Small Surface Combatant Task Force concepts

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"Lockheed Outlines Post Littoral Combat Ship Pitch
By: Sam LaGrone
Published: June 10, 2014 5:42 PM
Updated: June 10, 2014 6:08 PM

Source:
http://news.usni.org/2014/06/10/8077

Lockheed Martin outlined the range of options they presented to the Navy as part of the Pentagon mandated study into a follow-on ship to the Flight 0 Littoral Combat Ships in a media briefing on Monday.

Lockheed — as part two April requests for information (RFI) from the Small Surface Combatant Task Force — submitted a variety of options based on their current Freedom-class (LCS-1) design.

Joe North, vice president of Littoral Ship Systems for Lockheed, emphasized the sea frame ability to accommodate increasingly sophisticated radars and weapons systems within the constraints of the basic design.

“We have a lot of flexibility in the hull. If you remember, we’re carrying around 180 metric tons of capability, empty space right now, for the mission packages, so depending on what they’re looking at we have a lot of capability in the hull from a naval architecture standpoint,” North told reporters on Monday.
“From a performance standpoint, we can add to the ship and make [systems] permanent or if you want to look at separate packages.”

Part of those options include a much more robust anti-air warfare (AAW) capability with permanent vertical launch system (VLS) cells capable of holding anti-air missiles and much more capable radar.

“[Increased] radar capability is everything from solid-state more capable rotators to a high end capability —the hull allows that,” North said.

As part of its international offering for ships based on the Freedom hull, Lockheed has offered a SPY-1F air defense radar — an 8 foot diameter version of the radar on U.S. destroyers sized for frigates.

An upgunned Freedom — at its current length of 118 meters — could also include 4 to 32 VLS cells. Each cell would be capable of fielding four Raytheon RIM-162D Evolved SeaSparrow Missiles (ESSM), North said.

“[VLS] is a modular package in itself because it gives [the ship] the capability to launch several types of missiles including ESSM, which is one of the things they’ll absolutely come back and look for to give the ship some more self protection… as a permanent installation,” he said.

Critics of the current Freedom and Austal USA’s Independence classes of ships have zeroed in on a perceived lack of offensive capability for the two ships.

Austal and Lockheed have developed preliminary designs of their ships with VLS for international sale.

In remarks earlier this year, then acting deputy defense Christine Fox implied the current LCS variants were “niche” platforms and the Navy needed tougher ship.

“We need more ships with the protection and firepower to survive against a more advanced military adversary,” Fox said in February, just ahead of a Pentagon announcement forcing the Navy to take a second look at the LCS program.

As part of the coversheet for its response to the Navy’s RFI, Lockheed included a Freedom variant with a quad cell VLS firing what appear to be Raytheon Standard Missile (SM) 2.

In the surface-to-surface realm, North said the ship could accommodate either the current BAE Systems Mk 110 57 mm gun or a larger Mark 45 five-inch gun. The range of offerings did also factor in Naval Sea Systems Command decision to integrate the Longbow Hellfire AGM-114L for the fast attack craft/ fast inshore attack (FAC/FIAC) threat.

The Flight 0 Freedom and Independence LCS will be manned by 90 sailors for surface warfare (SuW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and mine countermeasure (MCM) missions by a series of mission packages that can be swapped out of the ship depending on the circumstances.

The Navy’s original plan was to build 52 LCS but cut the Flight 0 program at 32 — a reduction of 20 ships as part of the current reexamination of the LCS begun in February under mandate from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

The RFIs were part of the work of the Small Surface Combatant Task Force tasked to evaluate other options beyond Flight 0 LCS. The group was mandated to examine: A modified design of an existing LCS, existing ship designs and a new ship design.

“The RFI will ask for pretty specific information that will give us insight to the ship integration requirement, the performance, what are the primary, second and third order costs associated with [concepts],” John Burrow, executive director of the Marine Corps Systems Command and current head of the Small Surface Combatant Task Force told reporters in April.
“It’s a fairly detailed list of information that we’re looking for.”

The task force is due to submit their findings by the end of July.

Given tightening Pentagon budgets, an entirely new ship design is unlikely, however North speculated that several European yards have likely submitted information for the RFIs.

