LCS Forges Common IT Backbone

LCS Forges Common IT Backbone

Developers of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) say the Navy must leverage common technical standards between the two ship variants’ IT infrastructures and mission packages in order to save the program money and give commanders greater mission flexibility.

A key element for the surge of technological commonality between its USS Independence and USS Freedom variants is through what the LCS program calls Mission Packages — interchangeable groups of technologies designed to go on either of the two variants.

The three packages, engineered with a modular, plug-and-play ability to integrate on both the Independence and the Freedom variants are designed for mine counter-measures, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare, said Capt. John Ailes, LCS Mission Modules program manager.


They consist of groups of weapons, sensors, UAS, mine-detecting technologies, aircraft, electronics and unmanned watercraft, among other things, designed to work in tandem on specific threats and issues, Ailes explained.

The Navy’s two-variant approach to the LCS development effort, which ultimately aims to build and deploy at least 55 ships, has come under scrutiny and received criticism for the wisdom of its two-variant approach, which critics have said will make sustainment more challenging.

The LCS program has also faced scrutiny for rising costs, and questions inside and outside the Navy about the fleet’s survivability and ability to meet mission requirements.

While recognizing that there is a business case to move toward greater commonality among the variants, particularly when it comes to sustainment and logistics, Ailes emphasized that the much-criticized two-variant approach resulted in several positive developments.

“We got spectacularly low cost and there is strength in diversity. Also, if you have an enemy that is trying to combat you, you give him a harder problem if you bring capabilities that are different. That is more difficult than going up against a single, well-understood capability,” he added.

Despite the two hulls, Ailes said the mission packages being developed will go on either variant.

“Any mission package can go on any LCS. When we bought both ships we said either one meets our requirements. They are very different ships, you’ve got the planing monohull and you’ve got the Trimaran. They are very different in their look but both of them can accommodate all of these three very significant capabilities,” he said.

The mission packages are designed with “modularity” in mind, meaning they are engineered with a common set of technical standards in order to be able to more easily accommodate technological advances as they emerge, Ailes explained.

The idea is to create open standards with common standards and Internet Protocols (IP), formats so that existing systems, weapons, sensors and electronics can more seamlessly and quickly integrate with new technologies. IT Protocols can include a range of technical specifications, including data exchange methods, computer code and messaging formats, among other things.

“For future classes we will fold in the capability with weapons stations where you will be able to put systems in without having to do major shipyard availabilities. We’re trying to prove the underpinning software hooks regarding what we anticipate to be the software requirements for the fighter of the future,” he said.

In particular, this is being done with what Ailes described as an Interface Control Document (ICD) and an Interface Design Specification, written documents which delineate what the technical, electronic and computing standards are for current and future technologies designed for the Mission Packages.

“The ICD specifies weight power cooling and physical size – so it tells you if you have a system it can only give this much power. It tells you how we exchange data. All of this is specified. This has been very effective with all the Mission Packages. We’ve had remarkably few software problems and the reason is because we are standing on the shoulders of already existing systems,” Ailes explained.

Ailes explained that the software and IT backbone of the Mission Packages has, by design, been engineered to run on commercial-off-the-shelf technologies with standard protocols and infrastructures.

This is done to lower costs, speed up the developmental time frame and, perhaps most of all, facilitate interoperability such that new technologies can integrate more easily with the existing systems.

Ailes explained how the USS Freedom’s planing monohull configuration and the USS Independence’s Trimaran hull both achieve the desired speed requirements for the multi-mission, close into shore mine-hunting, anti-submarine and surface warfare ship platform.

“They wrote a set of specifications and said this is what we want the ship to do. The goal was to make use of the powerful innovation within American industry. Even though both ships meet exactly the same requirements, two different sets of designers came up with two very different solutions.  Both approaches get you in excess of 40 knots,” said Ailes.

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Yes, LCS is a classic story. We paid two companies more to fail, and they both failed. Maybe there is a lesson here after all. And that lesson would be, the Navy should go back to designing its own ships.

“you give him a harder problem if you bring capabilities that are different”

“They are very much common, yet different!”

Groan.

good grief, will the LCS mafia ever stop with the PR blitz

if we believed everything the LCS mafia said then we’d all believe that the LCS is more powerful than the Death Star

…just sayin’, but on the White House petition site, there’s a HUGE petition for the Gov’t to build an actual Death Star…I’m pretty sure it cracked the 125K “must comment’ threshold, but haven’t checked since I signed it months ago…
Still, it’s good to see that at least the Old Dogs can still *bark*…

Mabus already formally announced the Independence-class LCS 14 will be the USS Manchester.…
We here in the Granite State *ARE* holding him to that…

The JHSV and the INDY Class LCS already have the same IT backbone…

So far they cost more than an Iowa class battleship, which is about as close to a “death star” as we’ve come to now.

You have a rep or senator on the right committee?

What is the logistics plan to swap out the mission modules on these two losers? Half the ports around the world have to have the full array of mission modules for swapping out? Or each ship has a dedicated supply ship following it around? Aside from being logistics and maintenance nightmares, a bunch of Boy Scouts could take out one of these non-combatants.

Less LCS waste and MORE DDG-1000!!!

I second that and more :-)

Whatever happened to the original LCS design, the old sea fighter? Apparently it’s still in service, but I must wonder why that design was abandoned considering the continuing hiccups of both of the new LCS classes.

