“Oh my God did we do the requirements quickly, and did we deliver it fast,” Ailes says. The problem, he says, is that systems weren’t as mature as Navy officials had believed. “We’ve had do to some work finishing them.”
One module-related setback LCS suffered early on was the loss of its surface warfare missile when the Army canceled the Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS) program.
“I take a lot of flak because of [the] Army’s NLOS program,” Ailes says. “NLOS was always was going to deliver in 2017. People say, ‘14 is over and NLOS is gone.’ But I say, NLOS was never [scheduled] to be there [by] now.”
The Navy now has plans to use the Griffin missile, which, Ailes says, recently proved it can do the job during Patrol Craft (PC) tests. “We have the Griffin launchers,” Ailes says. “They’re the same as PCs, so we could go drop them in.”
The program is still open to other missile contenders, however. “There is no shortage of people knocking on the door saying, ‘Hey, you should use my missile. Here’s what it does,’” Ailes says. “What we like about Griffin is it was proven and it was cheap, and I could do [it] very quickly. But what we really want to go with is longer range, more capability and more firepower. By the end of this calendar year we’ll decide. When the new budget goes out, we’ll see.”
Some program officials say certain missile system candidates come from classified programs.
Other module components, like the remote mine-hunting system (RMS) — a centerpiece of the MCM package — have been programs of record for several years without getting into the fleet. “We lost a lot of credibility on that,” Ailes says. “People said the RMS was supposed to be on DDGs [destroyers] years ago. But they changed the plan. The RMMV [Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle] we have today is very different than that RMMV in terms of the sonar it’s going to bring [and] the radio it’s going to have, but mostly in the reliability it’s going to demonstrate.”
The RMMV suffered a Nunn-McCurdy unit cost-growth breach a few years ago when the Navy halved the buy after it decided against using the semi-submersible for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) missions off LCS. “Their quantities went down and their price went up,” Ailes says. “At the same time, they did have some problems with availability.”
The RMMV is performing better now, he says, but the Navy is looking to receive and test sonar upgrades this year. “The Q20 sonar is pretty old,” Ailes says. “It finds mines; the problem is reliability. The thing was just terrible; after 35 hours, it would die.”