My Cardboard Box

“Why Does the LCS Cost So Damn Much?”

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This part of  a conversation over at Rantburg‘s  O-Club led to this musing.

I’m not sure I _want_ to know how they got to 500 million dollars with a ship with one 2 inch gun, one CIWS system, and none of the vaunted mission modules included.”

The standard response could be that the LCS is like a camel. It’s a horse designed by committee. But there’s more to it.

Warships traditionally have been build with a single, major purpose in mind. Cruisers as AAW platforms, destroyers as ASW, frigates as escorts, etc. That’s changed in the past twenty years or so, hence a large increase in cost-per-ship. So you end up with fewer, albeit highly powerful, warships.

During the Cold War, the US farmed out a lot of missions to its European allies. Missions like mine warfare (Germany), escort (tho the Perry class was intended as a sop to that), fire support when a carrier wasn’t available (keep the marines and land forces happy), and… littoral warfare.

Then comes the end of the Cold War. And the functional/strategic end of NATO. The US finds it needs to fill those gaps. What to do?

Pour all the requirement save fire support into a bowl, stir it around, and call it a ship platform called the LCS. Fire-support gets to go into another platform, called the Zumwalt class (a deliberately ironic choice, if you know the institutional memory of the Navy).

So the fun starts…


Written by PappyBro

March 29, 2009 at 14:51

Posted in Uncategorized

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