Monday, February 09, 2009

A Viable Alternative to LCS

As you know, sometimes I let long time readers guest-post. Byron's views may or may not be those of CDR Salamander. I quote in full; Byron, over to you.
Over the past year, much has been said about LCS both at CDR Salamanders and Information Dissemination, very little of it good. The basic objections to the project are as follows:

1) Speed does not equal life, and could actually worsen a bad situation.

2) Lack of offensive armament: One 57mm and possible other systems does not mean a warship out the door.

3) Modules: what modules? Are they ready to go to sea now for a shake down?

4) Damage control: will the computers decide to give up the ship before you do, and if the computer dies, do you have enough manpower to fight the ship AND save the ship, something done many times over during combat.

5) Construction: Aluminum? You have to be kidding me. Didn’t we learn anything from all the aluminum superstructures? (No, I don’t mean fire, either)

6) Can this vessel survive in the littorals?

If these questions cause you to wonder why in the world we are going on with this project, then the answer is simple: politics. There are jobs and politics at stake. Many voters might be angered if they lost their jobs, making their elected representatives mad at the Navy. Compound this with more egg on the face for the Navy with problems and overruns on LPD-17 and DD(?)(CG?). Bad PR means less appropriations.

Here is my suggestion. Halt the build at 8. We can find something for them to do like helping out with the pirate situation off Somalia. Room for Marines and RHIBs and Ma Deuces. It could even chase the speedboats down.

While we’re deciding on what we need to replace this class, we need to address the situation with the vessels the LCS were so poorly designed to replace: the Perry FFGs. Lets keep 25 in the fleet, and perform the following:

1) Utilize the lessons learned aboard FFG-8 McInerny after it conducts it’s sea trials for Firescout. Embark two helos each. Hang weapons on them (yes, they can do that).

2) Perform a short SLEP, around 4-5 million each, to modernize living facilities, engineering spaces, damage control and structural repairs to add another 10 years to their lives.

3) Do what was planned when the Mk13 came off: Install a RAM mount. The FF can now put a sort of G back in her name.

4) Modify the current boat deck and SLAD to handle the larger RHIB boats. Heck, let's get crazy and do the same thing on the starboard side!

In favor of SLEP the Figs: Almost all the FFGs have had the following upgrades: new diesels (the old ones couldn’t be kept in parts) new reverse osmosis plants, SLAD install, and the Force Protection upgrade. For less than 120 million, you can have 25 modernized vessels capable of bridging the gap between FFG and FFG(X). I’m sure a funding could be had, especially if you plan to halt LCS at a very low number (I could live with 4 myself).

No comments: