Once eager, the Navy now bides its time

Once eager, the Navy now bides its time

Just a few years ago, a senior Navy admiral sat down in the Pentagon with the usual rogue’s gallery of defense hacks, including your correspondent, and talked about the future of the littoral combat ship.

Critical, essential, revolutionary, game-changing – the best thing to hit the ocean since the surfboard, he said, in so many words. At the time, the Navy planned to down-select from the two then-competing designs to just one, using the miracle of competition to save on a program that had already busted its budget projections. Still, the Navy would have one or two copies of the losing design it had already bought.

Next question: Should the fleet maintain just those one or two white elephants with their own unique maintenance needs, combat systems, training requirements and operational peculiarities? What, he was asked, would it do with the losers after the down-select?

The Navy would keep them and deploy them, the admiral said: “I need the ships.”

His onetime boss, then-Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark, put his support for LCS even more emphatically during his tenure: “I need them yesterday.”

But at the Navy’s biggest annual trade show this week, that onetime urgency has evaporated.

Neither LCS nor the Navy’s behemoth USS Zumwalt destroyer is set to do a real deployment before 2016, if then – that’s when LCS is supposed to get its important anti-submarine warfare kit and the Zumwalt will reach “initial operational capability.” An optimistic view is that it’ll be a banner year for the Navy, with two important new classes joining the fleet for the first time in a long while. Plus there’ll be new LCS ships popping in all the time, even if they might not have their mission equipment.

A pessimist, however, might point out that the dates for the arrival of the two new ship types are suspiciously close to the tail of the  future years defense plan, near the event horizon into which big programs sometimes vanish. Their arrival also is scheduled for a time when many people in a position of leadership today, from President Obama on down through the Building, no longer will be.

It’s difficult to know what to make of today’s leaders’ equanimity about waiting for the ships of the future. With the significant exception of Navy Undersecretary Robert Work, nobody in the service seems to be jumping up and down with excitement about LCS. Nobody says, “Damn the torpedoes, get the Independence out to the Gulf of Aden and let’s shoot the hell out of some pirates!”

The silence about Zumwalt is even heavier. Work didn’t mention it once during his seapower revival on Wednesday – in past he has hinted that he’s not a fan – and few people outside the program itself seemed to take much interest this week. When Big Navy talks about “destroyers,” it talks about the restarted Arleigh Burke class and the promise of the Flight III line, complete with Air and Missile Defense Radar.

Slow and steady wins the race, the Navy might say. You can only build ‘em so fast. Crawl-walk-run. Rome, as we’ve learned from naval analyst LeBron James, wasn’t built in one day.

There’s also a sense, however, that today’s Navy is regretting its inheritance. Before they even enter service, DDG 1000 and LCS could both already be artifacts of a bygone era, much as the Ticonderoga-class cruisers are artifacts of the early 1980s. Contrast the two new ship classes with the rhetoric of today’s leaders.

“Perfect will not work in the future,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said Tuesday. “It’s got to be good enough.” Meanwhile, he is “buying back” sea billets to reverse the dip in crew sizes; increasing live training events and generally trying to make sure the Navy can “shoot straight.” Greenert wants to explore “common hulls” to save money and expects tough talk from vendors about requirements discipline.

This is the same Navy that’s going to take delivery of two new classes bristling with advanced accessories; with crews so small they’ll rely on contractor-supported maintenance; and brook no “good enough” compromises in the pursuit of one high-end characteristic – speed for LCS and firepower for Zumwalt.

The Rumsfeld-era Pentagon that produced them is long gone. Listening to Greenert, the Navy of 2012 might not go ahead with either program if it were considering them today.

Too late, though; they’re in motion. The origins of the ships lie as much in politics as naval need: DDG 1000 was the deliverance of Bath Iron Works and the Navy’s parallel LCS classes brought it protection from two overlapping congressional circles. Meanwhile, the service must mothball seven of its cruisers in order to afford the upkeep on the remainder of its surface force – a force without three “contractor-supported” Zumwalts or 55 LCSes.

Not yet having to pay those maintenance costs could another reason why today’s brass is content to let the new ships arrive in their good time. That could also be why the chiefs of the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps seem content not to have an IOC date for the F-35 — they aren’t looking forward to paying an estimated $25,000 or more per flight hour.

There are even bigger problems lurking further in the future, including SSBN(X) – which Work admitted “keeps him up at night” – and the need to fund surface shipbuilding in time for the 2020s. If the Navy can’t get that right, it may barely have a fleet in the 2030s, Work warned.

Maybe it’s no surprise service officials don’t seem too eager for the future to arrive.

