USN, Lockheed: Foreign LCS Sales Could Lower Costs

USN, Lockheed: Foreign LCS Sales Could Lower Costs

Now that the U.S. Navy has decided to buy both classes of Littoral Combat Ship, the sea service and Lockheed Martin have begun to eye international sales as a way of further reducing the costs of the once-troubled program.

“Since the LCS program began, we’ve believed this was a ship of a size and of the cost that many international navies would be interested in,” said Paul Lemmo, vice president of Lockheed’s mission systems and sensors division during a Dec. 29 teleconference.

He then pointed out that the Saudi Arabian navy “has expressed interest” in buying an LCS type vessel and that Israel had at one point eyed Lockheed’s version of the ship.

“I think those are two signs that this will be an attractive platform for the international market,” said Lemmo.

Most importantly, “any construction here in the U.S. for foreign navies will hopefully reap benefits for the U.S. Navy in terms of cost savings for their ships.”

Earlier in the month, Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Gary Roughhead told lawmakers the same thing when urging them to allow the Navy to buy both classes of ship.

“I also believe The designs of the ships and flexibility of the ships, and also the costs of the ships, open up the potential for foreign military sales that would otherwise not be there,” said Roughhead during a Dec. 14 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

On Dec. 29 the Navy awarded Lockheed Martin and Austal USA contracts valued at more than $430 million apiece to start work building the first of what could be a total purchase of 20 ships split evenly between the two companies between now and 2015.

Lockheed makes the Freedom Class LCS while Austal USA makes the Independence Class vessel.

We’ll see what happens on the international market for the vessels, which the U.S. Navy expects to cost about $440 million each. Concerns remain over the costs of establishing a common combat system for both classes as well as the progress being made on the ships mission modules, which have encountered testing difficulties.

The U.S. plans to eventually buy a total of 55 LCSs.

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This article is historically challenged.

$440 for a hull with not much in it. Hype of the woefully untested mission packages doesn’t help either. Add in all that money and any customer can get a better ship somewhere else for “littoral” operations that is more effective. Buyer be aware. Add in the total amount of money and you can get a nice blue-water ship with more firepower and less fuel burn that isn’t a paper tiger.

Lemmo’s word-smithing about Israel needs some help. A backgrounder on Israeli warships as it pertains to their look at the LCS is here–they say “no”–

–That does not agree with the hype claimed in the above article. Funny too how the two possible foreign “customers” mentioned are those that receive tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer aid for military hardware. Yeah I’m excited about the LCS world market potential. I don’t think taking the product from the south side of a north-bound bull and putting it in a pretty box with a bow on it is a useful marketing strategy.

Let’s get real. Foreigners aren’t going to buy American warships ships, especially if they have a shipbuilding industry to maintain. American warships are too costly, and foreigners can build a simpler one in less time without the nonsensical bells and whistles. Plus, who is going to want that Austal LCS cersion maintenance nightmare? It’s bigger than most cruisers! Plus, a 40% built-in cost growth before the contractor sucks it all up. Give me a break — they will hit that ceiling in record time. Where’s the Navy’s hard drive to drive down the costs?

This whole 20-ship, two shipbuilders deal is so the Navy can lock-in procurement of some ships, regardless of which kind, so they don’t get their budget cut. But in their rush, they may be buying the wrong product. A few high-speed patrol boats will put these bloated Navy boats out of action fast! They look like $440 million and counting (not including their modular packages — a nice way to disguise their true cost) targets to me. (And I like the surface Navy.)

I wish there was more time given to have the lead ships actually prove in the field what they are able to bring to the table. I think their jumping into buying these ships too soon.

Hopefully if these ships were ever built in the states they would be built up in Maine at BIW. They make the best warships in the world, and got locked out of the LCS bidding. They are stuck building the DDG-1000 class ship, the ship the Navy doesn’t even want. What a waste of talent.

I have heard the Freedom class is top heavy due to the size of its superstructure relative to the monohull, leading to eccessive roll in heavy seas. Who knows if its true, I certainly didn’t expect the trimaran to lose, the navy will protect the research funding for that hull form. Maybe buying both boats prevents a certain contract challenge by LMT, who has the cheaper boat.

