Littoral Combat Ships (LCS)


anzha

Junior Member
Registered Member
Why?
LCSes - provided they're working (hushhush Freedom) - are very serious assets.

Let's talk Independence class:

The ships are underarmed. Hellfires have a ridiculously short range and likewise the gun. The total ASM loadout will end up being about 8 missiles...someday. They also cannot use the mission modules. Still.

The ships lack sufficient sensors for even a frigate.

The ship is horribly under undercrewed. It lacks enough crew to do sufficient maintenance or conduct damage control when the time comes.

Then...the Freedom. omg. dumpster fire on top of the above.

Compare the LCS classes to the Type 053H3. Similar displacements. Only advantages the Independence have is the speed and flight deck size. There are plenty of deficiencies in comparison. The Freedoms don't even have a flight deck advantage, but they might have a speed...if their propulsion system doesn't break down. Oh, wait...
 

Gloire_bb

Senior Member
Registered Member
Let's talk Independence class:

The ships are underarmed. Hellfires have a ridiculously short range and likewise the gun. The total ASM loadout will end up being about 8 missiles...someday. They also cannot use the mission modules. Still.

The ships lack sufficient sensors for even a frigate.

The ship is horribly under undercrewed. It lacks enough crew to do sufficient maintenance or conduct damage control when the time comes.

Then...the Freedom. omg. dumpster fire on top of the above.

Compare the LCS classes to the Type 053H3. Similar displacements. Only advantages the Independence have is the speed and flight deck size. There are plenty of deficiencies in comparison. The Freedoms don't even have a flight deck advantage, but they might have a speed...if their propulsion system doesn't break down. Oh, wait...
Egh. Frigate comparison. While I don't really want to whitewash LCS program - which is clearly an example of how not to do things - comparing them with frigates is a conceptual mistake. They were invented by a navy that didn't have any competition and was preparing to teach 2000s North Korea, Iran, and China values of the first world. This world is now gone, but ships are not, and they're adjusting to its change. It's however worth noting, that until very recently - "Iran" scenario for USN was actually more probable than the "China" one. And it's the complete change of China that changed this calculus - change, which wasn't foreseen on a much higher level than LCS one.

(1)First of all, all LCS actually deployed by now have NSM. This is a rolling upgrade going on right now, which will be finished on all ships by the end of the next year(FY2021/2022). Same with the 1st stage of Survivability package (SEWIP installation), same with ASW/MCM packages(also slated before 2023). While it literally took a decade to get those, now they are basically here, and will be permanently installed on 15/15 basis(remaining - ASuW).

(2)You compared LCS (which explicitly wasn't designed as a poor man's Burke) with a Frigate as a Frigate. No wonder Frigate won.
If you want a multi-purpose/asw frigate - you have to compare with one (Constellation class) - and frankly speaking, it's easily superior to corresponding Chinese warships, more reminiscent of what people expect from the hypothetical 054B. They belong to different generations, after all.

LCS was created as a modular warship, specifically intended to perform missions that don't justify and/or suit a destroyer. USN already has >10000 vls cells it struggles to fill properly, and an abundance of overarmed destroyers. The problem was (and still is) the missions where mk 41 cell number doesn't clearly contribute anything.

I.e. it's wrong to read LCS as a generic escort combatant - it obviously fails as one. What LCS actually is (going to be), is the smallest possible, fastest possible survivable ship with the largest possible fully equipped hanger, capable of contributing to naval engagement, and with a specific hull-dependant additional role.
While "modular" part clearly failed (hence 15/15 split), missions themselves didn't disappear. Also, worth notice that the failure of modularity didn't remove huge spaces and energy reserves, which now make adding new things quite easy.

Let's name the LCS missions 1 by 1:

- Countering swarming craft in confined waters(read - short-term Iran solution). While delays obstructed this role a lot, LCS is quite clearly superior here, both offensively (helicopters) and defensively (onboard armament).

- Coastal (small depth) ASW. It's difficult (now, SLEP-2 will somewhat improve the situation), because helicopters and specialized detection equipment is let down by the capability of the ship itself to prosecute targets. But it's still specialized equipment on a specialized ship.