Join the Conversation

I give the USAF credit for having had the intestinal fortitude to “downselect” one of the two tanker contenders. I remember the passionate arguments in favor of a “dual procurement”, which former Defense Secretary Gates said would be a financial disaster.

Now contrast that with the USN ordering both variants of the flawed LCS. I suspect they did this to avoid the inevitable questioning from Congressional supporters of the losing side, knowing full well that the flaws of the class would come out during any testimony.

USN does not need the LCS “yesterday”, “today”, or “tomorrow”. They need real warships that can go into harms way, fight, and survive. The LCS can’t go into harms way w/o support, it can’t realistically do damage control, and it certainly cant take a missile hit and fight back.

The USN leadership needs to show some guts and throw in the towel on this thing. The USCG is clammoring for platforms. Give it to them.

To put it into the MBA-speak that’s so much in vogue in the Pentagon, “Where’s the “value proposition” on the LCS.”? So far, the Navy has avoided serious media scruntiny of this profligate exercise in wishful thinking. Hopefully, that won’t last. This is an election year after all.

I cant see why we cant send one LCS to a Good Will trip to the Philippines to boast Military ties and send a message to Chinese fishermen and Naval personnel to back off from our Allie. the LCS is sea worth its been up and down the East and West coast of the US time to see if this boat is worth money at all. Time for a DDG-1000 to be entering service enough with mini boats doing a ships job.

VTOL has been the worst thing that ever hit the US military. It used to be that you took some land and you occupied that land. If you needed an airstrip, you made an airstrip. If you needed a dock, you built a dock. Today we fly in, kill a few people, take the hill, then give it right back as our guys fly out. What the hell sense does that make? It’s just another stupid way to get good men killed. As taught to the US military by Robert McNamara, may he burn in hell. How about we go back to winning wars?

Damn, how did this post end up here? This is how the Navy loses wars not the Army and Marines. Can’t do anything about it now.

Regardless of who gets what ships, LCS or otherwise,
here’s another reason we have to love those fine folks at Raytheon.

Adapting the RAM missile system to fire Griffin missiles. How cool is that?
That suggests that it may be time to consider an even larger ready-fire capacity: we have the modified Phalanx with 11 RAMs, and the stand-alone 21-round launcher slaved to the ship’s sensors.
If we are going to install Griffins in these now, might we see some kinda Calliope-looking thing (that old Sherman/T34 rocket launcher) with a few dozen tubes, offering both RAMs and Griffins as needed.
Maybe Raytheon can keep fast-tracking Griffin development and attach on a RAM rocket motor to boost the Griffin to double or triple, or more, its current range…?
That would alleviate a lot of the crying since Navy lost NetFires capability.
A lightweight precision missile going 16km or better has a lot more potential to keep the ship alive than one that doesn’t even go half that distance.
Another option might be a mission module with a large traversing pod (reloadable like an MLRS) housing dozens of them both.

I get the argument of the lower tier system to do the mundane partnership building missions. Waving the flag, joint maneuvers, etc. The idea makes sense. the problem with that notion and the LCS is the price point. These things mission module equipped are going to be about $1 billion each. That’s not a low end low tier ship for simple missions price. For that money we should be getting a fully equipped military standard multi mission frigate. Not a speed boat with a 57mm cannon.

On cost, reliance, sea battles and for defense, I would prefer frigates, corvettes and virginia class subs.

the Captain of NSC Waesche said in a released statement last week that his ship will soon be visiting Phllipines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. No doubt, his National Security Cutter may be forced to even take on fuel at some point during this long patrol ! Wink… Wink.… LCS and her accompanying ever-to-be-nearby oiler might try to duplicate the Coast Guard NSC-2 in another couple of years.

big whoop ! RAM has about half the range of the “Main Battery” onboard LCS right now. The 57mm gun actually has more than twice the range of a RAM.

Reality: EVERYBODY is working under the hope, prayer and expectation that Romney will win in 2012. The key is keeping these programs on life support until then. To their credit, the Army has done a superb job with programs like MEADS and by stripping down the JLTV.
Obama has conscientiously created a Hollow Force II. Now we see a replay of Carter vs. Reagan.
Romney is adamant in 4% real growth in the defense budget.

The USN leadership needs to show some guts and throw in the towel on this thing. The USCG is clammoring for platforms. Give it to them.
A nice thought — but the USCG doesn’t want them.

Reality: when Obama took office, the nation was in the midst of a economic/financial disaster created by 8 years of republican incompetence after inheriting an $800 Billion/year budget surplus, while leaving behind a military at its lowest state of readiness since Viet Nam, a string of national security/foreign policy disasters unprecedented in US history, and a stagger debt to a communist dictatorship. Bush CAUSED this disaster, following the advice given him by the SAME people that are now passing themselves off as republican “leadership”.