“I can imagine every shipyard across Europe — which is very stagnant and a lot of them have designs — [submitted a packet],” North said.
“I bet you woke up the entire planet.”
An artist's conception for two variants of the Freedom-class LCS design provided to USNI News. Lockheed Martin Image
 

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"Lockheed Says It Can ‘Easily’ Improve LCS"
by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on June 10, 2014 at 8:54 AM

Source:
http://breakingdefense.com/2014/06/lockheed-says-it-can-easily-improve-lcs/

ARLINGTON: In the race to replace the Navy’s controversial Littoral Combat Ship, the leading contender seems to be…. a better Littoral Combat Ship. That’s the clear implication of what we’ve been hearing from Navy leadership, and it’s clear from press briefings today that LCS contractor Lockheed Martin feels pretty confident it can do the job. (Lockheed builds the Freedom-class LCS; the Independence variant is by Austal and General Dynamics).

The incumbent’s advantage here is time. Lockheed VP Joe North told reporters at the companys pre-Farnborough Air Show briefing that he expects “every shipyard across Europe” to take a shot. But existing European designs might take years to revise to the US Navy’s requirements and an all-new design would take at least a decade. Of course, LCS is already in production, and while many in the Pentagon and Congress are deeply dissatisfied with the ship, Lockheed argues that its modular design makes it easy to upgrade.

“Whatever they decide they want for upgrades, they will start [putting on ships] as early as FY ’17 [fiscal year 2017],” North said of the Navy. Lockheed can meet that schedule or even beat it by putting upgrades on 2016 ships if desired, he said confidently. “I can easily work these [changes] in,” North said, and keep LCS production going without a pause: “If you do this right, we don’t need to break production. I think that’s huge.”

So what would the LCS-plus look like? “We gave them lots of options,” North said, “them” being the Small Surface Ship Combatant Task Force appointed by Defense Sec. Chuck Hagel to review alternatives to the existing LCS design; the SSCTF will report back to Hagel by August. Lockheed can build its LCS with a bigger main gun (“we’ve always been gun-agonistic,” North said), a more powerful radar, or a less zippy but more fuel-efficient power plant — all diesels instead of the current diesel-turbine combo — if the Navy decides long range is more important than high speed.

Perhaps most important, Lockheed can build an upgunned LCS with Vertical Launch Systems (VLS), the Navy’s plug-and-play launchers for a wide variety of missiles. The ship could accommodate eight VLS cell with a modest redesign to the bow, North told reporters, or up to 32 VLS if you cut the hangar capacity from two helicopters down to one. For comparison, the Navy’s cutting edge DDG-1000 Zumwalt destroyer, a vastly larger ship, carries 80 VLS cells.

What about survivability, though? The most common criticism of LCS — including by the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E) — is that the hull is simply too fragile to survive in major combat. The Navy’s own rating system puts the LCS at survivability level one, compared to level two for the FFG-7 Perry-class frigates it replaces and level three for the much larger DDG-51 Arleigh Burke destroyers.

But in fact, “we’re more survivable than the FFGs,” North said bluntly. The Navy’s requirements for the various survivability levels have changed since the frigates were assessed, he asserted, and technology’s improved: “We’re using high-strength, low-weight steel that wasn’t even around.”
 

Creative

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Here's a link to the Hi-res of the photo (3mb) http://i.imgur.com/DDVe9L2.jpg

Also a crop of a ship seen in the corner
 

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Thank you for your post, Creative.

Lockheed Martin has been claiming that the Seablade hull of the Freedom-class LCS is scalable from corvette to frigate. Compare the current hull design to the frigate-sized Multi-Mission Combatant (MMC) from 2012. The largest MMC was 3,500 (long?) tons.

Source:
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/the-usas-new-littoral-combat-ships-updated-01343/
 

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Small Surface Combatant Task Force letter:
http://blogs.defensenews.com/saxotech-access/pdfs/Letter140313.pdf
 

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"NavWeek: Make Way For the LCSG"
Jun 17, 2014 by Michael Fabey in Ares

Source:
http://aviationweek.com/blog/navweek-make-way-lcsg

With only about a month to respond to the U.S. Navy’s requests for information (RFIs) for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) –Next, the pressure is on the service and contractors to come up with the nation’s future small surface combatant.

Responding to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s mandate to come up with a more lethal and survivable LCS successor, the Navy has certainly made a great show of putting everything on the table for consideration.

But to be honest, that table is far from level -– it is quite slanted and there are going to be plenty of ideas, concepts and proposals that simply slide right off. That’s not a knock, necessarily, against the Navy -– it’s just an observation of the reality the service has to deal with.

In directing the Navy to make a ship that packs –- and takes -– a bigger punch, Hagel also wants the service to keep it affordable and he wants to avoid construction gaps.