-expeditionary (offensive) MCM in hostile waters. While 15 LCS will admittedly be the most expensive(and overkill) MCM vessels in the world (and not the most capable), they 100% are going to be the most survivable. Furthermore, they surely will be better than an old frigate in mine hunting. Or any frigate, for the matter.

-deployment of manned/unmanned small craft, submersible or not, in hostile waters. Again - best, because there is simply no dedicated competition.

-inserting/maneuvering/evacuating special forces and even USMC MLRs in hostile/contested waters. No competition, and huge synergy with expeditionary fast transports(EFT) of the sealift command.

-Good old APD role. Same with the previous one.

Yes, admittedly, the rise of the PLAN has changed the calculation - the need for frigates has returned. But this neither changes the need for old LCS missions nor cancels them. For LCS themselves it added two main things: (1)need for even more survivability, (2)need for OtH weapon to participate in salvo game(and engage/deter surface vessels when necessary). This is still going to be a big, 30+ ship, class of vessels.
They're currently getting just that.
 

AndrewS

Colonel
Registered Member
@Gloire_bb

In terms of missions and capabilities, I would actually compare the LCS with the Type-056 Corvettes.

And I reckon you can probably buy 8x Type-056 Corvettes for the cost of a single LCS.
 

Gloire_bb

Senior Member
Registered Member
@Gloire_bb

In terms of missions and capabilities, I would actually compare the LCS with the Type-056 Corvettes.

And I reckon you can probably buy 8x Type-056 Corvettes for the cost of a single LCS.
Realistically overlay between those two is very small.
Check the list of missions I provided above.
Those two are opponents, but definitely not competitors.
 

AndrewS

Colonel
Registered Member
Realistically overlay between those two is very small.
Check the list of missions I provided above.
Those two are opponents, but definitely not competitors.

I have read the missions.

Despite what you say, these missions no longer exist for the LCS in a high-intensity war in the Western Pacific.
All that contested small island marine operations and mine warfare is either not relevant or impossible to achieve, given how close the LCS would have to close to the Chinese mainland.

Plus the LCS will be needed to fill in for traditional GP frigate roles, despite how unsuited they are to this.

For example, convoy escort across the Pacific will be critical to keeping fleets in the Western Pacific.
Unless you want to pull Arleigh Burke AEGIS destroyers into this role, the LCS is the next best option.

For this mission, all you need are a:
1. medium-range SAM and radar suite
2. comprehensive ASW capabilities

And you could easily tie up 20 ships alone on convoys across the pacific.
 

Gloire_bb

Senior Member
Registered Member
Despite what you say, these missions no longer exist for the LCS in a high-intensity war in the Western Pacific.
?!
ok, let me go again, mission by mission. This time for China.

Counter Swarm craft:
While not too applicable to modern China - there is a whole world aside from China. In particular, the Gulf region hasn't gone anywhere. This becomes secondary, though - and it is reflected in ship specialization.

Coastal ASW:
Just as relevant - actually more relevant, because coastal ASW now includes countering USVs. Ability of traditional ASW combatants to meaningfully operate within such waters is limited to various degrees, and they're increasingly going to be needed in actual blue waters.

Expeditionary (offensive) MCM:
It's widely considered that PLAN has inherited Soviet/Russian love of mines, and places relatively high emphasis on them.
This means that mines will be everywhere - there will be defensive fields, there will be offensive fields, there will be small sneakily deployed banks in points of interest. The notion that MCM is irrelevant for Westpac scenario is honestly wrong - it's more a question of how, not if.
Western commentators, who only think about how they'll mine Chinese waters w/o thinking the opposite way are outright delusional. Don't be like them.

Deployment of manned/unmanned small craft:
Widely viewed as the way of the future, and is being done right now(Singapore-based LCS do it). In case of conflict - there will be a whole first Chain and lots of surrounding land to do something like this.

Inserting/maneuvering/evacuating special forces and even USMC MLRs in hostile/contested waters:
Special forces are relevant pretty much always, this is a no-brainer. Other methods of delivery(air, submarine) have their own limitations.
As for USMC - well, they're basically tailor-made to operate against China within 1st Chain. If you think that they're unsuitable against China - it's a good reason to check your clock by itself.
LCS/EFT are their highest intensity surface entry transports, ones combining the ability to survive with the ability to do their stuff quickly.

