Sunday, February 21, 2016

LCS Update

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.


  1. The 57mm gun did not meet operational requirements for the DDG1000 class and was replaced by 30mm guns. One would think that this should have been evaluated before going into production just like the other problematic technologies slated for the LCS.

    1. I'm not quite sure what you're suggesting. The 57mm was selected for the LCS long before the Zumwalt program rejection of the gun occurred. Now, a legitimate question is why the LCS continues to use the 57mm in light of the Zumwalt program finding?

      From day one, when I first viewed the Internet video of the 57mm test firing, I was of the opinion that the lethality of the 57mm was very poor as regards small boat defense.

    2. I should have clarified that the 57mm gun was selected before it was evaluated for the Zumwalt class.
      Now because of the findings the gun would not meet operational requirements for the swarm attack by small but deadly boats.

    3. AS I recall, the reson for going to the smaller gun was top weight of the Zumwalt. That doesw not mean there is no problem with the Mk110, just that those problem were unrelated to the reason they were changed.

    4. Navy spokesmen have been quite emphatic that weight was a total non-factor in the decision. Do a quick Internet search and you'll see that. I have no reason to disbelieve them, in this case.

    5. GLof, read this link for an explanation of the gun issue.

      Mk110 Gun

  2. is it a mechanical problem with the gun, or a problem with the systems that train the gun?

    1. Unknown. The guns are known to suffer from ship vibration at speed but that not seem a likely source of systematic bias between port and starboard.

    2. Could be there are problems with sectors of the 57mm mount.

      First is their hydraulic system seem underpowered and under sized, just as the early Mk 45 were when the Spruance's came out. This would result in the Mk110 inability to track targets while at high speed.

      Second, the ammo loader and magazine can not handle the shocks that occur to the LCS when at high speeds. I expect the jerks cause the ammo to jam in the tracks.

      third, FLIR is working to improve their target tracking.

      And Fourth, apparently, the LCS-1 has not had an functional software version installed and also needed an hardware update.

    3. Those are all interesting and additional problems (or were you just speculating - I haven't heard of any of those) but none seem to explain a systematic bias from one side to the other.

      Note, this particular problem was cited as inherent in the LCS-2 version, not LCS-1, and was specifically noted in both LCS-2 and LCS-4.

  3. """“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.”"""

    I have wondered about having both LCS having only one anchor. It seems strange for ships that was suppose to operate in coastal waters.

    I was on a Salvage ship which anchored in coastal waters many times and you sometimes need more then one anchor and sometimes different types of anchors to get a good grip

    1. Good practical experience input. Thanks!

  4. Look at the bright side. The Chinese have a target which cannot move fast when required, has no stable guns, no missiles and no countermeasures and our navy is buying it in droves for front line service

    Sarcasm required

  5. Shark class submersible Destroyer: Apache in a box kills swarms
    Her close in weapons systems include 2 Phalanx systems, 2 Apaches in a box, 2 dual 50 cal machine guns and mini guns on the four corners of the fighting deck. The Apache system utilizes the same canons, missiles and fire control systems as an Apache helicopter times 2. Each box on a piston which can be raised out of the water to 30ft. on a 360 deg. swivel mount contains dual slaved 30mm cannon, 16 hellfire missiles, 14 stinger missiles and a whopping 152 70mm rockets that can now be laser guided with hugely improved accuracy. It would greatly enhance both the Phalanx and the Apache if they could slave each other. The mini guns with their 7.62 ammo would not dent the Shark’s hull so they would be ideal for a close swarm attack or even to “sweep your own decks” if you will. Again if these weapons had an automated mode they could tie into the Phalanx system or the Apache System. The mini guns and dual 50 cals will be operated by the Marine detachment.
    The Apache system can be operated independently from the main ships weapons systems and piloted, if you will, by a qualified Marine chopper pilot.The Apache system can be operated independently from the main ships weapons systems and piloted, if you will, by a qualified Marine chopper pilot. Few ships could survive a close encounter with this weapons system especially if it pops up out of nowhere and begins firing using only laser guidance with no radar lock-on warning. Finish up with a couple of fire and forget Hellfires, drop the box and head for the bar cause it’s all over and they’ll never know WTF just happened.

  6. Is anyone else terrified by the failure of SeaRAM?

    I'd read that the Freedom class SeaRAM relied on its own sensor suite.

    WE are depending on SeaRAM as its CIWS. It has nothing else. If it can't stop a signature augmented subsonic missile then it has big problems.

  7. Fyi. Depending on the seeker of the missile a laser guided weapon can suffer from backscatter and loose lock. I

    don't know the limitations on the newer millimetre wave sets used but targeting on fiberglass hulls combined with a faster target leads to more backscatter the less likely of missile lock and hit. The faster the target the harder it is for the missiles to pitch over and hit properly

    The smaller missiles look impressive hitting targets running along at 20 mph but turn up the speed and watch effectiveness go out the window. I won't comment on the hellfire missile but it does have a much higher probability of success.

    Remember swarm boats are small fast and maneuvering in large numbers. Add close in and low warning times means missiles well only be effective with crews spotting the targets multiple miles away. That probably is a bigger issue.

    It comes down to bullets. Though old they are effective when carried in sufficient quantity and caliber size.

    1. One more unique layer of protection has been added. This system is similar to the Claymore mine but five times the size. The system has been named the Seamore for obvious reasons. Seamores are embedded in the hull and reloadable. They can be loaded with different size and type projectiles and using motion sensors or command detonation, can be set to go off at different distances. If this system could be linked to the Phalanx as a final protective fire it would provide on more integrated layer. Their primary purpose is to shred incoming missiles but they would devastate a swarm of small boats. In fact, any current warship because of their thin skin would quickly fall prey to a ball bearing loaded broadside from these protective mines.
      Other effective uses for the Seamore would be in a shore attack mode. The shark could surface 200 yds. Offshore and using it’s Seamore system, clear a landing or beach zone of vegetation, barbed wire, landmines and weak emplacements while only exposing 10ft. of her superstructure and deploying no other weapons allowing her to rapidly dive after raking her intended target.
      A final example of the use of this weapon would be port devastation. With only ten ft. in height 100 ft. in length of the Sharks superstructure above water she looks like a 100ft. long barge when all her other weapons are stowed, the Seamore mines can be deployed to shred shipping and warehouse and wharf infrastructure on both side of the channel simultaneously. If you don’t plan on coming back load some Seamores with golf ball size incendiary grenades and a much lighter charge and set the infrastructure on fire. No need to turn around at the end of your run, just use your front thrusters to back down the channel at pace while you blast away all over again while you release a heavy toxic smoke screen on your way out as cover and dip below the waves. Or you could sit 50 miles offshore and lob 5in. shells but what’s the fun in that.


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