Friday, June 24, 2016

The Siren Song of the Littorals Ends

It's always nice when reality reasserts itself over theory.

This is welcome news regarding changes to the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program:

The Navy spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to fulfill its need for speed with a new class of fast and agile warships capable of zipping along at highway speeds.

It turns out speed is overrated.

The Navy has learned lessons from the light-and-speedy littoral combat ships: Upcoming ships will trade some speed in favor of more weapons and heavier armor.

I did not understand the notion of speed providing protection close to shores:

I find it amusing that one defense is that survivability is also not getting hit rather than just construction design. With physical survivability so low for the LCS, just what helps them avoid getting hit? Their speed? Get real. Going fast increases the likelihood of being spotted by some sensor or another. And the LCS isn't going to be faster than aircraft, missiles, or helicopters.

And deployed in green or--God forbid even more--brown waters, the LCS will face lots of land-based threats like aircraft, helicopters, missiles, mines, shore-based artillery, tanks with cannons far bigger than the LCS carries, plus small submarines and numerous armed small craft. It is insane to send the LCS into that environment.

The new weapons will include over-the-horizon anti-ship missiles. Also good.

Sea control in blue waters is now a major question, so it is good that we will try to make our ships fight for--and survive--that contest.