APD:
Same with the previous one. With dispersed marine companies on various islands - these are of paramount importance. Levels of threat/chinese sensor coverage simply determine how far they can go - and it's actually LCS which is the last surface ship with meaningful payload(and ability to actually deliver it quickly and safely) which can go farther than any other surface ship.
Few remember, that APDs were one one key elements of ww2 Pacific campaign - they aren't glamorous, but they're crucial. USN had them, IJN didn't(until too late) - and USN clearly remembers it.


Plus the LCS will be needed to fill in for traditional GP frigate roles, despite how unsuited they are to this.

For example, convoy escort across the Pacific will be critical to keeping fleets in the Western Pacific.
Unless you want to pull Arleigh Burke AEGIS destroyers into this role, the LCS is the next best option.

For this mission, all you need are a:
1. medium-range SAM and radar suite
2. comprehensive ASW capabilities
These aren't LCS missions, and ironically these aren't even Constellation missions (at least not primary ones).
The former isn't suitable(propulsion and hull form before any weapons and whistles) and is needed elsewhere(see above), the latter is also probably too valuable to spare on such missions in most cases (thou, in this case, it's more likely).
Both can be used as such, but it'll be something of desperation. There is a whole navy around, after all, designed with this very mission in mind. Ask them.
 

AndrewS

Colonel
Registered Member
?!
ok, let me go again, mission by mission. This time for China.

Counter Swarm craft:
While not too applicable to modern China - there is a whole world aside from China. In particular, the Gulf region hasn't gone anywhere. This becomes secondary, though - and it is reflected in ship specialization.

Yes, but as I say "these missions no longer exist for the LCS in a high-intensity war in the Western Pacific."
That is the only scenario that actually matters for the US Navy now.

In the coming years, the US Navy faces the prospect of losing control of the Western Pacific.


Coastal ASW:
Just as relevant - actually more relevant, because coastal ASW now includes countering USVs. Ability of traditional ASW combatants to meaningfully operate within such waters is limited to various degrees, and they're increasingly going to be needed in actual blue waters.

That is part of my point. The LCS will inevitably be pulled into blue missions because there aren't any other ASW escorts.

Expeditionary (offensive) MCM:
It's widely considered that PLAN has inherited Soviet/Russian love of mines, and places relatively high emphasis on them.
This means that mines will be everywhere - there will be defensive fields, there will be offensive fields, there will be small sneakily deployed banks in points of interest. The notion that MCM is irrelevant for Westpac scenario is honestly wrong - it's more a question of how, not if.
Western commentators, who only think about how they'll mine Chinese waters w/o thinking the opposite way are outright delusional. Don't be like them.

Where are these points of interest? The LCS cannot credibly approach the KEY points of interest, next to the Chinese coastline.
And where the LCS can approach, these are secondary theatres that can be bypassed by China.


Deployment of manned/unmanned small craft:
Widely viewed as the way of the future, and is being done right now(Singapore-based LCS do it). In case of conflict - there will be a whole first Chain and lots of surrounding land to do something like this.

Inserting/maneuvering/evacuating special forces and even USMC MLRs in hostile/contested waters:
Special forces are relevant pretty much always, this is a no-brainer. Other methods of delivery(air, submarine) have their own limitations.
As for USMC - well, they're basically tailor-made to operate against China within 1st Chain. If you think that they're unsuitable against China - it's a good reason to check your clock by itself.
LCS/EFT are their highest intensity surface entry transports, ones combining the ability to survive with the ability to do their stuff quickly.

What are a small number of USMC or special forces actually able to do within the 1st Island Chain?

In order to affect the air-sea balance, they need to have vehicles with SAMs, Antiship missiles, radars or other large equipment. The LCS is not able to transport this equipment.
Otherwise they are small infantry groups which are isolated and can be left to wither.


APD:
Same with the previous one. With dispersed marine companies on various islands - these are of paramount importance. Levels of threat/chinese sensor coverage simply determine how far they can go - and it's actually LCS which is the last surface ship with meaningful payload(and ability to actually deliver it quickly and safely) which can go farther than any other surface ship.
Few remember, that APDs were one one key elements of ww2 Pacific campaign - they aren't glamorous, but they're crucial. USN had them, IJN didn't(until too late) - and USN clearly remembers it.

Look at the size and location of these islands.

