Well, for better or worse the LCS is here and will almost certainly be built through the current contract options, resulting in a buy of 22 ships, half of each version. The obvious question, then, is what to do with them given that they will have fairly limited capabilities for the foreseeable future. This is your chance to tell me and the Navy what should be done with the LCS. Just to save time, let's eliminate the "terminate it" answer. As I said, the LCS is here and the Navy has to do something with it and it would be nice if we could actually get some level of use out of it. Let's also eliminate the total, and generally unrealistic, rebuilds. In other words, no 16" gun turrets with a squadron of JSF jump jets. So, realistically, what can be done with the LCS?
To help you out, here a few factors that any realistic alterations must take into account.
- LCS-1 class has severe weight issues. There are no margins for growth. If you want to add a 5" gun, you have to remove something of equal weight. That goes for anything you want to add - it's a zero sum game.
- LCS-2 class has limited volume forward. Authoritative reports state that a 5" gun almost certainly can't be placed forward. The same probably goes for a VLS, plus that's a lot of weight forward.
- Neither class has the berthing, mess, food storage, heads, etc. to support much of an increase in crew. So, before you start listing ninety eight new weapons you want to add, consider the impact on crew size and the limited support for crew.
- Neither class has a particularly strong flight deck. In other words, two helos is the limit due to structural weight limitations.
This is your chance. Pretend you're the Navy and you've got to do something with the LCS. What do you realistically suggest?