Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Good News RFI

The Navy is seeking cheaper alternatives to the Littoral Combat Ship that will bring more capabilities to the fleet per hull. I'm sure this will succeed. Don't be shocked.

The Navy is seeking better and cheaper hulls:

The task force working to come up with ideas for the US Navy’s small surface combatant (SSC) got a major data download Thursday, as industry submitted their proposals for modified or entirely new designs.

Both builders of littoral combat ships — Lockheed Martin and Austal USA — submitted ideas to modify their designs. Huntington Ingalls proposed frigate variants of its national security cutter design. And at least one outlier, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, put in a bid. ...

“We’re not going to have time for them to go through and do a [new] design,” John Burrow, head of the task force, told reporters on April 30. “We’re asking for existing designs and mature design concepts,” he said, and “systems and technologies at the component level.”

So the LCS builders who couldn't bring the LCS in under budget with a decent armament package have submitted bids to use their hulls for the new design? How can this work out, you might ask?

Because that is how the system is designed:

Seawolf is grossly too expensive to build? Cancel it. Then when we build the new Virginia class subs that use lots of technology developed for Seawolf, the Virginia class sub looks downright frugal by comparison.

Spend ungodly amounts of money on Crusader? Well, the one "bright spot" in Army procurement is the new Paladin PIM self-propelled howitzer that uses the Bradley chassis along with--as I've read elsewhere--technology from the Cancelled Crusader project. Voila! Fast, cheap, and effective!

I'm sure that the 3 DDG-1000 destroyers we will build will live on in future Navy ships as technology developed for this ship is made available for future ships but which will not be cursed by having the development costs of that technology put on their bottom lines.

I just wish the Air Force could at least manage to get in on this. Or will F-35 technology find its way into advanced armed drone aircraft?

Anyway. I'm no procurement expert. But we're either getting good at making weapons lemonade out of technology lemons; or our procurement bureaucracy and their industry partners have gotten good out of making program lemonade out of procurement system lemons.

All the development cash spent on LCS systems will be used on the new SSC--but all those technology costs will die with the LCS program! Voila! Cheaper, better, faster!

Still, perhaps the Navy has picked a number and we'll be fine--broken procurement system notwithstanding.