CNO Greenert likes to emphasize payloads over platforms. We’ve already debunked that idea (see Payloads Over Platforms?) but that’s not the point of this post. Let’s play what-if. What if CNO is correct? What if payloads are the only thing that matters? What if the platform is immaterial and irrelevant? Let’s look at the logic of the concept.
If the payload is the important part and the platform is irrelevant then we could and should be placing the LCS modules on commercial cargo ships that cost a tiny fraction of what an LCS hull costs. It’s all about the module, right? There’s a contradiction here. The Navy insists we need a highly capable LCS vessel built to military standards. Why? It’s the payload that matters, according to CNO. All sarcasm aside, if CNO is right and truly believes his own philosophy, why are we building the LCS? What does the LCS hull provide in the way of capabilities that justifies its existence and can’t be obtained from a cheap commercial vessel?
We could place MCM and ASW modules on a cheaper cargo vessel and still carry out all the needed functions. In fact, the cargo vessel would have greater room (multiple modules at the same time?), longer endurance, better crew accommodations, and lots of weight growth margins, among other benefits.
There’s no requirement for self-defense. The Navy has stated that the LCS is not intended to operate in a hostile environment without the protection of a Burke. A cargo ship would be no more at risk than the LCS.
According to the Navy, the ASuW module would work on any vessel. The Griffon missile is being tested and used on Cyclone PCs so it’s clearly independent of the platform. Why not mount a single 57 mm gun, two 30 mm guns, and a Griffon launcher on a cargo ship?
The entire fleet could be built on, perhaps, two sizes of cheap, commercial cargo vessels: a small one for patrol, littoral, corvette, frigate modules and a larger one for destroyer and cruiser modules. Perhaps we still need a specialized carrier although a cargo vessel with a flight deck module ought to work just fine.
What about aviation? Using CNO’s logic we don’t need the JSF, we need cheap, C-?? whatever cargo planes with modules for strike, air-to-air, ASW, AEW, and surveillance.
I think CNO is on to something here. We can cut the Navy’s construction budget by 80%. All I ask is that CNO lead the first combat mission aboard one of his platform-irrelevant, payload vessels or aircraft.