Monday, December 5, 2016

Littoral Combat Ship, at a Crossroads - Defense One

Littoral Combat Ship, at a Crossroads - Defense One: The U.S. Navy’s littoral combat ship program is at a crossroads, and it’s not just a new Government Accountability Office review saying so.

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Dec. 1, senators, the GAO, and a representative from the Office of the Secretary of Defense slammed the program for cost overruns, engineering failures, and more.

“The miracle of the LCS didn’t happen,” said Paul Francis, GAO’s managing director of acquisition and sourcing management.

Vociferous criticism for the ships is nothing new in committee hearings, But yesterday’s hearing also saw calls for further reducing planned purchases.

The Navy, which has bought or ordered 26 LCSs and just received approval for another two, is working to build a fleet of 52 small surface combatants (either LCSs or a planned modified version dubbed a frigate). But the recently settled National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 provides for only 40.

“Given the cost overruns, mission package testing woes and the rate of engineering failures, reducing the size of this program is a necessary first step,” SASC chair Sen. John McCain said. “I am prepared to go even further by taking a hard look at any further procurement of ships until all of the mission packages reach IOC,” or initial operating capability.