Thursday, November 19, 2020

LCS Concurrency and Prototype Lessons

Two pieces of news about the LCS program have appeared of late which highlight just how fundamentally flawed the program was.


The first piece of news was the announcement by the Navy that they are retiring the first four LCS after just a few years of service.(2)  Well, let’s be honest … it was just a few years of non-service since they never had functional modules and never conducted any useful deployments.


The second piece of news was the announcement that the USS Detroit is being towed back to port due to various mechanical failures including the problem-plagued combining gear which has sidelined almost every LCS that has put to sea.(1)


This program was so badly conceived and executed that the list of lessons are nearly endless.  However, I want to focus on two closely related lessons:  concurrency and prototypes.  The lessons from this failed program regarding concurrency (the practice of simultaneous development and construction) and prototypes are stunning in their magnitude and simplicity and yet the Navy continues to repeatedly and fully embrace those failed practices.  For those readers from Navy command levels, you can stop reading now because you’re just going to continue attempting concurrency so there’s nothing for you to learn, here.  For all the rest of you, let’s continue on and learn something about the impact of concurrency and, specifically, its impact on prototyping.


As you recall, the Navy committed to a run of 55 LCS ships before the design was even complete;  possibly before it was even begun!  Construction of the first two – arguably – four LCS was well underway before the ship designs and construction blueprints were finalized.  Every organization that has ever looked at the practice of concurrency has condemned it as extremely poor practice that inevitably results in higher costs and failed products.


For those who may not be familiar with concurrency and the problems it causes, I’ll offer the following brief description. 


The problem is that as the concurrent development proceeds, changes in product design are inevitably required.  Because construction has already begun and completed products have been produced, the newly identified changes have to be back-fit into the under-construction or already produced products which greatly increases costs ( building and then rebuilding - paying twice for the same product, in essence) and, in the extreme such as the F-35, the result is products that can’t be updated with the required changes or the updates are prohibitively expensive.  As the concurrent development continues and the current production design drifts farther and farther from the original products, the early products are rendered ‘orphans’ – non-standard, unfixable, and unusable.


On a related note, the LCS program is hardly alone in attempting, and failing, at concurrency.  The F-35 program, for example, has reportedly produced two or three hundred aircraft that are now concurrency orphans that the military has deemed too expensive or too difficult to upgrade.  These aircraft will be shuffled aside and left to rot – a few, perhaps, used for training purposes.  Another example is the Ford program which attempted to build a carrier while simultaneously developing new technologies such as EMALS, AAG, and weapon elevators, none of which yet work as intended.  Undeterred, even now, by the lack of functioning EMALS, AAG, and elevators the Navy has already committed to more Fords! 


Returning to the LCS, let’s take a look at the four LCS the Navy is throwing away.  LCS-1,-2,-3,-4 are being retired after just a few years because the Navy states that they are so non-standard that upgrading them to meet the current LCS norms would be cost-prohibitive.  For all practical purposes, the first four LCS were prototypes even though the Navy never referred to them as such until just now as they attempt to justify throwing away essentially brand new ships.

Four LCS Headed for the Scrap Heap


Now, let’s consider what a prototype is and why prototypes are built.


A prototype is a first of its kind.  As such, it is expected that it will have flaws and problems.  Indeed, that is the purpose of a prototype:  to find and fix design and construction problems so that subsequent versions can be improved.  The very concept of a prototype implies a cycle of one-off production, fixes and learning of lessons, and then feeding the changes back into the next version.  Prototyping is a cyclical process:  build, learn, feed lessons back into the process.  The Navy, however, defied all conventional wisdom and opted not to wait for the first LCS prototype to be wrung out and debugged.  Instead, the Navy plunged into full production without delay.  The result was that the prototypes failed to serve their purpose.  They didn’t identify problems for correction in the subsequent ships.  Instead, the subsequent ships were built with the same problems as the prototypes.  This is why the USS Detroit, the 7th LCS and the 4th Freedom class ship, is being towed back to port with a broken combining gear – the same broken combing gear that plagued the prototypes and every other LCS.  The lessons of the failed combining gear in the prototype LCS-1 were not passed on to the rest of the production run because the run was already well along before any lessons could be learned. 


What is the point of building a prototype if you don’t wait for the lessons to be learned?


The result of this incredible mismanagement is that the Navy is throwing away 4 prototypes.  This is also why you don’t build two different versions of the same ship:  it doubles your prototypes and doubles your wastage!  It’s one thing to throw away a prototype of, say, a pump but it’s another when the prototype is a complete ship that costs nearly $800M as the first few LCS did.  When the prototype is that expensive, you really, really, really, want to take full advantage of the prototype concept and learn all the lessons you can before building the next ship.  Of course, the Navy did not do that and now winds up throwing away $2.4B or so of useless ships.  The LCS prototypes failed to serve their purpose.


What did the rush to get LCS hulls in the water accomplish?  There have been no significant deployments and certainly none with a fully functioning module.  The ships have wound up sitting pier side.  They accomplished nothing.  There was plenty of time.  The prototype process could have played out with no detrimental effects and the Navy would have gotten functioning, debugged ships – well, to the extent that an LCS can be considered functioning given that they still have no modules and have myriad inherent design and structural flaws.


The purpose of prototypes is to find and wring out the problems before the subsequent ships are built.  Because of concurrency, the prototypes wound up serving no purpose.






(1)Defense News website, “Littoral combat ship Detroit is being towed into port after another engineering failure”, David B. Larter, 7-Nov-2020,


(2)Defense News website, “US Navy’s first 4 littoral combat ships to leave the fleet in 9 months”, David B. Larter, 1-Jul-2020,


  1. The mission modules could have been running or not on some modern equivalent of the Norton Sound, before the first LCS hit the water. You also have to have the discipline to follow the prototype results, ie EMALS, if the land based tester is at TRL-5, why are you building into a carrier ?

  2. So the Detroit failed. Well sucks my home town got such a crappy ship to name. Thus everyone is clear now the LCS can't even do at vastly more cost the job of the USCG. So really the navy will now announce the immediate termination of the program and the crews to retrained to make sure actual useful ships have full crews and replacement sailors to rotate in to deal with inevitable absences for whatever reason.

    These are ships we likely cannot even pawn off on third tier navies or their coast guards. The LCS should go direct to automated targets with working defense systems such as they are (CIWS and some bolted on ESSM + decoyes)

  3. Its a petty thing, but it bugs the heck out of me that we have two very different ship designs that lumped under one "class" (LCS). It has definitely not helped discussions over the years. It is somewhat like conflating the Zumwalts and the Arleigh Burkes into a single discussion as the "DDG Class" ships.

    Although the Independence Class clearly has not been without problems of its own, my top-of-the-head-recall is that most of the high profile underperformance and general cavalcade of fail that is specific to the vessels themselves, as opposed to the general rolling-dumpster-fire that has been module development, has been the property of the Freedom class ships.

    In which regard, I have the impression that Lockheed, and the Navy spend quite a bit more effort on promoting the Freedoms leading to a relative paucity of information on the Independences.

  4. This guy makes the point that it is only Freedom class that is unsalvageable.

    "The Freedom Class Is A Lemon"

    "The Freedom class, has, from the very first, been an unmitigated engineering disaster. The USS Freedom (LCS 1) came out of the shipyard so top-heavy, stabilizing blisters (characterized on the waterfront as “butt-cheeks”) had to be welded on the stern of the ship. Then, in 2010, the ship somehow ingested saltwater, ruining the ship’s big gas turbine. When deployed to Singapore in 2013, the ship regularly lost power, and then, finally, in 2016, the ship lost a commanding officer after the ship’s diesel engine was severely damaged."

    "That performance—in the first ship of a new class—can be forgiven. There is some value in figuring out the weak points on any new craft. The problem is that the rest of the Freedom class vessels have been equally problematic, suffering from an overly complex and unreliable power plant. In contrast, the competing littoral combat ship variant, the aluminum trimaran Independence Class, appears to be methodically working through teething problems. Twelve Independence class ships are in service, doing good work in the Pacific, and another seven are being built."

