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The Navy’s Newest LCS Launches

by John Reed on January 17, 2012

Here’s your photo of the day to start this shortened work week. It’s the Navy’s newest warship, the USS Coronado emerging from the work-way at the Austal USA shipyard in Alabama a couple of days before she christened on Saturday, Jan. 14.

Like em or not, the Littoral Combat Ships are moving ahead.

The pic below shows the ship being christened by Susan Keith. The ship is expected to be commissioned later this year.

 

 

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{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

blight January 17, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Mm. Waiting for news on those modules they talk so little about.

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STemplar January 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Agreed. I certainly hope after this first 24 they ordered if the modules aren't production ready they either kill this program or order the export versions that were more traditionally armed and equipped.

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Nicky January 17, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Either that, the US Coast Guard could snap them up and use them for their next OPC

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blight January 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Cheaper to reuse (give to other service and hope it works for them) than recycle (scrap). It'll be fast, so at least it may be of use chasing down pirates in Malacca or in the Red Sea.

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Nicky January 17, 2012 at 4:17 pm

That's what I was thinking, Maybe the US Coast Guard can take the LCS-1 and LCS-2 as their new OPC design that can fulfill the US Coast Guard's Multi Mission roles.

Uncle Bill January 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Is that a stealth coating or is that ship made out of papier-mache?

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BigRick January 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm

aluminum foil

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blight January 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Were you hoping for heavier armor? The ship was procured with the understanding that it would be /fast/, not durable.

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Belesari January 17, 2012 at 4:19 pm

As i said below that fast is worthless. Absolutely and entrielly

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moose January 17, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Flat Dark Earth. They're obviously Magpul fans over at Austal USA.

More seriously, its an anti-corrosion (and fire retardant?) undercoating. She's supposed to be haze gray by the time she's under way.

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Jon January 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm

I agree Uncle Bill, why does the hull have what looks like dents, dings, impressions and horizontal lines all over it?

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Fuse01 January 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Probably thin hull plate with a lot distortion due to welding. Not sure how aluminum acts, but not uncommon in steel plate

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Han Solo January 17, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Maybe they could use some BONDO putty and a good rotary sander.

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TGR January 17, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Myabe they should have Bondo'd it!

But seriously, is that a workmanship issue, or is it just due to the materials used for the hull?

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Brian Black January 19, 2012 at 11:54 am

You can see where they tacked a piece of angle iron onto the leading edge so the bottle doesn't sink it.

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Richard January 17, 2012 at 1:10 pm

is the rust issue solved?

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Darrell January 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Awesome ships…but the finish work on the hull reminds me of auto-body work I did on my first car in high school. So what potential adversary would be the target of this ship anyway?

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m167a1 January 17, 2012 at 1:37 pm

I bet the modular approach bites us in the butt. I see having one mod loaded when you needed another.

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Kotch January 17, 2012 at 5:22 pm

There was a study that pointed to that. Sim'ed war games against Iran… the Iranians kept changing things up and the LCS's had to leave the operations area to re-kit

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ziv January 17, 2012 at 10:46 pm

I thought that the LCS carried multiple modules? Wasn't that part of the point of it?

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blight January 17, 2012 at 11:46 pm

I was under the impression not. Otherwise the modules are smaller to the point of uselessness.

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ziv January 18, 2012 at 9:32 am

I tried to find the paper, but I remember there being 3 or 4 modules, and 1 of the modules was for surface warfare, regardless of whether the other was ASW or MIW. But I have to admit that this may have been back when the NLOS was still thought to be the surface warfare choice. I will check and see if I can find it. But the thing that irked me about the Iranian war game was that they had 6 supposed LCS, but they armed them all the same, so each time they engaged the "Iranians" defeated the SUW with subs and defeated the ASW with swarming boats.

oilrain January 17, 2012 at 1:41 pm

What is the symbol painted on the bow in the second picture?

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ziv January 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm

The design on the bow is a visual reminder for boats operating nearby that the ship has a bulb shaped bow. Tugs and even gigs can foul their props on the submerged portion of the bow.

