Pentagon Tester Tells Navy LCS Test Was Plenty Fair

UPDATED with full DOT&E memo WASHINGTON: On Friday, a Navy official told us a critical test report on the embattled Littoral Combat Ship was “unfair.” This afternoon, we found out the Pentagon’s independent test office has already circulated a coldly scathing response.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter has ordered the Navy to cut the LCS in favor of larger, more powerful ships. This particular test is one of the Littoral Combat Ship’s core missions, its ability to repel wolfpacks of Iranian-style fast attack craft. In the test, the USS Coronado used its 57- and 30mm cannon, but not the longer-ranged Hellfire missiles that are planned for — but not yet installed on LCS — a big part of what the Navy official called “unfair.” In essence, the famously tough office of the Director of Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E) is saying

  • LCS should be tested with guns only because the ships will have to go in harm’s way without missiles until at least 2017;
  • Even after lowering performance standards to account for the lack of missiles, the LCS still let the simulated attackers get dangerously close; and
  • Adding the missiles may not make as big a difference as the Navy claims.

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