The LCS Decision: LCS-2 Will Win

by Craig Hooper on August 20, 2010

Yes, the decks are stacked against my guess, but…I’m gonna put my chips on the table here. I think the LCS-2 will win the LCS sweepstakes this fall. By the end of September, even!

First, all that internal volume in LCS-2 has a quality all it’s own. If we plan to use the LCS as a mini-gator-type vessel, the LCS-2 makes a far superior platform.

Second, if the Navy faces budget cuts, the JHSV and LCS platforms can, I feel, merge into a single hull form–probably the trimaran, not the JHSV’s catamaran hull form–and leverage savings from that. As missions changed, you’d be able to change crews from one hull to another pretty easily, moving from civilian to Navy and back according to the mission and threat level. Then there’s the logistical savings–once the JHSV and LCS neck down into a single hull (watch, with a couple of more rough budgets, we’ll be a Navy of, what, five to six common hulls…) which, again, leads to savings.

Then there’s the whole Gulf Recovery thing. And the fact that Austal has built, from scratch, one of the first new functional shipyards in the nation–in years. And that Austal is a company of the Pacific Basin, right in the middle of the next big naval arms race. The potential for this to become a widely-distributed, widely-used platform is undeniable–which would, in turn, generate demand for support infrastructure that is in short-supply today (i.e. aluminum welders and such…).

But then again, LCS-1 is probably cheaper to make in the short term. And we all know what the contract terms favor.

But, hell, then again, I’m an optimist. So I’m placing my bet: LCS-2 wins, and the announcement comes on September 23-24. Place yer bets on the winner an announcement date below!

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Shipyards, Tea Leaves and the LCS: Austal is gonna win
November 19, 2010 at 8:09 pm

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandy August 26, 2010 at 11:47 am

The likely reason for the delay is Austal has put in a low-ball bid.

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Craig Hooper August 24, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Boy did I catch heck for blowing the date!

I still hold with my optimist’s bet that LCS-2 will stage a come-from-behind win.

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Blacktail August 22, 2010 at 1:57 pm

For the LCS series, anything even remotely resembling “winning” would be a neat trick.

For starters, they have no AA guns, no anti-ship missiles, no ASW weapons, and not even any sonar. It also has a range 700nm shorter than a Perry class Frigate; which is astonishing, considering that the Perrys displaces twice as much water, and has a hull designed in the Disco era.

We’re also building just 4 LCS ships — 4 ships, to cover 12380 miles of US coastline left totally unwatched by a globally-stretched Blue Water Navy. Even the Israelis, who have only 170 miles of coastline, didn’t feel they were safe enough until they had some 11 Sa’ar class Missile Boats in the water.

And for each of these, we’re spending more than SEVEN TIMES the collective re-activation cost of an Iowa class Battleship. If we spent that money building Perry class Frigates instead (assuming that were even still possible), we’d have another 28 of them.

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Moose August 21, 2010 at 11:41 am

I’m going to be conspiratorial here and say the recent delay of the contract stems from the USN realizing they want LCS-2 but that they had been stacking the deck for LCS-1. If they awarded today, their given criteria seems to clearly lean LCS-1, meaning (among other things) LockMart is almost guaranteed to protest an award to Austal. So, they’re hoping a couple months and a little behind the scenes work can give themselves the chance to make a LCS-2 buy harder to challenge.

No evidence to back that up, just a feeling.

Personally, if that’s the case I’d award to LCS-2 now, let Lockheed protest. If GAO upholds the protest, the program is delayed for 6-12 months but the USN gets the chance to re-write their RFP to favor the Independence Class, or at least to be more vague, and still give it the nod later. Fill the work gap by ordering a third pair of prototypes from the two yards.

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philbob August 20, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Hope for LCS-2 but my money is on LCS-1

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