It appears the U.S. Navy is preparing to buy only one of the two variants of the Littoral Combat Ship after 2015, according to a Defense News report.
Vice Adm. Tom Copeman, the head of Naval Surface Forces, issued a classified report at the end of 2012 called “Vision for the 2025 Surface Fleet” in which he recommended a “re-evaluation of the next flights of LCSs — beyond the 24 ships now delivered, under construction, on order or with contract options,” wrote Chris Cavas of Defense News.
The Navy had planned to build 52 LCS ships. If the services chooses to cut that order in half, the service will likely purchase only one of the LCS variants — either the Freedom-class or Independence-class designs, according to the senior Navy officials that Defense News cited.
LCS is a program that has often been targeted by critics for its delays and cost over runs. Navy officials have been on the defensive since J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, wrote in a January report that the LCS “is not expected to be survivable” in combat.
Many questioned the Navy’s decision to develop two variants of a class of ships that features two hull designs. The Independence class features an aluminum trimaran hull while the Freedom class utilizes a monohull.
Sequestration and the continuing resolution has pressured the services to consider how they will make ends meet with less planned defense spending. Service leaders have started to put together plans should the worst case scenario of sequestration hit and the Pentagon is forced to shrink planned defense spending by $500 billion over the next decade.