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Surface Forces: LCS Rewrites The Rules of Surface Warfare
   Next Article → MURPHY'S LAW: Why Indian R&D Sucks
May 8, 2008:  The surface warfare module for the U.S. Navy's new LCS (Littoral Combat Ships) will contain an unusual collection of weapons. The only familiar item will be a MH-60R (a navalized Blackhawk) helicopter, armed with a 12.7mm machine-gun and Hellfire missiles (with a range of 8 kilometers). There will be three other aircraft, all RQ-8A Fire Scout UAVs. Each of these is a 1.5 ton unmanned helicopter, that will be armed with 70mm laser guided DAGR missiles. These 25 pound missiles have a range of six kilometers. There will be two 23 foot long Spartan USVs (unmanned surface vehicles), each armed with a 30mm auto cannon and a Javelin anti-tank missile (range of 2.5 kilometers). The 30mm cannon has about the same range, and both it and the Javelin are there to destroy small patrol boats, or any other hostile craft. The USV will also carry a net for fouling the propeller of ships and boats. This use of UAVs and USVs for surface warfare is new, and tactics and operating procedures have to be worked out.

 

Most of the firepower, however, comes in four metal canisters filled with a new U.S. Army missile system called  NetFires (or NLOS-LS). This is still in development. This weapon is actually two different missiles, identical in weight and size, but different in how they operate. The LCS is using PAM (Precision Attack Missile). This is a 178mm diameter missile that weighs 120 pounds, and has a range of 40 kilometers. PAM attacks from above, with a 28 pound warhead. This enables it to destroy boats, and damage larger ships. PAMs are vertically-launched from what looks like a 4x6x4 foot (wide x deep x high) cargo container. Actually, it IS a cargo container. The missiles are shipped from the factory in this sealed container. Each one ton container holds 15 missiles and can be carried on the back of a truck, or a ship. Once you plug a PAM container into the wireless battlefield Internet, the missiles are ready to fire. the fire control  officer on the LCS sends one or more PAMs against any enemy target that shows up on their screen (usually a larger flat screen.) The battlefield Internet is using aircraft, UAVs, satellites and ground sensors to pick up targets for LCS. When the fire control officer sees a target he wants to kill, a point and click will send the coordinates of the target to a  PAM container on board, launch a PAM to the approximate location where the missiles own sensor will pick up the target and home in on it. The sensors will, most of the time, pick up the vehicle as destroyed and adjust the fire control officers screen accordingly.

 

The LCS features a number of major innovations. For one thing, it is highly automated, and has a crew of less than fifty. The LCS has a large cargo hold that can be quickly fitted with gear to turn it into a mine clearing ship, a surface warfare support ship, a submarine hunter, or just about anything (anti-aircraft, commando support, or even command and control.) The development of the LCS has been screwed up, with resulting delays and cost overruns. The same grief is expected in the development of the specialized modules.

 

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Herald12345    What about helo dropped torpedoes?   5/8/2008 12:35:24 PM
Those Kilos and Songs aren't going to sink by themselves. We need to give them some encouragement.

Herald.
 
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ker       5/8/2008 9:03:03 PM

Those Kilos and Songs aren't going to sink by themselves. We need to give them some encouragement.

Herald.


Here, Here.
 
Will there be a Unoccupied/Unman Underwater Vehicle?  A big torpedo that gets close to fire spreads of small torpedoes and then comes back to rearm and recharge?  A some point the sonar gets too expensive to be disposable.  Maybe they just forgot to put it in the press release.
 
Quote    Reply

Charles99       5/10/2008 9:46:36 PM
Anyone else worried about This:

Most of the firepower, however, comes in four metal canisters filled with a new U.S. Army missile system called  NetFires (or NLOS-LS). This is still in development.

 
Sorry for the multi-enhance, but I always get worried when some new weapon system that is supposed to be placed on a combatent is "still in development".
  What happens if it goes the way of so many other programs and gets cut?  It their a "plan B" somewhere?