    1. My point here is we should be talking about the specific classes not both classes at one eg Freedom or Independence and not LCS as it muddies the water.

    2. Agreed. LCS-2 uses a basic propulsion set up used across the fast ferry industry and multiple builders. LCS-1 is using a complex solution that no one uses. If anyone involved in the early days would have taken a child like, novice interest in the design of the ships the red flag would have gone off in their head.

    3. The LCS-2 variant is every bit as bad as LCS-1 but, for some reason, does not get as much press attention. If you go back through the DOT&E annual reports you'll get a pretty good feel for the problems.

    4. Here's a post discussing LCS-2 problems from several years ago and things have only gotten worse: LCS-2

    5. Here's a tiny nugget from the 2015 DOT&E report:

      "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."

    6. The DOT&E 2015 annual report provides a good starting point for understanding the magnitude of the Independence variant problems.

    7. 5 years ago ain't current. Montgomery and Giffords completed their cruises and Giffords was back out working for Southcom a week after coming back from a year abroad. Someone figured out how to make one work. I'm going to say the ship's good. Navy needs to figure out how to use it. Meanwhile, its sibling class has issues making it from Mayport to Key West.

    8. From a 2016 DOT&E report about the ASuW module,

      "... a
      2016 operational test aboard an Independence variant,
      has demonstrated only modest ability to aid the ship in
      defending itself against small swarms of small boats, and
      the ability to support maritime security operations."


      "The LCS 4 Total Ship Survivability Trial (TSST),
      conducted in January 2016, exposed weaknesses in the
      Independence-variant design. While the shock-hardened
      auxiliary bow thruster would have provided limited
      post‑shock propulsion, much of the ship’s mission
      capability would have been lost because critical support
      systems (such as chilled water) are not designed for
      reconfiguration and isolation of damage caused by the
      initial weapons effects or caused by the ensuing fire and


      "Also in June 2016, the Navy postponed indefinitely its
      plans to conduct the first of four live fire test events aboard the self-defense test ship to examine the effectiveness of the Independence variant’s SeaRAM air defense system, citing initial modeling predictions that predicted poor performance in the planned test event scenario."


      "LCS 4 failed the Navy’s reduced requirement for interim SUW capability,"


      "DOT&E has now evaluated both seaframe variants to be not operationally suitable because many of their critical systems are unreliable,"

      and, regarding ship cyber security,

      "testing revealed that several problems still remain which will degrade the operational effectiveness of Independence-variant seaframes until the problems are


      "Sea Giraffe radar provided LCS crews with only limited warning to defend itself against ASCMs in certain situations."


      "The test events demonstrated that SAFIRE was unable to provide reliable tracking information against some targets."


      "The 57 mm gun demonstrated inconsistent
      performance even in benign conditions, which raises
      doubts about the ship’s ability to defend itself ... The inaccuracy of the targeting systems, the difficulty in establishing a track on the target,"


      "LCS 4 failed its sprint speed requirement of 40 knots, demonstrating a maximum sustained speed of only 37.9 knots in calm waters."


      "LCS 4 has long-standing problems with her ride control system hardware, including interceptors, fins, and T-Max rudders, that affect the ship’s maneuverability at high speeds. 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. The crew found it necessary to station extra operators in the machinery room (normally an unmanned space) to change fuel filters and manually control the fuel oil heaters to keep the gas turbine engines in operation during these high-speed runs."

    9. From the 2017 DOT&E report,

      "Survivability testing and preliminary analyses on both
      LCS variants continue to demonstrate that neither LCS
      variant is survivable in high intensity combat. Although the ships incorporate capabilities to reduce their susceptibility to attack, testing of analogous capabilities in other ship classes demonstrated that such capabilities have limited effectiveness in high intensity combat. As designed, the LCS lacks redundancy and the vertical and longitudinal separation of vital equipment found in other combatants."

    10. On 13-Sep-2016, USS Montgomery suffered two unrelated engineering plant casualties.

    11. I'm not talking modules and I'm still not talking 3 or 4 years ago. I'm not talking about prior stupid decisions. They are adding the improved fire control for th mk 110, adding SEWIP, adding Nulka, standardizing combat system, adding NSM. Should all of that happened day 1, you bet. You have a ship with 2 H-60 spots and hangar to boot. Great range for a ship its size and can make 20kn on the diesels. Mission bay for 2 12m boats and 2 7 m boats, guessing it could do more if desired. Yes, there seems to be no leading the horse to water on this one. Yes, the seaframe is over priced and the speed has no purpose. All diesel would free up hull volume or reduce the size and weight higher up in the ship. This breed of ship took a bad turn when it went chasing speed for speed's sake. The evolution from HSV-2 Swift to EPF also missed the boat a bit, but at least got the propulsion a bit more on track.

    12. "I'm not talking modules"

      Neither am I. The vast majority of the problems cited are not module related. Those problems haven't simply vanished. They're still in every ship.

      The only positive about the class is that they haven't had a major breakdown (that we've heard about) in the last couple of days. However, there is much more to being an effective warship than just being able to sail from point A to point B without breaking down. All the other things that make for an effective warship seem to be problems for the class. That doesn't mean they can't be corrected, someday, but currently the class is a mess. The failure of the modules only makes it worse.

      It also appears that the Navy has largely given up on the LCS development. Module requirements have steadily devolved and the pace of development has slowed markedly. Four ships are early retired. One ship out of each group of four is designated as training. I get the impression that the Navy has shifted from trying to get them to work to just doing the bare minimum, setting them aside or assigning them to very low end missions like drug enforcement, and is just waiting to early retire more ships as the new frigate comes on line. I doubt any of the LCS will 20 years before retirement and I suspect few will make 15 years. There are 21 commissioned LCS and one or two deployments per year, on average, if that.

      A Navy spokesman described the role of the LCS:

      "He said the ships would focus on ASuW-only activities like partner-building exercises, fisheries patrols and other work suitable for a small surface combatant."

      Not exactly warship kind of deployments!

      USNI News (14-Jan-2019) reported that LCS manning is significantly short of requirements with the implication being that other ships of the fleet have higher priority on manpower.

      All of this gives the sense that the Navy is just biding its time on the LCS, waiting for the opportunity to retire them, and just giving them make-work jobs in the meantime.

    13. From the Mar 2020 GAO Navy Shipbuilding (Sustainment) report, LCS-4 reported 20 Category 3 casualties (casualty degrading main mission capability and requiring immediate repair) during the 5 month period May 2016 - Oct 2016.

      Casualties included: "Complete failure of a radar, generator, navigation, and weapon system. Tank leaks, metal shavings in the propulsion system, and crane issues also occurred." Note that these are not module related problems.

    14. Aside from being another of the non production standard (not that it should have ever mattered, but...) Frankly it screams give it to a technically competent organization to inspect and accept and to maintain the ship. The radar, gensets, diesels, and I imagine nav system are all used without issue elsewhere commercially and for naval applications.

    15. "Aside from being another of the non production standard "

      Almost every item I've cited is independent of the standard/non-standard issue. Radars, guns, sensors, generators, navigation, fins, rudders, engines, turbines, filters, etc. are the same on the last ship as the first.

      Your remark about a technically competent organization for inspection cuts to the heart of the problem (well, one of the hearts) which is NavSea. They are charged with inspecting the vessels and okaying them for delivery. Not only did they fail miserably with the first LCS (in addition to all the faults listed, they accepted the ships with substantially incomplete compartments and red star deficiencies - how do you accept a physically incomplete ship????) but, worse, they continued to accept ships even when all the faults became known. The ships that are being delivered today have all the same faults as the first ship and yet NavSea is happily okaying them for delivery. We do need an inspection/acceptance organization and it's clearly not NavSea. The problem, of course, is that NavSea is in the chain of command and, I'm 100% sure, has been ordered to accept the ships no matter what. We need an independent inspector, outside the Navy chain of command. This, by the way, is why DOT&E is so valuable and why the Navy wants so badly to eliminate them - they're outside the Navy's control. I can't help but wish DOT&E did inspection/acceptance.

