Saturday, January 24, 2015

LCS Update

ComNavOps was going to do a summary of the LCS status based on the DOT&E report but what’s the point?  Seriously, you all know the problems.  Sure, there’s some new ones like cracking of support beams after exposure to heavy weather but at this point, what’s a few more problems?

Given that the ship has been in development and under construction for nearly a decade, now, the status of the ship, itself, is horrible.  Worse, is the status of the mission modules.

The ASuW module is impotent with 30 mm guns that have on-going reliability problems and a 57 mm gun that is inoperable at speed (well, it operates – it just can’t hit anything due to excessive vibration).

The ASW module has been scaled back to existing technology (none of the promised revolutionary technology), has no ship-mounted ASW weapons, and because of the ship’s self-noise will be ineffective.

The MCM module simply doesn’t work.

If you really want to read all the gory details, check out the 2014 Annual Report from Director, Operational Testing & Evaluation.


  1. D,OT&E 2014 Annual Report, issued Jan. 2015

    One new fact astounded me was the limited range that the LM LCS 3, 3,400 tonnes full load, has a max. range at 14.4 knots of 1,961 nautical miles and at 43.6 knots 855 nautical miles.

    Assuming 30% minimum reserve that equates to 1,500 nm, many OPV's would exceed this and it is to become a 'frigate'. No wonder the 7th Pacific Fleet deemed LCS 1 unsuitable when trialed in Singapore. The original requirement was 20 knots 4,500 nm as perFFG 7, later downgraded to 14 knots 3,500.


  2. "well, it operates – it just can’t hit anything due to excessive vibration"

    Just to be fair, the bigger the gun is the more stabilisation is requred.
    The best stabilisation is for the firing platform to be firm.
    Just imagine an M-1 firing accurate while running at 40 mph, or a Burke firing accurate at 25 knots the gun.

    1. "Just to be fair..."

      Well, just to be truly fair and objective, from the begining one of the major functions of the LCS was to use its speed to dance around small boats and engage at high speed. Now, the Navy has been firing guns of all calibers off of ships of all speeds for many decades. The challenges of accurately firing the LCS gun at speed were not unknown to the Navy. Someone did a very poor job of designing the hull and specifying and integrating the gun. What I've been told by insiders is that the LCS is so structurally weak due to cost cutting that the ship is susceptible to unusually excessive vibration at speed. You'll note that the issue is not the rolling or pitching of the ship at speed, which is largely dealt with through stabilisation but high frequency vibration which can't really be compensated for with stabilisation.

      This is not a stabilisation issue, it's a vibration issue due to structural weakness.

    2. As an Army guy, specifically an Armor officer with experience on an M1, I can tell you that the 120mm most certainly CAN fire accurately while moving at speed (e.g. 1st round hit at 2.5km while moving at approximately 20 mph), thanks to an excellent stabilization system. Actually, as CNO points out, excessive vibration is more of a problem than pitching and rolling from crossing broken terrain (I've had to order my driver to speed up during gunnery, because of the vibration caused by moving too slowly on a hard dirt road).

    3. Thanks for the input. Good to have the Army on board! I look forward to more comments from you.

    4. CNO, does the LCS being structurally weak tie in with your article about steel not being cheap? I.E. if you are going to cost cut the LCS to make it affordable, the bracing for the hull (steel) should be the last place you look?

      I remember reading once that the welders who put a patch on a submarine used to have to take the first ride down in it post patch. I don't know if its true, but maybe something should happen with the leadership. 'The LCS is fantastic! Great! CNO and the CINC's get to deploy in it to the Persian gulf and they can show us how they 'dominate the littoral' with it!

  3. WOW, what a endorsement! From 2014 DOT&E: "LCS is not expected to be survivable in high-intensity combat because its design requirements accept the risk that the ship must be abandoned under circumstances that would not
    require such an action on other surface combatants....." MUST BE ABANDONED?!? What the hell are we buying here?!?

  4. I kept telling myself, "it sucks now, but they will fix it with the SSC version. Nope. Y'know, it sounds crazy but can we just put out open bids to start building Perry class frigates again? Put the ASW systems of the Flight II burkes on it, replace the standard Mark 1 with an 8 cell tactical length VLS and call it a day. Sure, it's not stealthy, but we at least know a Perry can take some damage without abandoning it. The design is old but that means we don't have to pay much in development costs, and buy them from any US yard that makes them to spec not a single bidder so there's competition and a quick time to rebuild the fleet. Sure it can't do littorals but frankly we can leave the littorals to smaller and less expensive patrol boats derived from CG cutters. It's not like the LCS is armed any better than a cutter anyway. anything you could put in a module can be fitted on a Perry.

  5. Given how the fixed lCS, sorry frigate, has worked out has the critism of the LCS made matters worse?

    Given that we now spend even more give us a ships with only modest improvement, I am starting to think so.

    Would we be better of spending those funds designing a new more powerful follow on class?

    A class that now can not happen because the new frigate will consume funds and engineering resources.


  6. Just one request, There are two versions of the LCS, and several mission modules have multiply versions. When you talk about one or another failure, please note which version your talking about.

  7. War is Boring had a discussion on the Military-Industrial-Congressional complex. Part of it was written by Ben Cohen, whom I'm normally not on the same page with, but it made alot of sense.

    We have defense contractors pouring money into Congress and giving upper officers sweet post military career jobs. While there is no proven link, alot of these contractors are having their pigs get more and more money despite crappy real world performance and failed hopes when pie in the sky requirements fail. The poster children are the F-35 and the LCS.

    I hate to say it, but it would almost be better to let the fleet shrink and just outright cancel the LCS rather than build it, waste the money, and have sailors be put in harms way in a crappy ship worthy of the mosquito fleet that will suck up logistics resources in the pacific.

    Similarly, the F-35 is bleeding the military white. And when it finally comes out we're going to have an old airframe with stitched together technology that's holy crap expensive to buy and holy crap expensive to maintain.

    The money spent there will likely impact training and readiness.

    I'd rather license buy some frigates to fill the small surface role. Heck, even just flat out switching to the national security cutter is price and capability neutral. But you end up swapping un needed speed for a tripling of range. You can get alot of the 'sensor fusion' you need by upgrading the Hornets.

    Its far from perfect, I agree. But at least we aren't blowing huge money on horrible capability.


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