It will go faster and farther, just keep winding.…

Developers of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) say the Navy must leverage common technical standards between the two ship variants’ IT infrastructures and mission packages in order to save the program money and give commanders greater mission flexibility.
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Indeed. The LCS is so under-armed and under-protected that the ability to run away, or run away faster will be very important. The Norwegian Skjold-class patrol boats are better armed and protected than the LCS, which is a mighty sad testimony to the state of our navy and our DoD’s acquisition system.

The US taxpayers gets by far the lousiest deal for defense dollar spent int he western world.

That boat, FSF-1, was considered to be experimental. The technologies were supposed to be incorporate into the LCS (navy) and NSC (USCG). The navy, at the time, was hallucinating (getting their panties in a bunch) over the prospect of simply fighting small pirate craft/boats, and somehow from that came up with the massive LCS solution (overkill for small operators), and totally inadequate for a real fight.

Hence — good for little.

I wonder why the NAvy couldn’t use the design of the Coast Guard’s High Endurance Cutter? More government pork

Are you referring to the replacement to the old Hamilton Class or the new National Security Cutter design?

Considering the National Security Cutter (NSC) that was built to replace the High Endurance Cutter was plagued with flaws, overcosts because it was built with off-the shelf technology that they cut program to 6 ships instead of 12? Specially with structural flaws. Their back fitting the design, but by no means its combat ship. Patrol Frigate variant more undergunned than Perry Guided Missile Frigate.

NSC is much pork as LCS program, just as flawed. Changing Navy Leadership, Politics, and mismanagement are cause LCS become questionable program. Least some of them.

Its too bad they didn’t keep to point of the design process and made LCS what it was suppose to be. Part of a family of ships LCS unfortunately in my opinion tries to do too much. Dutch has had a module type ship design for least a decade. http://​en​.wikipedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​S​t​a​n​f​lex — Stanflex system works for what it meant for and modules designs exist. US Navy could used the Royal Dutch Navy’s design adapted instead of this boondoggle of a design of theirs that they still don’t have set yet. Dutch have Corvette and Frigates size ships using the system. Note frigate, not a hybrid Corvette/FAC which can’t do either well. I want like LCS, but its too much for design to handle. They should used the Dutch design and kept it K.I.S.S. — Keep It Simple Stupid!

How many billions on ddg1k for 2 edm’s???

At least with the NSC, it has the makings of a REAL proper Patrol Frigate with Frigate Weapons and systems. The LCS as it is, is nothing more than a Glorified gun patrol boat with European frigate price tag. That’s why I am all for cutting the LCS and putting our money into turning the NSC into a REAL Frigate. At least with the NSC, it has the Sea legs that the LCS can only dream of..

Good idea, ColdWarVey75, and I also wonder why the Navy doesn’t administratively absorb the Coast Guard, begin commonality of littoral vessels & missions, and spin off the USMC as the stand-alone force that the USMC SHOULD BE…???…

JB, you must be part of the paid LCS mafia, paid to troll the forums and give thumbs down to anything that the LCS mafia doesn’t agree with, anything that reveals the truth about the failures of the LCS

at least the DDG is a warship

so how many billions on the LCS program buidling 4000 ton aluminum foil ships that can do NOTHING?

watch out PolicyWonk, the LCS mafia is coming after you

Wow one is a monohull and the other a trimaran. Two types of ferries! thats bound to confuse enemies no end — maybe they will die laughing.

LCS: Large Complex Stupid.

What’s the difference? These are make work programs. Those with political clout, get 10s of billions of dollars to build stuff.

Then they drive the stuff around for 50 years, then sink them for fish habitats.
This provides the officer ranks with admirals, who then play golf and work for defense contractors.

http://​en​.wikipedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​H​S​C​_​B​e​n​c​h​i​j​i​g​u​a​_​E​xpr… — The independence class literally IS a ferry design. As is the new JHSV.

JHSV doesn’t have a combat system how can they share the same IT backbone?

It’s the modularity of the LCS that will allow it to make the changes necessary at a relatively cheaper cost to increase its firepower. The cost of the ship doesn’t reflect the cost of the combat system. If you don’t like the firepower of 30mm (if they’re inadequate for the threat), than they get upgraded. Realize that the ICD is the game changer keeping the cost down and the combat system technology agile.

When did the Navy design their own ships? It has been a while. Since 1933, Gibbs & Cox, Inc. has designed every class of destroyers built for the U.S. Navy, with only one exception.

Nearly 80% of the current U.S. Navys Ship Battle Forces surface combatant fleet, and over 45% of the entire U.S. Navys Active In Commission surface ship fleet are built to G&C designs. Included in these are the designs of the LCS FREEDOM Class Littoral Combat Ships, DDG 51 Class AEGIS Guided Missile Destroyers and the FFG 7 Class Guided Missile Frigates.

“The idea is to create open standards with common standards and Internet Protocols (IP)”

Chinese military hackers move with impunity all through the Internet, which runs on open standards, common standards and TCP/IP. In fact, there is an article about precisely that problem on the front page of DoDBuzz at this very moment.

The PLA Navy won’t even have to bother to directly engage the LCS in order to sink it. They’ll simply and casually remotely crash every system aboard and then sit back and laugh as the inert hulk drifts onto a sandbar.

You do realize that most systems aren’t linked outside of the ship’s onboard intranet, correct? And that has no connection to the global internet. Even orders are sent over a secure intranet, and not the global internet. TCP/IP is simply a standard method for computers to interact and network with each other, nothing more.

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