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BigRick January 17, 2012 at 8:08 pm

that symbol means small d i c k i.e worthless

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zardinuk January 17, 2012 at 1:49 pm

They neet to ditch this and focus on the newer helicopter carriers. The price of this thing is like half of one of the helicopter carriers.

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Ziv January 17, 2012 at 3:15 pm

I like the work the new America class, but if they ever get a good surface warfare module on these ships they may end up being very useful. I can't believe that they canceled the NLOS-LS, it was short ranged to start with but the Griffin is a joke. Can't they do some sort of a tactical size VLS?
But I was under the impression that the LHA-6 and 7 would each cost more than $3Bn? So 7 armed LCS for the price of one LHA without its air wing doesn't sound too bad.

_ Austal USA's contractual price for LCS-6 was $432 Million. Department of Navy Undersecretary Sean Stackley noted in a conversation with reporters on 29 December 2010, that the LCS program was now well within the Congressional cost cap of $480 million per ship. The average per-ship target price for Lockheed ships is $362 million, Stackley said, with a goal of $352 million for each Austal USA ships. Government-furnished equipment (GFE), such as weapons, add about $25 million to each ship. Another $20 million is figured in for change orders, and a "management reserve" is also included. All told, Stackley said, the average cost to buy an LCS should be between $430 million and $440 million. _

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Ziv January 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Arrgghh. I don't know what happened to that post but what I was trying to say in the first sentence is that if the new Austal LCS class ever gets a decent surface warfare module it will be useful class. And the America class looks to cost over $3Bn while the LCS-6 and 8 are going to cost just over $430Mn each, which isn't too bad now that the teething problems are nearly over.

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zardinuk January 17, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Yeah they're going to cost 6x as much but they are well worth it. The ability to fly the F-35B gives it 500+ mile combat radius, vs the LCS's what 3 or 4 mile radius?

They need to go back to the drawing board on the LCS. I think the catamaran design is worthy but it ought to support a compliment of 2 or 3 F-35B's. Isn't that deck big enough for that?

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zardinuk January 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm

In hindsight those WASP's were a steal, should have kept the production of those ships going.

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ziv January 17, 2012 at 6:04 pm

This sounds odd, but I am not quite as interested in what the Navy can do with the catamaran type of LCS (Independence Class) but what the Marines could do with it. 15,000 sq ft mission bay, 40+ knots sustainable speed, a squadron of 3 or 4 Independence Class ships able to move nearly 500 nautical miles in a single day, with a Wasp or an America class bringing the heavy equipment up a day or so later…
I think the LCS classes will need to be used in a less aggressive manner due to the fact that they aren't as tough as a Perry, but they can do things a Perry can't. And hopefully they will be able to defend themselves a great deal more effectively soon.

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blight January 17, 2012 at 6:07 pm
Belesari January 17, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Ziv the problem is that the LCS have 2 different sex of engines diesels for normal patrol duties and passage and Turbines for high speed "sprints".

Sprints is a very important word. Speed always comes at a cost when dealing with conventinal propulsion. While the LCS-2 CAN make 18-20 kts and have a over 4,00nmi range. However in burst it goes down to a few hundred and also stresses the vessel.

I HOPE the Independence class would be good for a ASuW ship as well as long range patrol however i think the class would be much better used if the sprint requirment was dropped and a more reasonable speed of 20-25kts was sought. This would allow the Independence hulls to become stronger and tough and would allow more space devoted to weapons, peronel and other systems.

nary January 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm

This is one ugly, ugly ship.

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Belesari January 17, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Your right she doesnt need to be pretty but there is a problem there.

Speed-its worthless……absolutly worthless. Can it outruna missile? Nope a cannon round? Nope bullet? Nope……infact this ship can make fully loaded around 40kts…not the 55+ earlier demanded.
Weapons- who knows but even with all the moduals working she is at best a light corvette.
Survivability-none.
Range- terrible this ship will be like european boats a swarm from the harbor then go home. at its max speed it can travel for a few hundred miles. Its speed on diesels is only a few thousand at that at i think 14kts.

continued.

