StrandedIn recent months, one of the main programs of the U.S. Navy — design and construction of multi-purpose fifty littoral combat ships (LBK) — is experiencing one hit after another. After analyzing the course of its implementation, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) in August to submit to Congress a report which exposed the actions of command of the U.S. Navy and lured contracting companies rather harsh criticism. In September, the cost of program there have been significantly curtailed — so to say "to clarify", and then came the news that came out of the building a gas turbine unit of the 1st of prototypes. However, the Admirals hastened to declare that the substitution of the turbine "will not affect seriously on the approved schedule of tests."

Bezotstupno that …

GAO report has received the title of "The ability to cope with the Navy neuvvyazkami that have emerged with regard to the littoral combat ships will have made an impact on their ability" and has been prepared on the basis of the request of lawmakers concerned about the progress of the applets, which until 2035, it is planned to spend the money more than 25 billion dollars . In the case of the Pentagon disaster not only runs the risk of losing large allocations, and to be naked "marine wing" — because the South American fleet then left without LBK designed to ensure the safety of coastal waters (of the enemy), and on the sea lines of communications, combat submarines, incurring escort service and management of mine action operations.
Collage Andrew greyish

The main conclusion of the document prepared for the Congress: Navy Command to "re and more than realistic" to perform the analysis of monetary characteristics of the creation of the littoral ships, impartial assessment of the timing of the address identified gaps and make the necessary configurations in the project, is also effective to control the design and procurement of production of combat units (collections of special weapons and equipment). Office of Naval forces with all the "ideas" agreed, but the problems are there's no missing.

Thus, the introduction of configurations already in the stocks at the second type of ship "Freedom" and "Independence" definitely will claim additional costs — of man-hours and money. It is, namely, may adversely affect the level of profit the main contractors for the program there. Although representatives of the "Lockheed Martin" while claiming that their second LBK, "Fort Worth", prepared by 60%, while the company has not gone beyond the approved time schedule and cost characteristics. A similar position in regard to its own LBK "Coronado" is shared in the concern, "General Dynamics."

In particular, GAO concerned about the delays with the supply of specialized subcontractors different interchangeable weapon stations, which include target weapons and equipment (more carefully about it — a bit below). According to experts, lured to the writing of the report, if this issue will not be put in order, wait for a clear implementation plan and compliance programs from the budget should not be LBK. Besides performance spetsmoduley and the ships themselves must also prove in practice.

"While fighting ability LBK not be demonstrated impressively during the respective tests, — the final part of the document — the naval command can not be argued that the ships themselves and special military units that takes the fleet will be able to perfectly solve the problem which the U.S. Navy wants entrusted to them. "


The main "sore"

Expanding any of the types of LBK virtually "on the shelves", the specialists of the Municipal Accounting Office found that a number of very fundamental parts of the structure, as weapons systems and equipment lead ships — "Freedom" ("Lockheed Martin") and "Independence" ("General Dynamics "and" remains the USA ») — has not yet passed the full test cycle or the same and just have not yet installed. Although since the beginning of the realization of one of the most fundamental program of the U.S. Navy has already passed 10 years. And the sailors in the meantime analyze the results of combat service LBK "Freedom" (from "Independence" in front of it).

The main potential hazard to LBK such as "Freedom", while it will not be denied the fruits of testing experts at GAO considered the willingness of ship systems and the ability to use the crew as intended such difficult "applications" as unmanned surface and underwater remotely operated vehicles plus drones. However, the equipment created to move them around the ship, especially in the amount of dedicated storage compartments, is still under development and will be on board the LBK … only in 2013.

In other words LBK are undergoing tests, but above all the name-giving devices more as it is not, and equipment for their proper operation will only appear in three years!

Made me think of professionals and very low occupancy slip, with the help of which the launching and receiving on board remote-controlled boats, as in heavy seas it will be filled with water, and it will complicate the act team. The very same water can seep into the internal compartments of the ship. In general, partly fear of professionals were dispelled in the period not so long ago concluded combat service LBK "Freedom": navigators more than one occasion to launch and perceived on board in the course of the 11-meter inflatable boat, the nature of operation of which almost everything is identical with the use of unmanned freeboard unit.

Similar problems related to the probable unavailability of equipment similar purpose, experts have identified and LBK like "Independence." We are talking about a special crane for launching and recovery aboard surface and underwater unmanned vehicles, hitherto not last the entire test cycle. But absolutely learn all the shortcomings of the LBK is not real — like "Freedom", he was transferred to the U.S. Navy in incomplete form, with unidentified individual ship systems and unresolved remarks. Modifications to be tackled Navy ship repair companies, then ship go to vseobyatnye tests.

