Monday, April 26, 2010

It is called "Technology Risk"

Once again LCS proves how NOT to run a program.
Following a review of its precision fires capabilities and requirements, the U.S. Army is recommending to cancel the XM-501 Non-Line of Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS) program. NLOS-LS was developed as a 'Platform independent Precision Weapon System', as a common system to be used by the U.S. Army and Navy. The program suffered significant setback in the recent Limited User Test, (LUT) scoring only two hits out of six launches. The system was jointly developed by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin under the Netfires industry team.
...
While the cancellation will relieve the Army of financial burden of a weapon system considered too costly and redundant, since combat brigades already have other precision guided weapons that can deliver firepower at the precision and timely response as the NLOS, the U.S. Navy, which counted on the weapon will have to support the continued development and fielding of the system by itself. The Navy is scheduled to begin at-sea testing of the NLOS-LS medium range surface to surface missile module by 2012.

According to the Navy's plans, NLOS-LS would become the principal weapon for the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) 'Surface Warfare Module' enabling the vessel to dominate a large coastal and littoral area. Each LCS will carry three Command Launch Modules packed in two shipping containers, carrying a total of 45 missiles. The missile would be used as the 'long arm' of the vessel, enabling the LCS team to act upon information obtained by remote intelligence sensors and the vessel's own sensors – helicopters, UAVs, SIGINT and COMINT.

Launched at individual targets, or in salvos of multiple missiles, the Precision Attack Missiles would be used to defeat enemy over the horizon, inside the bases or at the shoreline, as well as defensively, eliminating attacks by swarms of fast boats. In escort missions, these missiles, supported by helicopters and UAVs, could be used to cover larger areas, protecting merchant ships from small boats attacks. The ability of the crew to control each of the missiles, and selectively aim at specific weak points enable the LCS to effectively engage and defeat larger targets, support friendly forces ashore and reducing the risk of collateral damage. Absent of such a weapon, the LCS will be toothless (the only other weapon on board is the single barrel 57mm gun).
This also exemplifies another example of "Joint Risk" that we saw with ACS.

Joint is a nice to have - not a requirement; though some think it is. Joint, like a marriage, only works when all partners follow through with their commitment.
Given the importance of the weapon to the Navy, it is likely that the program will not meet the fate of other FCS systems and continue through fielding, funded by the Navy. However, in this case, the missile would be tailored for the Navy's needs and will not necessarily have the operating modes the Army would eventually need. These modes are also likely to be more costly and complicated. Previous reports have indicated that Raytheon proposed to deliver the missiles at a unit cost below $200,000, given a multi-year production of about 9,900 units is secured. This cost is about a third of the cost of a typical naval attack missile currently available (like the Harpoon or Exocet) but it is about three times more expensive than the Javelin or Hellfire missiles, used extensively in Afghanistan. The current cost of a pre-production missile stands on $450,000 per unit.
Epic fail.

So, here is where we are. Best case, Navy spends a lot of money to get a marginal weapon in marginal numbers on a low-survivability, low-endurance, low flexibility, high cost platform. Then again - we told you that a half decade ago.

Can we see the future? No; we study the past.

26 comments:

doc75 said...

Do we dare to mention JSF here?

MR T's Haircut said...

When you are in a hole, you stop.....

TBR said...

Sounds like what happened to the planned Polyphem armament of the K130.

Grandpa Bluewater said...

More huge amounts of good money after bad, all because flag officers can't admit a failure.
The Navy needs to shut down the LCS program, find an adequate existing frigate design they can get from an ally, and build that.  Cheaper, better, proven.

Spade said...

I just can't understand how packing a ship full of prototypes or planned systems couldn't have worked out well.

G-man said...

Didn't your Mother tell you not to gloat?  Feels good tho, doesn't it? 

sid said...

<span>More huge amounts of good money after bad, all because flag officers can't admit a failure. </span>
<span></span>
<span>The consolidated defense industry now produces so few (generally crappy) products, that each is now, "Too Big To Fail".</span>
<span></span>
<span>Big Money Talks.</span>
<span></span>
<span>And, in this case, shouts down any common sense and courage.</span>
<span></span>
<span>While its time for someone with the temerity of Sims to step up to the plate....I'm not holding out much hope.</span>
<span></span>
<span>After all, there are mortgages to pay, and kids that have to get through school....</span>

Matthew Scott said...

