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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:05 pm 
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Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

I last challenged the contributors of this forum to postulate how we could have modernized the Spruance-class destroyers (DD-963) into extremely usable platforms spanning all the missions of surface combatant for the next 20 years, and I got some incredible input to add to my year-long research project.

The Spruance one was an intellectual exercise and test in concept. However, because the Navy destroyed nearly the entire Spruance-class, the project was only academic and was only useful for intellectual practice. I have now begun a project that will count for something. This time, I am working on a proposal to modify the existing Littoral Combat Ship. I already have a rather firm set of equipment and load-out prepared, but I would like to see what kind of input others on this forum might have.

Let us now postulate like we did with the Spruance-class.

First a little background: The LCS is supposed to be a replacement for a number of ships with a number of weapon systems arranged in "modules" that can installed and removed making the ships "multi-mission" only in the sense that the same ship can do different things at different time with different load-outs but cannot do different things at the same time. Conventional ships have lots of systems that cover lots of mission areas at the same time. LCS, on the other hand, has large metal boxes known as CONNEX boxes, with different kinds of equipment and control stations inside them called “mission modules”. In theory, this saves money by not having to buy as many sophisticated systems at the same time and install them in all the ships. This theory, however, is quickly proving to simply water-down the ship and not the give any advantages worth the money saved.

The problem LCS has encountered is that most of its mission modules have not been finalized, completed, nor ordered, and the ones that have been are not worth the effort put into them or into the ships. So, what we have for the "foreseeable future" in LCS is very much what we had in the Spruance-class DD when she first came out. The Sprucans were considered horrifically under armed for their size and cost, but it had a huge margin for growth. LCS is the same way.

So far LCS---as a ship---has:

1 x 57mm Mk110 super rapid-fire gun
1 x CIWS (RAM or SeaRAM system)
2 x Mk38 Mod2 30mm rapid-fire guns
2 x SH-60 Helicopters

LCS is comprised of 2 different designs of ships. One cost $637 million and the other $704 million. Many contend that with the above armament is not at all worth the cost. Like the M2/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle used by the Army, and the Spruance-class developed in the 60s-70s, there is another configuration of LCS that is more expensive but vastly more capable and is currently being offered to foreign countries.

The foreign version roughly includes:
- SPY-1F phased array (mini-Aegis)
- 1 x Mk45 Mod4 5"/62-caliber gun -or- Oto 76mm rapid-fire gun
- 8 x Harpoon II anti-ship missiles
- 32 x Mk41 Mod12-15 Vertical Launch Tubes capable of firing Standard Missiles, Evolved Sea Sparrow, Tomahawk, and ASROC missiles.
- These are all in addition to the US ships’ standard capabilities.

Parameters:
So, let's put some parameters on this project. We are trying to make a "relatively" inexpensive ship but retaining the greatest "bang for our buck". We are staying away from anything approaching the cost of the next ship up, an Arleigh Burke-class DDG ($2 Billion). We have seen that the stripped down (US) version of LCS is minimum of $600 million. The foreign version listed above is between $800 - $900 million. The Perry-class FFGs were always known as: "frigates can do a lot, but they do a lot poorly". Let's find a relatively heavy balance instead of what (wound up being poor) the Perrys wound up with.

Keeping in mind the above, let us figure a “payload” appropriate for LCS’s size:
- AAW
- ASW
- Gunnery both defensive and offensive
- Land Attack
- Recon/Intel gathering
- SOF support
- Intimidation factor
- CIWS
- Boat capability
- Helo Support

Let’s put the cut off date on this at March 15.

If one of our mater scratch-building model makers is willing to build the finished version one of these models, I can write up a report, a Points Paper for Proposal, and I will submit it to the CNO’s Strategic Studies Group for official consideration by the Chief of Naval Operation, Admiral Gary Roughead.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:20 pm 
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My proposal is in addition to the foreign equipment which includes:
- 1 x Mk45 Mod4 5"/62-caliber gun -or- Oto 76mm rapid-fire gun
- 8 x Harpoon II anti-ship missiles
- 32 x Mk41 Mod12-15 Vertical Launch Tubes capable of firing Standard Missiles, Evolved Sea Sparrow, Tomahawk, and ASROC missiles.
- These are all in addition to the US ships’ standard capabilities.

