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Navy’s criticized Littoral Combat Ships could soon pack a punch


 Littoral Combat Ship LCS USS Independence
The
littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) operates in the
waters off Southern California.

U.S.
Navy/Lt. Jan Shultis


  • The US Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships have been
    repeatedly criticized for its lack of firepower and numerous
    mechanical failures.
  • Mission modules that could be applied to each
    individual LCS for specific roles have been delayed.
  • The modules will be have operational capability or be
    in the operational testing phase in the next three
    years.

The US Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) have long been
criticized
and
complained about
.

Plans to make the Navy’s next frigate a larger version of the LCS
are
in doubt
, and the Government Accountability Office has
said
that LCS are “not expected to be survivable in a hostile combat
environment.”

Sebastien Roblin
described the LCS’ flaws
in the National Interest, writing
that the ships “don’t have the firepower to hit anything more
than a few miles away” and they’re “unlikely to survive being hit
by anything in return.”

“They cost more than twice as much as promised, and require 75
percent more crew to operate than planned for,” Roblin writes.
“The modular-mission capabilities that were a key selling point
had to be abandoned. And they’re breaking down constantly.”

The Navy has
defended
the LCS in the past, and it looks like they may
finally catch a break. Navy leaders announced
Thursday
that long-delayed
mission modules
for the vessels will be in operational
testing phases in the next three years.

LCS were meant to operate in the littoral zone of enemy
territory. They were designed to excel in three potential combat
scenarios — fending off small fast attack craft/suicide boats
like the ones
used by Iran
and
Houthi rebels
in Yemen, anti-submarine warfare, and mine
clearing.


Harpoon Missile Littoral Combat Ship LCS USS Coronado
A
harpoon missile launches from the missile deck of the littoral
combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) in the Philippine
Sea.

U.S. Navy/Mass Communication
Specialist 2nd Class Kaleb R. Staples


Modules will make the LCS more powerful

The module for fending off fast attack craft will arm an LCS with
AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, the same missiles used by the AH-64D
Apache Longbow and various drones for strike operations. The USS
Detroit
successfully tested
this concept last March.

The anti-submarine warfare (ASW) module will equip an LCS with a
Variable Depth Sonar (VDS). The VDS has an advantage over
previous ASW sonar systems because it can be raised and lowered
depending on how deep an enemy submarine is, allowing for greater
coverage.

The mine clearing module will equip an LCS with a myriad of
anti-mine countermeasures. These include the the
Airborne Laser Mine Detection System
, which locates mines
near the surface of the water with a laser, the Airborne Mine Neutralization System,
which uses helicopters to blow up detected mines, and a Common Unmanned Surface
Vehicle
, an underwater drone that can find mines or detonate
them.

The LCS will serve as the Navy’s main minesweeper, with no other
ship outfitted for the task.

The Navy is also expected to choose a new Over The Horizon (OTH)
anti-ship missile by this summer. The missile will be able to be
added onto any LCS, giving it the ability to attack enemy vessels
miles away.

If the LCS
mechanical issues
get sorted out and all goes according to
plan, the LCS should finally become the capable support vessel it
was always meant to be.


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