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Belesari January 17, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Cew-not enough room on board, the original ships crew is going to be over worked litteraly all the time. They will make mistakes when tired in a long combat situation this is very, very bad. The mission moduals all have their own crews…….that means that among other things the crews of the moduals will be strangers to the ships company and have no loyalty to ship or crew. Also no ship has enough room for them because the crew required for the moduals was always to small.
So basicly worthless. To big to be a corrvette but not even enough firepower to be a Destroyer escort. Big enough to act as a long range patrol vessel but without the range needed to do the job.

They are the child of a broken naval strategy and procurment system

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Guest January 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm

I've seen smoother hulls on Chinese fishing trawlers.

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BigRick January 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm

the 57mm looks like a pimple on this ship, it's really scary!

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Lance January 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Nothing wrong with it. Buts such a ugly ship they could do something to make it handsomer??

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blight January 17, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Could care less about beauty if can work as envisioned on powerpoint given to the armed services committee by the lobbyists.

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Tim January 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm

I guess it's just not me who see what look like cardboard on the bow of the ship. Strange how they can't make it smoother.

One only wishes they would eventually find a good weapon module for this ship. Very fast, but… very disappointing if you can get to the fight only to be socketed.

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Brian Black January 17, 2012 at 4:32 pm

And to think that so many visitors to this site mock the PLAN.

Tremble in fear at the sight of the glorious Chinese Navy; cower in the presence of the mighty Chinese carrier battle group; whimper as you realise 40 knots isn’t faster than a anti-ship missile!

“Captain, the Chinese are coming!”

“Abandon ship!”

“They haven’t started shooting yet.” “No, but they might.”

“Captain! No one’s built a lifeboat module!”

“Aaaiiieeee!!!”

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Tim January 17, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Aeyyaa… But the Chinese carrier still has to be towed to the hot zone and then the naval aircrafts' engine failed to start. Mean while, the mighty Type 095 nuke subs still can't find out where their last test missiles went… And so on…

So for now, we still reserve the right to mock the PLAN while worrying how to put lip palm on the LCS. :)

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Dan Gao January 17, 2012 at 6:54 pm

You do realise that there's more to having high speed besides this BS about not being able to outrun missiles? And that the LCS isn't intended to go up against enemy fleets?

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Belesari January 17, 2012 at 7:22 pm

OK please explain why that speed is needed….also considering that speed is going to cost if this vessel ever needs to get somehwere as it wears out the hull badly and cost so much fuel it in the end is a net loss.

LCS wasnt supposed to go against enemy fleets…..ok make sure to tell the FAC's coming for it one day that thats not fair.

War is chaos and most of the time has absolutly no rules.

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BigRick January 17, 2012 at 8:14 pm

didn't you all read the latest from our glorious leaders, the LCS is designed to "SHOW THE FLAG" and make our allies feel good about themselves, not be warship silly, now I understand why it costs so much-that flag raising module is so freakin expensive

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Hunter78 January 17, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Fast is almost always an asset. It doesn't have to outrun a bullet, just get to a point before enemy reinforcements.

Don't know about the tactical considerations, though. It can't survive anything unless it's really stealthy.

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BigRick January 17, 2012 at 8:15 pm

a 3000 ton ship operating in close to shore being stealthy? that's a good one.

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RCDC January 17, 2012 at 6:45 pm

We probably needed to add High-Powered Microwave (HPM), Moab cruise missile, MK48 Advanced Capability (ADCAP) Heavyweight Torpedo, tomahawk missiles and laser gun on every ship for defense.

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Dan Gao January 17, 2012 at 6:51 pm

I actually like the LCS in principle. My biggest two issues are cost and (lack of) armament. They seriously need to get a decent sufract to surface missile package, this crap about using a Griffin UAV missile is just a waste of time and money. If they can get those sorted out we'll have a very capable little ship, although I have serious reservations about replacing our frigates with it. It should really be a replacement for just minsweepers, patrol boats, and other small craft.