Keeping in mind the above, let us figure a “payload” appropriate for LCS’s size:
- AAW: SPY-1F phased array (mini-Aegis) and 2 illuminators if necessary
- 32 VLS cells
- ASW modern frigate towed array and keel mounted sonar
- Gunnery both defensive and offensive: Possibly gunnery as much as the Mk45 Mod4 but a minimum of the newest 76mm Oto. If possible, a redesign of the stern allowing the Mk110 57mm or 76mm to be mounted aft of the helicopter deck arming the ship with 2 large guns
- Land Attack: 8 TLAM stored in VLS
- Recon/Intel gathering: Embarked UAV detachment
- SOF support: Dedicated onboard facilities such as a weight room, SBT boat facilities such as their 11 meter RHIBs and perhaps facilities for Mk5 SOC.
- Intimidation factor: Dazzle paint scheme similar to that worn by some PCs.
- CIWS: 1 Phalanx and 1 RAM
- Boat capability standard, possibly increased to accommodate Special Boat Team craft.
- Helo Support: Embark 2 60 series helicopters
- Chaff and NULKA launchers

What do you guys have in mind?

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:26 pm 
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Just make sure not to overload the displacement!

Also, is it safe to assume that Flight II will not have a swappable module component?

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:08 pm 
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For a more effective gun (if you're going to use the OTO 3") I'd go with the new Italian SR (Super Rapid) version; 120 rpm!!!! Very effective against subsonic cruise missiles at ranges of over 6,000 yards. One gun can engage 4 seperate SSMs before they breach the 1,000 yard line. Add a new low RCS gun house to it and you have a badass 3"/76. I think anyway :cool_1:

Take a look if you're curious.
http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNUS_3-62_mk75.htm

A thought for the SOF craft capability, not sure on the size/type of boat you want to use. You could always stow one too large for the standard boat davits/RHIB crane in the helo hangar in lieu of an HH-60. You'd need a crane to launch it though and I know that's not the best way to launch a heavily loaded boat... Just thinking out loud, the LCS doesn't have much spare deck space. Think it would need a re-design to handle a Mk-5.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:56 pm 
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Timmy C wrote:
Just make sure not to overload the displacement!

Also, is it safe to assume that Flight II will not have a swappable module component?

Well, that's an awefully good question, Timmy. I think they would be greatly reduced, but since some of these mission modules are just connex boxes, I think they would still be able to take some of them.

LCS-2 has INCREDIBLE reserve up top. The tri-hull gives them an amazing allowance. It looks like LCS-2 is the best platform, because it has the outer hull that actually shields the inner hull, so that would provide a lot of the ship with significant protection.

But to your original question, I would suggest that some if not all of the swappable modules be replaced with a hard capability. It seems integrated capability is so much greater than something you can fit in a connex box.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 12:00 am 
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 1:37 am 
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carr wrote:
The aspect of your Spruance WIF that made it so interesting and appealing for me was the fact that you began with a specific mission (a role) and then designed to meet that role. Everything flowed logically from that.

I understand perfectly. You're right; this is trying to justify the existence of the program. With the lower-end technology (SPY-1F) we are looking at the "high-low mix" the Navy has pursued before, but still rather capable. I was thinking along the lines of making the ship actually do what they said it was supposed to do: replace the Perry-class FFs. If LCS had all this extra equipment, it would no longer be an LCS. It would be a Corvette, an FFG, or DEG.

Quote:
Similarly, what is the role for the LCS? You laid out a vague requirement that it be a sort of mini-Burke (my interpretation, not your words). Beware... packing equipment onto the hull first and trying to define a role after the fact is exactly what went wrong with the LCS to begin with.
This is a very good point. Again, trying to justify the work that's been put into it by giving it the capabilities to do what the biggest job it was supposed to do: take the place of the Perry FF/FFGs.

Quote:
Is there really a need for a mini-Burke when there are real Burkes around?
When we're talking about hull numbers, absolutely, yes. The US has too few ships, minimum 30 too few ships. While some like to say that a few ships do more these days that you don't need more, they ignore the truth that when you lose one you a whole lot more capability, and you have fewer ships to lose.

Quote:
I mentioned in the other thread that the LCS is Level I (non-combat) rated. It is not designed to take a hit and continue to fight. How does that affect the anticipated role?
That really is pitiful for a warship. The ship can be compartmentalized and provided frap protection with layered Kevlar and Aluminum if not steel.
Quote:
Or, would the ship be redesigned for Level II or III? Remember that the hangar and mission wells are cavernously large, uncompartmented (reduced stability due to damage/flooding) open spaces.
I would imagine the hanger is going to be a hanger like any other ship. It's not going to flood unless the ship is sinking badly. The mission module compartments I would need to be converted into work space compartments like other ships.

