Skip to comments.Lawmaker concerned that Navy fleet isnít ready for combat
Posted on 03/12/2011 9:35:51 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki
Lawmaker concerned that Navy fleet isnt ready for combat
By John T. Bennett - 03/09/11 07:37 PM ET
A longtime supporter of the Navys new fleet of shallow-water ships is beginning to question whether the vessels are truly fit for combat.
The Navy plans to buy 55 Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) vessels, but unless the service can show it can survive in hostilities, Im not sure we can justify that, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) said Wednesday during a House Appropriations Defense subcommittee hearing.
Morans sudden concern about the program he has long been a proponent was triggered by a recent report from the Pentagons director of operational test and evaluation office (DOT&E).
LCS is not expected to be survivable in terms of maintaining a mission capability in a hostile combat environment, the report concluded.
The Navy designated LCS a Survivability Level 1 ship, meaning the design of the ship only allows for crew evacuation during combat.
DOT&E acknowledged the testing on the ships is not conclusive, but said the finding raises concerns about the effects weapons will have on the crew and critical equipment.
The DOT&E report said more testing is needed to draw a final conclusion about the littoral ships in combat.
In the meantime, Moran is worried. Asked following the hearing whether he is souring on the LCS program, Moran told The Hill he is not there yet.
The thing is, in a combat situation, the Navy would have to pull the crew out, he said after the hearing. So whats the point, if you have to do that? This is the Pentagons own finding and it is a disturbing finding.
During the hearing, Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, did not address the DOT&E finding directly. Instead, Roughead noted the shallow-water ships can go where other ships cannot. Its going to be a real workhorse for us.
In a recent report, Congressional Research Service analyst Ronald ORourke noted that when the sea service awarded contracts for two models in December, it stated both ships would have an average unit cost of about $440 million.
Congress in 2010 placed a $480 million price cap on each littoral war ship, a figure the Navy pegs at $538 million after an inflation adjustment.
Despite Morans concerns, other House appropriators held up the Navys LCS acquisition plan as a model for buying new weapon systems faster.
Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), the committees ranking member later joined by others said he was increasingly concerned the Pentagon is wasting billions in development and years of effort on some weapon programs.
When the Pentagon has set out to develop and field a new combat system in an expedited way weve saved money and gotten those platforms to deployed forces faster than following the militarys cumbersome acquisition process, Dicks said.
And I think LCS is an example of doing it right, he said.
Asked after the hearing about Morans concerns, Dicks told The Hill he is standing by the program.
Roughead told the panel that too often, programs drag on and breach cost estimates because they become a slave to a process.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus added the existing Pentagon acquisition system causes military program managers and industry to work toward an expectation of what a system could be.
On future programs, we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good, said Mabus, borrowing a favorite quote used on the same topic by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Dicks said the Pentagon should not put off fielding new systems until they meet 100 percent of their technical potential. Instead, the 80 percent solution likely will be good enough initially and then you can do an upgrade, he added.
This aspect of Pentagon weapons buying can stretch out the most technically ambitious development programs longer than a decade.
Moving faster than that is a top goal of the Marine Corps replacement for the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV), a program the service and Pentagon brass are proposing to kill because it is too costly.
Gen. James Amos, the Marine Corps commandant, says he wants to drive a prototype of a less-ambitious, cheaper vehicle by the time his stint as the top Marine ends in three and a half years.
Naval officials admit this is a lofty goal, but Mabus told the subcommittee: I think we can get there.
Anyone think the destruction of our military capability may be the Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Liberal plan with the aid of Liberals in Congress? Hum?????
Rep. Jim Moron (D-Va.)
My concern isn’t so much the fleet.
With the repeal of DADT, when the call comes, I’m afraid all those sailors and Marines will be out SHOPPING.
Yes but it’s fabously diverse
I seriously doubt these ships would be heading into an area that hadn’t already been softened up. Yes, sure, our ships will see combat and some of them will be lost. Wow, another Einstein moment. NOT!