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jiopppo January 17, 2012 at 9:17 pm

must be a propaganda showing off our arm strength, one champaign bottle dented the whole hull

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Nicky January 17, 2012 at 10:45 pm

When is the US Navy ever going to learn their lesson about aluminum ships. Have they forgot about what happened on 22 November 1975 when the USS Belknap CG-26 collided with the USS John F Kennedy and caught fire that melted the Aluminum superstructure right down to the deck level. It seems the US Navy has forgotten that lesson in the LCS and looks like the Ghost of the USS Belknap is slowly repeating itself again. They need to kill the LCS and got back to an all steel frigate.

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TLAM Strike January 17, 2012 at 11:13 pm

"The Bedford's a very complicated ship, and about as sturdy as a Christmas tree ball.
Almost everything above the water line's aluminum. You understand? One hit and we've had it. So you see, a sickbay and a doctor, they really aren't much use to us, unfortunately."
-Captain Finlander "The Bedford Incident" (1965)

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RCDC January 17, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Probably we need 1000 units of this for self defense against Iran, North Korea, Russia and perhaps Chin, if they a threat becomes on high alert, and on a layaway low budget payment plan.

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blight January 17, 2012 at 11:42 pm

1,000 units at 400 million apiece? I'd rather take delivery of my money's worth of SSGN's.

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RCDC January 17, 2012 at 11:41 pm

But if this is too high of a price then I will settle for frigates for the country's self defense.

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STemplar January 18, 2012 at 2:36 am

If these things would have come in at price first promise and the modules worked, then $300 to $350 million a pop would have been the cost with working modules, they would have been worth the $. Problem is they are going to cost twice that and the modules don't work yet. The USN staked so much on these tubs they can't bring themselves yet to can them. For $750 million a pop I am pretty confident we could have designed a shallow draft anti-sub frigate with a good weapon load out that could have torn up speed boats.

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blight January 18, 2012 at 8:41 pm

I'm beginning to reconsider just what goes into a "module". I was wrong to assume that the module was large. Instead, they are container size, and repsented as shipping containers with computers screens inside (exaggeration?)

It is possible that these modules represent just additional avionics. With the catamaran, the modules are stored near the well-deck, so I thought they represented loading spaces for drones. But in the Lockmart LCS the modules are stored in the superstructure. They are likely just containers full of electronics. However, they were previously represented as modules containing crew members-which caused me to assume they were large.

They're assuming that each additional module must represent miniaturized electronics and that the individual modules require very little additions to the standard crew. However if the modules are small, then much of the internal volume actually does not belong to the modules: it is going to the well-deck which carries drones or amphibious units.

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blight January 19, 2012 at 11:28 am

Perhaps our next LCS should be the international variants: and we can use them in lieu of the surface warfare module. It'll show export customers we have confidence in the design, the additional orders will cut costs and it saves us the cost of developing a module for surface warfare that at the moment doesn't appear to do much. Opting for say a 70/30 mix of modular and non-modulars might work, but then by adding in the Lockheed and NG variants we could have four different hulls:

Lockheed, MMC
Lockheed, Modular
Northrop, International
Northrop, Modular

To the export customer, would they get the Lockheed or the Northrop? If one is deprecated internationally, does it deprecate the modular variant in the Navy?

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@ptitz January 19, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Ive read a book by one of Lockheed Martin guys, about stealth development and all. He mentioned that when they tried to make a stealth boat, they encountered a problem that it would still show up among the noise as a sort of an *empty space*(im not sure about specifics anymore). So ye, the whole denty-papier mache thing might be strategic haha.

Also: i think it looks cool! Like something Darth Vader would ride.

….you rebel scum…hur hur

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blight January 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm

It's probably Ben Rich's book, which has been an interesting read every time I crack it open again. However, I've always wondered how much of it was lost in translation (as is usual when engineers communicate to writers who are forced to simplify severely), or how much might've been disinformation, out of duty to the Central Intelligence Agency which gave Skunk Works plenty of business throughout the Cold War. If anything, much of the book in question covers their CIA work (because Lockmart was pushed out of the fighter business by their rivals).

