The Buzz

China vs. America: Who Would Win in a Naval Clash Over the South China Sea?

There’s an inherent danger in reading too much out of commercial wargame simulations. As much as the game designers try to model modern air and naval warfare as accurately as possible, and that is exactly what Command’s designers did, the unknown unknowns, as Donald Rumsfeld would probably put it, could tip the scenario either way.

Warfare is tragic and unpredictable. Any difference in training, maintenance or secret capabilities of both navies — things we wouldn’t know until the shooting starts — could have decisively impacted the scenario.

Still, as the U.S. defense budget grows smaller and hard choices are being made, the dismal performance of the LCS’s anti-surface warfare module in our simulation is food for thought.

Do we want the Littoral Combat Ship to be able to tackle ships less than half its size, and if so, how do we get there? Because we’re certainly not there yet.

The LCS is the Navy’s handyman, capable of doing all sorts of jobs with its mission module system. Like all handymen, it has its toolboxes to get the job done. And few handymen are really, really good at everything you might expect them to do.

With all the potential missions for the Littoral Combat Ship and a limited pool of money, what do we expect it to do really well?

One things for certain — the handyman’s hammer is too small.

This piece first appeared in WarIsBoring in 2013.