  5. The USN originally was only to have a couple of new technologies, not the EMALS, installed in what became the USS Ford. The next ship with have a couple more and so on. All the ships would be able to be retrofitted with the new stuff as it came on line and met all the requirements.

    Sounds like a good plan, right? Not to Don Rumsfeld. He ordered all of it be added to the first ship even if it hadn't completed development.

    1. Ugh, that Devil's Advocate Guy here: If there are no issues with a new ship (or whatever) then it is because miracles happen -- or no advancements were made.

      If wasted money or efforts are so bad, then let's just continue building 1960-1980's style everything. Let other countries like China do the innovating.

    2. "If there are no issues with a new ship"

      The problem is not that issues occur with a new ship - they always do; it's whether the issues were reasonably foreseeable and preventable and, in the Ford's case, they all were. We tried to install non-existent technology with utterly predictable results and several billion dollars in cost overruns.

  6. This not entirely navy's problem. Recently. Congress is forcing Army to buy more CH-47F helicopter even though Army doesn't want. Military industry complex are too powerful thus Navy cannot close down LCS immediately even after found they are a strategic blunder plus manufacturers failed to deliver what promised.

    If Navy keeps LCS. maintenance contracts would continue.

    For a private business, if management find a division keeps sucking money but not provides any benefits, they tend to close it down then let this division keeps sucking blood.

  7. Conops,

    You've repeatedly pointed out this sort of poor decision making.

    Naval officers in my limited experience are neither stupid, nor uninformed, nor uncurious, nor disloyal, nor unpatriotic, nor are they (as far as I could tell) morally bankrupt careerists.

    How are we to account for such consistent and sustained idiocy?

    1. People or small groups can make smart decisions. Large groups usually make poor decisions. The US Navy is a large group.

    2. While your point of contention is true, the ACTUAL people guiding the development and path is smaller scale. For instance, most problems with the US Navy can track back to the CNO(Richard, Greenert,...?), the Undersecretary of Defense (Rob Work) and the SecDef (Esper and Rumsfeld) and plenty of other military revisionists and apologist.

      Now that doesn't mean absolving the Navy personnel of their duty to point out what's wrong. But as you have astutely pointed out, "large groups of people make terrible decisions."

    3. Large groups tend to follow the leadership of the group unless there is a required process in place to question positions advanced by leadership. An office of "The Devil's Advocate" is needed in the US Navy. Stinging rebukes of stupid ideas rarely results a fast tracked career in the current environment.

    4. "How are we to account for such consistent and sustained idiocy?"

      I have no idea. These people are intelligent and at least somewhat patriotically motivated and yet they consistently make the worst possible decisions. I can see it. I can predict it. I can't explain it.

  8. Crazy idea! Use the Zumwalt as a parent design for a Ticonderoga class replacement and strip the Freedom class LCS's for the power plants needed for 16 new cruisers. The Freedom class has more installed power than the DDG 1000. They both use the same MT30 gas turbines so the prime movers would be available if you scrapped the Freedom LCS class.
    I'd rather see 16 cruisers based on the Zumwalt than 16 Freedom class LCS.
    I'm not advocating more DDG 1000s. Rather, a rational cruiser design that uses the hull form and mechanicals of the DDG 1000 with no new technology other than the AN/SPY-6 radar which would be in service with the Arleigh Burke class Flt III, so not really new.
    I realize that DDG 1000 class has had some mechanical issues but hopefully the three DDG 1000 will identify and correct any issues so a cruiser based on the DDG 1000 could be low risk.
    It would be nice to have a new cruiser to go up against the Type 55.

    1. I don't think there is money to be saved in stripping out the Freedom's, but yes, what next for the Zumwalt blueprint. Frankly, I am more interested in things developed and not ready in time for Zumwalt. The 36.5 MW PMM, the 4 MW gensets from Burke flight 3, Advanced water jets. I'd like fore and aft main gun, 4 CIWS in some capacity, ideally a helo deck that can land anything, stow of 2 H-60 is fine. I'd like the VLS size to allow a missile 28" diameter by 27 feet. Allow PVLS above the water line, thus the current hull won't work.

    2. "a rational cruiser design that uses the hull form and mechanicals of the DDG 1000"

      An interesting thought. Tell me more. What is it about the Zumwalt hull form that you like? It has some seakeeping issues (the published some operational restrictions and warnings about certain sea conditions) and has very limited deck space. I also have doubts about the degree of stealth but nothing definitive to back that up.

      What mission or role would you see it playing that would be different from a Burke?

      What missile/weapon do you envision for the larger VLS?

    3. Note, I concluded the current hull won't work. I do want some of the guts and some of the things that hadn't matured in time. Basically I want a double ender with 2 main guns, 2 gun based CIWS, 2 laser CIWS so there is 360 degree coverage with all 3 systems. I like the 28" VLS as I primarily envision a quad packed Standard. Move back from the 21" boosters to something more like Terrier or RIM-67. Then you have room for something that should easily accomodate hypersonic, baallistic, cruise with added capability. You could also probably quad pack a new VLA version.

    4. The thing that I like about the Zumwalt Hull is that it has been designed to have the integrated electrical drive system that could power upgraded radars. The mission that the current destroyers will not be able to do, is carry the largest version of the AN/SPY-6 radar that was designed for ballistic missile defense. The Arleigh Burke class destroyers don't have the electrical and payload margins to carry the largest ballistic missile defense radar. If the Navy is serious about ballistic missile defense they need to have ships that can carry and power appropriate radars.
      The DDG 1000 was to have a cruiser variant (CG (X))that had the margin to carry the big radar and use the integrated electrical system to power it.
      Some of the proposed cruiser designs modified the freeboard hull to have a conventional flared bow to deal with the seakeeping issues cause by the tumblehome design.
      The DDG 1000 is undermanned, so more crew quarters will be needed. I don't know if the total ship computing idea is a good thing or a bad thing but it is only present on three ships and it would make more sense to use systems that had greater use in the fleet. I would go with the combat systems from the Arleigh Burke class and have commonality between the destroyers and the cruisers. Another thing that I would do is have some of the VLS cells be based on the dimensions of the Virginia Payload Module (VPM). The VPM interior could be reconfigured if needed to carry larger missiles. If we have a future need for larger missiles it would be nice to have a way to reconfigure the VLS without building a new ship.

    5. I may have to revise my thinking on the need for the 69 RMA AMDR.
      I ran across a post that stated that the AMDR is more sensitive than originally marketed. The source article for the post is behind a paywall so I couldn't verify the source material.
      The 69 RMA version would be even better than what is going to be installed on the Flight III Burkes and Flight IIa Burkes, but the AN/SPY-6(V)1 with 37 RMAs and the AN/SPY(V)4 with 24 RMAs are much more sensitive than the current AN/SPY-1 which is a good thing.
      With stealth aircraft and hypersonic missiles the further away that the threat is detected the more time you have to respond.
      I would like to see at least one and preferably two cruisers/destroyers that could carry the 69 RMA AMDR for every aircraft carrier. The lack of long range aircraft to protect the carrier means electronic detection and countermeasures are going to be the first and last line of defense for the aircraft carriers.

      Blog post about the AMDR being more sensitive.
      Aegis radar to be 100 times more sensitive than current radar 

      Information about AMDR from the manufacturer.
      AMDR versions information 

      Earlier post about the AMDR that suggested it was less sensitive.
      Earlier post about AMDR and other missile defense radars 

  9. "But Crites said the first four ships had become less relevant for “great power competition” and that money could be spent on better options.

    “They’ve played an important role and we’ve certainly ramped up our employment [of the LCS],"

    I hate beating a dead horse but how do these commanders can live with these blatant lies? How does the LCS ever played an "important role" in great power competition? And "ramped up employment" in what? In Port security? But I digress.

