Saturday, December 31, 2016

LCS Assessment Update

Dr. Michael Gilmore, Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E), revealed a great deal of previously unknown (at least to me!) information regarding issues with the LCS in a statement to Congress before the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee (1).  Here’s some highlights with my emphasis added.  This is a long post but worth the read.

Regarding survivability, we see what ComNavOps has been saying all along about the LCS’ lack of shock hardening and failure to meet even Level 1 standards, contrary to the Navy’s explicit lies on this matter.

“With respect to survivability, neither LCS variant is expected to be survivable in high-intensity combat because the Navy’s requirements accept the risk of abandoning the ship under circumstances that would not require such an action on other surface combatants. As designed, the LCS lacks the shock hardening, redundancy, and the vertical and longitudinal separation of equipment found in other combatants. … Thus far, the results of the LCS Live Fire Test and Evaluation (LFT&E) program confirm this assessment.”

“…the LFT&E program has already identified over 100 technical improvements that could be applied to improve LCS’s performance against threat weapons, although, given the ships’ fundamental limitations, none of these improvements will make the ships’ survivability comparable to that of the Navy’s other surface combatants.”

Moving on, Gilmore calls into question the very concept of the LCS - that it will free up larger ships for more important missions.

“… the Navy’s CONOPS require LCS, in some scenarios, to remain stationed near much slower units who are providing the LCS with dedicated air defense support to have any reasonable chance of surviving attacks using ASCMs… Moreover, this CONOPS implies that destroyers and cruisers will be required to provide this protection to LCSs, which is contrary to the concept that independently operated LCSs will free up the Navy’s destroyers and cruiser and “allow [them] to focus on the high-end missions,” which is what the Navy has touted in the past.”

DOT&E’s overall assessment is bleak.

“…DOT&E has sufficient data to conclude that both seaframe variants are not operationally suitable …”

“Not operationally suitable” – ouch!

Here’s some failures that weren’t widely known.

“During this last year, problems with main engines, waterjets, communications, air defense systems, and cooling for the combat system occurred regularly …”

It’s distressing that the listed problems occur regularly given that the ships have been in production and operation for several years.  They’re no longer first of class problems.  At this point, they’re systemic problems.

Gilmore had this to say about reliability,

“… when averaged over time, and accounting for both planned and unplanned maintenance downtimes, LCS 4 was fully mission capable for SUW missions just 24 percent of the 2015 test period.”

Further,

“Both variants … have a near-zero chance of completing a 30-day mission (the Navy’s requirement) without a critical failure of one or more seaframe subsystems essential for wartime operations.”

Crew size comes under fire.

“… the small crew size has limited the Independence variant from operating with sufficient watchstanders to maintain an alert posture for extended periods of time.”

The fundamental maintenance concept for the LCS whereby on-board maintenance is deferred is cited as a limiting factor in LCS effectiveness.

“An example of this limitation occurred during LCS 4’s operational testing during 2015 and 2016, where the ship’s primary air defense system, SeaRAM, suffered from seven long periods of downtime (greater than 48 hours).”

The inherent helplessness of the LCS was further highlighted.

“During the LCS 3 operational test period, the crew was unable to repair multiple critical systems, such as the ship’s navigation data distribution system, the air search radar, and Link 16 tactical link, each of which resulted in multiple days of downtime while awaiting assistance from contractors to troubleshoot and repair the systems.”

The LCS air defense capability is also questioned along with previously unreported revelations about SeaRAM problems.

“it is unlikely that LCS will be able to meet the Navy’s requirements for air defens … More recently, limitations in the SeaRAM system (currently installed on Independence variants) revealed some significant classified concerns.”

One of the oft called for “solutions” to acquisition problems is to buy foreign.  DOT&E, however, offers some practical warnings about problems with foreign purchases.

