The path not taken.
- Oct 9, 2009
- Reaction score
The chorus of criticism facing the first ships of the Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) class calls for a little historical context to be brought to this debate. Almost all new ship classes experienced considerable “birthing pains” in their early days.
This is not new. Indeed, the first six frigates acquired by the American Navy in 1797 all came in late and over budget.
The most strident criticisms about LCS focus on the USS Freedom (LCS-1, built by Lockheed Martin) and Independence (LCS-2, built by General Dynamics and Austal), which in addition to being the firsts of their respective ship design types, are essentially research and development firsts-of-class ships –– virtual prototypes. This means that these ships are experimental with characteristics, issues and challenges that will be corrected in follow-on ships. The Navy contributed to this situation, describing the lead units of both variants as “Sea Frame 0” platforms, begging the question: “what’s a ‘Sea Frame,’ anyway?
Hagel aboard USS Freedom
SecDef Hagel tours the USS Freedom in Singapore at Changi Naval Base.
All the first-of-class surface warships in recent Navy history have experienced significant problems to one degree or another, all of which generated considerable criticism at the time of their construction and initial deployment.
The Knox class frigates (which achieved Initial Operational Capability in 1969) were labeled as “McNamara’s Folly” after then-Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and were often criticized for their single screw, single gun, and design-to-cost approach. Originally designated as destroyer-escorts, the entire class was re-classified as frigates in 1975 (in a general re-classification of U.S. surface warships), but were forever compared unfavorably to “real” destroyers.
Spruance class destroyers (IOC 1975) were criticized as bit 7,900 ton “destroyers” possessing only two five-inch guns and an ASROC launcher. They were hardly more capable than the still-in service World War II-era destroyers upgraded as part of the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) program. But the ships’ critics conveniently ignored other key facts that the Spruance-class was also helicopter capable, equipped with NATO Sea Sparrow Self Defense Missiles, and boasted a powerful bow mounted sonar. At the time, criticism of the Spruance ships was loud, strident and frequent.
The Perry class frigates (IOC 1977), much admired by many LCS critics, were unfavorably branded by as “square pegs” when they were first deployed. Criticism of the Perrys was fierce, including such charges as the ships had only a single shaft and were not survivable and suffered from the lack of main propulsion redundancy; they were problem-prone and had unreliable ship’s service diesel generators; a power-limited “fish finder” high-frequency sonar; and the Oto Malera 76mm was derided as a “pop gun” rather than a “proper” 5-inch gun. On top of all that, the critics said and the crew was too small and was unable to operate and maintain the ships properly. These echo many of today’s criticisms of LCS.
The Ticonderoga class cruisers fared little better when the lead ship first deployed in December 1983. Gallons of ink were spilled about how top heavy the ships were. They had weight and moment restrictions, suffered from poor sea keeping characteristics, and had unreliable “hydraulic fluid rain forest” MK26 missile launchers.
The Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyers didn’t face as much criticism as its predecessors, but it was still roundly derided for having only a helicopter “lily pad” without an onboard hangar. Its engineering spaces with their low overheads bulged with pipes and cables. It was also said that the first ship, Arleigh Burke, was rebuilt three times over before final delivery because of an immature design, problems with sharing software between shipyards, and the late addition of “stealth” features.
Despite the early criticisms of almost every recent surface warship firsts of class, the Navy was able to successfully address the initial criticisms and fix their shortcomings. The criticisms of the Perry class ships were overcome in time, especially after the upgraded Coherent Receiver/Transmitter (CORT) combat systems were introduced.
The Spruance class evolved into a first rate anti-submarine warfare platform, with the Navy augmenting the original SQS-53 bow-mounted sonar with towed acoustic arrays in several ships of the class. Intelligence collection spaces were added aboard several ships, and the addition of Tomahawk cruise missiles, weapons that revolutionized the surface Navy by giving it a robust land attack warfare capability, were added later on. The four Kidd variants embarked improved MK26 launchers. Their design was the basis for the Ticonderoga guided missile cruisers.