So while the Navy’s RFI opens up LCS-Next to all kinds of possibilities, including foreign designs, the call to keep costs down and make it fit in current shipbuilding and fleet requirement scheduling makes it essentially impossible to consider any program that is not already in production. And lawmakers will make sure the program stays as domestic as possible.

That leaves the Navy with U.S. shipbuilding programs already in production, such as the steel monohull LCS 1 USS Freedom version being built by a Lockheed Martin-led team, the all-aluminum trimaran LCS 2 USS Independence model being built by the Austal USA team, or even a version of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter being constructed by Huntington Ingalls Industries.

While the cutter concept is intriguing, Navy officials dismissed a variant of the white hull a while ago for, among other things, not being combat-worthy. A course reversal at this time seems unlikely.

The most likely course the Navy will follow would be to award Lockheed and Austal contracts for modified LCS versions similar to the concepts both companies have developed for international markets. Essentially, some of the weaponry included in the mission module packages would become organic to the hulls. This would take away some of the modularity –- at the very moment the concept of quickly shifting missions via swappable modules is starting to take root with the U.S. Navy and even among international customers -– but help make the ships more of a force to be reckoned with on the open seas.

Taking that a step farther, one of the concepts being bandied about is the introduction of vertically launched guided missiles on the LCS template hulls. Some in the Navy have started to call this the LCSG –- like the DDG for destroyers or CG for cruisers.

Now that’s a ship that the surface warfare officer cadre can get behind. That’s the kind of ship that can do something, that can blow up things, and take better care of itself. At least that’s the thinking of the LCS brass now.

LCSG. Who would have thought?
 

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Triton said:
Thank you for your post, Creative.

Lockheed Martin has been claiming that the Seablade hull of the Freedom-class LCS is scalable from corvette to frigate. Compare the current hull design to the frigate-sized Multi-Mission Combatant (MMC) from 2012. The largest MMC was 3,500 (long?) tons.

Source:
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/the-usas-new-littoral-combat-ships-updated-01343/
1) As explicitely stated on LockMart's website, the hull is (supposedly) scalable ("proven") from 67 meters to 150 meters at various displacements.
On the pic you posted, the pennant number actually refers to the LOA of each variant : 85m LOA at the bottom (pennant = 85), 118m LOA in the middle (pennant = 118), 150m LOA at the top (pennant = 150).

2) According to the SCS brochure, the 118m LOA variant has a 3,600mt FLD. The NVR gives an FLD of 3,450 mt for the 118m LOA USS Fort Worth (LCS-3).

3) ISTR coming across references stating an FLD somewhere between 4,500 mt and 5,000 mt for the 150m LOA variant, but I didn't put these references in my bookmarks.
 

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Another article mentioning a sweet spot @ 125m LOA and a maxed-out variant @ 140m LOA :

source : Defense News
http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140523/DEFREG02/305230023/Ideas-Pour-US-Navy-s-Small-Ship-Task-Force

Ideas Pour in to US Navy's Small Ship Task Force
May. 23, 2014 - 03:45AM | By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS

WASHINGTON — The task force working to come up with ideas for the US Navy’s small surface combatant (SSC) got a major data download Thursday, as industry submitted their proposals for modified or entirely new designs.

Both builders of littoral combat ships — Lockheed Martin and Austal USA — submitted ideas to modify their designs. Huntington Ingalls proposed frigate variants of its national security cutter design. And at least one outlier, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, put in a bid.

Companies were also invited to come up with ideas for the ship’s combat system. In separate proposals, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems (GD AIS) described systems and components to equip the SSC.

The submissions were in response to two requests for information (RFIs) issued in April by the task force — a unit stood up in March to provide recommendations to Navy leadership by the end of July on potential alternatives to the current LCS designs.

The fast track was apparent in the size restrictions put on the RFIs — the ship RFI was limited to 25 pages, the combat systems response to 15 pages. RFIs typically run into many hundreds of pages.

The limited responses reflect the goals of the task force.

“We’re not going to have time for them to go through and do a [new] design,” John Burrow, head of the task force, told reporters on April 30. “We’re asking for existing designs and mature design concepts,” he said, and “systems and technologies at the component level.”

The responses were submitted to Naval Sea Systems Command, which will process and forward them to the task force. It’s not yet clear how many respondents were garnered by each RFI.

Lockheed was perhaps in the best position to respond, having spent several years aggressively proposing various versions of its 118-meter-long Freedom-class LCS to potential foreign customers. Joe North, head of the company’s LCS programs, said a similar approach was used in its responses.