    The interesting thing to point out is the fact that there are still people in the the Navy thinks that the LCS fills an important role. But what role? The LCS doesn't have any of its modules so it can't do any of the original mission? Even by thr Navy's own "presence" metric, it has utterly failed. If I'm right, the ships rarely do any deployments and when they do, it broke down constantly and provided not even the slightest "deterrence" value or whatever that translates to.

    The question here is how the Navy justified the funding to Congress? And how does Congress even justified it? The ONLY reason that I think we can justify (and only because we are forced to) is the replacement of the Avenger class MCM. This is a bit of a scummy practice, to guarantee funding by letting a critical capability to rot and almost retire and then propose a "savior" that Congress is locked into.

    This is similar to the issue of BAMS UAV where all of our SIGNIT aircraft are hopelessly outdated and overused, being replaced with the UAV's proposed and in development capability.

  10. "The ONLY reason that I think we can justify (and only because we are forced to) is the replacement of the Avenger class MCM. "

    The idea of replacing our MCM capability with the LCS makes sense only to people with no knowledge or understanding of mine warfare. Unfortunately, that would describe virtually every senior officer in the USN.

    What can an LCS do well? Go fast. What is the last thing you want to do in a minefield? Go fast.

    1. "What can an LCS do well? Go fast. What is the last thing you want to do in a minefield? Go fast."

      Just for a bit of perspective and yet another lesson to be learned, like the F-35 that was built for three services and three different roles, the LCS was built for three main missions that had little in common. So, the speed may have been intended for one of the other missions. I've never heard an explanation for the speed requirement. The LCS is not an ideal platform for any of its intended missions but that's what happens when you try to design one platform for multiple missions. Which leads back to my single function philosophy.

  11. "How are we to account for such consistent and sustained idiocy?"

    Although I am currently within the anti-LCS choirs, I am working to educate myself before coming up with ultimate conclusions. Outside of this "bubble" are others, including sailors on these ships, who fully support the LCS. I'm keeping an open mind because a navy should have a mix beyond aircraft carriers, submarines and destroyers. I'm not suggesting that anyone here has said otherwise.

    I understand and would have originally agreed with the ideas behind the project. Thus, I also would have supported working with the original prototypes; I just wish it would have paused there.

    I'm guessing that keeping shipbuilding workers at work created a certain momentum. Many of us taxpayers will be happy to eat the costs in this case to do that. I do hope that those workers will now be given something better to do and that something positive will come of those LCS ships already built.

    1. I'm with you. The USN made a ton of mistakes a decade ago. But like it or not, we have some 35 hulls to work with. My current frustration is how little actual innovating the USN is doing with the capabilities these hulls actually do have. IMHO turning these into "good enough" costs far less than the alternative, which appears to be use the failures to justify building FFG (X)

    2. " which appears to be use the failures to justify building FFG (X)"

      Sadly, this may turn out to be the LCS' greatest accomplishment!

    3. "I understand and would have originally agreed with the ideas behind the project."

      I assume you've read the LCS Conceptual Origins post? You will have noted that the LCS met almost none of the original requirements and THAT is the main problem with the LCS. It was born from a potentially decent idea and IMMEDIATELY veered off into a bizarre design that had little to do with the original.

      Why did it so totally and immediately veer into bizarre land? I have no idea. I'd love to know who heard the original requirements and said, hey, this is great, now let's design a ship that has nothing to do with that!

    4. "My current frustration is how little actual innovating the USN is doing with the capabilities these hulls actually do have."

      What capabilities do you believe they have and what would you like to see the ships doing?

    5. "I assume you've read the LCS Conceptual Origins post?"

      I did and agree with you. I mean that I would have agreed with the "potentially decent idea."

    6. "Why did it so totally and immediately veer into bizarre land? I have no idea. I'd love to know who heard the original requirements and said, hey, this is great, now let's design a ship that has nothing to do with that!"

      I saw the post a while ago and I don't know have you read the OSD recollection of the concept history (located here: but it does provide some fascinating recollection. I find that the point of divergence in the Navy's line of thought occurred around the time of transformationalism.

      "....(CNO Clark) ordered his staff to study the advantages and disadvantages of the Streetfighter concept.... Soon after Clark became CNO, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made transforming the military an important priority."

      While this may seems coincidental, there are other circumstantial evidences pointing the change. Some of you may recalled that prior to 9/11, the Navy was pursuing the DD-21 concept which was canceled relating to ballooning costs and outdated (The report notes that big guns were not desirable). Here are two excerpts:

      "The DD-21 was to be replaced by a family of ships: the DD(X) (today called DDG-1000), the CG(X), and a small combatant, the LCS."

      "The DD-21 was targeted by OSD for elimination due in part to its high cost and in part to a judgment that it was not sufficiently transformational to cope with the emerging security environment."

      While this maybe the main reason, the Navy community around the time was mainly opposed to two ideas that significantly differ to the original StreetFighter concept.

      "Expendability was one of the foundations of the Streetfighter concept: the Navy could put these ships at risk since, if one were lost, the Navy lost only a small fraction of the aggregate combat power..."

      "Many in the Navy were unhappy with the idea of a
      'ship designed to lose.'"

      And short endurance wasn't well received (according to Work anyway)

      "The Streetfighter concept was popularly identified with some negative attributes— including a lack of endurance—that were not characteristics of all Streetfighter-type designs. Work, 67-68."

      "The LCS Program Office and Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) also did their own analysis, dubbed “Analysis of Multiple Concepts” (AMC)."

      -a small combatant with high speed but low endurance;
      -a slightly smaller, self-deploying, modular advanced combatant;

      "...the AMC concluded that this combatant would have some inherent self-defense capability but get the majority of its combat power from modules; embark a helicopter; have trans-oceanic endurance; and have an optimal speed of between 40 and 50 knots..."

      I tried to purse some of the older links but most of them seemed to be lost in the internet. I would be greatly interested in the interview with Charles Werchado and Web Ewell, OSD/PA&E, November 8, 2006. They have apparently war gamed for a need of a specific small ships and a lot could be learned from that. They could also have an answer regarding our issue.

      The paper did implied that there are at least five or more AOAs or AMCs out there and we have the Ford AOA before. If anyone find anything regarding this, I would love to get my hands on them for some reading.

    7. CNO,
      "What capabilities do you believe they have" They have space and speed, and weight margins for a 180 ton module plus between 30 and 70 ton service life allowance.

      "what would you like to see the ships doing?" For starters, since they aren't well built for transoceanic transits, I wouldn't station them in San Diego and Mayport. Sasebo and Bahrain make sense, or somewhere in the Med. Secondly, I'd go back to the drawing board on the ASuW module, which is a complete joke. Spend the money to get the MCM module right instead of this continual pushing of the T&D timeline.

    8. "They have space and speed"

      The former, yes. The latter, somewhat. The trial max speed for the Independence class was 37 kts, as I recall and Freedom about the same or a knot less. That's somewhat fast though woefully short of the initial design speed!

      "weight margins for a 180 ton module plus between 30 and 70 ton service life allowance."

      No, they've pretty well max'ed out their various weight margins already. I presented the limited data we have access to in the following post: LCS Weight Margins

      More proof is that the ASW module was rejected as too heavy and is in the process of being broken up into components (not sure how you conduct ASW with just certain components of the needed package but that's typical of the Navy).

      The Independence class has had their fuel capacities reduced in order to meet weight specs.

      With added equipment, added weapons, added crew, added stores, etc. any weight margins they had are pretty much gone. They're at the point not that anything added has to be compensated by something being removed.

      All that aside, what do you see them doing? No one has come up with a use for speed in any tactically relevant scenario. The space is nice but to what purpose?

      The Navy is in a bind. There's not much the LCS can do that's useful and the lack of functioning modules makes it that much harder. As you note, the ASuW module is a joke. The ASW module is non-functional due to the weight problems. The MCM module could be useful but it simply doesn't work and, even if it did, it's a glacially slow way of doing MCM unless they can get a viable sweep component and, to the best of my knowledge, we have no tested, proven sweep and are not working on developing one.

