Friday, April 20, 2012

LCS: Confusing Even its Friends

I will have to agree with Phil on this one;
Things got even more confusing:...
As the transition from PPT to pierside continues, the LCS true believers are having to tie themselves in knots to justify and explain their program. If it weren't sad, it would be funny.

The issues with LCS for years are now out of theory and floating next to the pier, so you really can't yell, "Shut up!" to critics like was done for years. Instead, LCS advocates are either turning a bug to a feature, or are playing a game of make believe. A few points from Undersecretary Works comments at SAS12 as reported by Phil.
"It is a WAR-ship,” he said. “A WAR-ship. It is going to make every [small attack craft] out there worry about coming out to sea, because it will kick their ASS — and you can quote me on that.”
That does conflict with the CNO's statement,
"I don't worry per se about its survivability where I would intend to send it," Greenert said of the LCS. "You won't send it into an anti-access area."
... but let's move on.

Define "small craft." Right now, we have a glass jaw, large, underarmed Corvette with a 57mm primary and 30mm secondary armament. It was designed around NLOS that will never see the light of day, and the other backup missiles are rather pathetic and we still are not sure if they will work. Little to no reach, and isn't robust enough to get close. Hyperbole is unattractive when not backed up by anything but hope.
Work said the resistance to LCS reminded him of what people said about the Navy’s plan to convert its first four Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines to carry conventional cruise missiles and large teams of SEAL special operators. “I can’t tell you how many people told me, ‘We have too many Tomahawk hulls, that’s a waste of money, don’t buy that ship. But they didn’t understand the fleet design decision … and now the COCOMs can’t get enough of the SSGNs.”
I don't know who he was talking to - but no one that I discussed SSGNs before, during and after had a problem with the program or concept - just the opposite. I/we absolutely love/loved the SSGN concept, the only non-cheerleading types I talked to were along the "nice-to-have vs. if-we-can't-have-an-arsenal ship-this-is-better-than-nothing" meh - which is in itself positive. As a little bit of a TLAM bubba myself, I have my biases, but anyone who looks at that capability would support it. I'm still trying to think of anyone of substance who didn't like the idea. If you know of one - please ad links in comments. Straw men are not attractive either.
Work said that when Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert talked about LCS not being “survivable,” he only meant it wouldn’t be survival “in the strait” — though Work didn’t say which — in a time of war. “But it’s not going into the straits. The only thing that could survive in the straits if a war started would be a submarine.” Then Work said LCS also would “escort combat logistics force ships.” Those ships, the oilers and supply vessels that keep Navy strike groups fueled, fed and ready, are some of the biggest targets in the fleet. So would assigning LCSes to them make them more or less safe?
This is very strange, and I don't agree with the Under that is what the CNO meant. His words, in the quote further in this post, is clear. The Under's "a55 kicking" with small boats is a scenario specifically from narrow straits vignettes. That is where swarms come from. Either LCS are "kicking a55" or they are playing Sir Robbin - it can't be one or the other.

Also the job to “escort combat logistics force ships” - ummmm ... as stated before; that is a frigate's job. Work has stated often before that we don't need frigates .... but he just outlined a requirement for one.

Along those lines, the ability to sprint at 40-kts and "create a wake that is a weapon itself" is one of the features sold for LCS. OK. If you are escorting slow ships - you ain't running away. You are maintaining station and engaging the enemy. You don't run away to fight another day; the best use of your speed is to play not Sir Robbin, but Taffy-3 - turn to and engage the enemy large or small.

With the lack of punch or weapons range - LCS will get one run at that - and it all assumes that it has the right mission module. If your escort is ASUW and you get a message about a SSK ... you can't call a training timeout to change your CONEX box. If you are ASW configured and you find out you have a half-dozen fast attack craft coming your way - hope that you have .... what is that again ... a multi-mission warship nearby to do your work. Any EuroFrigate design - or even the much aligned OHP - would be ready for both. SM-1 in surface attack mode had a fine combat record even if the heavily masked 76mm gun wasn't ideal; but it was good. The modern EuroFrigates are even better than the pre-castration OHP, and just a little bit better than the modernized MK-41VLS Australian OHP.

Speaking of good, let's go back to the CNO. I'm taking this from another article by Phil. Admiral Greenert is going positively Salamander.
“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.
How many times have we discussed the "Perfect vs Good" quandary here? Buy back BA/NMP to put back on ships? The Tiffany issue? The exquisite issue? I may never have to pay for beer again - but I will take some off all the beer people owe me and will credit Admiral Greenert. Read that again. He wants evolutionary. He knows ships need Sailors. That my friend, is a radial change from the last decade. A very welcome walk back. I like that trend.

But again; where do we find ourselves with LCS. They are coming to the Fleet - in mass. More show up every few months. No mission modules. No actual proof of concept. Still slathered with technology risk and some things we do know; only 4-months deployable in an 8-11 month new normal .......... all disjointed and still not getting me closer to where I want to be - I want to be proven wrong, but so far I am only being proved right with each passing fiscal quarter. Each fiscal quarter I also see those who careers, reputations and ego are wrapped up in LCS act like the below when they have to explain away hard facts - and rely on hope.

We are a few years past the point of stopping all the damage LCS will cause in opportunity cost ... but not too late to mitigate its full impact. We won't be able to stop at 24, but not too late for 36. If we get all 55, it will be too late. We will have paid Bentley prices for a Yugo.

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