“We submitted a range of designs, tied to the price of each, tied to the earliest we would be able to get those upgrades into the ships,” he said on Friday. The company’s proposals included upgrading littoral combat ships as early as ships in the 2015 program.

“We need a better electronic warfare system,” North said as an example. “I could put that into the 2015-16-17 ships if they wanted. And they could spiral their upgrades as they want.”

Lockheed’s proposals focus on ships larger than the current LCS.

“We tied affordability to what we were doing, and we kind of found a sweet spot at 125 meters,” North said. Larger ships, up to 140 meters, would add range.

The proposals include incorporating vertical launch systems able to launch Standard SM-2 missiles. Lockheed can get an SM-2 launcher into the current 118-meter version, North noted, but a larger ship would be needed to install the bigger SM-6 model coming into service.

“SM-6 can go on the 125-meter and 140-meter,” he said, “and probably a SPY-1F [Aegis] radar or a derivative of [Raytheon’s] air missile defense radar [AMDR] if you want the full capability of the SM-6.”

The company included versions of its current COMBATSS-21 combat management system in responding to both RFIs. The system is a derivative of the Aegis combat system and uses a common code library.

Austal USA, builder of the Independence class LCS, also sent in bids.

“Austal has submitted a strong response,” company spokesman Terry O’Brien said on Thursday. “We are very excited to be involved in this process.”

Improvements over the Independence design, O’Brien said, include a towed array sonar, torpedoes, vertical launch anti-submarine rockets “and a tremendous aviation capability to support the MH-60 helicopter.” As with Lockheed, a vertical launch system able to launch Standard missiles and a 76mm gun in place of existing 57mm guns are included.

O’Brien said in April that Austal’s approach to modifying its LCS was not to scale it up, but rather to work with improved configurations, replacing areas currently reserved for interchangeable mission modules with permanently-installed systems. “Austal’s SSC incorporates significant offensive and defensive capability to support higher-end missions with the existing sea frame,” he said, adding that the is able to take either Aegis or AMDR radars.

It was not clear what combat system Austal USA is proposing. The company currently installs a system from GD AIS, based on the Thales Tacticos combat management system. “We can handle any other systems that can be chosen,” O’Brien said. “The Navy asked to provide that flexibility and we’re able to do that in our current hull form.

The Navy is known to have problems with the GD AIS system, but the company is still working on improvements. General Dynamics confirmed on Thursday that GD AIS submitted a response to the combat systems RFI, but would provide no further details.

Huntington Ingalls, as expected, also put in its bid. The company has been working to develop larger and more heavily-armed versions of the NSC — again, aimed primarily at foreign markets, but now focused on US Navy requirements.

“Ingalls has submitted an RFI response using a high performance, proven hull and propulsion system that is a lethal, survivable and affordable design for the small surface combatant,” spokesman Bill Glenn said. “Adding robust capabilities to a hull form that does not require additional modifications provides a ship that can be introduced to the fleet quickly and affordably with very low risk.”

General Dynamics Bath Iron Works also confirmed it submitted a response to the ship RFI, but spokesman Jim DeMartini declined to provide further details. The Maine shipbuilder is not building a small combatant, but is focused on construction of Arleigh Burke Aegis destroyers and larger Zumwalt-class stealth destroyers.

Bath, however, submitted a design for the US Coast Guard’s offshore patrol cutter that was one of three chosen this year for further development. The award, however, is under protest, with a decision expected in early June.

Raytheon, which makes components used by virtually every US Navy warship, also responded to the combat systems RFI.

“We believe we’ve provided a range of options and compelling solutions for their consideration,” said Raytheon spokeswoman Carolyn Beaudry. “The combination of our large system integrator expertise and depth of knowledge, from sensor to effector, allowed us to provide the full range of affordable, scalable solutions that meet SSC mission requirements, adaptable to any ship design.”

The SSC task force also is busy conducting workshops in fleet concentration areas to gather waterfront views. While the Navy would provide few details, members already have visited Norfolk, Virginia, and Pearl Harbor.

Submission of the RFIs, said Lt. Robert Myers, a Navy spokesman at the Pentagon, “completed an important step in the process that will inform the task force of industry designs and systems that will be considered in developing small surface combatant alternatives.

“Access to current market information,” he added, “is important in assessing feasibility and risk as the [task force] develops and evaluates ship design concepts, alternatives and acquisition plans.”
 

