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Surface Forces: Another Tiny Weapon For the LCS
   Next Article → MURPHY'S LAW: Fear Of Learning How To Fight
January 14, 2011: The U.S. Navy has decided to equip its 3,000 ton LCS (Littoral Combat Ships) with a surface launched version of the Griffin air-to-surface missile. The Griffin is an alternative to the Hellfire II, which weighs 48.2 kg (106 pounds) and carries a 9 kg (20 pound) warhead and has a range of 8,000 meters. In contrast, the Griffin weighs only 16 kg (35 pounds), with a 5.9 kg (13 pound) warhead which is larger, in proportion to its size, than the one carried by the larger Hellfire missile. Griffin has a pop-out wings, allowing it to glide, and thus has a longer range (15 kilometers) than Hellfire. UAVs can carry more of the smaller missiles, typically two of them in place of one Hellfire. The surface-launched Griffin weighs about twice as much as the air launched version, because of the addition of a rocket to get it into the air, after which it can glide to the target.

 LCS is currently armed with a 57mm gun, four 12.7mm machine-guns, and an eleven cell SeaRam system for aircraft and missile defense. The RAM (RIM-116 "Rolling Air Frame") missiles replace Phalanx autocannon. SeaRAM has a longer range (7.5 kilometers) than the Phalanx (two kilometers). But the navy has been seeking some compact anti-ship missiles to add to this arsenal.

The navy had, until about a year ago, planned to use U.S. Army PAM (Precision Attack Missile). This is a 178mm diameter missile that weighs 55 kg (120 pounds), and has a range of 40 kilometers. PAM attacks from above, with a 13.2 kg (28 pound) warhead. This enabled it to kill any tank by hitting the thinner top armor. PAMs are vertically-launched from what looks like a 1.3x1.9x1.3 meter (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 can send 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 missile's own sensor will pick up the target and home in on it. The problem with PAM was that the army cancelled the project because of cost and technical problems. At first, the navy thought it could complete development, but changed their mind when the surface-launched Griffin came along.

There were few good alternatives here, as the LCS isn't really big enough to handle the standard navy VLS (Vertical Launch System), which handles much larger anti-aircraft, anti-ship and cruise missiles in other ships. But the Griffin, and the earlier PAM, were criticized for having limited anti-ship capability (because of small warheads.)

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LB    Ridiculous   1/14/2011 8:56:15 AM
It's simply ridiculous for a 3,000 ton frigate to be armed with a 57mm and 15km missiles leaving aside it's main mission is to operate where it it is most likely to engage smaller ships and boats armed with anti ship missiles.  The planned 40km missiles were themselves already too short ranged.

The entire rationale of a 45 knot frigate is deeply flawed.  It's far too expensive and does far too little.  The asw module is almost useless- the last USN report stated it did not add to the ships effectiveness.  For surface warfare it's under equipped. Using it for mine warfare is irrational.  It's not shock resistant, too big, too expensive, and the high speed totally useless for mine hunting which is a slow methodical process.

The one useful factor is that it carries two helicopters.  When a ship relies on it's helicopters one needs to remember it can not operate them 24/7 for a variety of reasons.  Leaving aside the notion of paying for the high speed ship which relies on helicopters. 
 
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VisigothCAS       1/14/2011 1:48:56 PM
Agreed. WWII destroyers that weighed less than the LCS typically had several 5 inch guns, torpedoes and many 40mm and 20mm guns. Some of those ships also took brutal beatings before being sunk, though some survives those beatings. The LCS is just another overpriced bit of tinfoil. The British found out about big, undergunner tinfoil boats in the Falklands. Several modern destroyers were lost from single hits while some older WWII ships survived, and yes that is only counting ordnance that actually exploded and not the duds, though the duds did do considerable damage and one modern ship was lost just due to impact and burning fuel.
 
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JTR~~       1/14/2011 4:00:38 PM

It's simply ridiculous for a 3,000 ton frigate to be armed with a 57mm and 15km missiles leaving aside it's main mission is to operate where it it is most likely to engage smaller ships and boats armed with anti ship missiles.  The planned 40km missiles were themselves already too short ranged.




The entire rationale of a 45 knot frigate is deeply flawed.  It's far too expensive and does far too little.  The asw module is almost useless- the last USN report stated it did not add to the ships effectiveness.  For surface warfare it's under equipped. Using it for mine warfare is irrational.  It's not shock resistant, too big, too expensive, and the high speed totally useless for mine hunting which is a slow methodical process.




The one useful factor is that it carries two helicopters.  When a ship relies on it's helicopters one needs to remember it can not operate them 24/7 for a variety of reasons.  Leaving aside the notion of paying for the high speed ship which relies on helicopters. 

Sometimes I wonder as to whether or not the US armed forces really even need half of the kit that they buy, or alternatively when the Pentagon sees a bit of new kit that they take a fancy too, the buy the thing regardless of whether there is any real need for it. On occasion some of the procurements made by the Pentagon seem illogical, it?s more like it is preparing more for a global war, or is buying equipment to needlessly reinforce America?s already significant military dominance for the sake of extra political pushing power, cold war thinking i believe. Is anyone of the same mind? Or have I completely misread the situation?