“… the Navy stopped work on the air defense modeling and simulation test bed because it did not have the intellectual property rights and detailed technical information for the ship’s air defense radar (AN/SPS-75). The lack of intellectual property for these foreign radars has been a problem for both variants of LCS, making it difficult for engineers to develop high-fidelity models and understand the capabilities and limitations of these radars or effect changes when problems are found.”

Although the Navy plans to eventually replace the Freedom variant’s RAM with SeaRAM, DOT&E notes an issue with the Navy’s related decision not to test the RAM system.

“… the Navy does not plan to test (at all) the existing Freedom-variant air defense systems installed on LCS 1 through 15. This is a high risk for deploying crews, given that many Freedom-variant ships will deploy between now and 2020 when backfits of the SeaRAM system on those hulls are scheduled to begin.”

Worse, the Navy has cancelled plans to test the Independence variant’s SeaRAM system.

“The Navy had planned to conduct the first of the planned operationally realistic live-fire events on the self-defense test ship in FY16, but postponed the test indefinitely because of anticipated poor performance predicted by pre-test modeling and analysis of the planned test event scenario.”

Setting aside RAM issues, the Freedom variant has additional AAW issues.

“For the Freedom variant, these tests revealed that because of the limited capabilities of the air defense radar, the crew was unable to detect and track some types of air threats well enough to engage them.”

The Independence variant also had threat detection issues.

“For the Independence variant, although the ships relies on the SeaRAM system, the ship’s air surveillance radar provided LCS crews with only limited warning to defend itself against ASCMs in certain situations.”

And more,

“In the Navy’s developmental test events, we learned that the electro-optical system used to target the seaframe’s gun was unable to provide reliable tracking information against some targets.”

More,

“…the program decided to cancel all subsequent live-fire events, including those scheduled for operational testing, conceding that the Independence variant is unlikely to be consistently successful when engaging some of these threats until future upgrades of the tracking system can be implemented.”

The LCS’ cyber security is also problematic.

“Much of my assessment of the two seaframes’ cybersecurity posture and capabilities is classified and covered in detail in my recent operational test reports. However, I will state that the testing conducted in FY14 on LCS 3, testing conducted in 2015 on LCS 2, and finally the most recent test aboard LCS 4 have revealed significant deficiencies in the ship’s ability to protect the security of information and prevent malicious intrusion. …  the severity of the cybersecurity problems discovered on LCS will degrade the operational effectiveness of either variant until the problems are corrected.”

I have repeatedly discussed the shortcomings of the 57 mm gun and opined that reliance on it to stop swarm attacks was flawed.  Here is DOT&E’s thoughts.

“The inaccuracy of the targeting systems, the difficulty in establishing a track on the target, and the requirement to hit the target directly when using the point-detonation fuze combine to severely impair effective employment of the gun, and limit effective performance to dangerously short ranges.”

The electro-optical fire control has always been a source of puzzlement and DOT&E singled it out for criticism.

“The ship’s electro-optical/infrared camera, SAFIRE, is the primary sensor for targeting the 57 mm gun. The system suffers from a number of shortcomings that contribute to inconsistent tracking performance against surface and air targets, including a cumbersome human-systems interface, poor auto-tracker performance, and long intervals between laser range finder returns.”

The LCS’ single function limitation is noted.

“LCS will have no capability to detect or defend against torpedoes unless the ASW mission package is embarked … The lack of capability implies that a submarine could launch an attack on an LCS, without the crew knowing that they were under attack …”

The LCS’ single function limitation requires that multiple LCS be used to accomplish a given mission and, worse, may require the addition of an Aegis destroyer to provide the AAW capability that the LCS inherently lacks.

“The original vision, therefore, of a nimble, mission-focused ship has been overcome by the realities of the multi-mission nature of naval warfare combined with the multiple threat environments of high-intensity naval conflicts.

Providing additional warships for LCS protection means stretching already limited battle group air defense assets.”

What about ASW performance?  Apparently, the LCS sonar is not optimized for littoral ASW.  Wait, what now?  Doesn’t the “L” in LCS stand for littoral?

