Aviation Week provides this look at DefSec Hagel's budget preview. I’ve omitted a reference link because the link was too long for blogger to accept. You’ll have to trust me on this one!
“In order to help keep its ship inventory ready and modern under the President’s plan, half of the Navy’s cruiser fleet – or eleven ships – will be “laid up” and placed in reduced operating status while they are modernized, and eventually returned to service with greater capability and a longer lifespan.”
On the face of it, I can’t argue with this plan. It reduces costs in the near term while modernizing ships for the longer term. In reality, though, these 11 cruisers will be prime candidates for further budget cutting since they “won’t be operational, anyway”. We’ll have to watch closely to see whether modernization funding is actually forthcoming.
And here’s the news you’ve all been waiting for: the LCS.
“Regarding the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship, I am concerned that the Navy is relying too heavily on the LCS to achieve its long-term goals for ship numbers. Therefore, no new contract negotiations beyond 32 ships will go forward. With this decision, the LCS line will continue beyond our five-year budget plan with no interruptions.
The LCS was designed to perform certain missions – such as mine sweeping and anti-submarine warfare – in a relatively permissive environment. But we need to closely examine whether the LCS has the protection and firepower to survive against a more advanced military adversary and emerging new technologies, especially in the Asia Pacific. If we were to build out the LCS program to 52 ships, as previously planned, it would represent one-sixth of our future 300-ship Navy. Given continued fiscal constraints, we must direct shipbuilding resources toward platforms that can operate in every region and along the full spectrum of conflict.
Additionally, at my direction, the Navy will submit alternative proposals to procure a capable and lethal small surface combatant, consistent with the capabilities of a frigate.”
There it is. An end to the LCS and pursuit of a frigate. Many of you are, undoubtedly, jumping for joy!
I thought it was interesting that Hagel identified the same issue ComNavOps has been harping on for years: the LCS was going to make up a third of our combat fleet without having any combat capabilities.