The Ticonderoga class evolved into the premier anti-aircraft warfare platform in the world, and they too were fitted out with the MK41 vertical launching systems (VLS) to replace the MK26 missile launchers when VLS matured. In 2013, select ships have been upgraded to capable ballistic missile defense (BMD) assets. And what about the Arleigh Burke destroyers? Not only were later Flight II versions outfitted with helicopter hangars, but they have evolved into what many naval experts say are the most capable surface warships ever built, capable of integrated AAW, ASW, BDM, and strike warfare missions.
Given the Navy’s history of initial issues and challenges, which the first ship of almost every modern surface combatant class has faced, are the challenges confronting USS Freedom and Independence significantly different? While it of course would be ideal if the first ships of any warship class would be delivered ready to go to war. It would be nice, but why should we expect less of the LCS firsts-of-class than the Spruance, Perry, Ticos, and Burkes have all achieved over time?
While some first-of-class ships are more highly criticized than others, the extent of negativity seems mostly attributable to the degree or amount of “newness” inherent in the ship’s design. The more “newness” that exists, the greater is the level of criticism. With LCS, which uniformed and civilian Navy leaders have universally said will usher in a new era in terms of how the Navy will conduct overseas presence and engagement, that “newness factor” is high. The Ticonderoga and Burke classes fared better, in terms of the overall level of criticism, compared to that leveled at lead ships of the Knox, Perry and Spruance classes, and now Freedom and Independence.
Part of this is attributable to the fact that Ticonderoga evolved from the already understood Spruance class, taking advantage of the same hull design and propulsion plant, but adding a new combat system. The Burke evolved from the Ticonderoga with the same combat system and propulsion plant, but a different hull design.
However, the Perry FFG began as a blank sheet of paper––originally conceived as a “Patrol Frigate” (PF-109)––with a significant amount of “newness”: new hull , new engineering plant, new sonar, new gun, and a new minimal-manning crew concept.
The LCS firsts-of-class are similarly “highly new”: new hull designs, new requirement for high speed, modular mission packages, heavy reliance on off-board vehicles for sensing and scouting, very minimal manning, crew swap, new shipbuilders, and a contractor supported maintenance strategy. Moreover, the Freedom and Indepedence are replacing three classes in terms of numbers, if not precisely in mission requirements: Cyclone class PCs, Perry class FFGs, and Avenger class MCMs. Given this degree of “newness,” it should not be surprising that LCS has generated so much public turbulence in the early stages of the programs.
The level of criticism being directed at LCS will most likely continue until additional ships of both the Freedom and Independence classes are delivered and deployed. Key to all this will be the fact that officers and sailors will learn in minute detail how to operate and maintain them––and unlock the operational flexibility and adaptability that Navy officials maintain are inherent in their respective designs.
Recent Navy history vividly demonstrates that the first ship of every class faced obstacles. We should maintain perspective: every new class of warship debuts to a chorus of critics
Robert Holzer, senior national security manager at Gryphon Technologies, was director of outreach for the Pentagon’s Office of Force Transformation and the longtime naval correspondent for Defense News. He is not working on LCS for any of the companies building the ships.
The U.S. Navy could start its investigation into its new surface-to-surface missile for its Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program as early as next year, Naval Sea System Command officials told USNI News on Monday.
Currently, NAVSEA is testing the Raytheon Griffin IIB as part of the Surface Warfare (SuW) mission package, only, “as an interim capability,” according to a statement provided to USNI News.
“Subject to funds availability, detailed work on the solicitation contents could start in FY 2014,” NAVSEA said.
“Since this is planned competitive procurement, additional details will be released in the future, as required by Federal procurement regulations, by the cognizant contracting activity.”
The surface-to-surface missile is major missing component of the SuW package. A joint missile with a 25-mile range under development by the Army and the Navy — NLOS-LS — was deemed too expensive and canceled after more than $1 billion in development funds.
USS Freedom (LCS 1) is underway off the coast of Malaysia on June, 20 2013. US Navy Photo
The Navy selected Griffin in early 2011 as an interim capability. The Griffin is 43-inch missile was developed for U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and weighs 33 pound with a 13 pound warhead. The missile is GPS guided and has been thought to have been used by SOCOM from airborne platforms. There is also a ground variant, though the surface-to-surface version only has a range of about 3.5 miles.
Last year the missile was successfully tested by the Navy engaging small boat targets, according to the company.
