A heavy duty LCS for foreign navies. Maybe.

A heavy duty LCS for foreign navies. Maybe.

Lockheed Martin says its second littoral combat ship, the USS Fort Worth, is 87 percent complete. It’ll start work on its third and fourth ships over the coming year. The U.S. Navy wants at least 55 LCSes. From the defense contractor’s standpoint, Lockheed’s return to shipbuilding looks like a success: It is moving toward steady production of a stable design and will likely be able to book many hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of the program. (Lockheed’s first LCS, the Freedom, didn’t go so smoothly, and it cost much, much more than initially advertised.)

From the Navy’s standpoint, the LCS concept may not look so good anymore, given the murky prospects for the interchangeable mission equipment the sea service is counting on. But commanders at least seem satisfied that the ships work, and Lockheed officials would like to take that and translate it into a version for international navies. The ship that Lockheed could sell to the navy of Saudi Arabia or another foreign client might have many more features and weapons than the ones flying the Stars and Stripes.

Bob Riche, Lockheed’s vice president for seaframe sea-based missile defense, said the company has looked at designing an LCS like the Fort Worth equipped with the Aegis system, including a SPY-1F radar and sets of vertical launch tubes for SM-2, SM-3, Evolved Sea Sparrow or other missiles. (Neither version of the standard U.S. LCS has any of that stuff.) Riche acknowledged that the additional sensors and weapons would require a lot more power, which would probably mean the Aegis-equipped LCS couldn’t shred the ocean at 45 knots like its American counterpart. But a Saudi or other navy wanting a small air and missile defense frigate might not need the high sprint speed that U.S. Navy asked for. And the international LCS probably would not be able to accept the various mission modules built for the American one.

Although Stevens and Paul Lemmo, Lockheed’s vice president of business development, both said the company was interested in foreign military sales on LCS, they also both acknowledged it would be years before it happens — if it ever does. Meanwhile the best way to entice foreign interest is for Lockheed and the U.S. Navy to keep on time and on budget with the Fort Worth and its siblings, Stevens said.


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Good Afternoon Folks,

Boy this is a real kick in the kester to all of those who have been supporting the LCS over the years. The US tax payer has been held up and had his/her pockets picked by L/M and other Contractors and now they are planning on selling a ungraded version to foreign Navies.

So much for Patriotism LM and all the other corporate scum who are defense contractors are only concerned about the bottom line. They have drained the US taxpayer and now they want to make more profits. Memo to Congress and President Bush cancel the LCS and wait till the better cheaper one hits the market.

Byron Skinner

There is better out there.

“Memo to Congress and President Bush” ???

Allons Byron, it’s time to take your pills.

BS Byron. Is now defining patriotism as agreeing w him. Wow. I lined it better when all he did was play the race card if you criticize his little boy president.

this ship has no long range surface capabilities and no torpedoes. I’m sorry but this need VLS so it can carry harpoons and long range ground attack missiles. The only thing they can do right now is sweep for mines, they can’t even support tropps over 10 miles inland or hit ships unless they are right in its face. Lets get some long range weapon capabilityes on these coomee on congreesss.

VLS, Really — now who is selling a bill of goods. Lockheed couldn’t put a VLS, much less the associated FCS on an LCS if the company’s future depended on it!

However, since they bring it up, it should have and should have had from the beginning a vertical launch Evolved Sea Sparrow!

Hardly news, there always was an export option being floated by them. I remember looking at the power point slide probably 2 years ago, if not more. In fact both versions touted export models and both versions discussed VLS integration. I can’t remember which was which, but one couldn’t handle full length VLS cells. This is still very political. The USN could simply order the LCS export version but that would mean accepting and stating the module approach is a dud, the going fast as a speed boat was a bad idea, and that leadership doesn’t know what it’s doing. All very difficult issues to overcome in DC.

Wait a sec, aren’t both LCS versions adaptations of “foreign” designs? I would love to see the reaction at the original shipyards on how exportable their design is.

They need to stop building these things. The navy will need combat ships in the pacific, not speedy humvee and uav transports.

basically a frigate replacement/conversion

For the amount we’re currently paying for the LCS, it should have all of these capabilities being advertised here already.

The LCS has some nice features, mainly high speed and good helicopter facilities, but it is lacking in too many areas. Was too much sacrificed to get that 45 knot speed? I’ll leave that to those who know about warship design, but it seems like it.