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Infidel4LIFE January 20, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Im also interested in the modules this ship will use. Weapons systems, ship to shore, anti-ship, and air defense. This thing is aluminum also? Yes, it does burn. Time will tell..

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blight January 20, 2012 at 3:49 pm

DID reports some of the modules haven't done well-and maybe that's why the MMC and the International LCS variants have begun floating around. If the LCS cannot be modular, then it can be salvaged as a light surface combatant.

Then again, the Danes have already deployed the Absalom, so it's not a totally impossible concept. More likely than not, some of the LCS could be procured as their MMC/International variants and a few kept around as modulars for support. In any combat, it is unlikely that every LCS would be non-combat anyways; some have to be surface fighters while the others do MCM or function in special operations. However, it's cheaper if you eliminate a module and build out some non-modular variants which have much better punch than the surface warfare variant.

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gilmore l. anfone January 22, 2012 at 9:33 am

in 1979 i was about to join the us navy, had i ever made it, i am sure to volunteer to be one of the crew of the weird looking craft. America made it, and sure it is the best.(I am a Pilipino)
gilmore l. anfone

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gt350 January 30, 2012 at 5:57 pm

I just wonder how much more speed and range this would have with a smooth hull.

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Mcqueen February 1, 2012 at 5:55 am

But haven't you seen Disney's Cars 2 , it is the bad guys ship and its weapons are concealed inside like the Raptor, very trendy and costly at the same time.

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blight February 4, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Speaking of LCS type ships:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USNS_Spearhead_(JHSV

Another Austal USA product. From Wired:

"There’s not much inside the Navy’s newest ship, and that’s exactly how they like it.

338 feet long, 93 feet wide, low and blocky, USNS Spearhead is basically a thin aluminum shell wrapped around four diesel engines, rudimentary control facilities for its 40 crew plus 312 airline-style passenger seats. The rest of the $250-million, twin-hull catamaran vessel, christened this weekend, is empty space … with an expansive flight deck on top.

“The vessel is in essence a large and fast maritime ‘truck,’” Eric Wertheim, author of the definitive Combat Fleets of the World, tells Danger Room. What she carries, and where, is left to the imagination of the Pentagon’s regional commanders. “Flexibility may the best attribute of this ship,” says Capt. Douglas D. Casavant Jr., Spearhead’s first skipper.

Spearhead and the other 22 planned Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV), built by Austal USA in a brand-new shipyard on Alabama’s Mobile River, are a product of the Pentagon’s recent obsession with “modular” vehicles. The idea is to build basic machines, fast and cheap, and quickly modify them with new weapons, sensors and other payloads. “Our 20,000-square-foot mission bay area be reconfigured to quickly adapt to whatever mission we are tasked with,” Cassavant says."
http://www.webcitation.org/61tw0dg90
I guess Austal is prepared in case LCS dies. However, this thing competes pretty well with LCS in terms of modules and carry capacity. Otherwise, LCS has its SPY-1 and presumably something like Aegis, plus the 57mm, SeaRAM (and would've had NLOS otherwise…)

Hmm.

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Belesari January 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm

OK my bad. Your right she can run from any speed boats with light machine guns……..well maybe she can.

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blight January 17, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Was LCS intended to be low maint? It's not like the USCG has money to burn like the other formal military services.

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Nicky January 17, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Maybe the US Coast Guard can look at getting the LCS-1 or LCS-2 and use it to replace their 210's and 270's WMEC. It can be a perfect replacement for their OPC because as it stands now, the LCS almost dose what an OPC dose.

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blight January 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm

It's a pity these modules can't be swapped out at sea-the potential would increase that much more.

That said, it may add a new wrinkle to how we conduct amphibious warfare. For instance, multiple LCS' could be used to distribute a LPD/LHD's landing force and strike multiple areas with local LCS support (in lieu of hoping that 6 JSF's and a ton of TLAM from far away is sufficient to break through) and be used in lieu of or in conjunction with EFV-replacement/legacy AAAV's. Or use them to cover an amphibious force, since they are supposedly low draft and could follow a force over the sea.