“Right now, this version of the Griffin probably doesn’t ultimately have enough range for this customer so we’re on LCS increment 1 with this Griffin, but what we need to do is, with what we’re calling a Sea Griffin, we need to put a bigger motor on the Griffin and give it some more range,” said Harry Schulte, vice president of air warfare systems for Raytheon’s missile systems business last week in a June, 23 report in Defense News.
Other competitors for the next increment could include the Sea Spear from European firm MBDA, reported Defense News.
You don't need something bigger than a truck to scare the sailors on this boat. Their weapon range is so severely short that a guy on a boat holding a rocket launcher is scary enoughOrionblamblam said:One wonders what plans the Navy has for things bigger than trucks hitting *them.*
Warships are built to last a long time, so when they are laid down they are in essence bets on the future. But legendary baseball great and sometime philosopher Yogi Berra had it right, “It’s tough making predictions… especially about the future!” The increasing cost of modern warships makes it even more important that these platforms are capable of changing as threats evolve or new breakthroughs in warfare emerge.
Lost in all the discussions and debate swirling around the design, engineering, construction, and introduction of the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is the most fundamental change in warship design since the introduction of the Vertical Launching System or the AEGIS Weapon System decades ago, and that is the concept of modularity. One of the most important characteristics of the LCS program is its inherent modularity and how that will facilitate affordable and timely modernization of the LCS ships throughout its expected 30-year service life. As is often the case in these technical debates, a look at history is helpful in understanding and placing modularity into a 21st-Century context.
The history of the World War II-era light cruiser the USS Little Rock (CL-92) showed how right Yogi was; her life was full of operational and technical surprises. She was laid down in 1943 as one of a large number of light cruisers that were just showing how effective they could be in combat versus Japanese cruisers in murderous night gun battles in the Solomon Islands. By the time she was completed in June 1945, her mission had changed, and the same cruisers were now wanted primarily to protect aircraft carriers, the fleet’s main striking arm. The war ended, however, before Little Rock could see actual combat, and the world’s geo-strategic situation soon changed dramatically.
Amid the postwar political disorder, it mattered a great deal that the United States could deploy powerful cruisers. Little Rock spent the early postwar years patrolling the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas – regions where the new Cold War was brewing. By 1949, however, money for defense was short and many cruisers like Little Rock had to be laid up. In 1943, very few observers could have imagined a nuclear world in which the U.S. Navy’s main priorities would be strike carriers and anti-submarine warfare, while general-purpose gunships like cruisers would no longer be essential.
The real surprise, however was that Little Rock was still valuable – because she was large enough to adapt to undertake new missions and to accommodate new technology. The new jets of the 1950s out-classed the shipboard anti-aircraft guns that had been so useful against kamikaze attacks in 1945, so the Navy led in the development of the first generation of ship-to-air guided missiles. It took a big ship to accommodate these new weapons, and in its inventory of war-built cruisers the Navy had exactly the right ships for this new mission.
Removed from “mothballs” in 1957, after three years of shipyard work and hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades, Little Rock was re-commissioned in June 1960, as one of the first guided missile cruisers (CLG/CG-4) in the Fleet. Not only did she carry missiles, she was also large enough to be outfitted as a fleet flagship. Both the missiles and the flagship capacity made her extremely useful in the new Cold War.
USS Little Rock light cruiser fires missile
Little Rock returned to the Mediterranean as flagship of the Sixth Fleet, the most powerful Navy flotilla in that turbulent arena. As such, she was present when war erupted in the Middle East in 1967. After the Israelis inadvertently attacked the Navy surveillance ship USS Liberty, Little Rock provided medical aid and other emergency assistance to the stricken U.S. warship. As a command ship, she served as the hub of NATO forces in the Eastern Mediterranean. Besides Mediterranean operations, in 1961 Little Rock steamed off Santo Domingo to provide command and control capabilities for U.S. forces trying to stabilize that country after dictator Rafael Trujillo was assassinated. The crises may have changed, but the United States is still vitally interested today in both of those regions in which the original Little Rock once steamed. Little Rock was decommissioned in 1976, after two separate naval lives and providing valuable service to the nation.