Quote:
If that [speed] requirement were dropped, a great deal of volume and weight would become available for new equipment.
I agree. There is no reason to burn around so fast you use up all your fuel in 3 days (a report sited on the other LCS thread). 33-35 knots is about as good as you need it anyway. 48 knots required probably TWICE the SHP than 33knots, so the benefit in the loss of power is likely greatly preferred.

Quote:
So, what is the role for LCS II? What should it do well? Not just do, but do well? Answer that and we can zero in on equipment.
Seasick says we don’t need a capable ship, we just need one to chase pirates and taxi SEALs. Well, the SEALs don't care about this ship. They care about a RHIB that's going to pick them up off the coast. Unless that ship can give them gunfire support, they would rather it be a high speed yacht with crew-served weapons on it. Anything else is just another ship.
Like stated before, the Perry-class FF/FFGs did a lot but they did a lot poorly. I believe these two hull designs have the potential to perform the jobs that the Perry-class FF/FFGs performed very well. In EVERY category that the Perrys performed, the LCS hulls could perform the job well.
As an extension of that, the two hulls could specialize a little more in what their hulls can accommodate.

The missions of the ship would be similar to a "mini-Burke" yes. One must keep in mind also that a Burke is a "mini-Tico". The distinction of our surface combatants has blurred over the last 30 years. The Burke was supposed to be a cheap alternative to the Ticos. So, yes, I would say "LCS II" could resemble a little Burke in its capabilities.

I am satisfied in saying we should match LCS II’s missions with all the missions the Perry-class FF/FFGs have taken on over their careers (more than for what they were originally designed). So, unless that’s going to be the mission, the realistic mission for LCS needs to be a challenge for this thread as well. The limitations are "the best of the technology we can fit on the ships." The inherent size of the ships would keep the purchase price lower than a DDG.
- AAW
- ASW
- Anti small boat (pirate and speed boat)
- Gunnery both defensive and offensive
- Strategic and Tactical Land Attack
- Anti-ship capability
- Recon/Intel gathering of events blue and brown water
- SOF support
- Interdiction (small boat and flexible helo capability)
- Intimidation factor (physical presence)
- Picket Security (such as sector security of large high valued assets like ABOT and KAAOT oil terminals the the PCs watch)

Quote:
I'm not trying to be difficult or critical, just trying to help pin down a realistic WIF.
Good save. Thanks! I mean, it really sucks. I believe part of this exercise is to find a group of missions that a ship of this size can perform with a decent capability. We don't want to have to fall into the "it does a lot but it does a lot poorly" trap. The Modernized Spurance platform provided literally the best capabilities in all the categories of concern and second in AAW only to Aegis, because of the size and incredible design of the ship.

With these systems, it would be a good anti-surface ship, anti-air ship, decent anti-submarine ship, great helo ship, great SOF ship, great anti-pirate ship, and good presence ship.

Here, we are more limited, but it feels like there is more we can do with the design to make it a formidable ship in the "little ship" category. I certainly think what we are looking for is a conventional classification like Corvette, Guided missile Frigate, Guided missile Destroyer Escort, etc.

I don't feel I hit the nail on the head, but does that help solidify it?

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 1:43 am 
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As I recall, the LCSs (to some extent LCS-1, but more so LCS-2) are made significantly out of aluminium - I guess this contributes to the Level 1 rating that Bob speaks of. So if we want to increase that rating, the ships are going to have to be more metal (\m/ :cool_1: ) and be made of steel, which would make them quite a bit heavier and slower (not that the latter seems very significant in the Fl. II discussed here).

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:50 am 
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Timmy C wrote:
As I recall, the LCSs (to some extent LCS-1, but more so LCS-2) are made significantly out of aluminium - I guess this contributes to the Level 1 rating that Bob speaks of. So if we want to increase that rating, the ships are going to have to be more metal (\m/ :cool_1: ) and be made of steel, which would make them quite a bit heavier and slower (not that the latter seems very significant in the Fl. II discussed here).
I agree, Timmy, but if we switched to steel, a fine idea to me, we would likely have to keep the same propulsion plant in order to maintain a 30+knot speed. Hmmmm....

