Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has ordered the Navy to cut the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program down from 52 hulls to 40. He has also told the Navy to select one ship builder for the program, choosing between the Independence and Freedom variants and their respective manufactures. Further details show the new plan requires the Navy to drop from purchasing three LCS are year to one, by 2019.
Many officials and defense analysts are not a fan of the LCS, mainly due to their light armament and protection, so the Navy started to build more robust and heavily armed LCS with the designation as Frigate (FF), these ships will also be included in the cut. Although Ash Carter has said that the reduction of LCS and FF will be replaced by higher-end ships with more capabilities, like the Flight III Arleigh Burke class destroyers. Some of the money saved from the reduction will also be used to buy more F-35’s.
“This plan reduces, somewhat, the number of Littoral Combat Ships available for presence operations, but that need will be met by higher-end ships, and it will ensure that the warfighting forces in our submarine, surface, and aviation fleets have the necessary capabilities and posture to defeat even our most advanced potential adversaries. Forty LCS/FF will exceed recent historical presence levels and will provide a far more modern and capable ship than the patrol coastals, minesweepers, and frigates that they will replace.”
While I am happy the funds for these cut hulls will be reallocated properly, I still believe there is a niche to fill. A contender would be A shortened version of Danish Royal Navies Iver Huitfeldt class frigate. Currently the U.S. Navy has a requirement to field 308 ships, the reduction of the Littoral Combat Ship will not encroach on that requirement.