All of a sudden, every one of our new purchases are being criticized as being ill-designed, too costly, or just not up to the task it was designed to fulfill.
Doesn’t anyone else smell a democRAT?
In truth they’ve been pulling a variation of this for the last fifty years. Screw ‘em.
The LCS has been criticised by plenty of well meaning people, including several Freepers. The LCS is too expensive and lightly-armed to justify its role.
Thats what I read somewhere.
If that is the case, then I understand.
I remember when folks were ripping the F-22 to shreds too though. There are times when well-meaning people go postal when it isn’t really warranted.
We’re not going to have an armed services much longer, if we keep trashing every new program that comes along.
We have equipment that needs to be replaced. At some point we’re going to have to make a decisions and stick with it.
The LCS programme has too many issues. Most obvious one being the very concept itself. Since its too expensive and vulnerable, why build it when you can spend it on more versatile destroyers.
About criticism, I think one has to distinguish between qualitative assessment about a programme and of course the usual dissing that goes on. Pretty much every other US military programme-LCS,EFV, F-35 have all guzzled funds and experienced significant delays. All while offering questionable advantages over predecessors. You could say that the very nature of US military procurements is rather messed up at the moment. And the longer it continues to be so, the more ammo it gives for the bean counters.
Just crew them up with homosexuals and women and that will solve everything...
I agree with that. I also think that for the lay person, it’s very tough to know who is right. Are some projects actually too problematic, or are we being gamed? Is the current problem actually insurmountable, or are we again being gamed?
Where the rubber meets the road, we need to advocate for programs we think are necessary. And yet, it’s very difficult to know who is right.
Every program has it’s down-sides, it’s tough days. People could point to those and try to destroy them. Just about every ‘tool’ we have could have been criticized on some point. My take is that most of them were, by the hawk ‘challenged’.
So how do I know which horse to back? To my way of thinking Gates is a complete fool. To may people, he’s the guy they point to, to say that certain things need to be done.
You’re comment that procurement is messed up right now, is accurate. I cannot help but think that is planned chaos. All you have to do is find some bright skeptics, and they can do more harm to our military effort than China or Russia.
Thanks for the post
These craft seem to have the capability to operate solo which they may be called to do unless the Navy musclebounds itself in policy. Excepting for armor and armamment countering localized conditions which concerns me and wake from the tri hull they may well prove a welcome addition to the arising crisises around the globe.
That includes good will and assisting in natural disasters
How foolish an argument. Something I would expect Sheila Jackson Lee to come up with.
Given the state of weapons today, Survivability is something they might as well abandon as a goal. The real key is out shooting your enemy. Hot steel on target and as much as you can throw out there.
The term force multiplier is a fraud.
The Navy fails this test as it seems weapons are merely an afterthought. Take a look at the armaments slapped on a Russian ship and take a few notes.
Bring back the battleships.
A lot of Russian hardware is designed to be very deadly, for a very short period of time. The Russians accept that they are going to lose ships & aircraft at a very high rate.
I'm not sure that any western Navy or Airforce would ever publically admit the same.
What exactly is its role? To be a helicopter servicing ship? The band of it’s operation is so narrow, I have to wonder.
If the shore is not safe, the role will be filled by an aircraft carrier 200 miles away. If the shore and 200 miles inland is safe, the role will be filled by a temporary airbase about 40 miles inland. So I just don’t see it.
Now if the mission were to be a bunch of F-35B launching, UAV recovering, ultra small aircraft carriers, yeah I could see it. What I find on the web is that it is primarily meant to replace mine hunters.
Looking into it further....
At $500 million a pop, one GHWB Nimitz CVN is worth 12 LCS’s. Which would we rather have? 12 LCS’s sailing around or one Nimitz?
Even a stopped clock...you know the rest. LCS is a gigantic charlie foxtrot.