The Navy is proceeding with the Singapore deployment of LCS despite continued problems with the ship’s 30 mm and 57 mm guns and a mine countermeasures system identified in a new report by the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester.
The report also noted that “LCS is not expected to be survivable” since it was not designed to continue operating if it took a significant hit in a hostile combat environment.
The Pentagon’s office of Operational Test and Evaluation said it was deferring tests of the ships’ overall survivability, and separate shock trials for at least a year.
Vice Admiral Tom Copeman, commander of Naval Surface Forces, told the conference he was aware of criticisms of the LCS ships, but said the program was important because it was affordable and would enable the Navy to expand the size of its fleet.
Lockheed executives said they were in talks with six to seven possible foreign buyers in the Middle East and Asia for the ship, down from 22 countries that initially were interested.
The Navy plans to buy 55 of the new smaller warships in coming years, a key part of its drive to replace aging vessels and increase the overall number of ships in the Navy.
Joe North, Lockheed’s vice president of littoral combat ships, said the program was showing continued progress and Lockheed should be building a new ship every six months by 2015.
Lockheed is also proposing possible integration of ballistic missile defense capabilities on the LCS ships in the future, which could enhance their attractiveness to foreign buyers.
Lockheed officials also see bright export prospects for MH-60 maritime helicopter that it builds with Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp, forecasting that it could sell over 200 of the helicopters overseas in coming years.