The tests show, she says, that LCS can conduct detect-to-engage mine warfare with the current module equipment.
Ailes adds, “We have high confidence the RMS will find the mines. ... But it isn’t enough to have any one of your subcomponents working. It has to work all together on the ships.”
That is happening now with the surface warfare package on Freedom, he says, which is now in Asia. “We’re out in deployment, we’re shooting the guns — the 30 mm gun off the LPD-17.”
The ship’s large Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat, he says, has also been a big hit in naval circles. And even the components for ASW, he says, are performing better in developmental testing.
There are still some integration issues, though. Lockheed, for example, now has to get its RMMV wired up for the Navy’s new Multivehicle Communications System (MVCS), which is meant to profide higher bandwidth between the ships and remote assets.
“It’s like an adaptive Wi-Fi,” Ailes says. “It’s a little fancier, We’re sea testing right now. We’ll work through all of that.”
He says, “You will often hear, ‘This is now an integration program.’ [Some may wonder], what the heck does that mean? Integration can mean a thousand things. In our program, we mean all of them. We mean software integration. We mean hardware integration. We mean seams between different organizations.”
One of the biggest concerns now, Navy officials say, is training. That is especially important for an LCS that features a core hull crew, a mission-module crew and an aviation crew that often do not get a chance to work together until they arrive on the ship.
But Ailes likens the LCS program to a woebegone college football team that has finally begun to string some victories together. “Our team has started to win, but no one believes [it],” he says. “We really believe we are going to the Rose Bowl.”