      That's not a "fact" in this discussion. Of course you can't use a given design indefinitely. A WWI Sopwith Camel just can't handle and optimally utilize a jet engine, for example. However, within the context of a LA to Virginia class discussion, it is by no means a "fact" that we couldn't have continued to upgrade the LA's. We could have added the sonar array to the LA. Whatever additional quieting the Virginia class has, if any (and I know you don't have have any definitive data on that!), could have been retrofitted to the LA. Fly by wire and electric motors could certainly have been added to the LA class, new build LAs absolutely would have the same reactor as the Virginias. So, I'm not seeing any evidence that we couldn't have upgraded the LA class.

      If you have any data, present it. Lacking that, you're just speculating. There's nothing wrong with speculation as long as you don't present it as fact.

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  5. As Anonymous pointed out above, there is a legitimate need to maintain design competency. If we go too long between designing new ship classes (or other major weapons systems), the engineers and know-how to do so disappear, and can’t be easily regenerated.

    There is a separate but related need to preserve manufacturing capabilities - in this case, the shipbuilding industrial base.

    It may be time to consider a radical solution to crack both nuts: separate the design and manufacturing functions. In the current system, both are combined within a small handful of too-big-to-fail defense contractors, whose political connections ensure a constant spigot of corporate welfare. That leads to the wasteful outcomes favoring new classes vs. incremental improvements laid out by CNO above.

    Instead, what if we had 3+ independent design houses for ships? (And another 3+ for aircraft.) These design houses would be fed enough work to support an optimal staffing level, ensuring continuing design competency. There would be enough interesting work and job security for talented engineers to be attracted into the field and retained.

    The design work would include new clean-sheet designs, incremental upgrades to existing designs (even if originally designed by another company), and DARPA-like speculative experiments.

    For a new design: all of the design houses would get contracts for RFP responses. Two would be selected to build prototypes for a “fly-off.” At the conclusion of the fly-off, one of two outcomes would happen:

    - A winner would be selected, the design would be finalized (no concurrency allowed), and 3 or more independent manufacturers would bid to build the winning design. A contract to build the initial tranche of the new design would be awarded to a single manufacturer, or to two manufacturers in a work split that would incentivize efficient production.

    - Or it could be decided that the new design does not offer enough of an improvement over incremental enhancements to existing designs, and therefore does not proceed to production.

    By unbundling design and manufacturing, we can much more efficiently maintain ongoing competency in each one, while sparking intensified competition in each one.

    Of course, the big defense contractors would fight hard against this change. All the more reason to investigate it.

    BTL

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    1. BTL, your initial conclusions are wrong - see my earlier comment - but your solutions are likely on the right track. The interesting part is that they are not new. That's exactly how we used to approach ship design and construction. Yet another example of "the future's in the past". Amazing how quickly we forget what worked.

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  6. "I saw this at another website."

    Please do not quote from another site with specific attribution. Even then, do not quote long passages or entire posts. It is preferable to offer a link and your analysis or reason for doing so. I would not want someone to "steal" my work without credit so I cannot, in good conscience, do the same to someone else.

    Thanks for your understanding and consideration!

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    1. That sounds good, so I'll try again. The Marines are so in love with the F-35 that they refuse to buy new F/A-18Es to fill a shortage as their F/A-18Cs age out. They are pulling retired F/A-18 airframes out of the desert and rebuilding them with spare parts. These will last only a few years due to the old airframe and will cost as much as new F/A-18Es. I read about it here:

      http://www.g2mil.com/Defending_Empire2.htm

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    2. "... will cost as much as new F/A-18Es."

      You've made a claim about costs (actually you've repeated the claim made in the article you linked to - a claim made without any supporting data). I doubt the claim but I can be persuaded. Can you present some data to support that claim?

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    3. Good question, and that link didn't answer it either. The only reason to tap the boneyard is because there is no way to get a new airframe. The airframe is only some 30% of an aircraft's cost anyway, and spare parts cost much more than what is mass purchased for a clean new assembly line where everything fits.

      It is well known among those who do these complete rehabs that it costs a lot, because the old metal is worn and bent together and it is a major effort to pull it apart and inspect everything and repair ever crack. I recalled the Harrier upgrade and did a search and came up with this:

      In March 1996, the US General Accounting Office (GAO) stated that it was cheaper to buy Harrier II Plus aircraft outright than to remanufacture existing AV-8Bs. The USN estimated the cost for remanufacture of each aircraft to be US$23–30 million, instead of $30 million for each new-built aircraft, while the GAO estimated the cost per new aircraft at $24 million.[7]

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_AV-8B_Harrier_II

      So the answer is there is no hard data, but those old Hornets were retired because they are old. Even if they cost a few million less, the Marines will only get a few more years out of them.

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  7. Agree on everything except Virginia class.

    The key US submarine advantage is acoustic quiering, and that is inherent in design characteristics. Hull form, reactor, control surfaces, piping etc.

    Bottom line: you can't get simply slap a "stealth module" on a 688 and get a Virginia class.