      It's not possible to 'get the MCM module right' because the basic premise - one mine at a time - is not operationally useful. Combat clearance requires rapid, area clearance and that's not what the MCM module is intended to do. It's useful only in non-combat scenario involving a very limited quantity of mines.

    9. "The latter somewhat." LCS-4 maintained 37.9 knots for 3 hours, while LCS-1 maintained 43.7 knots, per DOTE report FY 15. Both figures are significantly above the norm.

      "No, they've pretty well max'ed out their various weight margins already. I presented the limited data we have access to in the following post:" Not really. Again, they have 180 tons allocated to the module. LCS-2 variants have around 30 tons of SLA and LCS-1 variants have around 70 tons of SLA per GAO.

      "The Independence class has had their fuel capacities reduced in order to meet weight specs." Even still the "reduced fuel" Indy's can manage 5300 nm cruise range per the above test data.

    10. "All that aside, what do you see them doing? No one has come up with a use for speed in any tactically relevant scenario. The space is nice but to what purpose?"

      MCM and ASuW, primarily. Teaming these ships with the ESBs provides a lot more flexibility to remove weight (ie the H-60 and it's 75 tons of fuel) and add other capabilities. An MCM team composed of 3 Sasebo based LCS-MCMs,an Aviation MCM squadron and an ESB could open up Korean ports for Army reinforcements far quicker than could the current MCM systems.

      "we have no tested, proven sweep and are not working on developing one." The LCS mounted CUSV is testing a sweep right now.

      "As you note, the ASuW module is a joke." Agreed. 180 tons of module weight could be "spent" far more effectively. My ASuW module would replace the 2 cannons and the Hellfire with Mk. 56 ESSM launchers, and replace the H-60 (+75 tons fuel) with a quartet of small UAVs and a quartet of CUSV-sized boats.

    11. Your figures are incorrect. Per GAO report I cited in the post, the SLAs are

      LCS-1 26 metric tons
      LCS-3 156
      LCS-5 67
      LCS-2 -16
      LCS-4 16
      LCS-6 31

      The required SLA is 50.

      The LCS-1 variant average is 83, although it is marked by extreme variability with a single ship, LCS-3 skewing the average. This variant is essentially at its architectural limit.

      The LCS-2 variant average is 10 and none of the ships meet the required SLA. This variant is at or above its architectural limit.

      Four of the first six LCS failed to meet their SLA requirement.

      It is important to note that the SLA INCLUDES the module weight allowance since the SLA is calculated from the difference between the architectural limit and the full load condition which explicitly includes an installed module. THUS, THE AVAILABLE SLA REPRESENTS THE ENTIRETY OF THE AVAILABLE WEIGHT MARGIN. There is no additional module allowance to add to the SLA. Of course, if no module is installed on a ship then the module weight allowance becomes available.

      Obviously, the module weight is a calculated value since there were no extant modules at that time. Since then, the modules may have grown in weight which would further decrease the available SLA. The ASW module, for example, has significantly exceeded its weight allowance. The ASuW module seems closest to its original specs and weight. The MCM module appears to have grown with the addition of more unmanned vehicles and heavier vehicle launch and recovery mechanisms.

      Since the writing of the GAO report, the LCS has received additional equipment such as the Naval Strike Missile installations, bridge wings, galvanic corrosion control systems, larger crews, more berthing, more food and water storage, etc. As it stands today, and with a module installed, it is highly doubtful that any LCS has any significant available weight margin. Of course, there is no weight data for the more recent vessels that I'm aware of but it seems unlikely that subsequent ship weights have changed much and, if they have, they have likely grown heavier with the added equipment and crew.

    12. "Again, they have 180 tons allocated to the module. LCS-2 variants have around 30 tons of SLA and LCS-1 variants have around 70 tons of SLA per GAO."

      We're literally talking the exact same citation from GAO with the exact same figures. My figures are correct.

      "The LCS-2 variant average is 10 and none of the ships meet the required SLA. This variant is at or above its architectural limit."

      LCS-2 was built, as you noted with larger fuel tanks than necessary. That was corrected, which is why LCS-4 and beyond are the only relevant comparisons.

      "SLA INCLUDES the module weight allowance" That's my point. Change out the Mk. 44 with something else and it's within the module weight allowance. Change out the RMMV with something else and it's within the module weight allowance.

      " Of course, there is no weight data for the more recent vessels that I'm aware of but it seems unlikely that subsequent ship weights have changed much and, if they have, they have likely grown heavier with the added equipment and crew."

      Now add in the 180 tons of module weight that's poorly spent.

    13. BTW your figures are wrong. From Page 1 of the GAO report.

      Status of Recent Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Service Life Allowances
      Ship Currently meets service life allowance requirements?
      LCS 1 No—24 tons less than requirement
      LCS 3 Yes—exceeds requirement by 106 tons
      LCS 5 Yes—exceeds requirement by 17 tons b
      LCS 2 No—67 tons less than requirement
      LCS 4 No—34 tons less than requirement
      LCS 6 No—19 tons less than requirement

    14. The other thing that doesn't help is that LCS-5 and LCS-6 were both under construction at the time of the report. Each had ~30 tons of builders margin on top of their SLA. It's unknown if the builders ever used that margin.

    15. "We're literally talking the exact same citation from GAO with the exact same figures. My figures are correct."

      What are you looking at (sincerely puzzled!)? You appear to be doing some arithmetic to get the numbers you cite but, if so, your calc is incorrect. For example, from the numbers you note for LCS-4, the report states that it is 34 tons less than required. The requirement is 50, as noted in footnote (a). Therefore, the actual SLA for LCS-4 is 50-34=16, as I noted in my earlier comment. The same calc, repeated for all the ships gives the values I cited.

      The values I cited are also explicitly listed in Table 7 of the GAO report.

      I have no interest in 'winning' anything in this discussion. I just want us all to be using the same basis for discussion. Why don't you take a look at Table 7 where the actual SLAs are explicitly listed and then review your calculated numbers and see if you may have misunderstood something. Let me know what you find.

      On a related note, the report also notes that the SLA and vertical center of gravity (stability) were already lower than standard practice even before any weight problems!

      The report goes on to note a few changes that were, even at that early point, already planned that would eat into any available weight margins.

    16. Per Table 7, I am correct. LCS-6 is more representative than LCS-4 was. As I said, LCS-2 variants (6 and beyond) have an SLA of 30 tons. LCS-1 variants (5 and beyond) have an SLA of 70 tons.

      And all of that still completely ignores the 180 tons of easily changed out module weight. For the umpteenth time, there's easily 100 tons of excess weight (and 23 crewman) the Navy could find if it ditched the manned helicopter (and associated fuel).

      Yes, it's lower than standard practice. Coo

    17. "Per Table 7, I am correct."

      Ah, I see. You're picking a single data point out of the sample of three for each variant and assuming it's correct for the entire rest of the class despite the evidence of extreme ship to ship variation. This is unfounded and highly likely to be incorrect. Also, the additional ships have had multiple items added that have increased their weights, as noted in the GAO report and as noted in subsequent reports and articles (NSM, for example). So, we already know that even the third ship SLAs are incorrectly high.

      Your optimism about the SLAs runs counter to every bit of evidence about the weight trends of the LCS but if you wish to believe that, it's fine.

    18. I'm picking the only two data points that represent Flight I ships, which had very well documented changes from the 4 Flight 0s. Averaging the 4 very different Flight 0s in with the Flight Is is dishonest.

      Yes, multiple items have been added, highly suggestive that the SLA was large enough to accomodate those changes.

      And again, you continue to ignore the 180 ton module weight allocation. That's the weight I'm talking about changing, not SLA. A "good enough" ASuW module replaces the Hellfire and the Mk. 44s with roughly comparable weight Mk. 56/ESSMs and the already existing NSMs. A "good enough" MCM module almost certainly replaces the 100 tons of helicopter with a quartet of sweep-capable USVs, with plenty of weight to spare.

