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January 15, 2013

US Navy's Newest Ships are $670 million Pinatas

Wired Danger Room provides an update on the deployment of the first US Navy Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) around Singpore. The ships costs $670 million each and the Navy plans to get 55 of them.

The ship currently has some big problems related to operating after taking one good hit, shooting accurately and performing the missions that they were purchased to accomplish:

Problem taking damage

* The Navy's own assessment is that LCS is not expected to be survivable in a hostile combat environment. It is not expected to maintain mission capability after taking a significant hit in a hostile combat environment

Problems Shooting

* The 30mm gun on board the Freedom “exhibit[s] reliability problems.” The 57mm gun on both the Freedom and its sister ship, the differently-designed USS Independence, is apparently worse: “Ship operations at high speeds cause vibrations that make accurate use of the 57 mm gun very difficult,” Gilmore finds. Worse news for the Freedom: its integrated weapons systems and air/surface search radar have “performance deficiencies” that affect the ship’s “tracking and engagement of contacts.”



Cannot perform minehunting mission

* The Pentagon’s weapons testers gave the LCS’ mine-hunting package a failing grade last year, and this one isn’t much better.

This time around, Gilmore’s office found that the MH-60 Seahawks intended to launch from the LCS minehunters can’t “safely tow” the sonar suites that scan for underwater mines. So the Navy has scrapped the plan to put the “underpowered” helicopters aboard the LCS for minehunting. That’s left a “gap in organic mine sweeping capability” on the LCS, the report states.

Good News - Cracking and rusting problem fixed

The Navy has fixed a crack in the hull of the Freedom. And it’s installing an anti-corrosion system on the Independence that should prevent a strange and aggressive corrosion discovered in 2011.


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