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"Commentary: Tricky Waters of Comparing Shipbuilding Costs"
Jun. 16, 2014 - 02:31PM |
by Robert Holzer

Source:
http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140616/DEFFEAT05/306160019/Commentary-Tricky-Waters-Comparing-Shipbuilding-Costs

As the US Navy’s Small Surface Combatant Task Force presses ahead to develop future ship options, the issue of comparative shipbuilding costs continues to raise concerns. This is particularly the case when attempting to compare costs between different types and classes of warships, sometimes acquired decades apart.

While it seems simple enough, in actuality it is very difficult to do correctly. Failure to fully understand this issue could lead to a kind of actuarial sea blindness.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert stood up the task force following Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s decision to buy only 32 littoral combat ships, while directing the Navy to develop new options for a small surface combatant. Options publicly identified include continuing LCS as is, buying an upgraded version of existing LCS designs or building a new ship. The task force’s conclusions are due in July.

The issue of cost, more specifically life-cycle costs, is playing a huge role in the task force’s deliberations.

I am not a cost expert, but in talks with skilled practitioners of this arcane science, I have come away with several key truisms that seem to animate every discussion. These keys are not limited to the surface combatant task force’s work, but can be applied to the numerous other agencies, entities and research groups conducting separate reviews, reports and assessments of other Navy shipbuilding efforts.

■ Cost differences between old and new ship classes are huge and potentially misleading. The easiest course of action is to attempt to compare one ship class versus another class based simply on raw budget numbers. This leads to flawed analysis on several levels.

First, it ignores the time-value of money or shipbuilding inflation that often outpaces other sectors of the economy. That is why naval analysts at the Congressional Budget Office and Congressional Research Service are careful to compare ship costs in a common fiscal-year framework to all ships.

Second, new ships are burdened by higher costs and smaller datasets when compared with legacy ship classes. This is far more than an apples-to-oranges comparison. It’s more akin to comparing apples to anchors.

For example, comparing early LCS life-cycle costs and future cost projections to the mature Oliver Hazard Perry-class FFG 7 frigates will yield badly skewed results. The Perry-class frigates joined the fleet between 1977 and 1989 and have well-established and documented maintenance, support and training pipelines based on decades of steady use and “tweaking.” Moreover, these costs are accounted for by the budgets for Regional Maintenance Centers, the fleet or other maintenance entities, which appear to significantly lower the life-cycle costs for in-service frigates compared to ships like LCS, which is just joining the operating forces.

Finally, the lead-ship cost premium, which is often substantial, is not usually included in the life-cycle costs of older ships since that cost had long been amortized by follow-on ships.

LCS, on the other hand, being a new class is programmatically burdened by the early start-up costs for all of its maintenance, sustainment, training and support, which is spread only across the few ships deployed. This program situation significantly increases its apparent life-cycle costs. The Navy’s LCS program also bears the current lead-ship research-and-development costs for two separate ship designs.

■Accounting for total costs between ship classes is difficult. The differences between the total amount of data available between legacy and new ship classes can be significant and how that information is used or interpreted can also yield false conclusions. Legacy class ships, like the Navy’s CG 47 Ticonderoga-class cruisers, for example, no longer have many of the myriad maintenance and modernization costs contained within their operations and sustainment budget.

Critical pieces such as development of the Aegis combat system, its procurement, successive baseline improvements and training are accounted for in separate budgets. Much of the maintenance support is likewise budgeted for in separate Navy accounts that are not reflected in the CG 47 classes’ total life-cycle costs. As a result, the life-cycle costs for cruisers may appear to be much lower than what they actually are.

■ Impact of ship learning curves must be taken into account. It is not uncommon for the fifth (or tenth, for that matter) ship of a class to experience a significant decrease in the number of man-hours required to deliver a ship to the Navy, all other elements (e.g., design alterations) held constant. Comparing the life-cycle costs for a mature ship class well into its acquisition (if not decommissioning) phase versus a new construction shipbuilding program will make the new ship appear vastly more expensive than it truly is.

This same equation also applies to shipbuilding programs, like the DDG 51, which is now into an improved Flight IIA version, where virtually all first-ship-of class costs have been captured by Flight I ships and no longer are “counted” by some accounting practices.

In addition, the cost of Flight IIA ships now with more than 30 hulls of experience have all but averaged-out costs that new programs such as LCS are still incurring as they advance along the shipbuilding learning curve. All of the start-up costs for new programs like testing and training, infrastructure, military construction and training simulators have likewise been amortized over more ships and a longer time frame when compared to new ship starts.

