Littoral Combat Vessels: Analysis and Comparison of Designs   [open pdf - 902KB]

"The introduction of new technologies force navies to adapt and the introduction of surface-to-surface anti-ship cruise missiles from a large number of small coastal combatants created vulnerability in the Navy's force structure of large, expensive, nonexpendable warships. To counter this threat, the adoption by the U.S. Navy of small, inexpensive, missile bearing vessels is recommended. Four alternative candidate vessels are evaluated using a mathematical simulation. The candidates are a Littoral Combat Ship with a surface warfare module, a National Security Cutter augmented with offensive and defensive weaponry, a 'Sea Lance' inshore combat vessel, and a Combat Patrol Craft, a variant of the Cyclone class patrol craft augmented with offensive and defensive weaponry. Equal cost force structures for the four candidate vessels are developed, and then these forces are 'fought' in simulated battles against a missile-firing opponent force of variable strength. Additional roles such as maritime interdiction and theater security cooperation are considered and the candidate vessels are qualitatively compared for their ability to perform in these missions. Sea Lance is demonstrated to be the most effective and lowest cost candidate vessel. The driving force behind this is the large number of vessels the equal-cost Sea Lance squadron makes possible by its low procurement and operating costs, a result predicted by Lanchester and Hughes because in naval combat, numerical superiority is the single most important factor in determining the outcome of a battle."

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