Monday, August 26, 2013

On LCS: As for me and mine; we stand with Norman

My, my, my - the legions of the insecure LCS proponents have really put out the full-court press the last week or two, haven't they?

As good of a sample of the genre as any other can be found quoted in this bit from the editors of USNINews;
On Aug. 8, USNI News interviewed Capt. John Ailes, program manager for Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Program Executive Office Littoral and Mine Warfare’s (PEO LMW) LCS Mission Modules, for an update on the embattled mission package program.

Ailes acknowledged past failures in the program but painted an optimistic picture of the way forward for the mission packages.

“It’s a wondrous time to be the mission package guy today compared to three years ago because you can point to the successes,” he said.

Starting next year, the Navy will test the packages in a series of operational evaluations (OPEVAL) as a final examination before moving the new capabilities into the fleet.
In June, NAVSEA completed its reliability work and now states that reliability numbers for RMMV has grown to more than 200 hours.

“That was highly successful, the reliability issues are really behind us,” Lose said.

AQS-20A is the primary sensor of the mine-hunting systems on LCS. The Navy has largely corrected detection problems found in early developmental testing with training and software and hardware upgrades, Ailes said. A plan to field the sonar from the package’s MH-60S was canceled for safety reasons.

“We took the Q20 and flew it from a 60S for a long time but the problem was, if an engine failed you could lose the aircraft,” Ailes said. “It hardly ever happens but once you lose an engine it would be catastrophic.”

NAVSEA instead decided to field the sonar only on the RMMV.

“That’s the centerpiece of increment,” Ailes said.

“If RMS works you’re going to be able to find mines and do it in a rapid fashion.”
The good Captain has a tough job. I wish him the best.

We will reach the point soon where LCS-1 will use up almost half its expected service life and yet to have the ability to have a set of mission modules to use.

What prompted me to put out another LCS post for discussion though, was this little video JD sent my way from LMT.

They totally lost me at the 0:24 mark. Look at it a couple of times and note where they say CENTCOM is? Yep .... they must be C-17 guys, they're going to Peter O'Knight. Who edits this stuff?

This is fun. Let's keep going. I don't know about you - but I have never seen a civilian intel type that looked like that. For a bit, I thought from the 0:38 to the 1:10 point this was about to be NSFW.

... watch the whole thing - there is so much more; I'll let ya'll hoist your favorite parts in comments including uniform, watch floor, and bridge funnies ... and yes, you heard a "Roger, over." 

I can hear Captain Hoffman yelling from here.

To cut to the chase, in the last issue of Proceedings, Norman Polmar calmly summarized what many of us kept reminding everyone for 8+ years.
Of course, any comparison of the DDG-51 with an LCS is ludicrous. The destroyer is a multi-mission ship, capable of standing alone against most threats, with upgraded ships providing ballistic-missile defense without the loss of other combat capabilities. The littoral combat ships now in the Fleet have a single 57-mm gun (the Freedom additionally has two 30-mm guns fitted as part of an antisurface module), a limited helicopter capability, and a limited point-defense capability. Some 12 years after the program was initiated, no complete mission modules are yet available for the LCS.

A follow-on (updated) DDG-51 costs some $2 billion. An LCS—when a mission package is available—will provide a highly specialized ship at a cost of about $750 million per unit (including a mission module). For the same investment, would a combatant or fleet commander rather have one follow-on DDG-51 or two or three LCSs? 3

The same Proceedings article also extolled the potential political influence of the LCS: Discussing the “strategic” Cook Islands, “A visit by the U.S. Secretary of State, followed by one or several visits by an LCS would reinforce our efforts to improve our influence in the region.”

So could a much less expensive Coast Guard cutter, or the temporary assignment of a Seabee team to recondition a school or build a playground, or a Marine band and drill platoon. While Oliver Cromwell said that “a warship is the best ambassador,” the LCS is not a warship in the context of impressing populations and governments, nor are the Cook Islands of strategic importance to the United States.

The LCS has several severe problems and limitations:

• The ships are over cost.

• Both LCS designs have required major changes for production units, causing cost increases; changes are continuing to be made in sequential ships.

• Shore support requirements are much greater than earlier envisioned; with a large number of the ships planned for forward-basing, this could be a major cost factor.

• No complete mission modules are available.

• Designed for core crews of about 40, the ships now require more than 50 personnel (plus the mission-module teams).

•The Freedom has experienced major mechanical problems on her first forward deployment (to Singapore); similar problems were experienced during earlier operations in the Caribbean.

• The ships lack realistic air-defense capabilities, meaning that they will need to be accompanied by a missile-armed ship when in hostile waters.

• The mission-module concept has failed to provide the promised capabilities although several LCS are in commission.

• Procuring both the LCS-1 and LCS-2 designs is requiring two crew-training programs, two sets of spare parts, two sets of documentation, etc.; it also limits flexibility in personnel assignments.

The LCS spin and happy talk is not helpful.

Those who had the power to direct our future Fleet last decade decided that LCS is going to be a large part of our future. We need to stop with the PPT pipe-dreams and cheesy videos based on best-case scenarios and 0-downside technology-risk analysis. We need serious discussions and serious plans on how we can best employ a seriously sub-optimal platform.

Norman is doing it. Others, notsomuch.

Hat tip, in part, ELP.

UPDATE: BEHOLD the power of the front porch! I guess they couldn't take the taunting; they took the video down. Nice LMT.

1 comment:

CAPT Mark Vandroff, DDG 51 PM said...

Not sure where Mr. Polmar gets his figure of $2 Billion for a DDG 51. The first of the restart ships (DDG 113) will cost about that, but after restart costs are recovered, the ships in the FY13-17 MYP will cost closer to $1.5 Billion each.