Defense acquisition is always complicated and naval shipbuilding is an incredibly complex process. The late-Rear Adm. Wayne E. Meyer, the “father” of Aegis, frequently noted that nothing, not even the Space Shuttle, was as difficult as building a warship. A successful shipbuilding program requires the minute orchestration of millions of different parts and materials to integrate these disparate parts into a warship. The same discipline, accuracy and precision are similarly needed for ship costs. Comparing apples to anchors is not an acceptable standard. ■

Robert Holzer is a Senior National Security Manager with Gryphon Technologies. The opinions expressed here are his own.
 

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"NavWeek: Speed Quest"
by Michael Fabey in Ares

Jul 1, 2014

Source:
http://aviationweek.com/blog/navweek-speed-quest

As the U.S. Navy revisits many of the requirements for its Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), it’s certainly time to reconsider the vessel’s need-for-speed concept. There is no question the Navy needs a fast ship for some of the proposed LCS missions –- the issue is just how fast the ship needs to go, and what is the service willing to give up for the ability to zip across the seas? Alternately, perhaps the Pentagon should consider a whole new vessel as its maritime sprinter.

Officially, the LCS goes above 40 knots. When I was on LCS 1 USS Freedom last year, the ship was pushing it near 50, leaving any questions about its speed-demon status well in its wake.

Now, with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s directive to make the LCS successor more lethal and survivable, Navy officials say they can dial that speed back a bit. But how much? The low 40s? High 30s. Mid-30s?

Navy officials will most certainly review Freedom deployment data from its Singapore swing last year before deciding that number. But they also should review –- and I’d like to think they would actually be re-reviewing -– some earlier reports on this Navy speed quest and the results thus far.

“The pursuit for high speed itself demonstrates an inherent bias toward the attribute of speed and the neglect of range and payload requirements,” writes David Rudko in his March 2003 thesis, “Logistical Analysis of the Littoral Combat Ship,” prepared for the Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey, Calif.

“Ideally, a small warship would be inexpensive and fast, carry a large payload and have high endurance and good sea keeping,” he writes in the published thesis. “Unfortunately, the current state of technology prevents this combination.”

He notes, “Throughout history, the United States Navy has invested a considerable amount of time and money in the development of high-speed ships.” Looking back to the 1960s, he writes, “The Asheville class experienced many problems throughout its life cycle. In the design process, the tradeoff between speed, payload and range was a great source of debate and resulted in delayed construction. Each ship cost approximately $5 million, five times greater than the initial $1 million projection, and high maintenance costs made them expensive to operate once commissioned. Additionally, sea keeping problems prevented them from capitalizing on the high speeds for which they were designed. The changes in missions they experienced throughout their service life demonstrated their inability to successfully fulfill the primary mission for which they were designed.”

Then came the Pegasus class missile hydrofoils. “The initial concept was to establish a squadron of missile hydrofoils, each carrying a different modular weapons package, capable of functioning collectively as one multi-mission conventional warship.”

He points out, “Due to the inability to incorporate a modular weapons capability into the missile hydrofoil design, the squadron concept never came to fruition and the missile hydrofoil’s limited role was not in keeping with the Navy’s emphasis on multi-purpose ships that were more adaptable to the full spectrum of naval operations.”

He says, “The more appropriate question is whether or not it is possible to overcome the limitations which have, throughout history, prevented previous high-speed ship designs from successfully capitalizing on any value that speed potentially offers.”

Rudko is not the only one to raise such questions. “Persistence in the quest for speed has involved hundreds if not thousands of scientists and engineers over many decades dedicated to developing new ship and vehicle technology to give the Navy credible high-speed options,” say Dennis Clark, William Ellsworth, and John Meyer in their 2004 report for the U.S. Navy’s Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, “The Quest for Speed at Sea.”

They write of the focus after World War II, “when the U.S. Navy began to seriously consider the value of proposed concepts for planing craft, multihulls, hydrofoils, hovercraft, and hybrids,” noting, “In the period 1970 to 1983, 327 fast attack units and 1,471 patrol craft were constructed and exported worldwide. Their excellent cost-effectiveness ratio, simplicity of operation, miniaturized electronics, and relatively heavy firepower attracted the attention of many navies, particularly those operating in restricted waters. The modern planing hull now has better seakeeping characteristics with little sacrifice in calm water performance.”

In the mid-1970s, they say, “The U.S. Navy undertook an advanced planing hull research program aimed at improving seakeeping while retaining as much speed as possible and improving the lift-to-drag ratio of the hull through the mid-speed range.”

