Monday, June 24, 2013

Analysis of Alternatives: The Littoral Combat Ship

     Back in 2012 I ran a post that called for the cancellation of the Littoral Combat Ship on the grounds that none of it's required modules have become operational, and the fact that the LCS is underarmed. Here are what I belive are solid alternatives to the LCS.

1. Visby-class corvette.
     The Visby-class was developed in Sweden for ASuW and ASW. The Visby-class runs about 184 million dollars each. Specs:
Displacement:640 tonnes
Length:72.7 m
Beam:10.4 m
Draught:2.4 m
Propulsion:CODOG
2 × 125SII Kamewa Waterjets
4 × Vericor TF50A gas turbines, total rating 16 MW
2 × MTU Friedrichshafen 16 V 2000 N90 diesel engines, total rating 2.6 MW
3 x generators of 270kW each
Speed:35+ knots
Range:2500nm @ 15 knots
Complement:43
Sensors and
processing systems:
Ericsson Sea_GIRAFFE AMB 3D surveillance radar
Ceros 200 fire control radar system
Condor CS-3701 tactical radar surveillance system
GDC Hull-mounted sonar
Hydroscience Technologies towed array sonar system
GDC variable depth sonar
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
Rheinmetall TKWA/MASS (Multi Ammunition Softkill System)
Armament:
1 × Bofors 57 mm Mk3
8 × RBS15 Mk2 AShM
4 × 400 mm torpedo launchers for Type 45 torpedoes
Mines and depth charges
Provision for but not fitted with
2 × 6 127 mm ALECTO anti-submarine rocket launchers (cancelled)

8 × Umkhonto SAM(cancelled)
Aviation facilities:Helicopter pad
Modify the Visby-class to carry a RIM-116 in lieu of Umkhonto SAMs, Mk48s or Mk50s in lieu of Type 45 torpedoes (along with 324mm or 533mm torpedo tubes as needed). Exchange the RBS15 for two quad Harpoon launchers, and the Bofors 57mm gun for an OTO Melera 76mm gun. Exchange the electronics and propulsion for U.S. equipment where possible and affordable. Then we have a lightweight, fast ship built specifically for combat in the littorals at a lower cost than the LCS.

2. Saar 5 corvette
The Saar 5-class corvette was designed by the Israeli Navy, as the latest in the Saar series which traces it roots back to Germany's WWII E-Boats. The mission of the Saar 5-class is ASuW, with a touch of AAW.  The price of a Saar 5 corvette is 260 million dollars. Specs:
Class & type:Corvette
Displacement:
Length:85.64 m (280.97 ft)
Beam:11.88 m (38.98 ft)
Draft:3.17 m (10.40 ft)
Propulsion:
Speed:
Range:3,500 nautical miles (6,500 km)
Complement:
  • 64 officers and crewmen
  • 10 aircrew
Sensors and
processing systems:
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
Armament:
Armor:Steel and aluminum
Aircraft carried:Eurocopter Panther, unmanned helicopter[1]
Aviation facilities:Helipad and helicopter hangar
      Global Security lists the ship as being armed with a Phalanx 20mm CIWS (as shown in the picture above). Changes to the design would be to replace Israeli electronics with American where possible and affordable, and possibly the addition of a 76mm gun. 

3. New build Perry-class frigates
     The Perry-class is a strudy design that can take a beating and keeping on moving (see the USS Samuel B. Roberts). Designed to escort amphibs and merchant convoys in a WWIII scenario they had an emphasis on AAW, but still highly capable in the area of ASuW. The last Perry-class frigate, the USS Ingraham, cost about 785 million dollars when adjusted for inflation (cost comes from the 1983-84 issue of Jane's Fighting Ships). Specs for the Ingraham:
Displacement:4,100 tons (4,165 t) full load
Length:453 ft (138.1 m), overall
Beam:45 ft (13.7 m)
Draft:27 ft (6.7 m)
Propulsion:2 × General Electric LM2500-30 gas turbines generating 41,000 shp (31 MW) through a single shaft andcontrollable-pitch propeller
Speed:29+ knots (54+ km/h)
Range:5,000 nm (9,300 km) at 18 knots (33 km/h)
Complement:15 officers and 190 enlisted, plus SH-60 LAMPS detachment of roughly six officer pilots and 15 enlisted men
Armament:1 × OTO Melara Mk 75 76 mm/62 caliber naval gun
2 × Mk 32 triple-tube (324 mm) launchers for Mark 46 torpedoes
1 × Vulcan Phalanx CIWS
4 × .50-cal (12.7 mm) machine guns.
Aircraft carried:2 × SH-60 LAMPS III helicopters
      The only change to the design would be to add a Mk 41 VLS in lieu of the Mk 13 launcher that was deleted from later Perrys.
      Each of the ships discussed above could be built under license in U.S. shipyards, in fact only the Visby-class has not been built in a U.S. shipyard. In the mid-90s the Israelis had Ingalls buld the Saar 5-class. Each of these classes, barring the Perrys, are cheaper than the LCS which costs 680.7 million dollars. Each of these classes has a greater combat capability than the LCS, and greater survivability in combat. Each of these classes is better than the LCS and offers a solid alternative.

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