If there is heavy equipment, there is no way to hide this from an opponent which has air superiority.
If there isn't heavy equipment, a bunch of marines has no impact on the overall battle and can be ignored.

Come up with some realistic and useful missions that the LCS could accomplish with respect to a high-intensity war in the Western Pacific.

These aren't LCS missions, and ironically these aren't even Constellation missions (at least not primary ones).
The former isn't suitable(propulsion and hull form before any weapons and whistles) and is needed elsewhere(see above), the latter is also probably too valuable to spare on such missions in most cases (thou, in this case, it's more likely).

That is the point. Who is going to do the convoy escort mission across the Pacific?

Both can be used as such, but it'll be something of desperation. There is a whole navy around, after all, designed with this very mission in mind. Ask them.

Do tell
 

nlalyst

Junior Member
Registered Member
Well, the Independence class LCS have a rather large flight deck. In times of war, this deck may be populated with close to 40 NSM size missiles. They could be loaded up with these weapons potentially even while at sea with heavy transport helos like the King Stallion for a one off assault/ambush mission.

Together with their organic 8 NSMs, that’s about 50 ASCMs per LCS. Now whether that’s the best use of such a ship, I don’t know.
 

Gloire_bb

Senior Member
Registered Member
Yes, but as I say "these missions no longer exist for the LCS in a high-intensity war in the Western Pacific."
That is the only scenario that actually matters for the US Navy now.

In the coming years, the US Navy faces the prospect of losing control of the Western Pacific.
No, it is not.
I am not even sure why I have to write this.

Where are these points of interest? The LCS cannot credibly approach the KEY points of interest, next to the Chinese coastline.
And where the LCS can approach, these are secondary theatres that can be bypassed by China.
In WW2 USN surface units couldn't safely approach Japanese home island coastline till ~july 1945. Carrier strikes were out of question before spring 1945. And so on.
Points move, depending on type and state of conflict - we are talking about peer conflict. Peer conflict can't and won't be won by a singular type or even class of equipment on its own.

The initial aim is operations within 1st Island Chain - which is anywhere from hundreds to thousands of km from mainland China, and includes helluva different geografies, countries of various relations, different level of accessibility from the mainland and various state of pre-deployed forces). If even this is inaccessible - LCS with its speed&fuel load (you can fit a ~500km dash in both directions into 12 hr period, with a useful offloading window), carrying capacity, and facilities can serve as a useful intermediate transport, with the final leg left to less vulnerable/cheaper deployable craft - manned, unmanned, flying - whatever.
Basically, no matter the state - LCS will almost universally be able to come deeper into contested waters than any comparable surface ship. Because this capability isn't about the number of cells or strength of radars.
LCS have speed, stealth, networking, useful level of self-defense, and carrying/offloading capability. Which is what matters.

Same with mines - LCS doesn't need to operate close to Chinese coastline, until and unless China is on a verge of losing the war. It needs to operate there where there are either local surface or land forces. Mines further forward are out of question(no MCM vessel will be able to do it, and, frankly, it isn't even all that necessary), Mines behind can be dealt with by less survivable/autonomous assets(allies, helicopter minesweepers, coastal unmanned assets).

What are a small number of USMC or special forces actually able to do within the 1st Island Chain?

In order to affect the air-sea balance, they need to have vehicles with SAMs, Antiship missiles, radars or other large equipment. The LCS is not able to transport this equipment.
Otherwise they are small infantry groups which are isolated and can be left to wither.
Read about MLR(marine littoral regiment) concept. In short - infiltration of contested/hostile space, provision of survivable forward sensor nodes, forward basing of aircraft/assets, ASM strikes.
LCS(and EFT) by itself can transport/deploy anything which it can deploy and which can swim on its own - that actually includes even ACVs(!). So, while moving around the whole MLR by fast transports only seems excessive, it's apparently doable for the most part. It's certainly doable with reinforced infantry companies.
The only tricky part is non-floating assets(NMESIS, for example), but my guess is that's doable as well with the help of a heavy helicopter. It's too early to say right now, because right now first MLRs are only being formed - there is simply not enough material on how they're going to do what. But we know their available transport assets anyways, so quite a lot can be guessed.

Look at the size and location of these islands.