Vpribavok August 2 this year, there was a "thrilling trouble" with one of the drones that are included in the literal motivated load ships. During the next flight testing UAV MQ-8B «Fire Scout", held outside Washington, ground settlement Minutka by 23 (!) Has lost all control over the machine. Cause or unknown to, or carefully hidden. But the result is known — all the "Fire Scouts" were temporarily "put on a trick." This was not so long ago, said the South American special media, have suggested that the "trouble" occurred because of shortcomings of the software.


"Capricious" modules

Special attention is awarded sp
ecial removable combat modules, the use of which is considered by LBK Pentagon as one of the important advantages of these ships (for the 55 planned for purchase LBK planned to buy 64 combat unit, including mine — 24, for the conduct of the above-water war — 24, anti- — 16).

Currently in various stages of development are the three most important battle of the module: to destroy surface ships, for anti-submarine warfare, for mine operations. This year, especially for combat service LBK "Freedom" was formed a special unit designed to solve problems in the field of maritime safety (divines accommodation on the ship 2-ray inspection party of 19 military personnel with appropriate weapons and equipment). We study the capacity and the need for the creation of other specialized combat units. And according to the GAO report on any of the already approved for the development or operation of promising weapon stations do not go according to plan, and in some cases the situation and looks quite catastrophic, capable of having the most negative impact on the performance of all programs from LBK.

In a more complex situation, as learned professionals, is the combat module for mine action (mine defense CSI). The structure of a typical combat module CSI created to discover, organize, locate and destruction of sea mines in all ocean areas, air should enter the laser detection system and the system lesions minutes and extinguished AN/AQS-20A, remote-controlled mine system ("robot — mine hunter "), the system exploration coast (with the possibility of a comprehensive analysis of the acquired data), a single noncontact mine-sweeping system (aircraft and ship-based), 30-mm gun mount for the defeat of sea mines, as a desert-trawler boat, filled a special non-contact mine the central system in the magnetic trawl and acoustic signal generator.

But on this day of the eight major parts of the module CSI stage of readiness is not headed for none. According to the most optimistic estimates three components will be ready before next year, two more — in 2012, two — in 2015. A RAMICS (Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System) — rapid-firing 30-mm gun mount with ammunition in the form of "supercavitating shells" for the execution of sea mines — could be put into service as much in 2017! Then LBK and will gain full combat readiness.

In addition, as it turned out during the tests, one of the main parts of the firing module CSI — placed on board the helicopter aviation laser mine detection system capable of detecting the presence of ALMDS minopodobnyh objects with the required precision is only at shallow depths — almost at the bottom of the ship, and not to 9-10 meters from the sea surface, as required. The U.S. Navy had to stop exercising with the 2005 purchase and ALMDS, and remote-controlled mine system, is also not lived up to expectations.

There are a lot of problems with other components of mine action unit that led the developers and the customer to transfer its first tests in 2013 (they will be involved in the LBK "Independence"). Additional complication here are associated with a very leisurely certification MH-60S helicopters and UAV MQ-8B, which should be based on LBK. The first took place, the same certification in today's year and will reach full operational capability status in 2011, and the "trouble" with the "Fire Scout" mentioned earlier.

In general, to this day, his performance justified the only aviation system ordering and destruction of bottom and moored mines in the shallow waters of the coast and the intelligence system, which in tests conducted with the role of the MH-53 helicopter, was able to locate and identify all the inherent right on the shore of mines (in the future this system will be installed on the UAV MQ-8B).

While frustrating the customer and battle module for the conduct of the above-water war — finding, ordering, maintenance and destruction of low-dimensional surface targets, escorting convoys and individual vessels and ensuring security in the designated areas.

This module is very important for the effective operation of the fleet of the future LBK designed to operate mainly in the littoral zone off the coast of the enemy or allied countries, but so far his ability to solve the tasks assigned to it has not been proven in practice. By the way, this does not say the creators of the report to Congress, and representatives of the command of the U.S. Navy. Also, one of the main parts of the firing module — missile system NLOC-LS (Non-Line-of-Sight-Launch-System) with the container launcher on 15 guided missiles, designed to engage stationary and moving targets at ranges of up to 21 miles ( 38.9 km), failed in July 2009 tests and rejected by the customer on delivery.

Is noteworthy that it has been taken out of the fleet arsenal implemented programs from the U.S. Army FCS («future combat system" or, as more often write, "Combat System of the Future"), where she also miserably failed the test — in 6 missile launches in January and February 2010 were achieved only two hits.

