The Navy is defending its plan for building its new Littoral Combat Ships, disputing a pending Government Accountability Office recommendation to slow construction for further testing.
The LCS program has generated a growing list of questions about the ships’ designs, firepower, defenses and survivability at a time when the Pentagon faces as much as $500 billion in additional budget cuts over the next nine years, according to Bloomberg.
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A draft report by the GAO earlier this year said the Navy is risking as much as $40 billion by purchasing the ships faster than it can demonstrate their “militarily useful capability.”
The draft report by Congress’s nonpartisan investigative arm said “a pause is needed” until additional testing can answer “fundamental questions about whether the program, as envisioned, will meet the Navy’s needs.”
Representative Randy Forbes, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower subcommittee, called the GAO’s findings “very concerning” and said in an earlier interview that “it is something we will be monitoring very, very carefully.”
The GAO’s final report represents the latest red flag that’s been raised inside and outside the Navy about the small and speedy ship designed for shallow waters close to shore, such as in the Persian Gulf.
A confidential Navy report completed last year warned the ships may not be able to perform their missions because they’re too lightly manned and armed.
The Navy will be under contract for at least 24 of the planned 52 ships before it completes tests in 2019 to see whether mission modules can meet minimum performance. requirements, the draft GAO report said.