Former USS Little Rock as museum
In June 2013, the keel of a new USS Little Rock was laid. The latest incarnation is the Navy’s ninth Littoral Combat Ship (LCS-9), and her design reflects the great lesson of her predecessor’s life; ships last, but the world and missions can change quickly. The first Little Rock was never conceived to be re-built with entirely new weapons and electronics for new types of missions; no one could have imagined what those might be in 1943. The ship was worth re-building because she was large enough, fast enough and had a great deal of hull and machinery life still left in her. The second, latest iteration of Little Rock, on the other hand, is a very different proposition already. Change is at the core of her design. LCS-9 is conceived from the keel up to carry weapons and sensors that would be installed by placing standard shipping containers on board and connecting them to a “plug-and-fight” combat system.
Right now, the mission options are what might be expected for the littoral arena: anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and mine countermeasures. To support those options, the new Little Rock can carry helicopters – manned and unmanned – and she can launch unmanned surface and underwater craft. She is designed to connect not only with craft she may launch, but also with other off-board sensors and systems. Both the unmanned vehicles and the off-board systems will undoubtedly become more and more important over her lifetime. We don’t know exactly what new missions she may be called upon to perform at a future date, but we do know that adapting to changing missions cannot take three years of shipyard work and hundreds of millions of dollars before she is ready to confront those changing operational demands.
As the new Little Rock is designed and built, the Navy remembered the lesson of the past: change is inevitable, and the service must build ships that can change as needed. Accordingly, the new Little Rock will be able to swap in-and-out tailored mission packages quickly – on the order of days if not hours—vice months or years.
The other lesson of the two Little Rocks is that the sea does not change. There is a reason the cruiser Little Rock spent years in the Mediterranean in both of her incarnations, and a reason she also spent time in the Caribbean. The sea is still the main way in which the United States connects with the rest of the world – and in a globalized world, we cannot lose that intimate contact. It is the primary way in which the United States supports its friends and Allies abroad, because only by sea can we move masses of material, including airplanes.
The new Little Rock is a littoral combat ship because more and more of the action at sea is likely to be in the littorals – that strip of land influenced by what happens offshore, and the strip offshore influenced by what happens ashore. That means mine warfare, anti-ship missiles and diesel-electric submarines – operational problems the containerized, modular LCS systems are intended to surmount.
If the modularity concept is so important, why then have the LCS mission modules taken so long to develop and field? The short answer would seem to be that the overall LCS program was uncertain until the decision was ultimately made to pursue the 20-ship contract. Why press ahead on mission packages when the basic hull itself and the need for 45-knot speed were in question?
It would appear that the program is now at the point where the Navy can place increased focus and resources on modular mission packages. If successful, these packages will be available to support matter-of-fact upgrades, as well as respond to unforeseen advances in technology, for Little Rock (LCS -9) and her sister ships. In short, modularity is a terrific idea and – apart from aircraft carriers, which are inherently modular – the LCS is the only modular ship we have. We need to get it right. Modularity is the future.
In many ways Yogi Berra was right, predicting the future is tough. But Little Rock LCS-9 and her sisters will have the flexibility to respond to — if not anticipate — unforeseen change and take on new missions that we can only dimly forecast today.
More at the link.WASHINGTON — The office of the secretary of defense (OSD) has directed the Navy to limit its overall buy of littoral combat ships to a total of 32 ships, foregoing 20 more of the small, fast and controversial warships, Pentagon sources have confirmed.
The decision, in a Jan. 6 memo from acting deputy secretary of defense Christine Fox, came after the Pentagon received its final 2015 budget guidance from the White House. Several major acquisition decisions, including direction on what to do with the LCS program, were awaiting the numbers from the Office of Management and Budget.
Crystal City, Va. — The Navy’s acquisition executive said the service’s Littoral Combat Ship request for a 52 ship fleet “solid” and on track despite recent media reports that the Pentagon has directed a reduction in fleet size to 32 ships.
Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley would not address specifics about the LCS program contained in reports on the issue, choosing to highlight the programs merits and not comment ahead of the anticipated 2015 budget drop expected next month.