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    1. The LA and VA classes are almost identical in size, beam, and shape so there's nothing in that to suggest any enhanced quieting.

      Other aspects such as improved/quieter reactors, modified control surfaces (I assume you're talking about planes and tail forms), piping (whatever that means in terms of quieting) could certainly be added to new LAs.

      If you have data or evidence that there is something inherent to the VA class that couldn't be added to the LA class as upgrades, present it. Otherwise, you're just speculating. There's nothing wrong with speculation as long as you don't present it as fact.

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    2. External features and dimensions aren't important. Its what inside the hull that matters. When they designed the Virginia class, they designed it so that the internal structures could be assembled outside the hull as 'rafts' that would be then slid inside but in such a way that isolated them, and their sounds, from the hull structure. Rafting was started back in the 60's with individual equipment but not with the whole insides. That's not possible with an old design.

      Its not possible to just add things like electric powered rudders and fins instead of hydraulic as an upgrade. Same goes for fiber optic instead of wired network systems.

      Tell me this, why did Boeing stop building the 707? Couldn't they have just stuck new engines and a new cockpit display? It would have same them a lot of money by not having to design the 757 and 767 and then 787.

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    3. Acoustic isolation and "rafting" has been around for quite a while, as you note. Every noise-generating piece of machinery in an LA class is acoustically isolated. I'm nowhere near sure that the current design is better. It may be easier to construct - that's quite plausible.

      Also, you may be misunderstanding the basic concept of the post. I'm talking about upgrading an existing class. So, in this specific case, if a change in construction methodology is deemed desirable, there's no reason it couldn't be incorporated into the LA class. They could be built in rafts just like the VA class.

      Of course it's possible to add electric powered rudders and fiber optic as an upgrade step to the class. Why would you think it's not?

      Boeing made a business case decision that involved their own money and took into account marketing issues (newer appeals to customers, for instance), liability, safety, seating capacities, and many other factors - none of which apply in the military cases we're considering.

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    4. CNO,

      The VA might be a bad example because IMO, that class is essentially a continuation of the LA class (688 super improved?) If planning for the NSSN began in 1991, then the idea of taking to best of the Seawolf and Los Angeles boats and merging them together for something cheaper well underway before the last 688i launched in 1995.

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  8. There are a couple of factors that make this problem worse:

    The first is that the US has a distinct cultural bias towards the idea that new = better. This is ruthlessly exploited by salesmen and is especially effective against people with power, but not much expertise, and a strong need to conform to cultural norms: politicians.

    The second is that design has become a very elaborate process these days, with vast amounts of simulation, lots of studies, lots of extra software to write, and so on. This is very gratifying for the egos of engineering company management, and appeals to politicians who feel that their stewardship of public money is well served by making sure that everything will work right before anything gets built. They're failing to realise that the checking can be more expensive than prototyping and testing, and that simulation only works well if the assumptions it is based on are sound. So there are few, but very large and expensive, design teams, which need new design projects regularly if they're to earn their living.

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    1. John, you have interesting and valid ideas but I disagree a bit with laying too much blame at the feet of politicians. The days of most Congressmen having served and, therefore, being able to evaluate weapon systems is long gone. Few have served. Congressmen get excited about systems and love to spend money, especially in their districts, but only after the military has presented a system to them with the military's blessing. Congressmen did not come up with the idea of the LCS, the military did and assured Congress that it was vital and would revolutionize naval warfare. And so on. I'm not going to list all the flawed weapon systems that were presented to Congress as the next leap forward in warfare and turned out to be failures, to a greater or lesser degree.

      I give Congress a bit of a pass on the initial evaluation of a weapon system. They have to rely on the uniformed professionals of the military. It is those people who have been susceptible to marketing hype and yet it is those people who should know better. There's a serious disconnect there.

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  9. Yes, much of the bad information comes from the Navy's wishful thinking and neophillia. But the politicians are ultimately in charge. It falls to them to recognise that they are being misled and to do something about that.

    Currently, they're abdicating that responsibility and allowing the pressure within the Navy to report success and the lack of comebacks when that success is illusionary to continue making the situation worse.

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  10. I wonder what the Zumwalts were a replacement for?

    Battleships I guess would be the closest because of the emphasis on naval fire support.

    The problem is it is also a step back. While battleships are expensive, at least they work (their big guns can be devastating when used well).

    The other big problem is that all of this procurement diverts money from where it is needed the most. Training and maintenance. The opportunity cost is huge.

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    1. Well, this was a simple question, as the SC21 was well documented. The prodd21, the frist ship of the the Navy's ship replacement program was intended to replace the Perry class frigates, and the Spruance class destroyer. The goal was to design ships that would cost 70% to build and 70% to operate than the Burke Classes did.

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  11. CNO, I kept trying to publish a post on this subject and it gets added to the comment count, but then disappears. Is it being deleted or is it a bug? Thanks

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    1. I saw two of your posts in the spam filter and they have been redesignated and should now appear. The spam filter is a function of the blogger engine and is something I have no control over. I check the spam folder several times a day and redesignate as needed. The issue seems to only affect about 1% of comments although it does seem to happen to certain commenters more than others. Perhaps something to do with their domain/server/?