But, they say, “The aggressive and successful planning hull research program initiated in the early 1970s subsided in the late 1970s, when the U.S. Navy decided to emphasize acquisition of large combatants capable of transiting the world’s oceans. With this philosophy, problems can arise when we need to engage in limited warfare in areas where the larger ships cannot operate close to shore, or in the inner harbors or rivers.”

So the Navy pulled back from the research at the time when it really needed to step up such studies. “While many of the high-speed vehicle types described above have been in existence for many years, we have limited experience in their application in actual naval missions,” they report.

Another Carderock report from the Naval Warfare Center, the High-Speed, Small Naval Vessel Technology Development Plan, says, “It is unlikely that the full matrix of technologies will be developed... . Naval high-speed (40 to 60 knots) missions require extrapolation beyond current capabilities in critical areas such as structural loads, resistance and powering, and seakeeping.”

One program that proved, in the end, to be somewhat successful was the Cyclone-class patrol coastal (PC) ship. After essentially being dumped by the Navy -– with some of the ships going to the Coast Guard for a bit -– the vessels now are being used in a variety of missions and getting more lethal weaponry.

But the PCs are even less lethal and survivable than the LCSs. If Navy officials are going to consider those types of ships, it should look at whole new fast-ship concepts, considering different types of seacraft altogether.

“Efforts to solve the seakeeping and ride comfort problems led, in the 1960s, to the small-waterplane-area twin-hull (Swath) ship configuration,” Clark, Ellsworth and Meyer write. “Although the Swath ship is an important development with a number of desirable features, it is not currently considered a high-speed concept.”

There’s a company in Portsmouth, N.H., looking to change that. Juliet Marine Systems has developed a prototype small-attack craft based on the Swath concept that looks something like a sea-skimming F-117 called Ghost that it is touting as a “poor man’s LCS.”

The boats are certainly portable –- you can fit four of them in the well deck of an LPD 17 San Antonio Class amphibious ship.

The U.S. Navy has discussed the vessel with the company, CEO Gregory Sancoff says, but there’s been nothing official. There has, however, been international interest, he says.

“We have had many discussions about building a Corvette-sized Ghost to carry a crew and sophisticated weapons systems and missiles,” he says. “Ghost would be capable of operating in denied-access areas without detection, due to vessel design and by utilizing RAM (radar-absorbing material) coatings.”

He notes, “Ghost today can carry over 80 of Lockheed Martin’s Nemesis missiles in an enclosed weapons bay.”

The boat provides a huge advantage, he says, as missile thrust does not have to be redirected but can vertically exhaust in an effective and safe manner. “Ghost fires the missiles from an enclosed weapons bay and the thrust is directed down between the hulls, hidden from satellites and cooled by the ocean waters. The craft is ideal for missions requiring the ability to fire and sprint.”

Countries like Qatar do not need a destroyer or LCS, he says. “They need smaller tactical platforms that bring all the capabilities of LCS in a smaller package to protect their country and escort exports ships. Ghost can also carry two Mark 48 lightweight torpedoes if necessary.”

Of course, this late in the game, it appears unlikely such a novel concept has a ghost of a chance of being an LCS stand-in for the successor warship missions.
 

Triton

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" Littoral Combat Ship Will Be Modified, If Not Replaced"
August 2014
By Dan Parsons

Source:
http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2014/August/Pages/LittoralCombatShipWillBeModifiedIfNotReplaced.aspx

After authorizing construction of at least 20 littoral combat ships, the Navy may soon dramatically change course on its decade-long, multi-billion dollar experiment to build a relatively inexpensive surface combatant.

The LCS program has suffered severe criticism for being under-gunned and thin-skinned, outstripping cost estimates and experiencing performance issues on initial deployments. It has also enjoyed a dogged defense by both uniformed and civilian Navy officials.

But in April the Navy released two requests for information for technologies to improve LCS designs or replace them outright. The first asked for existing, mature design concepts for totally new ships. The second solicited systems and technologies at the component level that could be readily included in future ships.

Joe North, who heads littoral combat systems for Lockheed Martin, said, “I bet you it woke up the entire planet. I bet you every shipyard across Europe, which is very stagnant right now … was ready to react ahead of that. The Navy probably got a lot delivered.”

Lockheed is one of two incumbent producers of the LCS. It has contracts to build up to 10 of its traditional monohull Freedom-class ships to be included in a fleet with Austal USA’s futuristic triple-hulled Independence-class vessels.

A report from the small surface combatant task force, that will review industry responses was due July 31. The document will outline alternatives to the service’s ongoing littoral combat ship program, including modifying the two existing LCS designs or buying a new ship.

