The DOT&E has released its latest annual report on various Navy programs. The LCS is, to no one’s surprise, heavily featured and for all the wrong reasons. At this point, further trashing of the LCS is just beating a dead horse (except that the horse refuses to die!). Rather than offer a litany of pages of problems, I’ll simply highlight a few of the more noteworthy items. You can read the rest for yourself, if you wish.
“…DOT&E concluded that the now-planned use of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) as a forward-deployed combatant, where it might be involved in intense naval conflict, appears to be inconsistent with its inherent survivability in those same environments.”
“…an LCS employing the current MCM mission package would not be operationally effective or operationally suitable if the Navy called upon it to conduct MCM missions in combat and that a single LCS equipped with the Increment 1 MCM mission package would provide little or no operational capability to complete MCM clearance missions to the levels needed by operational commanders.”
“During developmental testing, the LCS 4 crew had difficulty keeping the ship operational as it suffered repeated failures of the ship’s diesel generators, water jets, and air conditioning units. LCS 4 spent 45 days over a period of 113 days without all 4 engines and steerable water jets operational. This includes a 19-day period in May when 3 of the 4 engines were degraded or non-functional.”
“LCS 2 was unable to launch and recover RMMVs on 15 of the 58 days underway …”
“The LCS 3 Total Ship Survivability Trial (TSST) revealed significant deficiencies in the Freedom variant design. Much of the ship’s mission capability would have been lost because of damage caused by the initial weapons effects or the ensuing fire.”
“Neither LCS variant has been operationally tested to evaluate its effectiveness against unmanned aerial vehicles and slow-flying aircraft.”
“Aircraft tracking events conducted during operational testing aboard LCS 3 demonstrated that the crew was unable to detect and track some types of air threats well enough to engage them.”
“The anchoring system could not securely anchor the ship in an area with a bottom composed of sand and shells. On several occasions, the ship was unable to set the anchor despite repeated efforts.”
“The Navy completed the first at-sea demonstration of the SeaRAM system in LCS 4 in 2015 during an engagement against a non-maneuvering, subsonic aerial target (BQM-74) with radio frequency and infrared augmentation that were not consistent with the characteristics of realistic threats.” [emphasis added]
“…the program decided to cancel all subsequent live fire events, conceding that the Independence variant is unlikely to be successful consistently when engaging some LSFs (Low Slow Flyers) until future upgrades of SAFIRE (the optical targeting system for the 57 mm gun) can be implemented.”
“Gun accuracy problems have been observed in both LCS 2 and LCS 4, with the 57 mm gun consistently firing short of the target when shooting to port and beyond the target when shooting to starboard.”
“LCS 4 has long-standing problems with her ride control system hardware, including interceptors, fins, and T-Max rudders, that affect her maneuverability. The ship also had reported recurring problems with frequent clogging of the gas turbine engine fuel oil conditioning module pre-filters and coalescers, and found it difficult to maintain high speed for prolonged periods.”
I won’t even offer any comment or analysis beyond saying that this is a great big steaming pile of LCS.