    19. Ignoring the variability of the ship to ship weight fluctuations is what's dishonest. No two 'identical' ships have ever had the same weight. It just doesn't happen that way. Now that I see that you're making an inappropriate assumption, I'll note further that even using the inappropriate SLA values you've chosen to believe, those values are now significantly less than 30 and 70 due to the added crew size, berthing, stores, NSM, bridge wings, food storage, galvanic corrosion, etc. that have been added since the GAO report.

      Now, if the Navy wishes to maintain a SLA of 50t then the actual SLAs, even using your values, would be -20 and 20. Further subtracting the added equipment, say 20t (NSM adds something on the order of 6t, and so on for each added piece of equipment or crew), would give SLAs of somewhere in the vicinity of -40 and 0. Note the negative SLA IS cutting into the module allowance.

      Having sorted all that out, you can now play games with the remaining module weight allowance, if any, and swap equipment as long as the total weight stays below the architectural limit. Since we have no idea what the actual ship weights are with the added equipment, you can hypothesize any equipment and weight you wish.

      I note that the actual ASW and MCM modules have exceeded the allowable weights so, clearly, there isn't much margin to play with and this seems to confirm my estimate that the SLAs are negative or zero.

    20. Again, the Flight Is are very different then the four Flight 0s, as your blog above attests to. I do not state that all ships are identical, I'm very clearly stating that Flight Is are different than the Flight 0s. Obviously, if it wasn't obvious, there was an "ish" implied in my statements, as in 30"ish" tons for the LCS-6+ and 70"ish"tons for the LCS-5+. Again, we don't even know if the builders ever used up the 30 ton builder's margin. If not, then even those estimates are too low.

      Who says anything about maintaining that SLA? If maintaining and SLA were important, the Navy wouldn't be adding equipment and materials. Obviously adding capability now is more important than maintaining a reserve against the future.

      And yes, now that we've decided that the Flight Is had residual SLA and 180 tons of module allowance, that a small fraction, say 20 tons, was reduced by ongoing changes, the Navy can and should use the residual 180+ tons to design better modules.

      I'm not going to fight you on the ASW module, as I see that as a bad mission fit. Regarding the MCM module, I've said before and I'll say it again, the 100 tons reserved for the H-60 and fuel is wasted. Put the helo on the ESB and put four sweep-equipped CUSVs in the mission bay.

      Fixing the ASuW module by replacing the guns/Hellfire with ESSM dramatically improves the ability of this ship to dominate at relevant ranges.

    21. Come to think of it, if you can offboard the H-60 onto a nearby big deck (such as the ESB), the amount of weight allowance freed up is sufficient to merge many if not all of the capabilities of the ASuW module with the MCM module. An MCM module with the weapons load out of the ASuW module would be a nice capability at a relatively low cost.

    22. Here's another reason why assuming the LCS-5,6 SLAs are the real and final values while ignoring the values and variability of the preceding ones is wrong …

      The architectural limits for LCS-5,6 are IDENTICAL to LCS-3,4. That means the SLAs should have been identical EXCEPT THAT THEY AREN'T. This just reinforces what I said about every ship being different in weight and justifies using ALL the SLAs that we have data for as the basis for weight discussions. The only real outlier was LCS-3 and that would be the one to discard, if any.

      While the subsequent LCSes may be configured differently, there is NOTHING to suggest that were built lighter. The basic seaframe didn't change after LCS-1. In fact, they got heavier with added equipment and whatnot. If you know of any significant equipment that was removed, you can factor it in but I'm not aware of any.

    23. Having dealt with the weight issues, I would now turn my attention to your MCM concept of helo(s) on the AFBS (I refuse to use the Navy's new terms - just my personal little protest against silliness!) and multiple unmanned sweeps on the LCS. It's potentially a decent idea!

      The AFSB could operate multiple helos which, I assume, you see being used as the Navy envisioned: laser detection and mine neutralization? This might also allow larger helos (the MH-53) to be used which would bring the towed sweep sled back into the picture.

      The multiple unmanned sweep boats on the LCS is a significant net gain in capability, ASSUMING THAT INFLUENCE SWEEPING IS VIABLE AGAINST MODERN MINES and I have severe doubts about that. I really wish the Navy would conduct a real sweep test against a modern mine BEFORE committing to this path.

      Of course, the obvious question is why do we even need the LCS? The unmanned sweep boats could just as easily operate from the AFSB in addition to the helos. There would be plenty of room.

      As far as your ASuW proposal, I'm unclear on exactly what that is. You seem to be suggesting using ESSM as the main anti-ship weapon? Or did I misunderstand that?

      The remainder of the ASuW fit would be ?small? UAVs and a couple of unmanned boats? While ESSM has an anti-surface mode, it's not an ideal choice for general ASuW work. How would this ASuW fit function? What would the boats do? The UAVs would be useful for surveillance but would the only weapon be ESSM?

    24. As has been articulated in the GAO report, significant lightening of the light ship occurred between the Flight 0 and the Flight I. Additionally, between LCS-2 and LCS-4, they reduced the fuel tanks, reducing range from unknown for LCS-2 to 5300 nm for LCS-4 (per DOTE).

    25. I agree wholeheartedly they need to expand the testing regimen (the stated role of the Flight 0s anyways) to encompass realistic threats. I don't know if influence sweeping is effective, and agree that we should be far more aggressive in finding out.

      The NSM would be the primary ASCM against warships, while the ESSM would be the primary weapon against small boats, aircraft, and missiles out to the horizon. Another one of the "could work, but the Navy's testing regime is lethargic as hell" would be the CUSV in an armed patrol role. Otherwise, there's off the shelf USVs like Protector and/or manned RHIBs. Perhaps a bit of a mixture is the answer. For the UAV, something in the RQ-21 class with a single MQ-8C providing ISR support.

    26. "ESSM would be the primary weapon against small boats"

      This is where some realistic testing is desperately needed. It is not at all clear or obvious to me that an ESSM would be capable of detecting a small boat or destroying it.

      The ESSM seeker might well be unable to detect a small boat lost in the wave clutter. Our large ship and aircraft radars have a hard time doing so, so why would we assume the small seeker on an ESSM would succeed?

      Even if it can target a small boat, an ESSM might or might not be able to correctly fuze and detonate against such a target. Would proximity fuzing work against a small boat on water? Would the seeker/fuze combo recognize a valid proximity cue? Can a blast fragmentation warhead regularly disable a small boat given that we've seen that the Mk110 57mm frag round cannot reliably disable a small boat (this is a major reason why the Zumwalt dropped the Mk110 from consideration)?

      It may work or it may not. We need some realistic testing. Personally, I suspect that it would not be reliably effective.

    27. Agreed RE: testing. And to be clear when I meant small boats I meant something in the 100-4000 ton range, not necessarily pirate skiffs and canoes. I probably didn't make that clear. The 57 mm. will always be the best option against very small boats.

  12. They can't be turned into good enough because they have no characteristics of a competent warship. Their engines break down routinely and massively in peacetime; how will they be able to hold up in combat? They can't withstand damage. They have no viable naval or military mission.

    1. To be clear, I understand that the original requirements for the LCS have failed. Since the ships exist, I would argue as follows:

      A Destroyer has a crew of about 300, the LCS of about 80. Less manpower means less cost and fewer to lose. They could do missions in place of a Destroyer, such as the anti-narcotic work already being done. In wartime, their high speed and ability to base helicopters and small boats could be helpful when serving as littoral waters patrol, naval special warfare, search and rescue. They could do the jobs previously done by the Cyclone Class without needing to be carried into the theatre by larger ships.

      In high intensity combat, they could screen the backside of the fleet, protecting against such threats as China’s Maritime Militia or Iran’s speedboats. They could tuck into coves to use ground clutter to confuse ASCM’s while focusing out at the open sea.

      The main use that I can see for the LCS-2 is serving as high-speed, armed transport, since the LCS-2 has 15,200 square feet in the mission bay. Using the side access ramp, it could carry and dispatch vehicles including APC’s. The LCS could also get into range of the shore and use the elevator and helicopters to send troops or supplies.