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:26 am 
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 11:40 am 
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I think Bob has the right of it on defined missions. It also seems that with RAM in place, youmight be able to satisfy local air defense and ASW operations with the addition of 16 VLS tubes. With a mix of 4x4 ESSM, 8 ASROC, and then a strike option in the last 4 cells, you have a decent weaponry fit that theoretically isn't overburdening a small hull. I'm not sure how well/where a non-tactical length VLS is going to fit on the two designs, but that would allow you to truck around pretty much anything you'd need to cover the mission statement outlined.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:58 pm 
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proditor wrote:
I think Bob has the right of it on defined missions. It also seems that with RAM in place, youmight be able to satisfy local air defense and ASW operations with the addition of 16 VLS tubes. With a mix of 4x4 ESSM, 8 ASROC, and then a strike option in the last 4 cells, you have a decent weaponry fit that theoretically isn't overburdening a small hull. I'm not sure how well/where a non-tactical length VLS is going to fit on the two designs, but that would allow you to truck around pretty much anything you'd need to cover the mission statement outlined.

Thirty-two cells has already been equipped on both hulls for foreign sale models. They are positiioned on either side of the helicopter hanger.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:51 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 11:45 pm 
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carr wrote:
By the way, as of Jun '09, Israel had dropped plans to acquire a version of the LCS. They are currently looking at a MEKO variant.
Regards,
Bob


Yeah, I saw that earlier. It seems that only Saudi is looking at it. I am very curious that if the price of the export - or another version - of this ship comes down will it be a serious competitor amongst the foreign LCS kinds of ships.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:15 pm 
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navydavesof wrote:
proditor wrote:
I think Bob has the right of it on defined missions. It also seems that with RAM in place, youmight be able to satisfy local air defense and ASW operations with the addition of 16 VLS tubes. With a mix of 4x4 ESSM, 8 ASROC, and then a strike option in the last 4 cells, you have a decent weaponry fit that theoretically isn't overburdening a small hull. I'm not sure how well/where a non-tactical length VLS is going to fit on the two designs, but that would allow you to truck around pretty much anything you'd need to cover the mission statement outlined.

Thirty-two cells has already been equipped on both hulls for foreign sale models. They are positiioned on either side of the helicopter hanger.

Tactical or non-tactical length? 32 cells would cover pretty much anything for the Frigate/Corvette role I'd think.

EDIT: Nevermind, I finally went for reading comprehension. Okay, so 32 Non-tac length tubes is a lot of ordinance for this sucker. Any thoughts on load out?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 3:33 pm 
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 6:04 pm 
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Quote:
Tactical or non-tactical length? 32 cells would cover pretty much anything for the Frigate/Corvette role I'd think.

EDIT: Nevermind, I finally went for reading comprehension. Okay, so 32 Non-tac length tubes is a lot of ordinance for this sucker. Any thoughts on load out?

Lockheed and GD both said they would steer for a load out of tomahawks, SM-2, and ESSM. I then assume they would have to be strike-length tubes. There is always the possibility the rep was wrong.

Mr. Carr, you bring up an awfully good and puzzling point. With both of my modernization projects, the Spruance and Iowa, you are very right; there was a centralized mission. Both ships got a significant AAW package, because it was necessary for very good/excellent self-defense. DDG-963 would act not only on it's main mission of NSFS but would be able to perform AAW and ASW escort with the MARG/ASG to which it was attached. The destroyer or battleship would be able to pull up to the coast with its big SPS-49, SPS-48, and duel SPQ-9Bs and know exactly if, when, and where anything went into the air, missile or artillery round.

So, it's a great case you make that like the battleship, the AAW for LCS is only a very capable self defense capability and not a mission.

The mother-ship idea was mine, and what I had in mind was that there would be a small tactical group that would generally operate in a certain AOR and mainly do security, enforcement, or boardings. The case about every ship needing a helicopter was brought up, and if the PCs needed the air support, a helo from LCS would come in with all due speed.

What LCS needs is a CH-53 with 3 GAU-19s on it. A fifty is formidable enough, but a .50 gatling gun...

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 8:05 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:56 am 
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The other question I have about the LCS, and the positioning of the VLS, is what exactly is that flat space on the bow of LCS-2 for anyway?

http://mecanoblog.files.wordpress.com/2 ... -lcs-2.jpg

Right behind the gun, doesn't that look like a fairly standard 32 cell VLS park?


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:20 am 
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