Stop arguing the obvious. Please deal in the reality regardless how many links you roll out by project managers and the defense industry, if the frigate is today or the next century LCS is heading for mothballs because of robotic evolution and lack of sustainment funding. You can give it the latest weaponry and sensors and that is merely the spend the budget mentality of use it or lose it. Nobody wants it but 4th Fleet in Caribbean and South American waters where friendly ports abound and for a fleet has no permanent assigned ships .
Why not 5th Fleet? That should be LCS waters but it is a logistic and maintenance nightmare and everybody is working with minimal assets that donít need further draining by a ship class that needs escort in potential hot waters.
Update your reading if funding hits right and selection process goes smoothly (as it has been) and the price is right the Navy is considering accelerating the frigate program. Today that is just a mere thought but we will see.
Debate all you want but I do believe the Navy ended the debate by keeping LCS in port or tethered to a port with few deployments.
Frigate timeline: https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2020/02/11/heres-the-timeline-for-the-us-navys-next-generation-frigate/
Design chosen this summer, then 6 years to deliver. First ship then physically out in 2026. More will follow closely, but there still won't be 20 of them by 2030, just that many on order or building. And that is assuming no delays or problems (or politics) in the program.
Meantime, the LCS are in production, and entering the fleet. They are scheduled to receive upgrades:
First of two-part series: https://news.usni.org/2019/09/05/the-state-of-lcs-navy-pushing-more-ships-to-sea-this-fall-as-class-matures
Second of series: https://news.usni.org/2019/09/06/the-state-of-lcs-navy-moving-to-add-firepower-capability-to-both-classes
While the frigate remains a future hope, LCS now serve, and will for a decade at least. What few in the public know is that the first four LCS always were prototypes, and have structural and system differences which set them apart from the production ships. That is mentioned in the article posted by Jim, but is buried in it. Objective reporting would have made that a more prominent point. It is the reason only the first four are proposed to be let go. The best explanation of this in Jim's linked article comes from the link to the Admiral Crites interview video. He explains it quite plainly.
The original LCS idea was to do just the four test ships, then experiment for years on end. Instead--due to admittedly poor planning--it was realized no yard would build a few prototypes, then hold their production facilities open "indfinitely" while the Navy experimented. Production was then ordered, and Congress happily funded them due to their low purchase cost. Made them look like they were growing the fleet, and without (initial) painful costs. However, the production models are not just copies of the prototypes. Changes were made to the design for production. I went in search of the specifics of those changes years back when first made aware of them. A nice Congressional Research Service paper informed me they were classified. Was futile at that point to keep searching.
From the LCS program, and those first 4 experimental ships, come:
The 57 mm gun
The variable depth sonar
The COMBATSS-21 system
These systems--perfected in the LCS program--will be incorporated into the new frigate, and only already work because of testing on LCS. The frigate as an affordable, off the shelf option would basically not exist now if LCS had not come beforehand.
Further--as per the articles I link above--LCS are scheduled to receive Nulka and NSM, and an upgraded radar. While a VLS is under consideration, I personally do not have much hope for it, much as I would love to see it happen. I doubt the budget will support it.
An LCS will then have every major system a frigate has except the VLS and EASR. And, the LCS will be the primary mine warfare vessel. That alone will keep them around.
LCS are not frigates. They are something else. Separating them from the frigate program was the best thing for them. Too much confusion when they were not set apart. Much better now that each program is free to pursue their own paths. Frigates will do what they do best, while the LCS show how they will fit into the fleet over the coming decade. It is not "either/or." There will be both, perhaps with LUSV and MUSV as well.
As for 20 years from now, who knows? Maybe the LCS all will be gone. The fact will always remain that they were the founding platforms of most systems adopted by the frigates.
They are ( will) become mission obsolete once the new frigates come into the fleet . They are very expensive to deploy with civilian contractors on board to maintain and more contractors at either port. Navy will not release the maintenance dollar numbers.
I do believe out of the 11 in commission starting in 2008 only 3 are deployed. Some will be kept as robotic host ships, ES and other such missions. Her lack of endurance to maintain station pretty much was the Swan song of this poorly conceived and built class of cutter. Proof of what I say is the Navyís pivot to frigates.
So with budgets flat lining, yes these will go bye-bye along with Whidbey Island/Harpers Ferry/ Ticos unless Congress provides a hell of lot more money for sustainment.
See the Navy got a lesson that revolution and mission confusion is very very costly to maintain and build. Dollars spent on cost over runs, revolutionary capability and poor mission vision just do not renew themselves for the next bill coming in.
The USN a classic example of a service in identity crisis for the last 30 years.
Maybe they can be sold to friendly allies like Taiwan or even Australia.
The LCS-2 design could be used as a high speed commando amphib operating in the Taiwan Strait.
In Australian service the vessels, with it's high speed, large hangars and flight decks could provide rotor air power to guard it's economic interests in the Timor Sea, or on the Pacific side assist small Pacific nations with humanitarian aid or on Australia's east coast help to quickly evacuate stranded bushfire survivors in the future.