As Raymond Pritchett over at Information Dissemination notes, there are some doings afoot with the Littoral Combat Ship. First off is Rep. John Murtha’s bid to add a fourth LCS in FY 2010 (three have already been budgeted), and second is the Navy’s desire to cut about $45 million in funding for LCS mission modules, which are reportedly running over budget and behind schedule. The ship’s three mission modules—which are being designed to be able to be changed, and in working order within 24 hours—consist of a mine warfare module, an anti-submarine warfare module, and an anti-surface warfare module.
It is pretty clear why now, at this very late hour, the Navy would suggest cutting LCS mission module funding. They do it after Gene Taylor (D-MS) has held hearings, because had the Navy suggested cutting LCS mission module funding during those hearings, the Navy would have had difficulty with his questions how the LCS is a better option than other frigate options, including a version of the National Security Cutter being built in Mississippi.
Mission module funding was reduced from the Presidents budget in FY 2007, FY 2008, and FY 2009. I do wonder, is it because the mission modules are less expensive (there is some truth to that) or just poorly managed or not a priority? Very hard to tell, but I do wonder what the final mission modules will look like. At some point Congress should have the Navy explain which is more important, the LCS or the modules. These are different programs with different priorities, and I am curious, is the hull more important than the modules or are the modules more important than the hull.
Great questions. Without the modules, I'm not sure what role the LCS would play in the littorals.