“LCS’s sonar system is specifically optimized for deep water and will not be suitable for some very shallow-water environments such as in the littorals.”

If the LCS does find a submarine, there’s not a lot it can do about it.

“LCS has no organic capability to engage submarines and must rely on a single embarked helicopter to deliver torpedoes …”

In summary, Dr. Gilmore’s assessment of the state of the LCS was brutal and paints a picture of a Navy that is blind and zealous in its pursuit of hulls in the water regardless of capability or lack thereof.



__________________________

(1) “Statement By J. Michael Gilmore, Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Before the  US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee on the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship Program”, Dec 8, 2016




37 comments:

  1. Worth also reading the GAO testimony Dec 8, 2016 pp20+ before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives who came to similar conclusions.

    One highlight was the well known range limitation of the Freedom variant, GAO stating a max. 2,138 nautical-mile range at a speed of 14 knots or 855 nautical miles at 43.6 knots. Do not know min. reserves Navy specifies but assuming say 500 nm operational radius would be ~ 800 nm without refuelling.
    With this range limitation fail to understand any practical use for this class of ship if employed operationally in Pacific or Atlantic in a ASW or ASuW role.

    It makes no difference to the Admirals or Congress who keep on buying them and advocating further buys.

    http://www.gao.gov/assets/690/681485.pdf

    The DoD Selected Acquisition Reports, SARs, December 31, 2015 Re.Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) quotes a program cost of $28,900.7 million for the 38 ships, so $755 million per sea frame, excludes the mission module costs of budgeted $7.6 billion, but assuming includes R&D. Not a 'cheap' ship, ~ $1 billion ea. including MM's.

    "Program costs increased $7,058.4 million (+32.32%) from $21,842.3 million to $28,900.7 million, due primarily to a quantity increase of 8 ships from 30 to 38 (+$6,414.3), increased cost due to the incorporation of Frigate related enhancement to the LCS baseline (+$2,046.2), increased cost due to schedule changes (+$496.1), and adjustments/revisions to the escalation indices (+$21.7). These increases were partially offset by revised estimates for schedule changes, proper pricing of outfitting and post-delivery requirements and to reflect LCS actuals (-$1,919.9 million)."

    http://www.acq.osd.mil/ara/am/sar/SST-2015-12.pdf

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    1. One thing I start doing is considering mission module as a separate item from the LCS. Wither the LC are cancel or not, the System in the mission modules are need by the USN, and will be built. Therefore, no saving could occur if the LCS classes were canceled.

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    2. Not sure exactly what you're saying. I think you're saying that there would be no savings in the module side of things because, of course there would be huge savings on the ship side.

      Even on the module side, there would be savings. The ASuW module would be completely abandoned. It has no other use. The ASW module probably has little additional use. The MCM module might have applicability elsewhere in the fleet.

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  2. DOT&E is one layer of DOD bureaucracy that is worth every taxpayer dollar. Without them, Congress wouldn't know about any of these problems.

    Navy leadership is either delusional or dishonest when it comes to discuss ing LCS capabilities and limitations. This has moved far past simple incompetence. Someone needs to be held accountable.

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  3. On the radar intellectual property problem, the reverse problem has been biting European buyers of US weapons system for over a decade: the US has been unwilling to provide source code and other intellectual property needed to integrate non-US weapons systems, or to do safety assessments to non-US standards. This now needs to be part of any purchase contract, and its lack needs to be accepted as a show-stopper, rather than being overridden by executives or politicians who don't want to worry about details.

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    1. Very good point about the two way aspect.

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    2. If you have a contracting officer worth their salt you put the requirement to provide IP for Navy use only. You can price it as a separate CLIN to see how much the companies really VALUE it. When you do it on a competitive bid, you REALLY get the true value.

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    3. Another course change for the LCS...
      http://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/2017-01/now-hear-another-course-change-lcs

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    4. The above article is by Captain Cowdon USN.
      "The two variants are loud, cannot conduct shallow water ASW with the proposed ASW system.
      Both variants are not meant to operate in blue water."