The naysayers about the all aluminum Independence fail to understand that the Freedom class’s superstructure is aluminum as well ( to save topweight ), although the hull itself is steel. Given the falklands war experience, its the aluminum superstructures that catch fire, not the hulls so vulnerability is the same here for both classes in my opinion. I hear fire suppression is automated on both classes, which is awesome but I still think they will need more bunk space to make it all work as intended.

One of the customers originally thought interested in the LCS was Israel,
but Israel knows how to actually arm their ships.
The Italian 76mm does far better at surface bombardment,
their Barak 8 SAM system would adapt to LCS nicely, cheaper than SLAMRAAM (RIM-120),
and their Jumper missile system proves that Israel can build a better, WORKING NetFires system than the US.

US defense contractors with all their overruns and delays and repeated failures are destroying America’s warfighting abilities better than any enemy ever could.

Hmmm.…Saudia Arabia has “expressed interest”. How nice. I was at the Porsche dealer last month expressing interest.…

What foreign nation other than our European friends (who have money and capabilities to build their own ships) can afford a costly, little boat with few weapons?

No, they weren’t “locked out” — they backed out on their own so that they could make a grab for the secondary build contract. When the Navy changed their strategy (that’s the fourth time for anyone keeping count), they lost out but it was due to their own decisions and the Navy’s (constantly) changing policy.

Also, if I recall correctly, BIW is a subsidiary of GD which is one of the principle contractors on the Austal design. Still think they got locked out? Or did the parent company tell them to keep quiet since GD won on the whole?

Good Afternoon Folks,

I agree with the opinions stated here that $400 million for an empty haul is a bit too high for the LCS. especially when ready to fight Frigates cost on the world market in the $100 million class, and the French have a rather impressive Corvette they are making mostly with export in mind for $50 million USD’s.

The only customer I see is Israel who like with 20 F-35’s will expect them as a gift and will lobby Congress for there “present” with the same old tired whine about worn out poor Israel and all the big bad Arabs.

Well OK, Saudi Arabia yea maybe, if the deal is right, they will pay full boat US taxpayer costs up front, but be at the back door for a new port for the LUC’s built by the US, of course US LCS’s in the area could use this port for the standard fees.

For the money the France, SKorea, Japan, Italy, Brazil and Germany (if the will sell to the US), Sweden, Canada, UK etc all make either one or both Frigates or Corvettes that are far better values the the American LCS. Another thing, is if one of these hauls proves to be something special it will be copied by the above mentions countries and sold under the American price.

Last item. Congress is now looking at funding the CGN(X) and the first idea out of the shoot is to take and expand the DD 51 haul which is very successful as a DD haul, don’t, build a Cruiser for the keel up. Using the DD 51 haul is false economy that will cost more during the like cycle of the new CGN(X)The CG-47’s were Spruce hauls in an effort to save money, well a DD is not a CG and the builder ended up have to put tons of cement ballast in them for sea worthiness. This extra weight is costing the tax payers every day a CG –47 is at sea in wasted fuel to move the extra weight around the world oceans.

It is unfortunate for the US tax payer that Congress has to do business in such a manner that we are stuck buying expensive ships that will require at least another $200 million above the $440 million to be operational.

Byron Skinner

If the price is reduced, we should double or tripple the purchase.

When you buy a naval boat, you don’t have to show the whole world your hand of cards by hanging a gun off of every square inch.

However, if you look at how much space these modern weapon systems take, many look like you just bolt it onto the side and run a power/fiber cable into the superstructure/battle computer. If a full scale naval war broke out, I bet the navy would bolt down 2 more .50 calibers at each station already having 1, 2–4 more RAM launchers, and of course self sealed and launched torpedos onto each hull.

But without a current conflict, why spend money on all those weapons that need to be maintained and become outdated over time while showing the world how much you can carry. No, better to leave the hulls armed to the extent we need it immediately.

LCS will now by made to commercial ship structural standards instead of military in order to keep the price down. In english that means they wont be that tough.

The problem is that the LCSs were to have “plug & play” modular weapons systems that allowed them a customized weapons lay out to fit the mission at hand. Unfortunately, however, these modules aren’t working just yet and so the LCSs are currently woefully underarmed which is what some of the commentors are complaining about. What that gives us right now is a frigate (give or take) sized ship with the armor and armament of a patrol boat at best.

Bad Choice, the Raytheon LCS was a much better boat and at about 50% of the cost! Need to get these guys away from their desks and on sea duty to see what is really needed.


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