      The LCS could serve as communication links between the fleet and UUV, USV and UAV, spending time as mobile “cell towers” while the true warships conduct war. I could even envision the large flight decks on two LCS’s being used together to mount a seaborne version of the JLENS:

      “The Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System or JLENS consists of two large, unmanned, helium-filled aerostats that carry a radar system designed to detect and track threats such as cruise missiles, drones, aircraft, large caliber rockets, vehicles, and maritime surface vessels. The JLENS aerostats can float up to 10,000 feet and provide 360 degree coverage for an area approximately the size of Texas. It can also detect threats over the horizon, up to 340 miles away, and can stay airborne for up to 30 days providing 24/7 continual protection. [1] JLENS also integrates with defensive systems such as the Patriot missile defense system, the Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) employed by Aegis BMD systems, Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM), and the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS), as well as other command and control and defensive systems.”
      “Radar can detect aircraft within a 340-mile radius, or an area of about 363,000 miles.”
      “Vehicles on the ground can be detected within a 140-mile radius, an area of 62,000 miles.”

      If a LCS/JLENS merger were to take place, these two ships could become one of the most powerful assets within a fleet.

    2. "Their engines break down routinely and massively in peacetime; how will they be able to hold up in combat?"

      As AndyM put it above, "Montgomery and Giffords completed their cruises and Giffords was back out working for Southcom a week after coming back from a year abroad. Someone figured out how to make one work. I'm going to say the ship's good."

    3. "A Destroyer has a crew of about 300, the LCS of about 80."

      This is a falsehood. The LCS has a 'crew' as large or larger than the Perry. They exist as dedicated shore support maintenance personnel. They are crew that stay on shore when the ship leaves but crew nonetheless.

      "LCS-2 is serving as high-speed, armed transport"

      Lacking any at-sea offload capability, the LCS can only transport to a full docking facility which greatly limits the usefulness. The LCS cannot function as a troop transport as it lacks berthing, food, sanitation, water, and other necessary facilities. Therefore, it could only transport troops for a few hours, at most.

    4. 2 crews of 70 so yes, 140. Then add 23 from the Av Det. You would need a crane to get a vehicle off that folding door and the door is only rated for 21 metric tons. It is not a ramp.

    5. I usually try to avoid getting info from sites that include the term "wiki" but got lazy. Here is what I read:

      "Complement: 40 core crew (8 officers, 32 enlisted) plus
      up to 35 mission crew"

      "One Mobicon Flexible Container Handling System is carried on each ship in order to move mission containers.[46][47] In addition to cargo or container-sized mission modules, the bay can carry four lanes of multiple Strykers, armored Humvees, and their associated troops. An elevator allows air transport of packages the size of a 20-foot-long (6.1 m) shipping container that can be moved into the mission bay while at sea. A side access ramp allows for vehicle roll-on/roll-off loading to a dock and would have allowed the ship to transport the since-cancelled Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle."

    6. Yeah, that's missing a lot of facts.
      - Crews got upped to 70.
      - The vehicle thing is Austal marketing, like saying the flight deck could allow an H-53.
      - The elevator could fit a 20' container, but can only lift 6945lb/3500kg I am not sure the Mobicon could even manuever one onto the lift.
      - The side door is a door, not a ramp. It opens to level. 21 metric ton limit.

    7. Prometheus, just a note, you are describing literally the original missions of the LCS concept. The only new thing that you describe is high speed and armed transport which has been disputed by CNO. The reason why the original concept doesn't work because the modules still don't exists yet to perform any of those missions. That's why the Navy constantly change the missions of the LCS.

      Now something I like to see is the exploration of the LCS as a convoy escort. We know that our convoy forces are incredibly tiny and extremely vulnerable. This will not be a Frontline high risk environments. Most of the time, Chinese militia naval forces will be responsible for majority of the fighting. This is the environment that the Hellfire, RAM and mk57 would shine in the current configuration. In the extreme of situation where a more high end Chinese Navy forces attack us, the NSM should be providing enough offensive capabilities.

      There might be some issue with the maintenance schedule but it should allow the ships to be close to any repairs or ports. That's just my 2 cents.

    8. "LCS as a convoy escort"

      A few problems with that. The range and endurance of the LCS is too short. It would require a dedicated tanker with the convoy. A convoy escort spends a lot of time sprinting here and there, investigating possible submarine contacts, herding merchantmen, etc. That sprinting HUGELY cuts into the LCS range.

      The two biggest threats to a convoy are subs and missiles. The LCS has no ASW capability to speak of unless the dedicated ASW versions were used and there's only six of those in the LCS fleet (could be 8 if they opt to use the training ships as deployable ships). Regarding missiles, unfortunately, the LCS has no area (convoy area) air defense missiles, only the point defense RAM/SeaRAM. A Burke or two could accompany the convoy but then the LCS isn't really doing much, is it?

      It's good to look for roles the LCS could take on but when you start looking, you quickly realize just how poor the LCS designs are and how limited the ships are. There's just not much they can do effectively. For what it's worth, the best role I've come up with for the LCS is as a dedicated electronic warfare and/or signals collection ship.

    9. "the modules still don't exist"

      If you haven't, you should read the original module requirements. The current modules have been watered down to near uselessness and still don't work. For example, the original ASuW module called for NLOS which, on paper, would have been a very effective area weapon with a 20+ mile range. What do we have today? A Hellfire (maybe) which is a point weapon with a few mile range.

      The same kind of requirement degradation has occurred for each module and we still can't get them to work.

    10. "The range and endurance of the LCS is too short."

      In anticipation of that limit, I was thinking along the line of WW2 medium risk escorts coming of Britain. An illustration could be found here: Particularly around the area of the Irish Sea, above Norway.

      Now in our Chinese conflict scenario, I identify shipping routes (to the US?) passing by Philippines, Guam and Hawaii. This could be a role for the LCS to relieve the escorts and provide some heavy surface firepower. I honestly do not think that it will happen often but the main purpose is to deter. Similar to how in WW2, the convoys were mostly attacked in the transit in the Atlantic ocean, not in the Irish sea as their final transit into port.

      I have tried to avoid planning for the ASW module because I don't see its coming anytime soon (or even come at all). The watering down is only the icing on the cake.

      "That sprinting HUGELY cuts into the LCS range."
      "It would require a dedicated tanker with the convoy."

      Maybe the tanker limitation could work in our favor. How about a surface action group (SAG) escort? You have previously laid out a case where two surface groups may come down to gun range and as such, the naval firepower of the LCS could be utilized as a stopgap measure?

    11. "For example, the original ASuW module called for NLOS which, on paper, would have been a very effective area weapon with a 20+ mile range."

      Do you have any references for the system? The Wiki page does describe how the system works but I feel like I am not grasping the concept.

      From what I have read, it is similar to a VLS but focused on ASuW and much smaller to fit on the LCS. I might not be getting this but are there any benefits compared to a normal missile launcher like the SeaRAM?

      Now if you are referring to explicitly the issue of range then I could concur. That being said, why couldn't we extend the range of the SeaRAM? Is this another of those technological wonder that simply does the same job, just costlier?

    12. "why couldn't we extend the range of the SeaRAM?"

      The NLOS was to be a 'brilliant' munition. In area mode, the missiles would be fired as a group, arrive over the target area, establish a communications and sensing network among themselves, identify targets using visual imagery or other sensing modes, allocate targets, and attack. The entire 'cloud' of munitions would loiter over the target area for up to 30 minutes.

      The concept was a swarm or cloud of highly intelligent, loitering weapons that would suppress an area for up to 30 minutes. Combined with a 20+ mile range and acting with other LCS, it would have provided substantial ranged land or sea attack and suppression.

      At least, that was the theory.

      Of course, it didn't exist and never successfully developed and yet the Navy decided to bet on non-existent technology and opted to try to develop it concurrently as the ships were being built. It failed completely.

      However, on paper, you can see just how anemic the current ASuW module requirements are by comparison.