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    5. "Another course change for the LCS..."

      I posted on this in September. See, Navy Surrenders

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  4. I don't see this getting any better.

    Actually, something interesting I found about the HMS Sheffield:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20140408041743/http://www.hazegray.org/faq/smn6.htm#F7

    So Sheffield was actually steel.

    Some more interesting reads:
    http://www.nytimes.com/1987/08/11/us/navy-reverting-to-steel-in-shipbuilding-after-cracks-in-aluminum.html

    Image from Wiki of an aluminum superstructure melting down:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Belknap_%28CG-26%29#/media/File:USS_Belknap_collision_damage.jpg


    Hmm ... this has disturbing implications on the LCS.

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    1. Not sure what your point is, if any. The US Navy has long known all about the pitfalls of aluminum construction. Why they chose to return to aluminum after swearing off on it for so many years is a mystery.

      On the other hand, given the designed in non-survivable nature of the LCS, I can make make a logical argument that it doesn't really matter what the ship is made of since the concept is to abandon it after a significant hit rather than attempt to save it. That being the case, it could be made out of gasoline soaked paper if the concept is to abandon ship immediately.

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    2. It's a problem because this ship is "Littoral". It's intended to go to areas where the risk of a collision might be higher.

      Another question that needs an answer then is, who is going to extract the sailors aboard when abandoned? A Tico (assuming they are not all Sink-Exed)? A FLT Burke? A nuclear submarine?

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    3. Just how practical a plan was "abandon ship at the first hit" anyway? In fact if the advocates of the LCS were right and it was mostly used in support of anti-terrorism rather than the Russian navy it could actually be worse for the poor crew.
      For Example:
      Hezbollah--a terrorist group, not a nation--hit an Israeli corvette with a C-802 as far back as 2006 and the Saudi's have been hit by rebel groups this year.
      An LCS patrolling in Littoral waters off a third world nation (china or russia aside) and hit would mean that the crew is jumping into waters within range of small boats, RPG's and shore artillery. So if they are lucky enough to live thru that, they get captured not by a nation state that upholds the Geneva convention but by someone like ISIS which would put them in cages and burn them alive or sell female crew as slaves.
      And the only ships that could get in said littorals for rescue would be from another LCS...only they would then risk getting hit as well.
      It would be like the old army maxim that killing an enemy only takes out a single opponent while wounding one takes out 5 since it takes 4 to carry the stretcher. Take out one LCS and you take out 3 or 4 as the others would be rescuing the crew in the water or providing cover for the ones doing the rescue.
      And that is against a terrorist group not a 1st world nation-state.

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    4. Only logical response is to build a ship that can survive against a moderately well armed opponent.

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  5. My opinion of the LCS program over the years has went from “it just needs proper armament” to “dear God in heaven what have they done to the Navy”.

    This latest enlightening report now leaves us with two questions;
    “What do we replace it with?” and “what do we do with the ones we already paid for?”

    The second question first: We have (I am not certain on this) 26 funded for in varying stages of completion from finished (and nearly worn out already) to money to lay the keel but not started. Anything not yet built or building should have all funds diverted to fixing/refitting what we already have. With those fully built they need to be restricted to anti-piracy/drug interdiction...period. They are glorified patrol boats. They have not the armament, sensors, or endurance (less than 30 days is criminal) for anything else. They can at least remove that role from more useful ships like the Burkes. I think they should also replace the 57mm with a CIWS for a bit more air-defense--they can recover the ones from decommissioned Perrys and refurbish them for minimal cost.