 
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heraldabc    You misread it entirely.   1/14/2011 5:15:25 PM
Rethink your premise and emphasize 'global' requirement. And knock off the envy,  okay. The requirement makes the need.
 
H.
 
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BigRick       1/14/2011 7:39:02 PM
I  diddo LB's comments, if the Navy was wise it would scrap both LCS boats and build a modern frigate to replace the Perry class frigate, which themselves are totally unarmed and useless right now.
 
If the Navy doesn't want to design a brand new frigate then they could modernize the existing one, keep the basic power plant and hull which of a sound design but replace the turbines and other gear as necessary, reconfigure the top side by moving the 3" gun to the bow, and using the space where the gun was to put in a 12 cell VLS system (for Harpoon, and ESSM), keep the Phalanx on he back end about the hanger,upgrade the electronics, radar, etc and there you have it, a modern frigate at half the cost of a single useless LCS.
 
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LB    Program History   1/15/2011 2:54:01 AM
The original concept for the LCS grew out of the Streetfighter concept.  Back then LCS was a 500 ton very fast boat perfect for brown water operations.  It was also seen as cheap and to be bought in large numbers.

Somehow it grew into a 3,000 ton frigate with two helicopters.  Paying to carry around two helicopters at 45 knots is simply ridiculous.  Designing a ship to operate inshore and up river without the weapons to exploit that capability is beyond ridiculous.  

The USN requires a fast patrol boat and they design a frigate.  They also require an actual frigate, where sending a DDG might be too risky or overkill, and they design one lacking in asw and anti air.  A small draft gunfire support ship has also been needed for decades and instead of a mine resistant monitor with a 5 inch or 155mm they design a ship with a 57mm with a few missiles.

LCS does not do asw (according to USN reports) very well.  It's too big, too vulnerable, and too expensive for mine warfare- leaving aside the entire notion of the community only operating part time.  It's main mission seems to be dealing with small boats where it's both total overkill in terms of cost and lacking in weapons reach if dealing with a ship equipped with anti ship missiles.

The one thing it has going for it is that it's sexy.  Small cost effective mine warfare, patrol, and gunfire support ships are not.  Sexy sells. 
 
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PNWdude       1/16/2011 12:10:56 AM
Why not arm LCS with a SLAMRAAM system, like the Swedish NASAMS?
 
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Carl D.       1/16/2011 8:49:50 PM

I  diddo LB's comments, if the Navy was wise it would scrap both LCS boats and build a modern frigate to replace the Perry class frigate, which themselves are totally unarmed and useless right now.

 

If the Navy doesn't want to design a brand new frigate then they could modernize the existing one, keep the basic power plant and hull which of a sound design but replace the turbines and other gear as necessary, reconfigure the top side by moving the 3" gun to the bow, and using the space where the gun was to put in a 12 cell VLS system (for Harpoon, and ESSM), keep the Phalanx on he back end about the hanger,upgrade the electronics, radar, etc and there you have it, a modern frigate at half the cost of a single useless LCS.
  



The "old" Perry class would be a very good starting point for a "real" frigate as opposed to what the LCS is turning into, in effect a less capable CG Cutter.  As it is, the Perry class's demonstrated ability to survive battle damage is pretty good when you look at the Stark and the Roberts.  I don't think the LCS would fare as well.
 
Heck, the Spanish built version, the Santa Maria class is a good start....having a variable pitch propeller, 2 retractable auxiliary azipods for maneuvering and docking...just get rid of the MK-13 launcher completely and install enough VLS to handle most issues.  For that matter, the Auzzies put an 8-cell MK-41 in forward of the MK-13 when they did their upgrade program and they still have a 76 mm gun, as well as Phalanx, and carry two helicopters.  The RoC's Cheng Kung class went so far as to initially add a 15 meter/49.5 ft plug in the hull to add a 48-64 cell MK-41VLS, a lighter version of Aegis and other gear (cost killed this however) so they all were built closer to the USN standard "long hull".
 
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gf0012-aust       1/16/2011 10:43:00 PM


The "old" Perry class would be a very good starting point for a "real" frigate as opposed to what the LCS is turning into, in effect a less capable CG Cutter.  As it is, the Perry class's demonstrated ability to survive battle damage is pretty good when you look at the Stark and the Roberts.  I don't think the LCS would fare as well.


Upgraded RAN Adelaide class,
 
Mk13 firing Harpoon and SM2-MR
Mk 41 VLS ESSM
Block 1b Phalanx
 
Upgraded ewarfare suite and firmware upgrades of all weapons
 
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davidhughes       1/21/2011 2:27:44 PM
Rubbish: His comment was not envy, but pity for the sailors who have to operate these junk heaps and contempt for the system that creates these 'frigates' and makes men man them. Learn to accept reasonable criticism, instead of assuming that all are attacks on the US.
 
That off my chest! One of the basic problems is the NIH problem - or more accurately the unwillingness of three shipbuilders who have the lock on navy ships (politics!) to simply adopt an overseas design from smaller navies that specialise in smaller craft. Not that the US Navy is alone in this. The Royal Canadian Navy is crippled by a similar attitude. The very best in this respect is the Royal Australian Navy, whose ministers happily select and adopt the very best already designed class from around the world and adopt it. This saves bundles of money.
 
 
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