Friday, December 1, 2023

The US Navy Littoral Combat Ship Mine Warfare module has been validated

The concept that led Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England (Bush Jr administration from 2001 to 2003) to give birth to Littoral Combat Ships in the early 2000s was, to say the least, innovative: rather than having to build several ships specialized in different types of mission, it was sufficient to rely on a modular structure allowing the dynamic integration of the required capabilities on demand, in the form of complementary modules integrating the technology and equipment required for the mission. In fact, the LCS had to be capable, by changing modules, of alternately and effectively carrying out anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, mine warfare or sovereignty missions, depending on the modules on board, the This list is obviously not exhaustive. Like the F35 in the field of combat aircraft, the LCS should therefore be capable of replacing both the OH Perry frigates and the Avenger class minehunters. But that was the theory...

Practice, for its part, violently clashed with this ambitious vision of Secretary England, to say the least, when it became obvious that the design of the modules generated very significant costs. What's more, it appeared just as quickly that the management of on-board skills would prove to be very complex for the US Navy, an anti-submarine warfare operator not being a specialist in mine warfare, nor an electronic or cyber warfare operator, forcing the Navy to imagine the principle of 3:2:1, namely 3 crews for 2 ships including 1 at sea, without resolving the fundamental problems, in particular the technological impasses facing confronted the design of modules which relied, probably too early given the state of technology, on numerous robotic and autonomous systems. Ultimately, in 2016, US naval authorities announced that they were abandoning the modular principle that formed the backbone of the LCS, effectively finding themselves with a growing fleet but lacking advanced operational capabilities.

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In order to increase their operational potential, the US Navy LCS will all be equipped with an NSM anti-ship missile battery.

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolf
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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