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The Masked Tulip

Littoral Combat Ship In South China Sea

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150511-N-VO234-383.jpg?zoom=1.5&resize=6

The above is littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) in international waters of the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands as the People’s Liberation Army-Navy [PLA(N)] guided-missile frigate Yancheng (FFG 546) transits close behind on May 11, 2015. US Navy photo.

Hard to believe but, apart from the BAE gun on the bow, this ship has no offensive ship to air or ship to ship capability and little defensive capability. It can, in theory, shoot down incoming missiles but it cannot attack and destroy any ship or aircraft that fires at it. If the Chinese ship following it fired at it it could fire self-defence missiles but would not be able to actually fire back at an enemy ship except for using its bow gun.

The interesting thing about these littoral combat ships is that they were supposed to be cheap alternatives to frigates but, just like the F-35, the costs have soared and they also seem to have forgotten to put enough defence and attack weaponary on these things. When they add the defensive and offensive capability the costs become as much, if not more, than the cost of building the frigates that they were supposed to be cheaper alternatives to.

However, just the like the F-35, they create loads of jobs and expensive ship-building contracts. There must be a committee involved somewhere.

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I'm guessing its main defence/attack is using the helipad on the back?

The helicopter in use, the MH-60R, can carry an anti-submarine torpedo and Hellfire missiles with a 5 mile range.

Therefore, even if they could launch the helicopter with the Hellfires deployed as opposed to the torpedo before the ship was destroyed, the helicopter would have to get within 5 miles of an enemy ship before it could even fire its Hellfire missiles - highly unlikely when that, in the above, Chinese warship can stand off 20 or 30 miles and fire anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles aplentyy.

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Shhhh...but those sides collapse down to reveal a full size angled deck aircraft carrier in minutes.

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Ideal ship to put there. It's got enough defence to protect itself against pirates and appear a military ship but it cannot be called a threat to the much bigger and better-armed Chinese ships around it.

So if it does get blown up then nobody can claim self-defence.

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Ideal ship to put there. It's got enough defence to protect itself against pirates and appear a military ship but it cannot be called a threat to the much bigger and better-armed Chinese ships around it.

So if it does get blown up then nobody can claim self-defence.

That is what I was wondering - in this particular circumstance. You also wonder whether there is a US hunter-killer submarine in close vincinity. However, once again, any retaliation by a submarine would be too late to save the crew of the LCS.

In broader terms, the US is committed to buying and building loads of these despite, much like the F-35, years of concern about their ever-rising unit cost and the continued lack of offensive and defensive systems. The US Navy is currently searching desperately to find such systems to install and, rarely for the US military, is considering a Norweigan missile which is rare indeed for the US to consider such a vital weapon platform from outside of the US.

These LCS are not seen as an addition to frigates but replacement for frigates. Just as both China and Russia are increasing the size of their navies the US is not only reducing in size its own naval power but replacing highly capable frigates with these LCSs. Interesting times ahead.

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They are the US version of the Russian fishing boat.

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Shhhh...but those sides collapse down to reveal a full size angled deck aircraft carrier in minutes.

You've told us; now you'll have to shoot us. ?

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I wouldn't like to be one of the cew aboard one of these ships - they can't go on the offensive, they are incapable of defending themselves and they lack decent radar systems. Even their anti-submarine warfare capability is poor.

A good example of a ship designed by committee in an era when the mindset became one of targeting Somali and Yemenis... as long as they stayed within a few miles of the coast... and not the real longterm potential threat.

I doubt very much whether the admirals and politicians backing the LCS would send their own kids to sea in one.

Anyhow, the reason why I posted this thread is that, as I said above, I would not like to be one of the crew aboard this ship in the South China Sea currently. Nor would I like to be part of the air crew of the unarmed and unprotected US surveilance aircraft flying over the South China Sea. I think there will be an incident, with loss of life, sooner than later.

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From that picture, it looks like a lovely day for a nice sail about.

I can't recall seeing an image in my lifetime of a US warship on the high seas along with a warship from another country where the US warship was outgunned.

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Looks like the sort of shiny lure a fisherman would attach to the end of his line to attract a bigger fish to take a bite out of it.

That said, theres no link in the OP, theres no way of telling where it is in the world and theres no way of knowing what that ship is in the distance or even if its photoshopped.

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I wouldn't like to be one of the cew aboard one of these ships - they can't go on the offensive, they are incapable of defending themselves and they lack decent radar systems. Even their anti-submarine warfare capability is poor.

A good example of a ship designed by committee in an era when the mindset became one of targeting Somali and Yemenis... as long as they stayed within a few miles of the coast... and not the real longterm potential threat.

I doubt very much whether the admirals and politicians backing the LCS would send their own kids to sea in one.