“We won’t talk about the ‘15 budget process until the ’15 budget goes to the Hill. We have a valid requirement for 52 ships and the program is performing strongly in terms of cost. We’re conducting operational testing in accordance with the schedule,” Stackley told reporters June 16[?] at the Surface Warfare Association Annual Symposium, Crystal City, Va.
Against small boats = yes. Unfortunately, many nations around the world are fielding or already have fast attack craft armed with anti-ship missile that can sit way out of range of the littoral combat ship with its tiny missiles. In addition to the LCS being such lightly armored ship that won't be able to continue its mission after being hit, there's no way for the LCS to retaliate against these fast attack craft.SpudmanWP said:
CRYSTAL CITY: The Littoral Combat Ship was supposed to be one of the fastest things in the fleet, but it seems like the skeptics – and the sequester – have caught up with it. The question is, what’s next?
After a Pentagon memo recommended slashing the program by more than a third — from 52 ships to 32 — its backers came out swinging. “We have heard for the past 12 years about the importance of the LCS to our future Navy,” House seapower subcommittee chairman Rep. Randy Forbes said in a press release Thursday afternoon. “Although this platform has had its share of development difficulties, I believe it has a necessary role to play in the future fleet.”
What’s more, LCS proponents have at least a year to reverse the decision. The Navy is locked into a long-term contract for Littoral Combat Ships that ends in fiscal year 2015 with the purchase of the 24th LCS. Short of breaking that contract and paying penalties, the Pentagon can do nothing to LCS in the budget it is currently preparing to send to Congress. “This year is another oversight year and next year is a decision year,” one Hill source told me. What will really decide the LCS’s fate is the next contract, which will be in the 2016 budget.
It’s also possible that there could be no new contract and no 2016 money at all, which would end the program at 24 ships. The 32-ship number leaked this week certainly has the smell of an internal Pentagon compromise between going the full 52 and stopping dead at 24. Noted naval analyst, author, and LCS critic Norman Polmar still hopes the slam-on-the-breaks school will prevail: “24 might be a better total number for the current LCS program,” he told me in an email.
Then there’s the bigger picture. However many Littoral Combat Ships are cut – and at least some will be in this brutal budget environment – the Navy needs to start thinking hard about what to buy instead. The deeper the cut, the faster they need to figure something out. Stopping LCS at 24 ships would have given the Navy only a year to figure out its next move. Even the 32-ship compromise means the last pair of ships would be bought no later than fiscal 2019, an eyeblink for developing a new warship design.
“With 20 fewer LCSs in the plan, I presume the Navy must be looking at another small or medium-sized combatant,” Eric Labs, a naval expert at the Congressional Budget Office, said Thursday at the Surface Navy Association’s annual conference. But what is the other ship? And for what purpose?
LCS is meant to enter shallow waters — the littorals — in order to either clear minefields, hunt enemy submarines, or fend off fast attack boats, depending on which of three plug-and-play “mission modules” is fitted to the basic hull. (Just to complicate things further, there are two radically different hull designs: a kind of giant speedboat built by Lockheed Martin and Marinette Marine; and a spaceship-like trimaran built by General Dynamics and Austal).
Are those three missions the right priorities?, asked Congressional Research Service analyst Ronald O’Rourke. If so, are they best done by the same ship? If so, should that ship be small and fast, like the LCS?
“What’s amazing to me is just how often and how far way the discussion of LCS drifted from these central questions,” O’Rourke said. Much of the fault was the Navy’s. For a decade, he said, “the Navy continued to throw more missions into the discussion and to further confuse the issue of what it is we were really supposed to be trying to accomplish with this program.”
But the mistakes began at the very beginning, O’Rourke went on: “The Navy, prior to announcing the LCS as its preferred solution for performing those missions, never performed a rigorous analysis of multiple concepts to show that a small, fast, modular ship was in fact the best and most promising way to do it.”
So controversial was the small-and-fast approach, in fact, that some in the Navy dubbed the LCS the “little f*cking ship.” The Pentagon’s notoriously independent Director of Operational Test & Evaluation said the design was too small and too lightly built to keep fighting after it took a hit in combat — not a fatal flaw for the supporting roles it was meant to fill, but definitely a flaw.