Then again, this is all hand-waving until they are used in combat. Wargames don't seem to represent the real world the way they used to.

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BigRick January 17, 2012 at 8:09 pm

she can run until she runs out of gas-which doesn't take long

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ziv January 17, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Bel, the range drops as the turbines get close to max speed (50 kts.) but the range doesn't drop that much from the 4000+ miles at 18 kts. The very worst I have seen is 1000 miles at 40 kts but is that realistic? And wouldn't the LCS ships have the capability to get a VERTREP?
Getting rid of the sprint speed for the LCS would be like ignoring the shallow draft requirement. You can do it and have a ship, but it wouldn't be a very good LITTORAL Combat Ship. They have to get in close and then get back out quickly. Otherwise a Perry would be cheaper and probably more effective. Fast and able to go shallow, plus flexibility long term, that is what the LCS was supposed to be, I thought. Plus the ability to deliver a 'boat load' of Marines where the enemy didn't expect anyone, with the heavy equipment just a day or so behind… That is what the LCS-2 delivers.

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blight January 17, 2012 at 11:48 pm
blight January 18, 2012 at 9:34 am

There is definitely more than one module available, but an LCS can only carry one at any given moment.

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ziv January 18, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Not sure what to think of the location in this schematic, but GD clearly stated that there would be 3 modules in the mission bay, and then they stated in another paper that the module in the bow of the ship was not able to be replenished while underway. So I think that there are at least 4 modules on the LCS-2. And GD published brochures that showed a Harpoon launcher from the VLS forward, a MK41 both port and starboard of the superstructure and ASW launchers port and starboard side of the mission bay. Plus the 2 CIWS and the 57mm. So we have to be talking about the LCS deploying with more than one module at a time. I think.
But I have to admit that I am just interested in the class, it isn't like I have any expertise regarding the LCS. http://media.defenseindustrydaily.com/images/SHIPhttp://www.gdlcs.com/sites/default/files/MMC-Broc

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ziv January 18, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Those two links aren't live, and you have to cut and paste them separately, but they do seem to indicate that the modules seem to located in different areas and there appears to be several options that use multiple modules at the same time.

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blight January 18, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Your first link pulls up on a google search. However, it shows storage for six "modules", which in this case essentially look like ISO-standard containers.

So….what are these modules supposed to do if they are so small is my new question.

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blight January 18, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Hilariously, DID links to this Danish variant:
http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/fly/

In any case, let's back up and talk modules.

So these modules are ISO-containers basically. For the mine warfare setup, what constitutes a "module"? Is it the module space reserved to embark a UUV? Or is there an additional control box that plugs in in the module space? The same is true of the ASW module: Are these module spaces the drones themselves, or the control systems plus another module space for the drones?

For surface warfare, the "module" adds guns. But if these modules are carried internally…how do they add guns? That suggests that there are access ports that go from the modules inside the ship to the surface, and that the guns that go up to the deck are linked to the modules underneath?

Lockmart's brochures also suggest multiple modules, but embarks them in the upper superstructure just above the hangar space.

It looks like all of these modules are intended to have access to a clear roof top for the surface warfare modules. They're also small if they are indeed the size of shipping containers.

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blight January 18, 2012 at 11:14 pm

It's kind of a zoo. The alternate version of the LCS shows:
http://www.gdlcs.com/sites/default/files/LCS_Broc

Instead of VLS, SeaRAMs on the roof and no Harpoon.

It speaks to me that everything is still conjecture at this point.

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blight January 18, 2012 at 11:16 pm

Nevermind, that makes sense. The MMC is the international variant. Likely the American one won't have all the fancy toys, unless we opt for the international variant.
http://www.gdlcs.com/gd-lcs-solution/internationa

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blight January 18, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Guns will do worse than missiles. And we know from Praying Mantis that rushing Boghammars at OPFOR doesn't do much.

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