Anyhow, the reason why I posted this thread is that, as I said above, I would not like to be one of the crew aboard this ship in the South China Sea currently. Nor would I like to be part of the air crew of the unarmed and unprotected US surveilance aircraft flying over the South China Sea. I think there will be an incident, with loss of life, sooner than later.

Wonder how long before the US allows the Japs to expand their navy.

Oh look they already have

http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/japanese-navy-to-extend-its-reach-into-pacific-again-and-the-us-is-happy-about-it/story-fnpjxnlk-1227290886867

BTW these US ships can not be any more useless than the UKs 'pacifist' aircraft carriers that do not have any planes to fly off them.

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Surely the whole point of these is that they are designed for a completely different mission. They'd be good at killing pirates, delivering supplies to shore, mine clearing, dealing with drug smugglers, and in the case of this mission, showing a non threatening presence in international waters. If you want to deal with a horde of bad guys coming at you in small boats, this is your weapon - more effective than a bigger boat because they are faster, more agile and fire cheaper weapons.

You wouldn't be putting these up against the Chinese navy in a firefight - but that is not the point of what they are doing.

Edit - OP was focusing on the gun as a primary weapon....battleships have not had guns as primary weapons for decades, because compared to missiles, they are pants - inaccurate and short range. In WW2, you had the Bismark and Hood clattering each other with 16" guns at a range of about 13 miles. I would guess a poxy little boat like this could have crippled the Bismark - get in to within 8 km by virtue of agility, and unload 24 hellfires, which make a pretty nasty mess of anything they hit. A modern destroyer doesn't have much more gun that this boat, again depending on missiles to do the damage. Put a modern destroyer up against an old fashioned battleship, and it would just launch a tomahawk or two without bothering to leave port.

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Surely the whole point of these is that they are designed for a completely different mission. They'd be good at killing pirates, delivering supplies to shore, mine clearing, dealing with drug smugglers, and in the case of this mission, showing a non threatening presence in international waters. If you want to deal with a horde of bad guys coming at you in small boats, this is your weapon - more effective than a bigger boat because they are faster, more agile and fire cheaper weapons.

You wouldn't be putting these up against the Chinese navy in a firefight - but that is not the point of what they are doing.

The idea behind these ships is interesting, they are designed to be modular, i.e. they can be quickly reconfigured for different roles: ASW, minesweeping, air defence, surface warfare, rather than trying to do all of these roles simaltaneously.

The problem seems to be that in practice they can't be reconfigured that quickly. they don't appear to be very good at many of the roles assigned to them and perhaps most fundamentally they really need the ability to perform more than one role simaltaneously.

So in reality what you end up with is a very niche warship that's only real advantage is its ability to operate close to shore and in practical terms is only really effective against smugglers and pirates, and if all you want is an anti-piracy patrol boat you don't need to spend $400m on it.

I think the US has actually abandoned the concept now and any new LCS style ships are going to be much more like normal frigates.

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I once read an analysis that suggested modern weapons would struggle against a good old fashioned battleship. Torpedo's would hurt it, but not much against the upper works.

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Surely the whole point of these is that they are designed for a completely different mission. They'd be good at killing pirates, delivering supplies to shore, mine clearing, dealing with drug smugglers, and in the case of this mission, showing a non threatening presence in international waters. If you want to deal with a horde of bad guys coming at you in small boats, this is your weapon - more effective than a bigger boat because they are faster, more agile and fire cheaper weapons.

You wouldn't be putting these up against the Chinese navy in a firefight - but that is not the point of what they are doing.

Edit - OP was focusing on the gun as a primary weapon....battleships have not had guns as primary weapons for decades, because compared to missiles, they are pants - inaccurate and short range. In WW2, you had the Bismark and Hood clattering each other with 16" guns at a range of about 13 miles. I would guess a poxy little boat like this could have crippled the Bismark - get in to within 8 km by virtue of agility, and unload 24 hellfires, which make a pretty nasty mess of anything they hit. A modern destroyer doesn't have much more gun that this boat, again depending on missiles to do the damage. Put a modern destroyer up against an old fashioned battleship, and it would just launch a tomahawk or two without bothering to leave port.

It has b*gger all missile capability. That is part of the point of the problem.

Yes, it will be great against pirates and Somalis/Yemenis who stand still within 5 miles of the shore. As the cost of these things has increased dramatically they are being seen as a replacement for the Arleigh Burkes which, frankly, they do not compare with at all in terms of capability.

This is what had alarmed so many - the Arleigh Burke is the backbone of the US Navy but it has tremendous offensive and defensive blue water fleet capabilities.

So many in the US have bought into the Al Qaeda threat since 2001 that the US has lost, or is losing, lots of capability in 'traditional' fighting just at the precise time that bigger and real threats are appearing.