    As for replacements, ComNavOps description of a new DE sounds perfect but has one problem: time. We need more ships NOW to cover the shortfall of losing the Perrys and the failure of LCS. A new class will take time. It should be done but what about in the interim?
    An (expensive) option would be a frigate version of the Burkes. We already have them made by more than one yard. Have one yard make a version with no AEGIS, but a good defensive radar, and an expanded area for helo-support in place of the rear VLS with the forward vls using the Vertical Launch ASROC in addition to ESSM and whatever anti-ship missile we can field quickly. This wouldn’t be cheap (1 billion as a guesstimate) but still cheaper by half than a full-on Burke by half. You could even save on the standard AAW Burke by focusing it more on strictly AAW and reducing it’s ASW suite to defensive, since they don’t practice that mission anyway.We could get an AAW-focused and an ASW-focused pair for about what we pay for 1 ½ of present Burkes. This would work for providing the needed ASW until a new DE/FF could be brought online

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    1. This seems far too cost-effective a plan to get past the Congressmen for Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics.

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    2. "...too cost effective a plan to get past the Congressman..."

      That was the best complement I have heard all day.

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  6. "Navy leadership is either delusional or dishonest when it comes to discuss ing LCS capabilities and limitations. This has moved far past simple incompetence. Someone needs to be held accountable."

    This is what worries me most. There was a Midrats podcast with Jerry Hendrix which outlined how to get to 355 ships; and one of the things was that they had to keep up the LCS line as it was a hot line. Its a line of reasoning with some merit....

    In the absence of a (BADLY NEEDED) fleet strategy they would be a ship to do the non battle things to save time on the larger ships. To fill that role a more conventional powerplant would be better (I'd think you'd want cheapness, range and reliability).

    These units could do the police work and jr. officer seasoning while the rest of the battle fleet trains to do battle fleet things.

    You could also then be honest about what it can do. Its a cheap, pirate patrolling, peace keeping, flag showing helo platform. Enough of this 'Dominating the battlespace' crap and schizophrenic roles. 'Its ASW! Its MW! Its a littoral swarm destroyer!'

    However. As is:

    A) Its reliability sucks. This is galling; but I think ties into the massive engines it carries. Those engines also jack up the price higher than they need to be.

    B) Range on the odd class is questionable.

    C) At 3000+ tons, being the only small surface combatant we have, and given its Naval press clippings, we'll see it getting used like Euro Frigates, when it has nothing like the armament or survivability to do so.

    There's nothing wrong with attrition units per se. But for the love of God lets give it more capability if its going to be used like that; or skip the capability and call it what it is.

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    1. Part of the problem with the LCS was that IF it was going to be modular for it's primary mission--really not too bad an idea--it had to at least be able to defend itself. Assuming it is to be abandoned makes sense for a 60 million dollar patrol boat, not a 400 million dollar frigate. The WW2 DE's were simple an not very expensive but the Samuel B Roberts took on a Japanese battle cruiser for over an hour before sinking. They took more than a few hits.
      If the LCS wasn't meant to take hits, then it should have been bristling with defensive missles, CIWS, and sensors to avoid hits. A single RAM and a gun with no anti-air was blind foolishness. At the very least they should have an 8 cell quad-packed VLS, another RAM/CIWS, and a 76mm with anti-air.

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  7. "ComNavOps description of a new DE sounds perfect but has one problem: time. We need more ships NOW to cover the shortfall of losing the Perrys and the failure of LCS"

    I think if that is your route the best way to go is the HI ASW frigate version of the NSC. Its not without issues, but its another hot line. And you might be able to get Austal and Marinette to build them under license.

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    1. That's not a bad possibility. The specific problems have been engine overheating in warm climates on the engineering side. On the weapon side the 57mm and SeaRAM have had difficulties...sound familiar?

      Appearently, the 57mm--which also proved poorly on the Zumwalt--is just an expensive signal gun or perhaps gunfire support should we ever perform an amphibious assault of Hawaii. The SeaRAM problems for both USN/CG I think have more to do with training/maintenance, but then it may need looked at more in depth.
      Huntington Ingalls Frigate version of the NSC has the 57mm replaced with 76mm, torpedoes, 12-shot ESSM, Harpoons and with either a SPY-1F (the little brother of the spy-1 familiy) or Australian CEAFAR radar set. Their listed sonar is for mine rather than sub hunting but that could be remedied. at 3/4 of a billion (without the above radar/armament) that is still a chunk of change.