Given the lack of ANY support from the republicans (who have failed to own up to the disaster they left behind) — Obama has done an admirable job.

I have met Romney quite a few times, as he owns a house in the same town I grew up in, and he is most certainly not POTUS material. I’ll take Obama ANYDAY over Romney, who hasn’t even got the guts to stick up for the only decent accomplishment of his governorship in MA (and was notably the first republican governor to lose the corner office at the State House to a democrat in a generation — or more correctly, left behind such a mess that his Lt. Governor had little/nothing to run on).

Range of the current surface launched Griffin is reported as 3–4 miles. Missile diameter is slightly larger (+.5″) than RAM but probably doable. Main issue is how many RAM could an LCS afford to loose given its already weak self-defense capabilities. Navy also projects that no longer range Griffins will be possible before 2017 at the earliest.

Careful — all that koolaid can lead to health problems. Dislexia being one of them where you see everything backwards from the facts, looks like it’s already starting to creep in. By the way that $800 billion surplus at the end of Clintons term was 3 trillion at the beginning, he was called out on it when he tried to take credit for it his first year in office, Reganomics worked even with his increased military spending.

I would expect a PolicyWonk to understand that the history of our economic/financial disasters started before 2000. Gramm Leach Bailey was signed in 1999 by who was that again? Clinton.… The Community Reinvestment Act was signed in 1977. Fannie Mae was a “New Deal” government sponsored enterprise. The Federal Reserve was keeping interest rates artificially low way before GW Bush. We have made easy money available to irresponsible people for way too long. We have promoted irresponsible consumption and a lifetime of indebtedness to people for way too long. Obama has divided the country further by forcing an unpopular and unConstitutional agenda, this is not an admirable record.

So G W was a fine president then. Obama did all this in 3 years. You live in a vacum and only see what you want to see.

Nice thought on that one. The USCG doesn’t want them, but maybe the Philippines or Taiwan maybe interested in them and maybe we can sell the LCS to them

I wonder what the fuel gauge would read on the NSC vs is the LCS did the same trip the NSC is doing. Maybe it’s time for the US Navy to kill the LCS and go with e Euro frigate or the NSC.

For that kind of Money, I can kill the LCS and go to Europe and buy a decent Multi Mission Frigate from either France, Spain or even Germany. The LCS is a overpriced speedboat with a pop gun. It’s almost like throwing money into a money pit and it’s as bad as the Canadians throwing their money trying to upkeep their Victoria class SSK. Which is in a worst shape than the LCS.

Has Romney said how he’ll pay for it? We’re in the economic situation we’re in because of Congress’ inability to balance the checkbook over the last few decades. Presidents like to talk about how they can turn the economy around, but all they’re really capable of is making speeches and saying pretty-please to politicians with a hell of a lot more tenure than him.

Cant no one in office be trusted or we wouldnt be arguing over party lines period. Treasury dept reports govt income of over 5 trillion per year, other websites report govt budget of 2.5 trillion per year but no website (govt wise) explains where the other 3+ trillion is being spent. No one running for office is worth salt right now and that is sad, same for the previous election. Instead of trying to disarm our country and create more class warfare how come nobody wants to do the right thing and make everyone pay equaly across the board, the 1% the middle class and the 52% who pay nothing but get the most from the govt. 10% flat tax with absolutely no deductions period. With that shut down all redundant govt offices (fed — irs– dept ed– dept trans — homeland security– epa). Fed and state aid is only avail 3 months at a time and 24 months lifetime. Someone able to make this happen I would vote for.

CONTINUED: I also would stop foriegn aid and fed grants/loans until a surplus is avail to pay for it without borrowing money we have to pay back with intrest laid onto the public. maybe we need to stop backing all these business men and college folks running for office and put a bunch of construction workers and machinist in those positions who are not afraid to tell the truth and do whats right.

I can see that nowhere did I say that GW was a fine president. My eyes & mind are wide open, how are yours? Obama’s deficits additions to the national debt exceed those of Bush in just 3 years of his Presidency. Did you catch the cost estimate increase of the health care reform by the way? Costs which won’t be paid for until long after Obama is out of office?? http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57400369–5

I can see also that I provided facts and a history review to the discussion, you provided straw man argumentation and lowered the bar for the discussion. I wonder if this is how a typical liberal / conservative discussion goes.

