Sending the Littoral Combat Ship to the South China Sea: What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

My original title was going to be: Sending the LCS to the SCS…wtf? But that would have been a little too cute.

Anyway, if you ever wanted a reason to believe that our government is filled with idiots, the Pentagon has decided that the perfect ship to face off against the Chinese navy in the South China Sea is the underarmed, underarmored, undercrewed and underwhelming Littoral Combat Ship.

“The LCS is ideally suited for a role in the South China Sea. It is fast, light and flexible and it has a fifteen foot draft so it can go places other vessels cannot go. We plan to have four LCS ships in Singapore on a rotational basis by 2018,” said David Shear, one of the many assistant undersecretaries for defense, to reporters.

Combat ShipThe Pentagon is not even talking about the upgraded LCS that they have already designed; they are talking about ships of the current design facing the modernized and capable Chinese fleet. I know that the Navy has a pivot to the Pacific coming, they have been talking about it for years, but the LCS is a ship without the ability to have a mission and throwing them at the Chinese just seems stupid.

The Chinese are in the process of updating their older ships and deploying new ones. These are capable ships that will operate under cover of land-based (and, perhaps, sea-based by 2018) airpower. If the Chinese deploy, or even threaten to deploy, their ballistic “carrier killer” missiles then the LCS won’t have any air cover.

The only thing the LCS will have going for it is speed, but it still can’t outrun a missile or a Chinese jet fighter-bomber. Maybe if the Chinese work out their kinks in stealth technology the LCS won’t even see them coming.

“That assessment found that only major modifications to the existing LCS design, or a new ship design, could provide the multi-mission capabilities and survivability features found in a modern frigate,” an October 2014 readiness report said. “The minor improvements recommended by Navy leadership would reduce the ship’s susceptibility, but not yield a ship with the capabilities of a modern frigate.”

It’s time to find and build a new design, before it is too late.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Matt Towns
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Matt Towns

Matt is a former military journalist who spent 10 years in the US Navy. He served in various posts during his career, including a couple of deployments on the USS Valley Forge (CG-50). After leaving the Navy, he worked in management for a number of years before opening his own businesses. He ran those businesses until 2012 when he chose to leave the retail industry and return to writing. Matt currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to the US Patriot blog and other websites about political affairs, military activities and sailing.
Matt Towns
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