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    2. Could be server, Im currently having to operate on a mobile phone out in the country side.

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  12. One thing to recall is that the Tico CGs are basically Spruance DDs with a new superstructure and certain internal upgrades. Seemed to work ok -- and we got AEGIS!

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  13. Having served on all three classes the LCS replaces (PC, MCM, and FFG 7,) I heartily dispute your assertion that the 30+ year old Avengers (that must enter a mine field to neutralize mines) are superior to planned LCS MiW capabilities. The CUSV and Knifefish vehicles, along with heliborne MiW capabilities will allow LCS to conduct MiW outside the mine field. Modular MiW capabilities also allow other ships in the fleet to support mine warfare capability.

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    1. You missed the main point of the post and that was that we are spending huge sums of money designing and building new ship classes that don't offer significant improvements over the classes they replace and that in most cases we could add the new capabilities to the existing class.

      The LCS as a replacement for the Avenger, Perry, and PC clearly offers no substantial improvement and, in most categories, OFFERS LESS!!

      As far as the LCS MCM capabilities relative to the Avenger, the LCS has no functional MCM module - only plans and wishes. Setting that aside, if you served on an Avenger then you know they have the SLQ-48 Mine Neutralization Vehicle (equivalent to Knifefish and similar), SLQ-37 Magnetic/Acoustic Influence Sweep Gear (equivalent to CUSV), SQQ-32 Mine Hunting Sonar, MGD 1701 Degaussing System, and precision navigation system with bow thrusters for precise station keeping.

      I did misspeak when I said that the Avengers are arguably superior. Let me correct that and say that the Avengers are clearly superior now and for the foreseeable future. Will the LCS someday have a superior capability? Maybe. I guess we'll have to wait another several years or so to see. Have you read the DOT&E reports? They don't paint a pretty picture of the MCM module!

      Now, to return to the part of the post that you missed where I stated that in most cases we could simply add new capabilities to existing classes, we could easily add any LCS MCM capability to the Avengers at a fraction of the cost. The only exception would be the helo and that is becoming less and less useful in MCM as the various helo-MCM components fail, one by one. The supercavitating helo gun has failed. The helo towed equipment idea has failed. The ALMDS is getting poor reports. The only positive is the AMNS and it could be just as easily delivered by a USV.

      If you'd like to do a serious and objective comparison of the Avenger and LCS MCM capabilities (not a cheerleader pitch but a factual item by item comparison) I'd love to post it. It would be a fascinating analysis and, who knows, it might change my mind! It might be fun especially since Information Dissemination seems to have ceased operations. Let me know if you're interested.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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  14. Thanks for your thoughtful response. I agree that the LCS MiW systems are certainly not yet ready to replace the MCM 1 class. I may take you on on that offer to post at a future point.

    Cheers,
    Laz

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    1. Actually, the biggest potential advantage the LCS "could" have over the MCM-1 is the ability to conduct MCM in a contested environment where it would have to actively defend itself. Unfortunately, even there it's only got a small part of what it ought to have. In a contested environment, Aegis would be watching over it so that only leaves leakers to deal with. I'd fit the LCS with 3 RAM/SeaRAM mounts and 2 CIWS. That would be a MCM vessel that could take care of itself! The question, of course, is can MCM operations be conducted while the ship is actively defending itself? This mainly applies to maneuvering and its impact on MCM ops. If the ship is restricted in maneuvering then a robust short range defense becomes all the more important.

      Just thoughts for what it's worth!

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    2. There are so many worthwhile LCS-related topics that would make good posts.

      1. Time frame analysis of LCS mine clearing in the context of an amphibious assault. How many LCSs would be needed to clear assault lanes in a useful time frame? Is it even possible?

      2. LCS as a self-contained Company Landing Team ship. The CLT is a flawed concept but the Marines seem to want to go that direction so, can the LCS be used for that?

      3. LCS in the anti-surface role. Kind of a CONOPS analysis. How would LCS(s) operate? Where do they get sensor/target info for over the horizon shots? Congregate or disperse?

      4. LCS aviation capacity analysis. People envision the LCS as a lilypad with several helos of all types operating on it. My conversations with manuf. engineers indicate that the flight deck structural support members were greatly downsized as an early cost/weight saving measure and that the LCS can only operate one or maybe two H-60 size helos on the flight deck at one time.

      5. LCS ASW capability analysis. Lack of quieting will severely impact LCS ASW ops. Can the LCS be an effective ASW platform?

      6. Could an amphib and 3-4 LCS make an effective ASW hunter-killer group? How would it operate?

      And so on.

      The LCS is, apparently, going to constitute a huge chunk of the Navy's combat force (that's scary!!!) so it's worth examining how it can be used regardless of what I think of it.

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  15. The F-35 targeting avionics were the subject of an old article from almost two years ago that I am sure you have seen, but I just saw it today:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/12/26/newest-u-s-stealth-fighter-10-years-behind-older-jets.html

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