    13. "Prometheus, just a note, you are describing literally the original missions of the LCS concept. The only new thing that you describe is high speed and armed transport which has been disputed by CNO."

      I didn't realize that a LCS/JLENS merger was one of the original missions of the LCS.

  13. "The LCS has a 'crew' as large or larger than the Perry. They exist as dedicated shore support maintenance personnel."

    What I said was "A Destroyer has a crew of about 300, the LCS of about 80. Less manpower means less cost and fewer to lose." Since losing the ship will not also suck down the shore support personnel, you clearly missed my point.

    The "cost" I'm referring to is not money.

    1. I'll rephrase that, I mean that the "cost" is not losing a destroyer if a ship needs to be sent in -- losing less people, weapons and capability if it is sunk. Or using up a more costly destroyer chasing pirates and etc. Plus, I'm sure destroyers also have shore support maintenance personnel.

      So, I am referring to money, I suppose, but also the cost of using up a better ship and losing more sailors if the ship is hit. As we know, Destroyers are better but still are not good at taking hits.

    2. "Less manpower means less cost"

      Sure sounds like money!

    3. "Sure sounds like money!"

      "...and fewer to lose." does not.

  14. "Lacking any at-sea offload capability, the LCS can only transport to a full docking facility which greatly limits the usefulness."

    That is certainly an unfortunate drawback.

    It could serve as a small base with helicopters coming in to offload and others loading and taking supplies to shore. If a dock were available, it could prove useful but I don't mean to suggest that it is a modern day LST.

    1. The 'cargo' capacity of a -60 size helo (the LCS is not rated for larger helos) is extremely limited. For fun, you should do a calculation of the number of helo loads that would be required to load or unload an LCS. It's simply not a practical means of handling cargo.

    2. "The Army's UH-60L Black Hawk can carry 11 soldiers or 2,600 pounds (1,170 kg) of cargo or sling load 9,000 pounds (4,050 kg) of cargo.",Seahawk%20in%201983%20and%20the%20SH-60F%20in%201988.

      I don't know how many loads it would require to unload an LCS, but hopefully A LOT, since 9,000 lbs of cargo is not a trivial amount. Imagine 9,000 lbs of ammunition during heavy fighting. Or that much water, food or fuel. This especially when assuming that the ship would not start out empty to begin with.

    3. Helo cargo transport is useful only for relocating small quantities in zero threat conditions. The idea of using helos to load/unload a ship is beyond absurd for a host of reasons that I have neither the desire nor time to detail. Please do not pursue this. Thank you.

  15. In general, there's nothing wrong with concurrency, providing your design is well-thought out with proven technology and your risks are low. We had success before, the first seven Spruance-class ships were laid down within 18 months of each other. And, the first six Burkes were commissioned within 3 years of each other.

    1. I don't think you understand what concurrency is. It's the simultaneous conduct of development (design, technology, etc.) with production. For example, the LCS production was begun before the ship design and construction blueprints were anywhere near being done. Another example is the Ford which began construction with no EMALS (or AAG or weapon elevators or …) in existence. They were being developed as the ship was being built.

      Concurrency doesn't mean having multiple ships under construction at the same time. There's nothing wrong with that, at all, as long as the design is set, as you note.

  16. While I won't go as extreme as michael woltman, here's my crazy idea:

    I'm going with 3 ideas here: 1) A ship that can successfully handle just one mission type is superior to a ship that attempts many mission types and falls short on all of them. 2) A ship that is reliably operating is superior to a ship that's dead in the water. 3) Since we practically can't give them away, if we can get ANYTHING positive out of them, then that's good

    First, get rid of the gas turbines and set it for diesel only operation. That should be able to allow much more reliable operation, potentially more fuel capacity, and lower weight. While that will limit the top speed to a kind of pathetic 20 knots or so, having it actually running and with possibly more range are worth it

    Second, minimize the weaponry and keep it cheap-ish. LCS's are NOT going toe-to-toe with a frigate, much less a destroyer. Keep a gun on it + some sort of cheapish anti-ship missile + seaRAM and barely anything else. Ship to ship fighting won't be it's future role, it just needs enough so that it's not just a target

    Third, convert the Independence class into dedicated sub hunters. See if you can cram at least one more Fire Scout onto it

    Fourth, convert 1/2 of the Freedom class into Cyclone replacements (adding ocean going patrol boat weaponry / equipment as necessary)

    Fifth, convert the other half of the Freedom class into a dedicated MCM platform. Obviously this would be hot garbage compared to a dedicated MCM boat, but with the retirement of the Avengers, something quarter-assed is better than nothing. If this means running them unmanned through a minefield, then I'm all for it

    I don't consider any of this to be decent, much less good. But that's what I'd look at if I was tasked with getting anything out of them...

    1. Why replace the Cyclones with a poorly designed ship that is too big for the job, too expensive and would have to be heavily refitted.

      You want to replace the Cyclones. Buy a modified working ship the Sentinel-class cutter. Bolt on upgraded Typhoon and Mini Typoon remote weapons stations (preferably at least one with the gun and missiles). Loose the boat and you have room another gun or anti ship missiles.

      There is simply no good reason to try and save the LCS.

    2. We have about $20 billion good reasons to try and turn the LCS into something useful. Ditching GT on an already built ship obviously is infeasible. But there remains a lot of avenues for productive use if the Navy ever gets its collective head out of its rear end.

  17. I thought of a use for the Indy Class LCS.

    Single use amphibious assault ship.

    Current problems with amphibious assault is that equipment and troops are concentrated in large target barges, and the landing craft are slooowwwww.

    15 Indy Class ships which can sprint 1500nm at 35 knots and beach themselves, while firing the 57mm gun for covering fire , seems like a reasonable use. Sure, it can't carry heavy vehicles, but it can carry a lot of other marines and light arms and supplies.

    Hey, use what you've got, even if it's a lemon.


    1. That sounds like a one-and-done deal. The done might be the best part.

    2. One question. Once it's beached, how do the troops offload?

    3. HI CDR,

      I envisaged the LCS's being a single use amphibious assault vessel. As for how they offload, I imagine a bunch of ladders or ramps would be made prior to sailing. So open rear and side doors, drop ladders, climb down. Or can use the sort of jump chutes commercial airplanes use for planes in the water. So the bulk of the ship faces forward as a physical shield, while everyone gets off, once the LCS is beached.

      Since I'm a full armchair amateur, I have no issue if you want to make corrections or tell me this idea won't work.


    4. The best part of that plan is that you get rid of an LCS.

      Interesting concept. The idea of the ship as shield works if you are offloading via the stern, but if you go over the side you are going to be badly exposed for a period.

      I have had a similar thought about LSTs. They come in close and drop off the LVTs as the first wave, because they are smaller and shallower draft. If they get hit in the process, maybe they just go beach and offload directly. It wouldn't work with a Newport, but if you had a conventional T that could get a dry ramp, it might be a way to get the armor into the battle early.

  18. Related sort of. GAO report on Mission Capable rates of US military aircraft makes for ugly reading.

    Seems to me the USN would be better served by crashing the the LCS to sinkex no and start figuring how raise those aircraft rates directly. Presumably by spending on things it hates, personal, training, maintenance, spare parts logistics instead shiny wonder toys or another laser demonstrator.

    1. "personal, training, maintenance, spare parts logistics"

      The Navy is not going to like that, but that's exactly what they should be doing.

  19. Our Navy is Conquests' law #3 in action: The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.

  20. "Conquest" ? Oh lord, we have got there. I have destroyed Conquest 20 years ago, but in this case he was correct. It was always weird to see Conquest confirming what Nixon said. Conquest was just trying to make a buck off the truth through communist subversion

  21. What works in war?

    Does it work better to out-gadget the other guys, or does it work better to have reliable systems that you know you can execute?

  22. My thought was to add an elevator capable of handling a helo and use the mission bay as a hanger deck. Unfortunately, you would probably need to remove the GT to make room and reduce weight.

    My main worry is that the trimaran will be considered a failure, when it was the execution of the program that was at fault.


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