The U.S. Navy has sleek new vessels called Littoral Combat Ships but they are not very good at one of their primary missions: Finding mines.
The problem stems from the ship’s Remote Minehunting System (RMS) and Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle (RMMW), an underwater drone that is supposed to seek out mines. Key phrase: supposed to.
“Recent developmental testing provides no statistical evidence that the system is demonstrating improved reliability, and instead indicates that reliability plateaued nearly a decade ago,” the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOTE), Dr. Michael Gilmore, noted in an August 3 memo. In other words, $700 million down the drain, and there’s no way to prove it’s any less likely to break than it was a decade ago.
The system has come under harsh criticism from Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The senators slammed the RMMW as unreliable and pressed the Navy to consider alternatives, which they outlined in a letter obtained by Breaking Defense.
It looks like the Navy is taking that advice. According to the U.S. Naval Institute, the service is chartering an independent review of the RMS, which will report back within 60 days.
So will the Navy figure a way out of a $700 million-dollar boondoggle? Maybe. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take the lead of the Air Force.