The LCS did get built — after massive initial cost overruns now under control — although maintenance problems have marred its performance, including electrical plant failures that left it adrift on its first overseas deployment. Now, after surviving all these problems and criticism, the program’s fate is again in question.
Cutting the Littoral Combat Ship reopens a debate at the heart of the Navy: Should the fleet continue its traditional approach of buying a relatively small number of relatively large ships, like its current workhorse the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke destroyer, or buy more, smaller vessels, like LCS? In fact, LCS was itself a scaled-up version of the late Adm. Arthur Cebrowski’s “Streetfighter” concept, a vessel intended to be so small and cheap it was effectively expendable. In the information age, Cebrowski argued, you didn’t have to put all your weapons and sensors on a single big ship: You could have multiple small vessels linked by a network and working in concert. If any one of them got sunk, you had plenty more.
Most Navy officers were aghast, unsurprisingly. Ever since the USS Constitution – “Old Ironsides” – with her famously cannonball-resistant hull, the US Navy has wanted ships that could take a hit and keep on fighting. The counterargument: In an era when a single suicide boat can cripple a destroyer (the USS Cole) or a single missile a frigate (the USS Stark), the Old Ironsides model just doesn’t apply anymore.
“These two sides in the debate almost seem to be talking past each other,” O’Rourke said. “A key point of departure, a fork in the road that sends the groups down different paths, has to do with a fundamental difference they appear to have on future surface ship survivability.”
The small-ship insurrectionists believe that bigger doesn’t mean much more robust, not in the face of modern weapons, and that incoming threats move too fast to stop. The Navy mainstream believes that size does matter and self-defense is possible. The Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, in particular argues that ships can protect themselves in the 21st century if they limit their own tell-tale electromagnetic emissions, deceive enemy targeting systems with electronic jamming or cyber warfare, and as a last resort shoot down incoming missiles with anti-missile missiles of their own — or, in the future, lasers.
That’s a debate that goes well beyond the Littoral Combat Ship and whatever comes after it. It also goes to how the Navy replaces its aging Arleigh Burke destroyers after it cancelled one replacement program and truncated the other, the DDG-1000, at just three ships. Upgraded Arleigh Burkes are now supposed to stay in service until 2072.
The Navy is already contemplating a “Future Surface Combatant,” said Rear Adm. Thomas Rowden, the Navy’s director of surface warfare (aka staff section N96). It will be “the later part of the ’20s when we’re going to start contracting for these… to replace our cruisers,” the aging Ticonderoga class, Rowden told the Surface Navy Association conference.
The admiral had a slide of what the new vessel might look like, but he made clear fundamental choices were on the table. That includes questioning the Navy’s longstanding preference for large, versatile “multi-mission ships” like the current DDG-51s, he said. What he did not say was that the alternative would be something like the LCS, which can do only one mission at a time, depending on which mission module is currently aboard.
One thing the Navy definitely does want is more electrical power to run everything from radars to jammers to future laser weapons and rail guns, as well as the ship’s propellers, off a single integrated system. “I think it is about integrated power on the right size ship. I think it is about the right weapons,” Rowden said. “I think it is about affordability, affordability, affordability.”
For the foreseeable future, affordability probably will be priority number one.
The Navy is not closing the door on integrating an Army missile into the weapons package for the sea service’s Littoral Combat Ship surface warfare mission package.
The Navy plans to continue tests on the Army’s Longbow Hellfire AGM-114L as a potential replacement to the Raytheon Griffin weapon aboard the Littoral Combat Ship, Capt. John Ailes, head of LCS mission module development, said Tuesday at the Surface Navy Association 2014 symposium in Crystal City, Va.
Program leaders and Army officials have conducted three live fire tests of the Lockheed Martn’s Longbow missile aboard a surface vessel designed to replicate the LCS deck, according to the company.
The missile are the primary close air support weapons aboard the Army’s AH-64D Apache attack helicopter.
However, Alies was quick to point out that all options for LCS armaments remain on the table.
Navy, Army and industry officials are “still working . . . to define the parameters” of what weapon combinations would best fit the the ship’s surface warfare mission package, Ailes said.
A decision on what that final weapon loadout for that particular mission module, the most advanced of the three packages aboard the LCS, is expected by 2020, he added.
