Thursday, July 16, 2009

Israel abandons plans to buy the Littoral Combat Ship, we should too

Stumbled over this story from Israel:
In a radical revamp of its surface fleet modernization program, the Israel Navy has shelved long-held plans to purchase Lockheed Martin-produced Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), as well as a fallback option involving corvetees built by Northrop Grumman.

Instead, sources say, the Navy is pushing to establish a combat shipbuilding industry through customized, locally built versions of a German corvette design.

Now in an exploration phase, the concept calls for a stretched, approximately 2,200-ton version of the Meko A-100 built by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), the Hamburg-based consortium building two Dolphin-class submarines for the Israel Navy.[Defense News]
This should come as no surprise. The badly managed and over-priced Littoral Combat Ship ("LCS") has even been recommended for abandonment by the U.S. Navy.

Cyclone-class patrol vesselsWhat the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard need is an enlarged and upgunned version of the PC-1 Cyclone class of vessels. The Cyclone class was built using proven technology and was relatively inexpensive to acquire. They have provided solid service to both the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard.

25mm Bushmaster autocannon on USS ChinookThese vessels are somewhat under-armed due to their origins as SEAL delivery boats. They carry a 25mm Bushmaster cannon as main armament and Stinger missile launchers for air defense. A slight expansion in the design would allow them to be armed with a 30mm or 35mm version of the Bushmaster (Bushmaster II and Bushmaster III) along with a much more capable anti-aircraft weapon like the Rolling Airframe Missile launcher.

RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile LauncherThe best thing about this design is that there are several boat yards around the United States that could perform the work. Competition would hold costs down and would ensure that the work and benefits were spread around. The design and the weapons are "off the shelf" technology, so there would be no need for costly and doubtful experimentation that would delay delivery and drive costs through the roof. These vessels could be acquired for a fraction of the cost of the failed LCS.

The design would be equally useful to the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard. New units would go directly to the Navy. After a few years of service, the boats could then be rehabbed and rearmed with a less comprehensive weapons package for use by the U.S. Coast Guard. This is the kind of vessel the Navy and Coast Guard need to patrol the Persian Gulf, combat piracy off Somalia, and interdict drug smuggling along our nation's coastline.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Regardless of what ship is selected, be it all-new or adaptation from an older, proven design, the Pentagon will likely see to it that the end result will have a price tag far more than what was originally promised and planned. How long has it been that any DOD project has stayed within budget?

That said, the General Dynamics design is way cool.