Friday, August 21, 2015

Foresight Is 20/20

Recent reports indicate that the new version of the LCS (I refuse to call it a frigate) will use a single combat control software system even if the Navy continues with the procurement of two different versions of seaframe (which would be further compounding the stupidity).  The combat system will be that used by the Freedom version, the COMBATSS-21, manufactured by Lockheed Martin.


As an aside, for those who like to speculate, this also suggests that if the Navy down selects to a single LCS design for the new versions it would likely be the Freedom version.

I don’t know how good or bad the COMBATSS system is but it’s at least an improvement to select a single system for the LCS versus the two currently in use.  Do I really need to list all the reasons why two different systems on the LCS cause problems (training, parts, compatibility, etc.)?  Reports suggest that the COMBATSS will be retrofitted to the LCS-2 versions as budget permits.

This brings up the issue of hindsight, one of my pet peeves.  Too many people use the excuse of hindsight to explain away some pretty obvious failings.  Sure, they’ll say, in hindsight there may have been some problems with the design of the LCS but no one could know those issues at the time.  Thus, we shouldn’t blame anyone.

Horse droppings!  It didn’t require hindsight to know that having two different combat systems on the two LCSs would cause problems.  It didn’t require hindsight to know that the LCS was undermanned.  It didn’t require hindsight to know that the vast majority of the module technologies wouldn’t work.  I can go on with hundreds of hindsights throughout the Navy but you get the idea.

Hindsight is an excuse only for the truly unforeseeable.  Go back to the writings of the day and you’ll see that all the LCS and JSF problems were readily foreseen by everyone except the Navy.  Either the Navy has the stupidest people on the planet or they simply ignore the warnings.  By definition, if you ignore realistic warnings that makes you stupid so I guess we have our answer.

Hindsight may be 20/20 but, very often, foresight is too.  All that’s needed is to listen to those who can see which is almost everyone outside the Navy.


  1. A lot of failures these days were predictable, but people did not listen to the critics. It's a matter of willful ignorance.

    In the case of the defense industry, it's not the best ship for the good of society that are after, it is the money. That worsens the problem a lot.

    I'd argue with economics too - it's short term profits people care about, not the good of society.

  2. As the old saying goes, when you fail to plan, the Taliban win. This is a great blog, I appreciate the reasoned analysis.

    1. You know the funny thing is that the US when it invaded thought that it would easily do better than the old USSR invasion in the 1980s.

      It turns out that invading and keeping a friendly government in Afghanistan is not as easy as it seems. That and the US has managed to repeat many of the mistakes that the Soviet forces made.

      Afghanistan has been said to be where empires go to die. It may be that the US is overstretching itself as well.

      I would not be surprised if in the coming years, the Taliban or some other fundamentalist group manages to take control of a large part of Afghanistan all over again.

    2. And that would be foresight backed up by a command of history. Well done!

  3. No one ever foresaw that a critical thinker like ComNapOps would start a blog devoted to examining Naval procurement, training, maintenance, tactics and other policies.

    1. I like the fact that he can combine critical thinking skills with sayings like 'horse droppings!'. :-)

  4. The navy really lost an opportunity when it cut 52 LCS to 32, but then replaced the cut LCS with LCS again, basically making no change at all.

    Just have a look at Singapore's Littoral Mission Vessel. Very close to the same name, far more successful design and features.

    I wonder if the closeness of the name to USN's LCS is delberate?


  5. SO is the Navy really tired of being a slave to LockMart for C2 systems or not? When DDG 1000 and LCS came along the Navy folks kept saying this is our chance to get away from the strangle hold LockMart has on us.

    The really smart ones said we want the proven functionality of AEGIS but with a fresh look at the Human Interface (VAB upon VAB is old). Others said anything but LockMart. And still others said AEGIS works but is 30 years old, we need to see if there are other new ideas out there. Eventually you have to drive the Studebaker down to the car lot and see what all the noise is about these anti-lock brakes and airbags is all about.

    So where is the Navy today on C2 systems? DDG 1000 is a 3 ship test/training class (that LockMart finagled their way into build the C2 portion, but at least not a clone of AEGIS). LCS is a 2 subclass set with AEGIS light (COMBATSS-21) and ICMS (a European Thales knockoff). Everything else is AEGIS (baselines 4-8/9?). And now LCS is gonna move to only AEGIS.

    Is one 30 year old CS good for the Fleet? It certainly makes training and manning easier (other than baseline differences). Is having the CS sole source to one Contractor a good idea? Usually not very.

    I have not used ICMS, but the Europeans use it, so it must work well for their smaller ships. It must be able to interface with AEGIS via datalinks because we do joint exercises with them.

    So the Navy should be forced to explain why MILLIONS of Dollars have been spent on developing and introducing ICMS into the Navy. If the Navy is happy with AEGIS/LockMart (and I am a big proponent of if it works don't fix it) then why not spec AEGIS when BOTH LCS Classes were being designed. Is there something that ICMS doesn't do (like the 57mm gun not being able to shoot straight in light seas)?

    Navy state your requirements so we can save a couple of tax dollars.

  6. The 57mm not being able to shoot straight at 'high speeds' comes from evaluation of first of class LCS1. Its essentially a vibration problem. Doesn't seem to be a problem in latest evaluation reports on later ships. Anecdotal reports on poor 'low speed' gun accuracy may only be that, but its certainly become an internet meme.


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