You’re thinking OLD RAM (Block 0 or Block 1 maybe).
I’m thinking NEW RAM, Block 2. http://​www​.raytheon​.com/​n​e​w​s​r​o​o​m​/​t​e​c​h​n​o​l​o​g​y​/​r​m​s11http://​www​.raytheon​.com/​c​a​p​a​b​i​l​i​t​i​e​s​/​p​r​o​d​u​c​t​s​/​ram

They’re pushing the range beyond 16km (10 miles).
Just how far away do we need to go to destroy an inbound missile with it?

And its seeker and control canards means it steers into the target.
Try accurately hitting anything smaller than the broad side of a stationary barn at 16km with the 57mm gun, and even then only firing from an LCS at standstill on a calm sea.

Fortunately, Raytheon’s R&D decisions aren’t decided by US Navy (same can be said for their German partner in the RAM program).
Perhaps the USN has no plans to do anything with longer-ranged Griffins before 2017 (probably because no LCS will be mission capable for hostile international waters prior to 2017?), but Raytheon’s team has considerable success in the short-time development cycle of the Griffin weapon, using technology from other things they produce that work (Javelin, AIM-9X, etc).

And considering just how ~dependable~ previous Navy projections have been on everything from surface vessels to aircraft to other weapons, I’m not putting my faith in Navy projections. I will in a defense contractor that actually knows how to do their job.

As to losing ready-fire RAMs to Griffins, that’ll probably depend where the ships deploy to. These missiles (RAM, Griffin) are manually reloadable on the ship by the crew, they don’t need an expensive and complex naval port facility to do it, so rounds can be loaded at sea as needed.
Again though, we could just make a larger launcher with more ready rounds.
A Mission Module footprint/volume offers us a lot of space to work with for missiles of this size.

Tend to agree with you on the 2017 date. A new multitube launcher that retracts into the former NLOS type container might work and would not displace any RAMs. Not sure if vertical launch is under consideration for the Griffin (like NLOS). Raytheon says a Griffin weighs 44 lbs so manual loading is possible. LCS-1 class ships may be able to accept some Griffins in MK-49 launcher since there are 21 tubes. The SeaRAM in LCS-2 ships has only 11 tubes.

We should look,compare and adopt at Spain, Holland, Norway, Germany, England ‚China, Russian frigate and corvette designs and compare and adopt it to our future designs of frigate and corvettes for future production. Frigates and corvettes are cheaper, can be faster on newer designs if we adopt catamaran designs and and have more firepower than LCS .

First I think Richard O’Brien is correct in what he says why another four years Obama and the sequestration on horizons looks so horrific what is must be hard to imagine for all Military them it will really happen. And what Chaostician has say is also absolutely correct about the real causes of the economic crisis and to give Bush Jr. the responsible for what happen 2008 is just a cheap excuse of a Liberal/Communist for the completely failed presidency of is prophet Mr. Obama.

At last the Numbers speak for themselves since Obama took the Office he has make in just 3 Years more depts them Busch in is entire presidency including the huge War spending’s and the first 800 Billion package for the saving of the big banks ! And Obama has also not just make in 3 years far more depts them Busch Jr.! No he has made nearly all of them with no sense or better said it was all a complete waste of money. Obamas economic program was a complete and this is the conclusion of its own Ministry of Finance and not the conclusion of a right think factory like the heritage foundation.

And here is the simple truth about Oabmas record.

1. First Obamacare a law what the most Americans hate and how will add more dept them the Iraq and Afghanistan war and how also looks like to be killed because why he is unconstitutional!

2. An experimental Conjuncture Program how has also cost more them the entire Iraq and Afghanistan campaign and this with no effect.

3. The weakest economic recovery in the modern American history.

4. The biggest debt problem in the Human History!

5. A treaty for Arms reduction how gives the Russian everything what they want and for the USA nothing positive!

6. A Military in decline how has suffer now already about 1000 Billion of cuts in time of War and geopolitical uncertainty.

What this one looks like to have a good chance to win a second term alone is a shame for the USA how has look once as the last best hope of the human civilization! But looks now more like another socialist European state in decline and guys I live in one of this states and it is not Greece, it is Germany !

The total government income is $5.1T, however it can be broken down to $2.5T Federal, $1.5T State, and $1.1T Local.

Total spending is another thing. $6.3T total spent broken down to $3.8T Federal, $1.4T State, and $1.7T Local.

National Debt will raise to be about $16.4T this year, which includes all the debt from Federal and Public.

Hope this helps

Hey Araya, I agree with most everything you said except the recovery part, we’re far from it any recovery

In fact this has been the longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression. record numbers of unemployed Americans, massive debt, totally corrupt and non-caring government-we’re heading for the abyss and the band is playing…

“Greenert wants to explore “common hulls” to save money and expects tough talk from vendors about requirements discipline.”

