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…

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Written by PappyBro

March 29, 2009 at 14:51

Posted in Uncategorized

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