Friday, February 12, 2010

LCS shocker....

The LCS is more heavily armed than the Absalon Class Flexible Support Ship and many Frigates. How? If you look at its stated armament of one 57mm cannon and its two 30mm Bushmasters its competitive in the cannon arena. What will push the LCS ahead of its competitors? The NLOS missile system.

With the NLOS attack missile (especially with a mix of precision and loitering attack) you have a small ship that is capable of controlling a wide swath of sea even before adding in its aviation element.

From Wikipedia...
Precision Attack Munition
Used to attack vehicles, armor, and other targets of opportunity. Utilizes 3 modes of GPS/INS, semi-active laser homing, and autonomous imaging infrared. Carries a multi-mode warhead effective against several types of targets. It also includes an online library of pictures of targets, so that it can visually identify what it is homing in on.
  • Weight: 117 lbs (45kg)
  • Diameter: 7 ins (18cm)
  • Length: 5 ft (1.5m)
  • Guidance: GPS/INS, imaging infrared, semi-active laser homing.
  • Datalink: Networked for in-flight updates, retargeting and images.
  • Motor: Variable thrust rocket motor
  • Range: 40 km
Loitering Attack Munition
Designed to fly to a preset area and loiter while autonomously seeking out targets.
  • Weight: 117 lbs (45kg)
  • Diameter: 7 ins (18cm)
  • Length: 5 ft (1.5m)
  • Guidance: GPS/INS, laser radar (LADAR) seeker with automatic target recognition.
  • Datalink: Networked for in-flight updates, retargeting and images.
  • Motor: Micro turbojet.
  • Range: 70 km with 30 min loiter time.
Many, myself included, have criticized this warship based on its perceived weapons fit. We were wrong. The LCS as the Navy is obviously designing it, will have a very robust attack and self defense capability. In addition to holding NLOS missiles these canisters can also mount air defense missiles.

This outline from Naval-Technology has been the "guide" by which we've all been basing our assumptions.
Again, we were deceived. Perhaps it had something to do with the Navy's focus on mission modules. Perhaps it was the 'wow' factor with the ships speed. Either way a critical design feature of the LCS-1 and LCS-2 has been ignored. It might be time to re-evaluate our critique of the ship. A US Army 5-ton truck can easily hold two canisters. That's 30 missiles. An LCS might pack 8 canisters? That is a tremendous war load. Vid from Lockheed Martin.



  1. Just me nitpicking, but the Absalon class carries a 127mm main gun, and two 35mm CIWS (AHEAD). Cannon-wise, it outguns the LCS.

    The Absalon class also carries 8x anti-ship Harpoons, 8x land-attack Harpoons and 36 ESSMs.

    ESSM is better against air targets, about the same against surface targets compared to NLOS-LS, and Harpoons out-range the NLOS-LS in both anti-ship and land-attack.

    However, due to the number of extra rounds and flexibility, NLOS-LS is more usefull in a littoral role, especially against swarms of small boats.

    You know, call me crazy, but Stryker, LCS and JSF all have in common that there is an army of detractors and bashers who are hell-bend on sinking these programs. These three programs have their faults and setbacks - some severe ones at that - but there is potential in them that is either blatantly disregarded or consistently underestimated.

  2. Ah but the sweet spot with the NLOS is that its a small containerized system. Theoretically you could fill a ships flight deck with containers and have a baby battle ship. Don't underestimate the range of the loitering attack missile either. 70km and a 30 minute loiter time? That has got to be competitive with a surface launched Harpoon if not outright beating it.

    I'll cry uncle on the cannons but I did put out the caveat by saying that it was competitive...not superior but competitive:) Ok, i'm playing lawyer with that but you know what I mean....but yeah, your point is well made.

    I agree halfway on the army of detractors. I'm still going to bash the just doesn't measure up! No matter how I slice it.

  3. Yup, Harpoon is old and after all these years it should be as breakfast for current Kashtan-type CIWS, ntm modern EW.

    I would really like to see if the USN's Cooperative Engagement Capability can be used with NLOS-LS. An LCS with VTUAVs could provide surveillance and target designation, and smaller boats (LCACs?) could fill the role of networked Arsenal Ships. Pretty cool.

    Talking about Arsenal 'battleships'; LCS-2 has three module slots, each large enough to hold four canisters - potentially 180 missiles!
    No need for a big anti-ship/land-attack weapon, just barrage your target with 100+ guided missiles...

    Re Stryker, theoretically, it should be able to hold a NLOS-LS pack in the troop compartment - would that change your mind? :)

  4. To be honest if they just changed the employment of the vehicle that would go a long way to me. Its an APC. Pure and simple. Nothing fancy, not a vehicle to do anything but to get the infantry to the edge of the battle. Do that and I'd be satisfied.

    NLOS...If they could get some type of de-rated Aegis type system onto the LCS like on the proposed LCS international then I bet you could have that baby battleship easy!

  5. You know, we're falling in the same trap some Navy brass types stepped into; trying to turn the LCS into something it is not designed to be.
    Like Stryker isn't a Humvee or an M-1, LCS isn't a Tico/Burke or Osprey (minesweeper): it's a new class.

    It's not meant to be an battleship, yet we're tacking all kinds of extra capability onto it which balloon R&D and procurement costs - the proposed LCS International(s) you mentioned are exactly what I mean. SPY-1F and Mk.41 VLS are sweet (and should be standard on any navy ship imho) but not necessary on a minesweeper - one of the intended LCS roles. You can't just remove those and the extra power (and thus fuel) required call for larger generators, more fuel, bigger hull etc. etc.

  6. Just how close are these missiles to serial production and when can the troops in the field expect to get them? I'm always a little suspicious of animated weapons' video clips.

  7. Extremely close. It almost got caught up in the FCS cancellation but managed to survive. I think the Army should thank the Navy for that. But on a side note the Israeli's are working on a similar system which might beat this to production.

  8. The Loitering version, IIRC, was cancelled some many months ago when they realized the tech wasn't going to make it. The PAM is all that exists.

    The Israelis beat it into production, the Jumper system has already been tested and is production ready. PAM not so much...

    Honestly, A couple of SeaProtector RWS stations with the APKWS (or other Laser Guided) 70mm rockets and the ONR's multiple-target laser designation system (aka Multi-Target Track and Terminate) would do the same at a fraction of the cost for most small boat encounters (under 5km).

    I understood that LCS-2 was more along the lines of being able to carry 3-4 NLOS-LS canister TOTAL. If it's more like 4 for each of the 3 spots then that would be a big boost. The number of Mk41 slots they promised to the Israelis seems to support that which case why not put NLOS-PAM in the fore ('B gun position') spot and some quad-packed ESSMs into the slots by the hangar? A formidable arsenal, and survivable if ceramic armoring is installed.

  9. Well that sucks. The loitering version is really the leap ahead. Still with 15 missiles per container I can live with a 40+ mile capable land/sea capable attacker. And even carrying just 4 of them that's 60 precision attack missiles. Pretty good for a relatively small ship.

    If the Marcase is right then watch out. It is as I battleship time.

  10. 40km...unfortunately, 25 miles. As you say, though, good for many missions in the condensed littorals.


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