Concept to Delivery: Capability Counts
The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program began in 2002 with the U.S. Navy's pursuit of a new class of small and stealthy ships for multi-mission support.
The LCS is envisioned to be a networked, agile, stealthy surface combatant capable of defeating anti-access and asymmetric threats in the littorals. This relatively small, high-speed combatant will complement the U.S. Navy's Aegis Fleet, DDG 1000 and CG(X) by operating in environments where it is less desirable to employ larger, multi-mission ships. It will have the capability to deploy independently to overseas littoral regions, remain on station for extended periods of time either with a battle group or through a forward-basing arrangement and will be capable of underway replenishment. It will operate with Carrier Strike Groups, Surface Action Groups, in groups of other similar ships, or independently for diplomatic and presence missions. Additionally, it will have the capability to operate cooperatively with the U.S. Coast Guard and Allies.
LCS will be a "Network-Centric," Advanced Technology Ship: The LCS will rely heavily on manned and unmanned vehicles to execute assigned missions and operate as part of a netted, distributed force. In order to conduct successful combat operations in an adverse littoral environment, it will employ technologically advanced weapons, sensors, data fusion, C4ISR, hullform, propulsion, optimal manning concepts, smart control systems and self-defense systems.
LCS will be a "small, fast, affordable ship: Speed and agility will be critical for efficient and effective conduct of the littoral missions. The LCS must be capable of operating at low speeds for littoral mission operations, transit at economical speeds, and high-speed sprints, which may be necessary to avoid/prosecute a small boat or submarine threat, conduct intercept operations over the horizon, or for insertion or extraction missions.