The Navy’s $23 billion Littoral Combat Ship is less able to survive an attack than other U.S. warships, according to the Pentagon’s top weapons tester.
Revised standards adopted for the vessel intended to operate in shallow coastal waters “continue to accept the risk the crew would need to abandon ship under circumstances that would not necessitate that action” on other vessels, Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department’s director of operational testing and evaluation, said in a letter to Senator John McCain.
Gilmore, rebutting the Navy’s contention that he’s misstating the ship’s requirements, said they are “significantly different” from those for other ships that may face enemy forces. His stance adds to previous questions about the future of the vessel being built in two versions by Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) and Austal Ltd. (ASB)
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in February that he was limiting purchases to 32 vessels, instead of the 52 originally planned, until the Navy developed alternatives for a more survivable ship. He has called for a more “capable and lethal” option that could include an upgraded Littoral Combat Ship or a different design. Recommendations from defense contractors are due by the end of this month.
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