 
Quote    Reply

Herald12345    The entire LCS worries me.   5/10/2008 10:18:40 PM

Anyone else worried about This:

Most of
the firepower, however, comes in four metal canisters filled with a new U.S.
Army missile system called  NetFires (or
NLOS-LS). This is still in development.

 
Sorry for the multi-enhance, but I always get worried when some new weapon system that is supposed to be placed on a combatent is "still in development".
  What happens if it goes the way of so many other programs and gets cut?  It their a "plan B" somewhere?

This is a radical departure on the traditional frigate, that started out as an over glorified mine warfare ship with some gee whiz add ons.

Herald.



 
Quote    Reply

DarthAmerica       5/11/2008 1:48:59 AM



Anyone else worried about This:

Most of

the firepower, however, comes in four metal canisters filled with a new U.S.

Army missile system called  NetFires (or

NLOS-LS). This is still in development.

 
Sorry for the multi-enhance, but I always get worried when some new weapon system that is supposed to be placed on a combatent is "still in development".
  What happens if it goes the way of so many other programs and gets cut?  It their a "plan B" somewhere?


This is a radical departure on the traditional frigate, that started out as an over glorified mine warfare ship with some gee whiz add ons.

Herald.




Worried Herald? You are usually very specific in your post. What in particular worries you and why?
-DA
 
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Herald12345       5/11/2008 4:59:03 PM
The usual concerns:
-does the ship meet its specific mission or is it even the RIGHT mission?
-is it the right technical solution for the overall USN mission?
-do the contractors know what they are doing? [apparently in some specific details I can't discuss; they don't]
-why do I read cost overruns and under-performance in the OS trades for both the GD and LM boats.
-what the hell is still wrong with PEO?
-why has Congress screwed up in its own oversight in this?

This ship is weak as a sensor platform and it is poorly defended in its weapon fits and countermeasures, yet we will thrust it into a high threat interfaced battle-space environment. For an expendable, sure to be killed unit in the littorals, it will be expensive to us in lives, and resources.





Anyone else worried about This:

Most of

the firepower, however, comes in four metal canisters filled with a new U.S.

Army missile system called  NetFires (or

NLOS-LS). This is still in development.

 
Sorry for the multi-enhance, but I always get worried when some new weapon system that is supposed to be placed on a combatent is "still in development".
  What happens if it goes the way of so many other programs and gets cut?  It their a "plan B" somewhere?



This is a radical departure on the traditional frigate, that started out as an over glorified mine warfare ship with some gee whiz add ons.

Herald.





Worried Herald? You are usually very specific in your post. What in particular worries you and why?

-DA


There are MANY specifics, but these will do for starters.

Herald
 
Quote    Reply

Charles99       5/12/2008 1:18:14 AM



Anyone else worried about This:

Most of

the firepower, however, comes in four metal canisters filled with a new U.S.

Army missile system called  NetFires (or

NLOS-LS). This is still in development.

 
Sorry for the multi-enhance, but I always get worried when some new weapon system that is supposed to be placed on a combatent is "still in development".
  What happens if it goes the way of so many other programs and gets cut?  It their a "plan B" somewhere?


This is a radical departure on the traditional frigate, that started out as an over glorified mine warfare ship with some gee whiz add ons.

Herald.



 Which is my problem-- because the litorral role doesn't need all these Gee whiz add ons. They're nice to have, but they aren't needed and evidence indicates they're insuring tha tthe one thing we do need (if we're going with a traditional style of littoral ship), I.E. lots of platforms, is the one thing we're not going to have. 
  The fact of the matter is that the weapons mentioned so far could be carried by smaller vessels-- and the UAV and other "gee whiz" parts, could be carried by mother ships or not carried at all, because as nice as they are, they're not needed. (and I must admit, if we're worried about China (which we should be regardless if we think we'll ever go to war, because they are the most likely competiator), I'm worried about putting too much into UAV's and UCAVs, etc, because the Chinese are not stupid, they're not Hussien's Iraq army, and it'd be very embaressing to find out that our data links aren't as ECM invulnerable as we thought).
  Fundamentaly, we're getting a fast, but over gadgeted, under armed, and very, very expensive boat. Doesn't seem like a very good buy right now.