Other LCS mission modules include mine countermeasure (MCM) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) packages.
But the flexibility of the Longbow, compared to the Raytheon-manufactured Griffin rocket, has garnered many fans inside the LCS program office, Ailes said.
The Army missile ability to track and engage multiple targets in a single strike is a key factor in the Longbow’s appeal to program officials.
In comparison, the Griffin’s laser-based tracking system only allows the weapon system to engage targets one at a time.
That targeting autonomy aboard the Longbow could be a possible game changer, given the type of threats, such as small-boat attacks, the LCS could encounter during combat deployments.
Navy leaders in 2011 selected the Griffin rocket to replace the defunct Non-Line of Sight Launch missile system that Navy officials initially planned to put onto the LCS.
The Navy teamed up with the Army on NLOS-LS acquisition, with the Army planning to field a version of the missile on their fleet of tactical vehicles.
But the the ground service was forced to cancel their portion of the weapon’s development, due to rising costs associated with that work.
At the time, Navy leaders admitted the Griffin lacks many of capabilities that NLOS had, especially against long-range targets.
As a result, Navy drafted plans to hold a competition for a follow-on, beyond the horizon missile to replace the Griffin by the end 2011, service officials said at the time.
Navy projections for its proposed Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) buy remains on solid footing heading into the Fiscal Year 2015 budget process, despite recent reports of pending reductions to the program.
“We have a valid requirement for 52 ships, and the program is performing strongly,” Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley told reporters on Thursday.
Testing and development on the high-profile warship remains on schedule, with senior Navy leaders expected to put the next four LCS ships on contract within the next few months, according to the Navy.
“So the Navy’s position on the LCS program is that it is solid,” Stackley said during a media briefing at the Surface Navy Association’s 2014 symposium in Crystal City, Va.
That said, the Navy acquisition chief declined to comment on, “any press reports to the contrary.”
Stackley’s comments come a day after a report in Defense News stated the the White House’s Office of Management and Budget ordered Navy leaders to slash the proposed LCS buy from 52 ships down to 32.
Acting deputy secretary of defense Christine Fox issued the order in a Jan. 6 memo, directing the Navy to implement the cuts in its upcoming FY 2015 budget proposal.
For his part, Stackley declined on Thursday to comment on the memo or the service’s FY ’15 plans
“We don’t talk about the [FY] 15 budget process until the  15 budget gets to [Capitol] Hill,” Stackley added.
Pentagon press secretary Read Adm. John Kirby reiterated Stackley’s comment noting the Pentagon-wide FY 2015 proposal “is not complete [but] its is near complete.”
In the last year, the services have plotted several different courses for budgeting that included alternative budget plans tied to budget restrictions imposed by sequestration cuts. The regular fully funded program objective memoranda (POM) was developed in tandem with a so-called alternative version (ALT POM).
In September a version of the ALT POM contained a cut to a mere 24 hulls, ending the program at the Navy’s current commitment to each variant of the ship.
U.S. intelligence officials have made informal inquiries to the Navy on whether the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) could be part of future intel operations across the globe.
Navy officials have conducted informal walkthroughs aboard an unspecified LCS variant with representatives from military and non-military intelligence agencies, Capt. Dan Brintzinghoffer with Naval Sea Systems Command Program Executive Office (PEO) LCS Wednesday said .
NAVSEA has previously said most of the informal LCS walkthroughs have been on the Freedom-class (LCS-1) hulls.
Brintzinghoffer, who heads ship introduction and sustainment for the LCS program with, said Navy officials have also conducted similar walkthroughs for Marine Corps and Special Operations Command leaders.
“There are all kinds of things we can do,” in terms of mission capabilities for both military and intelligence missions, Brintzinghoffer said after a briefing at the Surface Navy Association 2014 symposium in Crystal City, Va.
Military leaders in Quantico and in at Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla. have repeatedly expressed interest in the multi-mission capability the LCS could provide special operations teams and Marine units.
However, efforts by the intelligence community to leverage the ship for future operations is a relatively new development for the LCS program.
Brinzinghoffer declined to comment on which specific intel agencies have reached out to the program office, but noted the agencies who have inquired about the LCS cut across military and civilian organizations.
