The Littoral Combat Ship was supposed to anchor the Navy of the future. Instead, a report obtained by Bloomberg News reveals a program plagued by problems, high costs, and an inability to meet even simple docking requirements.
Ideally, the Littoral Combat Ship is one vessel that can transform to fulfill one of three roles at a time: anti-mine, anti-submarine, or ocean surface combat. To do this, it uses interchangeable modules, helicopters, unmanned underwater vehicles (sea drones!), and missiles, depending on the mission. In theory, the modules work like LEGOs, swapping out a sonar array from the anti-submarine kit for a 30mm gun in the surface warfare kit.
In practice, the modules don't work. The goal was for a 96-hour turnaround between modules in place and specific other tools needed (the above-mentioned helicopters, etc). A ship that adaptable and flexible could respond rapidly to a crisis. But the report obtained by Bloomberg reveals that while a 96-hour module exchange is technically possible, it requires a nearby dock, with all the components for the next module already on hand. That takes a lot of advance planning to set up and requires fetching spare modules from naval bases beforehand (a process that took weeks in a training exercise.)
The Littoral Combat Ship is also a far cry from durable. A more recent report says the ship is not expected to remain capable after taking a hit from an opponent, which is a significant problem for a naval vessel. Granted, it is not designed to carry on a full naval battle by itself, but it doesn't take an enemy warship to sink it. Instead, this $440 million ship can be knocked out of a fight by a single hostile cruise missile.
Department of Defense acquisition programs are laughably infamous for running over budget. Usually, however, a flagship program still ends in a useful vehicle, even if it cost billions more than expected. The Pentagon's Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle program, for example, had a similarly high total price tag of $45 billion. While value-for-cost of the MRAP program is still in question, it did at least deliver a durable vehicle to troops fighting abroad.
It is still possible that the Littoral Combat Ship can drastically improve; while the year-old report mentions critical flaws, they are not wholly insurmountable. Fixing them will take more time and more monetary investment, and in the age of sequestration, both resources are increasingly scarce.
If someone gave me 37 billion dollars I would change the world.
So first the F-22 has cockpit problems and is then found to be no better in a dog fight than the euro-fighter which is like half the cost, the F-35 is found to be less capable than the fighters it's meant to replace, and now this? This is the trouble of getting into an arms race with oneself.
I guess a 37 Billion dollar money pit can float!
Oh wait, perhaps it can't....... sad sigh.
Meanwhile what were the Government Service workers, who are required to sign off on this thing as it being built doing?!?!
Why did it have to come down to 37 Billion dollars SPENT, prior to making public it having problems.
Seems once again, the GS force is not doing their job.
Now worries, a GS person can never be fired. If they
are really bad and their department hates them, they
get a glowing review in hopes they apply somewhere else.
The government never admits they did wrong.....
yup. this is what you get for hiring design engineers whose main experience and background is about 300 hrs on a Lego Mindstorm kit -- "modules", really!!-- they should hire with at least 1,000 hrs hands-on with the kit & even then w/ direct supervision by a parent! To think that they're even lobbying to hoist the F-22 Codename "White Elephant" to the Canadians. Canucks should go for the cheaper re-tooled F-15 Silent Eagle from Boeing. The F-15 has been unmatched performance-wise where it counts .. in the battlefield.
Sounds like new engineers need to be hired. There's a couple of high school students I saw on the news that can probably fill the job no problem.
Quick! While no one's lookin, destroy all prints and plans for destroyers!
America-where no deliberate mismanagement goes unrewarded and traitors get to be the biggest managers on the block.
So we get these little rinky-dink patrol boats and the F-35 6 O'clock Sitting Duck.
And the government wants to take the firearms from the people?
This was built with the intention of China copying the plans..... a really, yea yea, I mean, we the USA government meant to do a bad job on purpose to foil China's hacking. Seriously, this was planned. Well, it’s our story and were stick'n to it. Ya see, when China copies this by hacking our government files and contractors, all they will get is a dysfunctional boat, ha ha. See, we meant to do this and waste billions and billions of dollars. It was a good idea. See, you understand right?!
Duh, how about running a simulator before spending half a billion.
Has anyone looked into what the LCS ships were designed to do? Maybe there is a reason why they were designed the way they were. Does anyone know what ships LCS replaces and how much those cost?
Hey...it created jobs, people got paid, and we got a weapon system which doesn't work, so more job creation...a win/win!
"We Entertain When It Rains"
a single hostile cruise missile can take out a whole city, just saying
@ace7644: The F-22 was designed with the idea that if you're in dog-fighting range, you're already dead. Jet fighters today only carry about 15 seconds of 35mm ammunition and travel at speeds that make dog-fights largely irrelevant. The F-22 is more of a missile/bomb stealth platform than a traditional fighter.
