Saudi Navy wants US Littoral Combat Ships.
So why is Riyadh ready to spring the dough for the over-engineered and under-gunned corvettes?
First of all, the Saudi Arabian Navy is primarily dedicated to operations in littoral waters of the Persian Gulf, where shipping of ultra-valuable oil tankers faces harassment from Iran’s unconventional naval forces, and the Gulfs of Oman and Aden, where Saudi ships seeks to interdict arms and agents smuggled by Iran into Yemen.
Littoral combat ships, as their name suggests, were built for speed, maneuverability and stealth in coastal waters: they are agile and have shallow drafts ideal for “knife-fighting” small ships close to shore. Even their light armament—inadequate versus conventional warships of equivalent size—is optimized for sparring with smaller fast boats within visual range.
Saudi LCSs will also serve as a useful platform to deploy some of the ten advanced MH-60R Seahawk helicopters purchased by Riyadh in a $1.9 billion deal, the first of which was delivered in September 2018. The multi-mission choppers can help locate ships using their infrared sensors and multi-mode radars, perform search-and-rescue duties, detect submarines with their ALFS dipping sonar and attack them with Mark 54 torpedoes, and even blast surface targets with Hellfire missiles and laser-guided APKWS 70-millimeter rockets.
Second, the Saudi LCSs are of an enlarged 4,000-ton model called the Multi-Mission Surface Combatant which ditches the (unsuccessful) mission module concept for more powerful fixed sensors and weapons, and a crew expanded by fifty percent to between 110-130 personnel. Lockheed Martin was paid $450 million for the design and long-lead materials for the new variant. You can see photos of an MMSC model here.
Posted by: 3dc 2019-08-04