The year is 2016, and two of the U.S. Navy’s latest ships are backing a key ally in the tinderbox of the South China Sea. They’re facing down the Chinese navy halfway across the world with the latest weapons and systems the United States can get its hands on. But is it enough?
For more than a hundred years, the U.S. Navy has been using naval wargames to test ships, tactics and strategy. Today, thanks to the ability of computers to process massive amounts of data, sharply accurate, procedural “hard” simulations are possible.
One such sim is Command: Modern Naval/Air Operations, a new game that attempts to model modern sea and air warfare as closely as a game for civilians can.
Command is particularly suited for attempting a high-fidelity simulation of modern naval combat — it included an admiral and staff from the U.S. Naval War College in the game’s beta testing — and we’re going to take a page from the Navy and put America’s latest fighting ship to the test.
The result isn’t good — and a harrowing lesson to be cautious about how we equip the U.S. military.
The post 9/11 ship
Today, we’re sending the Littoral Combat Ship into the fray — a new class of warships developed following the 9/11 attacks.
The LCS was designed to fight close to shore, a characteristic that opens the vessel up to more missions — and challenges — than most Navy ships. For one, they have to be both versatile and agile. The vessels are lightly armed, and rely on swappable “mission modules” to increase firepower and other special capabilities such as surface warfare, minesweeping and anti-submarine warfare.
A normal LCS has a rapid-fire 57-millimeter gun, a pair of 30-millimeter cannons and heavy machine guns. The ship also has Rolling Airframe anti-aircraft missiles to defend against enemy jets and incoming missiles.