If there is heavy equipment, there is no way to hide this from an opponent which has air superiority.
If there isn't heavy equipment, a bunch of marines has no impact on the overall battle and can be ignored.

Come up with some realistic and useful missions that the LCS could accomplish with respect to a high-intensity war in the Western Pacific.
Which ones are you talking about?
We're talking about loose chain of tens of thousands of Islands, different in literally everything(political affiliation, population, landscape, size, climate belts, level of vegetation, etcetcetc). There is certainly a lot of ways to hide stuff there, air superiority or not. And, depending on the course of the hypothetical war - the very same capabilities will remain just as relevant, no matter in which direction conflict is going to progress/evolve. In fact, the only direction they don't matter all that much is the South-eastern one, and even this depends.
That is the point. Who is going to do the convoy escort mission across the Pacific?
There is a whole JMSDF around, for example, which was originally built around this very mission (you may say it's its core competence).
 

AndrewS

Colonel
Registered Member
No, it is not.
I am not even sure why I have to write this.


In WW2 USN surface units couldn't safely approach Japanese home island coastline till ~july 1945. Carrier strikes were out of question before spring 1945. And so on.
Points move, depending on type and state of conflict - we are talking about peer conflict. Peer conflict can't and won't be won by a singular type or even class of equipment on its own.

The initial aim is operations within 1st Island Chain - which is anywhere from hundreds to thousands of km from mainland China, and includes helluva different geografies, countries of various relations, different level of accessibility from the mainland and various state of pre-deployed forces). If even this is inaccessible - LCS with its speed&fuel load (you can fit a ~500km dash in both directions into 12 hr period, with a useful offloading window), carrying capacity, and facilities can serve as a useful intermediate transport, with the final leg left to less vulnerable/cheaper deployable craft - manned, unmanned, flying - whatever.
Basically, no matter the state - LCS will almost universally be able to come deeper into contested waters than any comparable surface ship. Because this capability isn't about the number of cells or strength of radars.
LCS have speed, stealth, networking, useful level of self-defense, and carrying/offloading capability. Which is what matters.

Same with mines - LCS doesn't need to operate close to Chinese coastline, until and unless China is on a verge of losing the war. It needs to operate there where there are either local surface or land forces. Mines further forward are out of question(no MCM vessel will be able to do it, and, frankly, it isn't even all that necessary), Mines behind can be dealt with by less survivable/autonomous assets(allies, helicopter minesweepers, coastal unmanned assets).


Read about MLR(marine littoral regiment) concept. In short - infiltration of contested/hostile space, provision of survivable forward sensor nodes, forward basing of aircraft/assets, ASM strikes.
LCS(and EFT) by itself can transport/deploy anything which it can deploy and which can swim on its own - that actually includes even ACVs(!). So, while moving around the whole MLR by fast transports only seems excessive, it's apparently doable for the most part. It's certainly doable with reinforced infantry companies.
The only tricky part is non-floating assets(NMESIS, for example), but my guess is that's doable as well with the help of a heavy helicopter. It's too early to say right now, because right now first MLRs are only being formed - there is simply not enough material on how they're going to do what. But we know their available transport assets anyways, so quite a lot can be guessed.


Which ones are you talking about?
We're talking about loose chain of tens of thousands of Islands, different in literally everything(political affiliation, population, landscape, size, climate belts, level of vegetation, etcetcetc). There is certainly a lot of ways to hide stuff there, air superiority or not. And, depending on the course of the hypothetical war - the very same capabilities will remain just as relevant, no matter in which direction conflict is going to progress/evolve. In fact, the only direction they don't matter all that much is the South-eastern one, and even this depends.

There is a whole JMSDF around, for example, which was originally built around this very mission (you may say it's its core competence).

I think we have too different a conception of the future battlefield.

I see the Japanese Navy as too busy trying to defend the Japanese Home Islands, to have spare capacity for trans-Pacific convoying.

And before the LCS has the opportunity to operate near Chinese shores, at a minimum, I would expect China to have already conducted high-altitude nuclear detonations over Japan or the Pacific.

And also remember that only 1 island really matters to China - which is Taiwan. China could lose every other island in the Western Pacific, but still legitimately have a huge strategic victory if it has Taiwan. Therefore all the littoral operations in other islands is secondary.
 

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