Could had bought 2 for one from germany with the fire power and speed needed or had bought the visby stealth ships from sweeden with lots more fire power and saved money per purchase forcing the American companies to bring their cost down. The LCS needs a 5″ main gun — MK38 mod 2’s on each side — two mk 32 triple torpedo tubes — two CIWS — a tb23 towed sonar array — UGM139 box launchers — and two avengers. Install more bunks and two more motor generators and you wont hurt speed and have a heck of a lil gun boat on the cheap, forget this module BS and make it ready for anything at any time.

He’s a bit behind on current events as usual :) And no where in there did I hear an upgraded version… but a completely different variant altogether. Likely referring to a LCS Gen 2 type platform… seeing how its new technology and such. But with your Bush reference I doubt you took the time to read the article.

I don’t get the rationale for SM-2/3/6 capability from an LCS hull: the thing isn’t now, nor should ever be considered, a suitable carrier escort needing such long-ranged ABM capability.

As it sits now, ESSMs are barely smaller than the Patriot PAC-3s, which seem to be a reasonable enough missile airframe to do that task.
Take also into account THAAD: it’s no where near the size of an ABM SM-3.
Why couldn’t navalization of these land-based missiles types give an LCS-sized hull more than sufficient air defense capability…?
(ESSM DID evolved out of Sea Sparrow, which itself evolved from an air-launched weapon…)

Worst case scenario, take those NASAMS AMRAAM systems that Norway developed, and marinize those for the hull (with the Israeli-US Stunner providing ABM).
Choking the LCS with big missiles like SM-3 types, which severely limits the useful number of warshots in such a hull, seems like a waste,
when numerous smaller missiles are more than sufficient for the Aegis/SPY radar suites an LCS hull could carry.
ESSMs and renewed interest in a naval Guided MLRS would give the USN and many others far more capability than the LCS currently has.

this reminds me of the pentagon wars movie and the “israeli” version of the bradley

So, you’re changing the design requirements AFTER you see the product?

You’re a clown. Who do you think gives the contractors their requirements? Not the contractors. When you rely on gov’t contracts, it doesn’t seem like a good business model to screw over the hand that feeds you to purposefully deliver inferior products, now does it? Take your pills and then attempt a rational thought.

VLS also includes things like ASROC, since the class is supposed to hunts subs it might be nice to have something to shoot at them when you find them.

The design requirements were almost smart. Unfortunately, missing on weapons flexibility is the height of stupid. NAVSEA managed to turn LCS into a wreck. Kind of like the LPD-17 project (terrible reliability, poor workmanship, double advertised costs, no drop in cost over 10 ships) and DDG-1000 (Graf Spee sized “stealth” ship, from 32 to terminated at 3).

The past decade of ship design & build for the US Navy has been a major fail (despite the flak they take, the new CVN-78 carriers may actually work, so we’ll have to see), and the effects will be felt for a generation. There are lots of places to point fingers, but the Navy itself has to be location #1. Maybe #2 and 3 too.

Blatherings like Byron’s have the unfortunate effect of obscuring what should be a very serious, and alarmed, discussion.

LCS = jetski with a bb gun

just wrote a paper about this actually. The whole ship as it exist now is a mix of three different designs put forward as part of the streetfighter concept several years ago. They sold the designs as being reconfigurable in one day, that has now changed to 96 hours. This requires port time, as they have no tenders, and each mission package focuses on a single mission. This would not be so bad except there were sacrifices made to meet the speed requirements. Depending on what you read, the speed is needed to cut transit time, or provides some kind of tactical advantage. I have yet to see ship that can out run a missile, nor have I seen a situation in which speed has been useful in clearing mine fields. Same for sub hunting, as extra noise is counterproductive when listening is key. The ship does not even have the capability to detect torpedoes without it’s unmanned water based platforms, and no thought seems to have been given to what might happen if these were lost. except for surface and limited air threats , all others must be met by unmanned vehicles, one of which wandered into the greater D.C. area not too long ago after control was lost. I would take more FFG-8s sooner than one of these.

You have a vertically launched Harpoon? Cool! The US Navy will be happy to hear that you’ve worked through the $100 million in testing to prove that it’s safe and effective under all required conditions.