      The question is how survivable the NCS is. While no doubt better than an LCS, at least the Burkes have actually been hit and survived before.

      On the plus side, the CG usually buys the rights to their vessels. I am sure they did for the FRC but don't know if that is true for the NSC. If they did and the Navy gets the rights from them, we could actually have competitive bidding to build a frigate version.

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    2. "its another hot line"

      What is this "hot line" crap? Do you people know of a likely war in the next five years? And if so, none of the LCS or Coast Guard crap products coming off those "hot lines" are going to help with a war. Assuming we can get by for five years, that's more than enough time to design a basic ASW vessel (or whatever we think we want) and get it into production. If we can't get a basic ship into production in five years then we need to fire everyone and start over.

      "Hot line"???? That's the sky-is-falling kind of fear-based action that has already given us so many questionable decisions. Everyone, take a deep breath, relax, look at the situation calmly, close down the crap lines, and design a better ship. Good grief!

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    3. It's not crap. I'm trying to deal with the situation at hand.

      In any type of manufacturing it takes time to not only come up with the design, but also the stuff that will make your design. 5 years might be enough time... but given recent performance that's optimistic. Heck, even Toyota can take up to a year to completely retool a plant for a new model *that already exists and is in production*. To make a new, clean sheet design ship/car/airplane etc. you're pushing the date of the first model out farther, and that's assuming everything goes well.

      The money might stick around. But given recent political developments there's just as good a chance it won't.

      So, I'm going on the assumptions put forth by Hendrix et. al. and the Navy that it needs 355 ships. Is that a good number? I have my doubts, but its a starting point. I don't trust the Navy. I'm stronger in my trust of Hendrix and McGrath.

      If we want that number, its better to start sooner rather than later.

      I believe you could make a good DE out of the HI design. I believe you could do it without a clean sheet design. It would be good enough. And it could be started *now*, not in five years where the transformational Navy types, Congress, and everyone else can get their oars in the water to turn it back into LCS II.

      Now... in a perfect world, the very first thing we do is create a strategic plan, like was done for the 600 ship Navy. Then we build to that. But we aren't there, and I don't think we will get there.

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    4. I'll repeat, if we can't design and get a basic corvette-ish ship into production in five years then let's call it quits and learn Mandarin.

      Worst case, if you're that concerned with hulls in the water not matter how bad they are, we can license build any of a number of excellent corvette/frigate ships and get them into the water or simply purchase them outright.

      Trying to factor in current realities is just throwing good money after bad. It just perpetuates a horrible acquisition process. I'd rather scrap the Navy and start over than intentionally keep doing what we're doing. We failed badly at acquisition and you want to do more of it???? There's a time to cut your losses and start over. That time is now.

      You've been following this blog long enough to know that there is no "good" version of an LCS possible. The flaws are inherent and can't be overcome with cosmetic changes to weaponry.

      A frigate version of a Burke, while better than an LCS, is going to cost way too much for the size of ship that will result. The Perry was 450 ft and 4000 tons while a Burke "frigate" will be 510 ft and 9000 tons. Unless you add more weapons and sensors to justify the cost/size (in which case, just build the Burke), you'll wind up with a very poor value for the money/size.

      You're trying to come up with a "better than horrible" solution. That never works. START OVER!

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    5. I agree that we should find a good off the shelf design and license build. I wonder though if we need something corvette size, say 2500 tons, for the inshore missions, or something OHP size, say 4000-4500 tons for the ASW escort, or both. If both, how many of each. Neither will be much help for mine clearance, but it has always struck me that MCM ships are special built for good reasons, one of which is that they are much cheaper that way.