I dont understand why you would need a  $400,000+ small missile to defeat small boats. Would they really have fired off salvoes of these missiles to destroy small boats several miles away? I Hope the Navy cancels their share as well.

Combat Wombat said...

It'd be nice to use arms whose munitions cost less than the target, occasionally.

Combat Wombat said...

Ah- Matt beat me to it!

sid said...

<span>It'd be nice to use arms whose munitions cost less than the target, occasionally.</span>
<span></span>
<span>There y'all go again, getting all anti-transformational again, you bunch of Luddites you.</span>
<span></span>
<span>When will you realize that the LCS is.... Just! AWESOME!!!!! ...a</span><span>nd therefore needs similarly Really Cool bullets?</span>

ewok40k said...

can we just use Hellfire instead? hundreds of destroyed tanks attest to its efficiency...

ewok40k said...

and if Hellfire is not good maybe Israeli imaging-via-fiber guided missiles might be better?

Combat Wombat said...

In the SBU, 20MM was often the next best thing to being there... >:o

orn said...

Do you think Navy will fund it to completion? What are the other options? A redesign for VLS? What about the ships that have already been built?

mrguest said...

In the recent past the SPIKE missile would be a good alternative, but since Obama diverted those bunker busters & anything israeli sold to the US would wind up in Arab hands,  there is zero chance of that happening.

Barry said...

I am not an expert, but do have a few observations.  On NLOS...How does a 45 missile capacity equal defeating a "swarm"?  On LCS...I have always thought you needed to be dressed for whatever contingincy might pop up and not have to run back to port to swap modules when the balloon goes up in an unexpected manner (Whoops!  Here comes the "swarm" and all I have is my ASW module - yikes!).  And I have always wondered just how LCS would go about sinking another ship. 
As far as Hellfire as an option, probably not as is, as it has about a 5 mile range.  Kind of a small warhead (18-20lbs), too.

AW1 Tim said...

 I fail to see why Ma Deuce wouldn't stop a small boat as easily as a 400 grand bottle rocket.

Retired Now said...

Just like all those US Navy PT boats in the South Pacific during WW-II,   all these 55 LCS's will be showing the ingenuity of their sailors as they "trade", "borrow" and outright steal fuel in the middle of the night in order to keep their thirsty boats available to get underway.      American sailors are amazingly resourceful and determined usually.

Byron said...

YGTBSM...did you just wake up in the middle of this class?

Mike M. said...

You guys don't get it.

This is the PERFECT opportunity for the Navy to kill LCS, drive a stake into the folly of jointness...and blame the Army for all of it.

Best deal I've heard of in years.

Wharf Rat said...

We can - but don't forget the F-22 Raptor, eliminated after the cost per aircraft, not including the R & D, had likely come down to the point of cost per aircraft of the F-35.

With two engines, no less!

ewok40k said...

Spikes bought by Polish army seem to work very fine, the imaging-via-fiber is very precise and hard to jam

Jack said...

In response to "Joint is not a requirement"...uh, it is. Joint is a requirement mandated to be in all governing documentation for a program and isn't going away anytime soon. No major program moves past a milestone or moved forward without both Joint Staff and OSD concurrence on those documents that include Joint capabilities. On a practical level, this translates to the service having the significant burden to prove there are not other Joint systems in development that can be leveraged if a service specific system is being proposed.

Another opinion. Obviously you and many of your followers are not fans of LCS but consider this. SUW is one mission module amongst others. It is a big setback to one mission area not the ship. The mission module and hulls are funded/developed separately so this doesn't kill the ship building program. There are other possibilities to put missiles in the mission module cells downstream if that's the Navy's decision.

ewok40k said...

did the joint F-111 failure taught US decisionmakers nothimg?

sid said...

The mission module and hulls are funded/developed separately so this doesn't kill the ship building program. 

Hows the sled reel doing on the MH-60S there Jack?

Is either hull able to withstand even Level I shock testing?

What about ASW? Anyone figure out how they are going to make that happen...With anything other than legacy dipping sonar?

Oh...And just exactly how many H-60's are getting bought to fill those decks...and not rob others?

Just askin'....