Yeah, that’s what we need is for the defense contractors to dictate the terms under which they work. Like it isn’t obvious they already control the whole damn procurement game. How about the Navy grow a pair and start dictating terms to the contractors instead of the other way around? In fact, why doesn’t the Navy stop outsourcing the design of their ships to contractors with their, “we’ll pay you $1.10 for every $1.00 you spend” contracts that no one but the government can afford to use and start designing these ships themselves like they did when our Navy didn’t consist of a few dozen tin foil row boats?

as a european. unhappily we didn’t have the money to devellope somethink like the lcs! !!

You already have something better. Its called absolon and stanflex.

Since it looks like we are stuck with LCS what can we do to give it a modicum of capability? (2) Fixed torpedo tubes amidships as part of the torp mag would be better than nothing. CEAFAR radar from Australia and a small conformal sonar suite, replace the Mk 110 w/ 76mm Oto Melara/ Vulcano ammo. On LCS#2 you have room for (4) Mk57 VLS modules on either sides of the flightdeck since we have decided not to build any more DDG 1000’s.
I would also add (2) Mk 38 25mm cannons w/ an APKWS pod attached for small boat defense. If the Griffin is too small , how about the Penguin that we used on seahawks. Any ideas?

The question is them is anyway possible to transform the LCS in a warship. The original LCS was planned to be equipment with the now already canceled “XM501 Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System” a small rocket box for asymmetric combat against fast speed boats a stronger armament was never planned for the LCS so it is questionable them the LCS can be armed like a real warship (Corvette, Frigate). But first let’s compare the LCS first with the Absalon class how is cheaper and from since hear comparable with the LCS and this ship has the fallowing armament.

Absalon class

Electronic warfare and decoys:
4 × 12-barrelled Terma DL-12T 130 mm decoy launchers
2 × 6-barrelled Terma DL-6T 130 mm decoy launchers

1 × 5″/62 caliber Mark 45 mod 4 gun
2 × Oerlikon Millennium 35 mm Naval Revolver Gun Systems CIWS
6 × 12.7 mm Heavy machine guns
MU90 Impact ASW torpedoes
VLS with up to 36 RIM-162 ESSM/RIM-7 Sea Sparrow (Mk 56/Mk 48 VLS)
3 x 2 × Stinger Point-defence SAM
8–16 × Harpoon Block II SSM
Aircraft carried: 2 × EH-101 helicopters
Aviation facilities: Aft helicopter deck and hangars

Or also to make it clear how unarmed the LCS is hear the compare with a Chinese Houbei class missile boat.

Chinese Houbei class missile boat


Anti-ship missiles: 8 C-801/802/803 in friction stir welded aluminium missile launch containers or
Land-attack missiles: 8 Hongniao missile-2 long range land attack cruise missiles.

Surface-to-air missiles: FLS-1 surface-to-air launcher with 12 QW class MANPAD missiles
1 × licensed copy of KBP AO-18 6-barrel 30 mm gun (AK-630) by ZEERI

The LCS has in compare with this ship only the fallowing Armament.

LCS Freedom class:

1x BAE Systems Mk 110 57 mm gun, 400 rounds in turret and two ready service magazines with 240 rounds each.

4X.50-cal machine guns

2x Mk44 Bushmaster II 30mm guns

21x RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile Surface-to-Air Missiles
Aircraft carried: 2x MH-60R/S Seahawk or 2X MQ-8 Fire Scout

So them is possible to make the LCS a warship so the LCS will need at first real Firepower against other Surface combatants and so hear my Vision of an hypothetical optimal Armed LCS has so the fallowing equipment.


1X Quad Box for 4X Harpoon anti-ship Missiles as replacement for the 1x BAE Systems Mk 110 Gun
2X Oerlikon Millennium 35 mm Naval Revolver Gun System (as additional CIW System and against speed boats)

4x .50-cal Machine guns

2X starter with 21x RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile Surface-to-Air Missiles peer starter.

1X VLS System how can carry and fire at minimum 12 ESSM Missiles for Air Defense

2X Mk 32 triple torpedo tubes to attack enemy Submarines directly

Aircraft carried: 2x MH-60R/S Seahawk

What’s wrong with a few LCS as replacements for old minesweepers? Sure it costs more, but it’ll also have ASW capability and better future offense flexibility. The USCG might find it very useful to actually defend the US from rogue swarms someday. USN could transfer the weaker ship model to the Coast Guard, standardizing maintenance for both to hold down costs. Also notice the first deployment goes to Singapore and maybe next to the Persian Gulf…shallow, narrow waters.


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