Monday, January 23, 2012

LCS: A Global Force for Confusion

From the mouths of Malaysians ....

This whole article is full of win for a variety of reasons. First let's start with something that I really wish a USA lawmaker would say about LCS. This quote is from Malaysian lawmaker Tony Pua about their government jumping on the Bu11sh1tBingo bandwagon on their next purchase of corvettes,
“We would now like to call upon Mindef to ‘call a spade a spade’ and stop the attempt to disguise our acquisition with fancy names to justify their substantial cost,” he said in a statement today.
Amen my Malaysian brother.

We all know that LCS is just a speed-fetish's version of a large corvette. A slightly armed, sub-optimal corvette at that.
He pointed out that the LCS is a specific type of ship built to a specific length, speed and design by the US navy and no other country. He added that the US’ currently had only two such vessels in service and was building others.
Of course - no one else can afford to pay so much for a ship that provides so little. Then again, we are flush with cash that we can afford to spend $1.75 for $.90 in utility, right?

While we are at it - let's look at what they are buying.
The DAP lawmaker said he could now confirm that the government was not acquiring “littoral combat ships (LCS)” as claimed, but another class of naval vehicles called “Gowind Class Corvettes”.
... and it is ...
DCNS, through its local partner in Malaysia, Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS), has won its first export contract for a Gowind ship. The €2.14 bn deal has been signed by BNS with the Malaysian government for six Gowind-class corvettes
The six corvettes, the first of which will be delivered in 2017, the others following at six-monthly intervals, will be armed with a 57mm gun as well as surface-to-air missiles and torpedoes. The 107-m long, 2,400-ton ships will also carry a Eurocopter EC-275 helicopter.
It is a "scalable" class of warships that, though small to medium-small, seem to pack quite a punch in the generic package.
Displacement: 1,100 to 2,500 tons
Length: 90 to 105m
Beam: 13 to 14.2m
Speed: 22 to 27kt
Armament: 16 Mica RF air to air missiles or 16 Aster 15 SAMs
8 Exocet anti-ship missiles or 8 RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles or 8 RBS-15 Mk.3
Oh, and cost? Using today's conversion rate and a wee bit of math: €2.14bil=$2.76bil/6=$460 million each.

It would be interesting to see what comes with that price ... but what it does come with is a multipurpose/multimission patrol corvette. LCS?
All told, Stackley said, the average cost to buy an LCS should be between $430 million and $440 million.
That is without a single mission module and it does not include the cost for the first two ships of $637 million for Freedom and $704 million for Independence; so average that up a bit.

If you look at the smaller versions of the GOWIND class (with a lower cost than the Malaysian types - it makes me think of the conversation we had with Bryan McGrath yesterday on Midrats about his ideas on the utility of fast patrol boats.

If you want to be able to run away - LCS is your ship - but being that in this line of work running away isn't an option more often than not - GOWIND or LCS; which ship do you want to take in harm's way? Even more - which would you rather have - 6 GOWIND or 4 LCS?


Byron said...

"<span>If you want to be able to run away" From what? It's not like the days of wind or dreadnoughts, where if they can get into cannon range they'll pound you to bits. It's the age of missiles, which the LCS will never outrun, or high velocity cannon fire from shore patrol boats that they can't bring the 57mm to bear on because it's so damn high out of the frigging water! You can't run away from the fact that one hit that the guys in Repair Five can plug up or re-connect in 10 minutes aren't there any more...they're in CIC pushing buttons, dammit! WAR IS NOT PUSHBUTTON.</span>
<span>Good for those least they know $hit from Shinola</span>

James said...

I'd rather have 6 Absolons and a big steel beasty with alot of big main cannon and ALOT of secondaries.

leesea said...

well... the point is that there ARE numerous examples of small corvette/OPV type ships which are perfectlty suited for smaller navies and probably better suited for the USN.  Is it just me who seemed to hear Bob Work say at SNA that ships smaller than the 3000 ton LCS can be filled in by others?  If so I very much disagree.

AND I would add that the USN could buy one of these foreign designs for construction in the US.   Except that NIH rules at WNY.

The USN should start now to have another class of small combatant IOC by the time the first 24 LCS are completed (and the faults of their designs become painfully obvious).  NAVSEA should be able to contract for one OPV in ten years?

leesea said...

What I tried to point out yesterday was that even smaller warboats such as FACs and/or Fast Patrol Boats can easilty be procured from US shipyards but the USN seems not to want them?  Will the Cyclone PCs not be replaced?

ewok40k said...

Malaysia is quite down to business, fast growing economy benefitting from proximity to the powerhouse of the Singapore. And it is a functioning Islamic country!
Such small-to-medium ASEAN countries will probably form the China containment alliance, even if no one calls it officially... and definitely they will need max bang for their bucks.
update: and they got ROYAL Malaysian Navy!
Quite small but modern icluding 2 Scorpene class SSK... they alone are enough to make straits of Malakka a true chokepoint!

John said...

Any option that includes zero, or at least no more than two, LCS is a win for the U.S. navy and taxpayers.  If we actually get some Gowinds or even the Bayliner and .30-06 we are ahead in terms of capability, as well as costs.

LT B said...

Need some venison jerky

Surfcaster said...

Not a Bayliner - almost as thin skinned as the LCS. At least get a real battlewagon like an old 70s SeaCraft 23...

Mike M. said...

How big?   :)   16 inch, perhaps?

LT B said...

Stop, you get me all excited when we start talking BBs!

TBR said...

Remember that with most cost quotes of ship contracts in that quarter of the world it is, unlike with LCS, "system cost", i.e. it includes much cost not figured in the LCS quotes like missiles, munitions, a generous spares, documentation, training (often tactical and career training of the buying navy's operators by the selling country's navy) and ILS package, industry development in the customer country and about 10+% bribes, -erm- "commission", in the case of Malaysia if one goes by the history of the Scorpene deal.

So if you want a "LCS" comparable cost for the Gowind deal substract 30-40% from the quoted contract price...

Byron said...

Nah, Higgins PT boat 8-)

cdrsalamander said...

They did overengineer those things, didn't they?

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

I still think a new production RUDDEROW or JOHN C BUTLER would fill the job just spiffy.

Surfcaster said...

Brick *#&$ House. Nothing better than a Potter 23 ;)

She may be the best hull in that size of that time though one could argue the slightly larger Whitewater. Sure, today you could pick a few more, Regulator, Contendor, etc - but she is still the Caddy of her class.

juan said...

Why are we building the future of the Navy on the ability to run away?
And what does that say about our desire to remain the pre-eminent superpower.

When the big alpha male keeps talking about his elaborate plans for running away in case there is a fight ... I'm thinking maybe I shouldn't be as intimidated of him as I thought.