Ruling the Littoral
Navy begins fielding the mission packages that will
give the new fleet of Littoral Combat Ships its bite
By DANIEL P. TAYLOR, Special Correspondent
Addressing the Irregular Threat
The MCM mission package costs
$89.4 million, the SUW package
costs $19.6 million and there is not
yet a price tag for the ASW package,
according to NAVSEA.
“These costs are pending the
upcoming updates of the program
manager and service cost estimates,”
the statement said.
The Navy plans to buy 24 SUW
mission packages, 24 MCM packages and 16 ASW packages for the
In terms of technological difficulty, the MCM is particularly challenging in that there is “no one system
that can detect, identify, classify and
neutralize sea mines,” according to
the NAVSEA statement. “Rather, the MCM mission package requires several systems to detect, classify and neutralize mines. The ocean environment ... adds to the difficulty for the MCM mission systems.
“Add to that the complexity and danger involved in
detecting, locating, identifying and neutralizing sea
mines, and you can understand the statement that the
mine warfare mission and the MCM mission package
are particularly challenging,” NAVSEA said.
Once the Navy has mastered the technology behind
the mission package, it will mark a “major step toward
achieving the Navy’s goal of providing organic mine
countermeasures for strike groups,” the statement
As LCSs join the fleet, the Navy plans to have them
assume more responsibilities for MCM missions, and
in a way that is “significantly different” from how it is
done today by legacy minehunters and sweepers,
according to NAVSEA. Instead of operating in a minefield, the LCS will be able to use offboard manned and
unmanned surface and undersea vehicles to deal with
threats while remaining at a safe distance.
Work continues on the three types of specific mission packages
that will allow the Navy’s planned fleet of 55 Littoral Combat
Ships to be flexible enough to handle mine countermeasure, anti-submarine warfare or surface warfare operations.
; At least one of each of the packages has been delivered, and
more are on the way.
; Work on the mine countermeasures package has been particularly challenging because there is “no one system that can detect,
identify, classify and neutralize sea mines.”
; Each mission package will evolve as technology improves and
new weapons and sensors become available.
The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) marks a sea- change in the kind of fleet the Navy is build- ing, as it transitions some of its focus from
blue water to the littoral environment to address the
irregular warfare threat. The service plans to build 55
LCSs, which are intended to be flexible enough to handle three major mission areas — mine countermeasures (MCM), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and surface warfare (SUW) — using mission packages (MPs)
specifically designed for each task.
With the Lockheed Martin and Austal USA industry
teams each having delivered their first ships, and the
third through sixth vessels now under construction, the
Navy and Northrop Grumman are hard at work making
sure the missions packages stay on schedule.
So far, two MCM packages have been delivered, with
another set for this fiscal year and a fourth in fiscal 2013.
One ASW package has been delivered, with a second set
for fiscal 2016, and Northrop has delivered two SUW
packages, with two more scheduled for next year,
according to a Naval Sea Systems Command statement
provided to Seapower by spokesman Chris Johnson.