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Changing the Name of the Navy’s ‘Little Crappy Ship’ Won’t Fix It

Yesterday, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that the Navy would be changing the name of its much vilified Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) to the ‘Fast Frigate.’ The LCS, often called the ‘Little Crappy Ship’ by its critics in the Navy, has been plagued with problems since its inception. Many see this name change as a not-so-subtle way for the Navy to fend off the ship’s detractors.

LCS2The Pentagon’s chief weapons tester has repeatedly said that the LCS is “not expected to be survivable” in combat. The ship suffers from serious design and technical flaws, and cost overruns, and even has problems performing the tasks it was designed to perform. The situation became so bad that last February outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered to the Navy to cut its LCS purchases from 52 to 32 ships.

At that same, time Hagel also ordered the Navy to come up with a new design for the remaining 20 ships, announcing the outcome in December. To some observers surprise, instead of developing a better, more suitable ship, the Navy simply decided to add a few more cannons and armor to the original LCS design. The Pentagon’s chief weapons tester quickly derided the decision, stating “the minor modifications to the LCS will not yield a ship that is significantly more survivable.”

Indeed, simply making a few modifications, and now changing its name, won’t make this little crappy ship any better. The LCS is a waste of tax dollars and places sailors at an unacceptable risk. It’s time for Congress to end the program once and for all.

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LCS Shaping Up as Next F-35

The acquisition malpractice known as “concurrency” infects another weapons system.   In a hearing last week on the troubled Littoral Combat Ship weapons LCS-Together-630x337program, the House Armed Services Committee failed to strike back against the same ‘buy before we fly’ practice that’s led to massive delays and cost-overruns for the F-35 fighter jet.  Like with that weapons boondoggle, “concurrency” happens when the Pentagon pushes ahead with buying weapons before testing is complete, this leads to delays and overruns as uncovered defects require retrofits to already purchased weapons.  For the LCS, the Pentagon will have bought and paid for 24 LCS’s by 2016 before they have been fully vetted for battle worthiness.  The Government Accountability Office has recommended slowing down production of the LCS until technology has caught up, however defense contractors say this will lead to higher costs. While food stamps are getting cut and seniors lose Meals on Wheels, we can ill afford another too big to kill weapons system.

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