Right, Switchblade. Lockheed doesn’t know a darn thing about VLS, except for the nearly 6,000 cells they’ve built and installed on DDG-51 class to date. Oh, and the 2,000 or so they’ve built and installed on CG-52 class. And the Spanish frigates, Japanese destroyers, Korean destroyers, Norwegian frigates, and Australian destroyers (currently under construction).

Small boat swarms shouldnt be one of the main points in a ocean going warships design.

Well, can cross oceans , but it is really design for small close to shore areas… Problem is that it seems to be designed to fight pirates rather than modern missile boat, most of which carry the weapons as the larger surface vessels, but in smaller numbers. If such an enemy were encountered the LCS would have to sit back and hope the enemy ran out of antiship missiles before the rolling air frame launcher ran out on the LCS. Then, the LCS might be able to close and use guns or the shorter range nlos missile replacement that they are debating now.

VLS harpoons have been around for a LONG time, they carry 4 in the slot.

And yet even these simple requirements cannot be met. The level of greed and incompetence in the LCS program is a disgrace.

As Lockheed says they cant sell these barely armed ferries to anyone else because the whole program is depends on corruption.

Nice list of late and overrun programs.

All of our DDG-51s don’t look late and overrun to me. And if our allies are having trouble with said ships, I don’t think that is the problem with the VLS. But of course you would find a reason to blame America for another nation’s procurement problems, that’s what you do.

The Austal design could probably mount a “Tactical” 8 cell MK 41 in the forward module location behind the Mk 110 gun (32 ESSM rounds). A flight II version of the ships could also incorporate “CEAFAR” radar that the ANZAC frigates are being retrofitted without making the ships too top heavy. Provide 2 fixed Mk 32 single tube jutting out from the torpedo magazine as some older ships have fitted and you can improve your ability to defend these platforms. I would swap the MK 110 with the newer OTO MELARA 76mm/Vulcano combo. The ships badly need a hull mounted sonar even if it is conformal. You should never only depend on a helicopter as your only ASW weapon. Sea state 4+ would negate the performance of any palletized system especially as you try to move it around the “Mission deck” in those conditions. Aircraft operations are also hindered. Any SSK skipper would take advantage of the reduced reaction times under these conditions.

The Lockheed Martin LCS design is very tight. Not much room at all for any additional sizable weapons. The Austal design is much more flexible — has much more capacity. And don’t think of these as gunboats. Think of them as helicopter pads. Most of their punch will come from the air.

Yes, LM and the other major defense contractors support international sales. Naturally, the reason is to bleed the US taxpayer before those funds will be spent on entitlements. Or is it possible, they support international sales because it will ultimately reduce the overall cost to the American taxpayer?? I have worked for a major defense contractor for 26+ years and I have spent a good portion of this time working overseas. I know for a fact that the international sales reduce the overall cost for the weapons system or ship to the US taxpayer. I also know it is hard for some people to believe that; especially since it is not a good news story. We as American’s spend far too much time listening to the opinion heads on the major news networks rather than researching the issue ourselves and basing our own opinion on this research.

LCS is a flunk design. To much demanded of one hull. The best thing would be to redraw for normal frigate speeds. Then just settle on a multipurpose design that is either strong in ASuW or ASW. We have enough MD in the Burks.


Using a vessel that has a hull so thin a ak-47 can go right threw it in the littorals to fight off small boat swarms and patrol is retarded.

As for a Aegis on a LCS? that thing will have shit range, and hell its already a maintanence Whore. Where are the LCS? In the ports getting repaired like they have been for awhile.

I understand Congress’ need to try to get “More bang for the Buck” BUT most of these congressmen have never seen or been in even a simulated combat situation. The biggest problem is that the concensus among the admirals & generals is that if you can’t make a weapon system fit a civilian mindset, you will lose money for your branch and/or lose brownie points. LCS has the potential to be a very good design but politcal pressure has made naval people add more than the design was called for. Let’s get thing straight, this is a FRIGATE not a destroyer. U.S. naval history has shown that frigates are light– weight ships designed to do one or two specific tasks. Modular weapons are nice ONLY if the weapons are already available. Give LCS a 3″ gun, VL– capable Harpoons, two-to-four Army ATACMS rockets for surface support & RAMs for aerial self-defense. The helo(s) can provide ASW support. If they do that, then the sky’s the limit for LCS.


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