 
Quote    Reply

B.Smitty       5/12/2008 2:23:25 PM


 Which is my problem-- because the litorral role doesn't need all these Gee whiz add ons. They're nice to have, but they aren't needed and evidence indicates they're insuring tha tthe one thing we do need (if we're going with a traditional style of littoral ship), I.E. lots of platforms, is the one thing we're not going to have. 
  The fact of the matter is that the weapons mentioned so far could be carried by smaller vessels-- and the UAV and other "gee whiz" parts, could be carried by mother ships or not carried at all, because as nice as they are, they're not needed. (and I must admit, if we're worried about China (which we should be regardless if we think we'll ever go to war, because they are the most likely competiator), I'm worried about putting too much into UAV's and UCAVs, etc, because the Chinese are not stupid, they're not Hussien's Iraq army, and it'd be very embaressing to find out that our data links aren't as ECM invulnerable as we thought).
  Fundamentaly, we're getting a fast, but over gadgeted, under armed, and very, very expensive boat. Doesn't seem like a very good buy right now.


What "Gee Whiz Add Ons" don't we need?  The basic ship is lightly fitted as is.  The MIW and ASW modules are extra, and not covered by the base price for the ship.

Fire Scout is not holding up production, nor is Spartan or RMV or any of the other unmanned systems.  They may hold up deployment of LCSs with full modules, but we can still build the ships.

What motherships are going to carry all the add ons?

We can't get much smaller than the LCS and still be able to carry two helo-equivalents.



 
Quote    Reply

Charles99       5/13/2008 11:31:46 PM
Which is the problem-- we already have a hugely expensive ship that doesn't even come with all the kit it needs-- for that we have to pay more. 
  Remember, the LCS was supposed to be the cheap ship that allowed us to have the numbers that would let us buy a smaller number of superships.  We're not getting that.  We're getting what is looking increasingly like another A-12 fiasco with the minor bright spot that we at least have a couple of hulls.
  But a "couple" of hulls won't cut it. We need LOTS of hulls for this ship class to be useful and they have to be hulls that can do the job, not ones tied up at port because nobody can afford the modules.
  Someone really, really needs to let the Navy know that "Cutting Edge" and "Cheap and fast" aren't the same thing. If you try to put high speed engines, advanced modules, etc, etc, on a ship you will get an expensive ship.  As it is, I'll lay good odds that four or five years from now, the LCS project will be dead in the water, and we won't have ANY ship.


 
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Crusty Old Chief       5/15/2008 5:31:25 AM
An "inexpensive ship" is the antithesis of a "good ship."  Inexpensive means that we've deliberately used inferior materials (aluminum v. steel), tried to make it into a Swiss Army Knife (organic capability v. "plug & pray" modules), made it too small to be survivable, and invested heavily in promises and vaporware.  Then we set the manning requirements based on "want" instead of "need."
 
Sheffield, Ardent, Antelope, and Stark seem forgotten at SUPSHIPS.  Aluminum is best used for foil in the galley not for the ribs and skin of a warship.  Moreover, the "minimal manning" disease has stripped manpower to a dangerously low level and is replaced by the fool's faith in computers, machines, and gadgets.  In combat, things break, fires burn, and Sailors get killed.  History guarantees that following Hit Alpha, the computers will not work, the remote equipment will no work, there will be no or limited electrical power, and anything of importance will be on fire. 
 
When, not if, that happens these ships will not have the defensive capability to fend off the attack, will be gravely damaged because they are too small to absorb the damage, will not have the redundancy of systems to continue steaming, will not have the crew size to absorb casualties and continue to fight the ship, and will not have the crew size to man large damage control parties. 
 
Frankly, I'd be much more bully about LCS if they'd have simply come out and said:  "These ships are not meant to survive."    You then know that its a bit of a suicide mission when the shooting starts, and that, paradoxically, somehow makes it OK. 
 
Or, as my first Chief used to put it:  "Don't urinate on my head and tell me its raining."
 
Cheers,
Chief B.
 
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