Prepyadstviya emerged with the adoption on arms ship-based helicopter MH-60R, capable of carrying omits to fade, sonobuoys, complex electronic warfare, torpedoes and SD "Hellfire" class "air-surface". Despite the fact that the initial state of the machine ensure high operational readiness in 2005 and in January 2010, the Navy received 46 of the 252 planned for the purchase of helicopters, the first MH-60R outlet for combat service aboard the LBK is scheduled only for 2013 — to last year's tests revealed shortcomings in the work of band communication between the parts of the sighting.


To pay the price?

In no way positive emotions aroused in Congress and the dynamics of growth of the purchase price LBK. For example, if in the beginning the construction of "Fridoma» (LCS 1) was supposed to spend 215.5 million dollars (not counting the cost of R & D), its ultimate value jumped to 537 million dollars. Elevation — at 321.5 million, or by 149.2%. According to the head of another type LBK — "Independence» (LCS 2) — overspending in percentage terms more modest "only" 136.6%, but in absolute terms, even more — by 350.5 million dollars. On the second pair of LBK officially growth — 97 million dollars (7.7%), but the recalculation of the original price on the 2006 budget, the money — the excess to 917.7 million dollars (208.5%). Moreover, the "Freedom" and "Independence" Fleet was in "the rough and significant technical flaws." With all of this estimated professionals, if the South American admirals and further expected from contractors' completion and removal of defects ", the ships would have risen even more — on completion of the works belonging to the naval shipyards budget cost is much cheaper than in the factories of personal companies.

And all would do if I were registered only overruns programmke — grow and timing of its implementation: on the lead ship of types of "Freedom" and "Independence", they were already 20 and 26 months, respectively.

"The ability to command the Navy to provide input into service ready to solve their assigned tasks and affordable LBK remains unproven", — the report GAO.

It must be emphasized that the full version of the document kept secret, and in the open part of it no disk imaging what shortcomings have been identified by professionals in respect of anti-gun and the main power plant littoral combat ships. But it became clear that the experts at the Navy considered complexes PLO "little increases the combat po
tential of the ship and hardly facilitate the effective solution of problems of their own." As for the power plant, there is almost everything — at least in the last ships of the "Freedom" — has cleared two months ago …


The blades have brought

… The accident occurred near the coast of California on September 12 during another exit "Fridoma" in the sea to practice different tasks. According to witnesses, all of a sudden "there was a strong vibration" in a gas turbine plant starboard, then the commander decided to suspend both gas turbines and vorachivatsya a base for diesel engines. Conducted the inspection shows that the premise of the tragedy was the destruction of the turbine blades, which are damaged installation. And it is — the other day the date of final choice of type LBK for serial construction and delivery of the contract on the first series of 10 ships.

The main power plant LBK "Freedom" — diesel gas turbine, it includes two gas turbines MT30 company "Rolls-Royce", two diesel units "Colt Pilstik" and four diesel generator Isotta Fraschini V1708 with 800 kW each. The nominal capacity of one GTU — 48280 liters. s. (MW 36 — 38 degrees at a 40 MW or — at a temperature of 15 degrees). The "Fridoma" no propellers and propeller shafts, respectively, massive and shafts — as engines used four jet company "Kameva" (a subsidiary of "Rolls-Royce"), two of which are fixed motionless while the other two are made pivoting.

Noteworthy that gas turbines have reached the office of English warships of the U.S. Navy for the first time, and this is such an embarrassment to the first in a series of LBK! — Only for satisfaction "General Electric", whose GTP since the 70s operated by the South American Navy ships, including the LBK of the second type ("Independence"). The possible negative consequences of the use of gas turbines MT30 warned some experts still on the initial stage of the implementation of programs from LBK, bringing the argument that MT30 — brand new ship gas turbine, which has no more "authority" of the sailors.

On the one hand, it is true, but on the other — a gas turbine engine in the GT belongs to the famous family of "Trent". Hours of aircraft gas turbine engines (STU MT30 created on the basis of "Trent 800", which is equipped with including aircraft "Boeing-777", and has a comparable engine to the aircraft by 80%), according to management "Rolls-Royce", exceeded 30 million flight hours. The main contractor for the same type of single-hull LBK "Freedom" — the company "Lockheed Martin" chose the British GT U.S. because of its greater capacity — 48 280 liters. s. compared to 36 500 liters. s. at STU LM2500, because the customer was put first task to ensure the highest vehicle speed over 50 knots (on the tests, but the developers confirm this in practice failed). Coupled with the fact MT30 heavier and more than cumbersome than the LM2500. Now it turned out that besides not completely finalized.

But the tragedy to "Fridome" there is room for positive feelings — she allowed the process to work repairing gas turbine associated with the extraction of large parts of the installation, including the very gas turbine. With all of this procedure substituting GTP can be done through a team of professionals and a small group of Coast Guard, without docking. In other words, outside the place of constant dislocation ship.

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