The U.S. Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is hotly debated. Proponents say it’s a vital building block of the future Navy. Opponents say it’s overpriced and overestimated. Tens of billions of dollars and the future of American sea-power are at stake.
In reality, it’s too early to tell. The LCS is a great idea, but not all great ideas fulfill their promise. Some littoral combatant may be just what the navy needs. That doesn’t mean the specific ship classes now plying the wine-dark sea are the answer. (Despite the common nomenclature, LCS is an umbrella term for two radically different designs.) Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. The vessels must now deliver on the extravagant promises made for them. Neither backers nor detractors of the LCS, nor fencesitters like yours truly, can prophesy confidently about the outcome.