What are your plans for an over-the-horizon
(OTH) missile on the LCS?
ANTONIO: Warfighting analysis, including war games,
has shown that the value of the LCS platform is vastly
increased with an OTH capability. Based on that analysis, it’s now a requirement. It’s also a requirement in the
new frigate, so this year we’re working with PEO IWS
[Integrated Warfare Systems] to look at procurement
of the launchers and missiles and what level of integration will be installed prior to an underway period.
The ideal goal is to deploy an OTH missile on board
one of each variant before the end of the year. In the
near term, we’re looking at missiles that are already
programs of record and that we may already have in
the Navy inventory.
We’ll take lessons learned from the incorporation and
integration of over-the-horizon on LCS and we’ll use
that to help inform the frigate design. But the big difference is that the frigate design work will include changes
to the structure of the ship to make sure it can support
the systems from a weight, power, electrical, auxiliary
and cooling perspective. The missile will be more integral to the hull. The shipbuilders have more opportunity
to place the missiles in a more optimal position and may
even look at vertical-launch opportunities.
How would you rate the effectiveness of contractor maintenance and logistic support so far?
ANTONIO: The feedback I’ve gotten from the fleet is
that the ships are well supported.
Our comparison of the first 10 months of Fort Worth’s
deployment to Freedom’s gives us a baseline. We incorporated lessons learned into how we supported that ship
including the contractor flyaway, the level of preventative and corrective maintenance, spare parts, the types
of components that needed to be replaced more often
and where the best location to place the contracting
activity was. The differences were striking.
Fort Worth had fewer CASREPs [equipment casual-ties], less meantime to repair and actually was able to
skip one of her preventative maintenance availabilities.
Congress is allowing us to do a pilot study to allow us
to use some local workers in Singapore to do things
like corrosion control and chipping and painting so
that the taxpayer doesn’t incur the large cost of flying
people all the way to Singapore for that work. The metrics so far are showing a fairly significant cost savings.
How would you respond to the critics of the
ANTONIO: Anything new that comes along tends to
attract skeptics. I remember some of the discussions
about the Perry-class frigate and how they were not
very effective warfighting platforms. But I would point
out the LCS program’s momentum is not just circular
motion but forward progress in a lot of areas.
I’m a realist. We’re experiencing issues, but better
for us to find the issues out in a test period than to
falsely field something thinking we have confidence
that we really don’t have. This provides opportunity for
perhaps even fielding something better to the fleet.
There is work ongoing and we’re fielding systems. The
momentum for deploying ships is going from one ship
to, later this year, at least two ships in Singapore, and
looking for ways to get even more ships deployed. The
full ship shock trials are scheduled for June.
Within one standard Sailor’s three-year tour of duty
from now, some fairly significant things will happen. We
will be routinely operating four LCSs out of Singapore
and some stationed in Mayport [Fla.] If we aren’t already
deployed, we will be making preparations for deploying
ships to Bahrain. The new frigate, if not under contract,
will be very close to being under contract. The current
plan is to have all three of the mission packages IOC’d.
These LCS platforms are going to be out in numbers
here pretty quickly, becoming the Navy’s second largest
surface combatant class. ;