Littoral Combat Ships

LCS Armed With Smart Army Missile

A great fact-filled post on Strategy Page. Here are a couple of snippets:

The U.S. Navy is going to equip its new LCS (Littoral Combat Ships) with a U.S. Army artillery system to provide fire support to troops near the coast. The army system is NetFires (or NLOS-LS), which is still in development. This weapon is actually two different missiles, identical in weight and size, but different in how they operate. The main one is PAM (Precision Attack Missile).


Recognizing that there will be situations, like where there are a lot of woods or jungles, that will prevent sensors from spotting a lot of targets, there’s a second NetFires missile, the LAM (Loitering Attack Missile). Same weight and all of the PAM, except it is actually a mini-cruise missile and can fly around an assigned area for 45 minutes looking for a target.


The LCS features a number of major innovations. For one thing, it is highly automated, and has a crew of less than fifty. The LCS has a large cargo hold that can be quickly fitted with gear to turn it into a mine clearing ship, a fire support ship (with NetFires containers), a submarine hunter, or just about anything (anti-aircraft, commando support, or even command and control.) Each LCS also carries a Black Hawk size helicopter (MH-60), and has a hanger for it. There is also a water level dock for launching USV (Unmanned Surface Vehicles).

Much, much more at Strategy Page, so go read.

A prototype catamaran LCS, the Sea Fighter, has joined the Navy already. MO has covered it previously:

Murdoc is an unabashed fan of the Sea Fighter, and thinks that there’s a place for more of the class in the Navy (and Coast Guard).

Here’s a pic of the FSF-1 Sea Fighter that I meant to post once upon a time but apparently never got to:

For what it’s worth, Murdoc thinks that nearly all of the arguments that DD(X) proponents make for the multi-billion dollar class of new stealth destroyers can be covered using Littoral Combat Ships.


  1. I am a unabashed critic of using unarmored ships for brown-water operations. Read: the LCS is a death trap in a real fight. Out on the ocean during the Cold-War cutting back on armor means more missiles, more range, and at the end of the day sonar and radar are going to be your life savers. The LCS in the support role has its advantages. Using them getting into Artillery brawls is a death wish. As a general rule, firing arty on a modern battlefield means you give away your position, and shells will be coming back. In vietnam, arty bases would have new pieces flown in regularly in some cases becasue they would loose pieces in return fires. Modern shell tracking radars accelerate this to a new level. If the LCS manages to avoid not getting wiped by a Anti-ship missiles hidden in the shore line, its going to get ripped apart once it decides to open up. I agree a LCS fire support ship would be better than the DD(X), but only because we would be throwing away less lives on money.

  2. Remember what armor did for the BBs at Pearl? Not much. How about ‘he who fights and runs away’? The Sea Fighter can fight and run, just right for the missile age.

  3. The lesson of pearl (or for that matter the Cole) is that you want always want to be on guard. Armor is one defense system thats always ‘on’- not catch all. The value of armor on armor isn’t that magically make the BB’s invunerable. Its that they make them vastly more surviable against threats thats are hard to stop. The missile age is transitioning into the anti-missile age- it has been for awhile now. Phalanx was a start- the next generation of anti-missile missiles and ant-missile lasers are slowly ending the missile dominance. THe kinds of missiles that are harder to stop- faster ones, as well as shells tend to hit Ships in more predicatble places- e.g. the sides. Its forces the enemy to field much bigger and more expensive AS missiles then they would otherwise. The BB’s are nearly immune to many smaller warheads common to many weapon platforms.

  4. I wonder if there is any way one could put an Apache gunship on an LCS (probably with some modest modifications similar to the Black Hawk v. Sea Hawk adaptations)? This would make the LCS more useful in an anti-piracy capacity, and also in a CAS capacity, in both cases without necessarily getting the ship itself to close to the fight.

  5. Why would you put an Apache on an LCS, when the USMC have used Cobra’s at sea for years – and are about to rebuild their entire fleet to Zulu standards… Not say its a bad idea though… but why use Apache’s and come to think of it, why use a dedicated platform and not a multi role Huey style gunship that can carry troops etc,etc…