A senior US air force general commented recently that the US air force has lost the skills of fighting air to air combat against an enemy with the same capability as so much time has been spent in the past decade on dropping smart bombs on tribesmen.

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The problem seems to be that in practice they can't be reconfigured that quickly. they don't appear to be very good at many of the roles assigned to them and perhaps most fundamentally they really need the ability to perform more than one role simaltaneously.

So in reality what you end up with is a very niche warship that's only real advantage is its ability to operate close to shore and in practical terms is only really effective against smugglers and pirates, and if all you want is an anti-piracy patrol boat you don't need to spend $400m on it.

Yep, that is it. The idea sounds good in practice and on the drawing board but basically they have ended up with a ship that is not a master of anything whilst also not being capable of doing the basics.

These LCS also can't go far from base. I think the first one could only go 32 days away from a base. The new ones are up about 50 days which, in ocean going terms, is very poor.

Anyhow, hopefully we will stay out of any conflict in the Pacific.

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Edit - OP was focusing on the gun as a primary weapon....battleships have not had guns as primary weapons for decades, because compared to missiles, they are pants - inaccurate and short range. In WW2, you had the Bismark and Hood clattering each other with 16" guns at a range of about 13 miles. I would guess a poxy little boat like this could have crippled the Bismark - get in to within 8 km by virtue of agility, and unload 24 hellfires, which make a pretty nasty mess of anything they hit. A modern destroyer doesn't have much more gun that this boat, again depending on missiles to do the damage. Put a modern destroyer up against an old fashioned battleship, and it would just launch a tomahawk or two without bothering to leave port.

It would be interesting to know. If big guns were still used they could be a lot more accurate now. The USA still had some big WWII era battleships until pretty recently, with the guns being computer-controlled. I think the idea was that it would be cheaper than more modern weapons but they changed their mind about it. How effective modern anti-ship weaponry would be is interesting, since the current stuff won't be designed for use against heavily armoured targets. A torpedo might break its back (although there's one story going around that old torpedos were used against the Belgrano due to it being too heavily armoured for new ones), missiles might depend upon exactly where they hit - if they're precise they could probably cripple it but could they sink it?

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A senior US air force general commented recently that the US air force has lost the skills of fighting air to air combat against an enemy with the same capability as so much time has been spent in the past decade on dropping smart bombs on tribesmen.

If the US gets into a fight with an "equivalently armed" enemy it is going to go nuclear very quickly. You wouldn't need to get within 500 meters of any boat with a tactical nuke - in any real conflict all boats (of whatever capability)are going to the bottom of the sea in the first 5 minutes. These diddy boats might survive longer because they are not worth wasting time on.

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If the US gets into a fight with an "equivalently armed" enemy it is going to go nuclear very quickly. You wouldn't need to get within 500 meters of any boat with a tactical nuke - in any real conflict all boats (of whatever capability)are going to the bottom of the sea in the first 5 minutes. These diddy boats might survive longer because they are not worth wasting time on.

Interesting thought.

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I once read an analysis that suggested modern weapons would struggle against a good old fashioned battleship. Torpedo's would hurt it, but not much against the upper works.

I understand that the USS Missouri was had armour designed to resist and contain shells that penetrate more than 9 meters of reinforced concrete weighting up to 1200 kg arriving at 1700 feet per second roughly 1150 mph or 1.5 Mach. Modern missiles are designed to sink modern aluminium hulled warship not the steel clad behemoths of the past which were designed for slugging matches. Those old guns may not have been that accurate but they carried a hell of a punch. As for missile accuracy you only need to read about how useless a lot of the British anti aircraft missiles were in the Falklands (more of a menace to sheep and penguins than Argentine aircraft) to be wary of putting too much faith in the claims made for them. The weakness of modern ships is that if their defensive systems fail then they are very vulnerable to missile or any other type of attack as the fates of HMS Sheffield and the USS Stark attest. Historically the way too sink battleships has been with torpedo's below the armour belt or bombs through the deck. However, even though the latter is a tough ask with Iowa class battleships that were designed to take a hit from a 2000lb bomb. The RAF had to use 12000lb tall boy bombs to sink the Tirpitz, even then it took 3 raids to achieve the goal.

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one story going around that old torpedos were used against the Belgrano due to it being too heavily armoured for new ones),

That came straight from the mouth of the Commander of HMS Conquerer in a documentary about the Falklands. Fired 3, two hit. The two reasons for using the Mark 8 were that it carried more explosive and although it was point and shoot instead of homing, it was much more reliable than the new Tigerfish they also carried.

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Isn't there a US air base in Japan? If things got tense then there could be an F15 holding in the vicinity with long range air to ship missiles, if they exist? Could be over the horizon, as the targeting, I understand, could be integrated with the us ship's situational awareness computer, such is the level of integration of battlefield awareness the yanks have these days, iirc. ?

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