He also could not provide specifics on what intelligence capabilities or operations could be carried out aboard the LCS, but noted potential missions could run the gamut from collections to analysis in hot spots worldwide.
To date, there is no standing program of record to build any new mission packages for the ship, with program leaders focusing their efforts on standing up the three planned packages for the ship — surface warfare, mine countermeasures and anti-submarine warfare.
However, momentum inside the Navy to explore multi-mission options outside the service’s traditional operations is growing, Vice Adm. Tom Copeman, commander of U.S. Surface Forces, said Wednesday.
“It is picking up steam,” within the sea service, Copeman said during a reporter’s roundtable. But the three-star Admiral reiterated the Navy’s focus is to get the three initial mission module packages up and running first.
On the military side, both Marines and U.S. special operations forces are eying new mission module packages, specifically tailored to their expeditionary operations, aboard the LCS.
1. How will these small craft have OTH targeting?donnage99 said:Against small boats = yes. Unfortunately, many nations around the world are fielding or already have fast attack craft armed with anti-ship missile that can sit way out of range of the littoral combat ship with its tiny missiles. In addition to the LCS being such lightly armored ship that won't be able to continue its mission after being hit, there's no way for the LCS to retaliate against these fast attack craft.SpudmanWP said:
1. These craft do possess sensors necessary for the mission.SpudmanWP said:1. How will these small craft have OTH targeting?donnage99 said:Against small boats = yes. Unfortunately, many nations around the world are fielding or already have fast attack craft armed with anti-ship missile that can sit way out of range of the littoral combat ship with its tiny missiles. In addition to the LCS being such lightly armored ship that won't be able to continue its mission after being hit, there's no way for the LCS to retaliate against these fast attack craft.SpudmanWP said:
2. LCS does have both Soft and Hard kill defenses against AShMs.
3. Drones or the helos can attack FACs or whatever provides the OTH targeting before and after any attack.
4. LCS is no less able to continue a mission vs any other Frigate-sized ship after a AShM hit.
Depend on what types of ships we talking about. Simply type "missile boat" onto wikipedia search engine can yield significant results for your answer. LCS in its current form can fight off a swarm of inflatable boats armed with couple guys holding bazooka though, any more than that and Navy commanders would be hesitating.SpudmanWP said:Just saying it has an OTH sensor does not make it so.
What is it?
So, we can see that:LCS is not expected to be survivable in that it is not
expected to maintain mission capability after taking
a significant hit in a hostile combat environment.
This assessment is based on a review of LCS design
requirements, which do not require the inclusion of the
survivability features necessary to conduct sustained
operations in its expected combat environment.
First, calm down for a bit. No reason to get charged up. Second, a vague question can only be answered with equally generalized answer. Which type are you asking? That's like asking what specific radars do destroyers have? Well, which type of destroyer are we talking?SpudmanWP said:Holy krap.. just answer the question.
What OTH sensor does a FAC have?
The answer is simple, they do not have any.
What they have is surface search radars if they are luck. But if you are talking about "Swarm attacks" by unsophisticated enemies, they have to get within sight of the LCS to make an attack.
Instead of throwing around vague terms and telling others to "look it up", try providing sources to back up your claims.
I'll assume that you meant a realistic enemy. In this case China and its type 022. Unfortunately, type 022 sensors are not well known. However, images allow us to see that there are sensors that perhaps can update targeting from off board sensors (in which China is also vigorously fielding in the form of stealthy UAV). Another clue is the type of missile it carries, which has both onboard targeting system as well as data link to be updated and guided by either ships or aircraft.SpudmanWP said:The question was not vague, your answer was.
You claimed that “many nations” were fielding FACs with OTH capabilities. I simply asked which ones and what sensor.
The LCS is ordered at a rate and with a price tag to be one of the mainstay US navy warship, certainly not to fight with just pirates. The US navy is returning to a blue water battle group philosophy, being pushed further and further out to sea by rapidly deployed anti-access weapon systems. In a conflict with China, LCS would have to operate alone suicide style, or sit on the bench all together.On the issue of China or any other potential enemy of equal sophistication, the LCS will not be in the AO of a known high level threat alone. That is not in the plans.