@Mrgsdsjg: The LCS is supposed to be the next-generation destroyer, designed to either replace or at least supplement the aging Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. They're smaller, supposed to be able to move easier in calm waters like coasts and rivers, but still offer much of the same firepower as their larger cousins. The angled design is also to give them a soft-stealth function so that they're harder to see when close to land. Unfortunately, as the article said, they're maintenance-heavy, which means that they're of limited use in an actual warzone.
@joelixirs: I agree that the F-15 should still be the backbone of our Air Force. It's a damned good fighter. That said, the F-22 is a superb stealth platform, if they can just work out the life support issues. A thousand times better than that blackhole F-35 program.
the F-22 was designed with dogfighting in mind. The primary reason why the YF-22 won over the YF-23 was its increased maneuverability. Also it uses 20mm ammo, not 35mm. No plane in the US inventory uses over 30mm ammo. The A-10 uses 30mm, the F-35 uses 25mm, everything else uses 20mm.
The LCS is not designed to replace the Arleigh Burke class destroyers, in fact the Arleigh Burkes just had their production restarted and will likely remain in production until the 2040's. The LCS ships were designed to replace the Oliver Hazard Perry class Frigates which are only able to do the anti-submarine warfare role because they have been stripped of all other weapons. They are also designed to supplement the job of the minesweepers and do a better job at anti-piracy/anti-narcotics patrols.
The F-15 was never the backbone of the fleet, thats the F-16, of which the USAF owns over 1,200 of, they only own 254 F-15C/Ds, with another 221 F-15E's. The F-15C/D's are scheduled to remain in service in a support role to the F-22 past 2025, and there is no schedule for the retirement of the F-15E at this time.
Battleships do not travel alone. A battle group with proven missile intercept capability provides cover for the battleship as it executes its mission.
Don't get me wrong; I see the potential in this little boat. High speed squad insertion/recovery is a good thing, so is being small and being able to use cover features typical of coastline environments. But if you are then vulnerable to an equipped squad yourself, it becomes hit and miss for survival right off the bat. It has to be able to take a pounding within it's sphere of influence, if only to be able to conduct a retreat against multiple points of attack. I thought that our military procurement was based around the conditions that exist when things are as bad as they can get.
I must really be a Neanderthal; I know. I'm supposed to be buying into this whole 'dodging raindrops' thing that our military is becoming.
We could use these for lawyer insertion. Screw the nukes. We'll REALLY go to war on your hapless butt. Send in a load of right wing lawyers, followed by a boatload of environmentalists, followed by union lawyers. THEN send in the clergy, to save them. THEN nuke them.
Com'n on! We are USA, money is no option!
Having to pay for this beast or it actually....
...... oh, I lost my train of thought.
What was I talking about?
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The multifunction weapons platform has been the bane of the US military since at least the 1920s. The seduction of one-gadget-does-everything seems to strong for the political system to resist. It's kind of like the eternal quest for a universal socket wrench. Why spend money on an entirely different ship-hull/airframe/chassi when you can have just one base platform and tack everything on it?
If you look at history, it's clear that the one-weapon-does-it-all failure originates primarily from the political branch. If we left it to the military we had a plethora of special purpose systems all tailored to exactly one mission. They would spend decades in mothball with idle crews until that one moment they were needed.
Instead, the military has to figure out watch missions its expects, find out what the politicians will pay for, add in this or that for pork to get the stuff they really need and then cram all mission capability into whatever. It's also a constant requirement to spread the pork around get votes, especially to Democratic districts (because they have to be bribed to vote for defense as a rule) so weapons systems end up with all sorts of gadgets welded on the side Rube Goldberg style.
I'd bet a considerable sum of money that most of the over complexity in the Littoral Combat ship traces back to the political system. Read up on the history of the development of the B-17 bomber. It's a real eye opener. All the same crap was going on way back in 1937. This is hardwired into our system. All that pork to grease the wheels is really, really expensive.
If this ship really is in as bad shape as they're making it out to be then I just might throw up! I hate hearing stories about the U.S. blowing huge sums of money on projects, properties, or other things of little value, knowing that so much more viable and good things can be made from that. It sickens me, just sickens me. I can understand putting certain budgets towards things that aren't necessarily on the nation's top priority lists because of their exceptional various reasons, but for the most part I see it as a waste of money and excellent resources/ benefits that can be obtained!!
What chaps my hide the worst is that Denmark has had modular mission-module technology for *thirty* years! Why didn't we just buy it from them?
I honestly believe the downfall of this project has more to do with Congressional pork than Navy mismanagement.