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LCS countermine and anti-submarine mission packages still face hurdles, GAO reports

The mine countermeasures (MCM) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) mission packages for littoral combat ships (LCSs) are still facing hurdles even as US Navy (USN) programme officials say the systems are moving closer to deployment, according to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The navy reduced MCM package requirements to focus on the ability of individual systems to integrate with and communicate on an LCS rather than achieve a mine clearance rate, according to programme officials, the GAO said in its annual report on major weapons systems, released on 8 June.

“The navy approved the changes in 2019 and expects DOD (Department of Defense) approval in 2021, but it has yet to release a revised capabilities development document,” the GAO pointed out. “If the reduced requirements are not representative of expected missions and environments, the programme may not be acquiring systems that can achieve effective military capabilities.”

LCS mission-MCM package programme officials told the GAO that they are working with the DOD and navy test officials to revise the MCM package's operational test strategy to reflect the reduced requirements, the GAO reported.

“As a result, DOD and programme officials stated the programme has proposed eliminating some testing,” the GAO said. “Nevertheless, according to a DOD test official, a test strategy focused on integration and communication could limit the programme's ability to identify problems with how systems interact on an LCS and whether the crew can operate and maintain sufficient systems, which could limit package capability.”

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