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  8. You could always buy some Batch 2 River class OPV. About 5 of them for the cost of 2 LCS. They are not as fast and their base weapons load is less, but they design allows for significant upgrades. Thinkdefence mentions the ability to embark 36 Sea Ceptors in containers. Endurance is 35 days, range in excess of 10,000km with war fighting structural integrity. Further up the scale, for the same money as an LCS you could get a Type 26. Given that we are trying to flog them to the Australians there has got to be design flexibility for you to get what you want/need, built under license, in far less time than it would take for you to produce a good effective war fighting frigate.

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    1. Never going to happen. The Americans are about as likely to buy a British ship as the Royal Navy would buy a Burke. On both sides of the pond I fear our fingers would snap off before we could sign the contracts.

      I’d suggest a co-developing Type 31, although I can see that contract is going the same way as the LCS, a ship the navy never wanted, stuffed with undefined capabilities matching a fictitious mission specification nobody ever set out. YAY.

      Major ( in fact only ) defined capability, “being a cheap Type 26”, I mean, what is that !?!?

      http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/type-31-general-purpose-frigate-gpff/type-31-frigate-capabilities/

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    2. I think you probably could get a foreign design bought for licensed production provided that the navy signed on enthusiastically. as for the River OPV's, the only reason the British are buying them is to keep their shipyards open until the Type 26 finally comes through. They have no other practical use. I would argue that variant of the MEKO A design would be much more survivable, useful, and potentially better armed.

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    3. We've seen it joked about before, but I sometimes think that a WWII Fletcher or Sumner would be the perfect 'littoral combat ship'. You'd need some modifications of course, TACTAS, maybe a VLS instead of one of the gun mounts for ESSM, etc.

      I wonder how much that would cost today.

      It seems with small ship design we *really* over think things sometimes.

      If we need a DE that can do CSG escort, or merchant escort, it needs to be stoutly built, have the ability to do area air defense (area, not AEGIS!), basic guns, Torps, and ASW gear. Maybe, MAYBE a helo.

      Why is this so hard, and so expensive.

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    4. Just to be clear on terminology, as US naval discussions define it, area air defense is Aegis and is provided by Standards. Local air defense is self-defense and nearby ships and is provided by ESSM. Self-defense is self-evident and is provided by RAM/SeaRAM/CIWS.

      Carry on!

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    5. Mea Culpa. I'm thinking local air defense then, backed up by CIWS/SeaRAM.

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    6. The successor to the Fletcher, the Sumners and the Gearing might be better choices as they had enhancements.

      A very big flaw of the Fletcher was that the turn radius was wide. It was actually larger than the Iowa battleships! Sumners and the Gearing had dual rudders that corrected this.

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  9. What about something like a Singaporean Formidable class? That's off-the-shelf, so it should be available pretty quickly.

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  10. The Formidable is not a bad choice. The MEko A 200 (South African Valour class) might also work. We might want something a bit bigger, however, if we want to put a second SH-60 on it like the Perrys had.

    It is interesting that there aren't many designs in the 4000-5000 ton range at the moment. The Perrys, Type 23s and F123 Brandenburgs were the last of that size. I'm curious as to why.

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    1. I suspect you've got two kinds of countries/purchases: one is the navy that wants a full fledged destroyer but can't afford it so they buy/build a big frigate as a pseudo-destroyer and the other is the navy that acknowledges that it can't afford much of anything and settles for small, corvette-ish ships.

      Just speculation on my part.

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  11. That sounds about right. Damen designs for the third world, and "air defense frigates" for Europe.

    The new FTI from DCNS seems to be the only new entry in the midrange, but it seems very expensive for its size.

    I guess the question is what the minimum tonnage you can fit two SH-60s on is, and what existing design seems easiest to modify to that spec. Anything that can carry two SH-60s seems likely to fit an adequate air-defense and a mid-size gun.

    If you want include large mission configurable bays or fit more than 16-24 VLS cells, then you need a bigger ship. In that case, the Alvaro de Bazan/Hobart class seems most easily modified to American systems. The Hobarts are expensive as well, but my guess is that a large scale buy more efficient construction than the Aussies managed would bring the price down quite a bit.

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