Because of the tight schedule, John Burrow, executive director of Marine Corps Systems Command and appointed task force director, was unavailable for comment. However, Burrow outlined the RFI process during a recorded roundtable with reporters in April.

“Why are we going out to industry? We want to collect their ideas and thoughts that they certainly have because … it will give us a better idea, I think, of what is technically feasible in the timeframes we are talking about,” he said.

“It will give our team a good idea of what the risks are and help understand the cost associated with many of the systems and concepts that are going to be provided to us,” he added.

The request for information, which has since been made public, states the Navy is “interested in market information pertinent to a future small surface combatant (including modified littoral combat ships).”

The Navy called for input from “experienced shipbuilders, ship design agents and large system integrators on how their ship design supports the roles and missions of a small surface combatant.” Proposals were to include information on whole-ship design and cost drivers of mature, commercially available technologies and vessels.

“The Navy is interested in estimated cost and schedule information for designing, building, testing and delivering the first ship and a notional class of 20 small surface combatants,” the RFI stated.

Both documents include the caveat that the government has no intention of awarding contracts based on the information provided by industry. Burrow emphasized that the process did not amount to a defacto analysis of alternatives or a competition. Neither will the task force make a decision or recommendation on how the Navy should proceed, he said. Navy leadership, including Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, will make that call.

“We’re developing capability concepts — mission and capability alternatives for a small surface combatant, combined with [concepts of operations] associated with those,” he added. “At no point in time have I or anybody on the team asserted that we were going to be able to come in and say, ‘Here’s what the ship is going to look like.’”

The task force plans to rate various proposals based on their ability to conduct the four primary missions for which LCS was originally intended: air warfare, surface warfare, undersea warfare and mine hunting. Attributes like speed, range and endurance also will be weighed, as well as the mission capabilities of each proposal, Burrow said.

A cadre of Navy officers assigned to the LCS program is leading the effort to determine mission profile concepts, Burrow said. A design team will use those concepts to recommend modifications to existing Independence- and Freedom-class ships, he said.

The Navy’s ultimate decision includes an “affordability target” that Burrow did not specify. The task force simply will tabulate the estimated cost of various technological and ship proposals and present them to Navy leadership. That information will inform deliberations on the Obama administration’s fiscal year 2016 budget, which will specify the financials for an ongoing small surface combatant program, Burrow said.

To correct deficiencies identified during deployments of both the Independence and Freedom to the Pacific, improvements are being made to the ships already sailing and their follow-on vessels. Lockheed Martin and Austal USA are each contracted for construction of up to 10 ships. The Navy had planned to purchase as many as 52 LCSs, but the fleet was trimmed in the fiscal year 2014 budget to just 32.

Both companies have submitted proposals to the task force in hopes of securing ongoing construction contracts to keep their shipyards humming and workforces intact.

Austal spokeswoman Michelle Bowden provided a statement from the company regarding the RFI.

“Austal has submitted a strong response to the Navy’s RFI on the small surface combatant,” the statement read. “Austal’s small surface combatant incorporates significant offensive and defensive capability to support higher-end missions with the existing sea frame.”

The company has offered improvements to LCS 2 that include anti-submarine towed-array sonar, torpedoes, vertically launched rockets and a “tremendous aviation capability to support the MH-60 helicopter,” Bowden said.

Other armament options for surface warfare include anti-ship missiles and a 76 mm remotely operated gun. Austal also proposed installing vertical launched surface-to-air missiles and greater radar detection range, she said.

“We are very excited to be involved in this process,” the Austal statement read. “It is a chance for the Navy and industry teams to work together to maximize the capabilities of the LCS class, but more importantly, permitting the Navy to benefit from the tremendous investment by industry and Navy team in the LCS class while leveraging mature designs and production processes.”

The ships’ relatively light armor and weak offensive and defensive capabilities have been major concerns among critics of the current LCS variants. In a report most recently updated in June, Ronald O’Rourke, a specialist in naval affairs at the Congressional Research Service, detailed the survivability deficiencies of both designs.

“While both seaframe variants are fast and highly maneuverable, they are lightly armed for ships of this size and possess no significant offensive capability without the planned [surface warfare] increment IV mission package,” O’Rourke wrote. That and other capability packages that were envisioned to be plugged into the LCS are not yet available.

“They have very modest self-defense capabilities,” he added.

North said Lockheed Martin has designs on hand for a scalable, modular ship that can accept upgraded mission capabilities including command-and-control systems, new guns and munitions and varying crew sizes to suit the Navy’s evolving needs.

The various hull lengths, ranging from 67 meters to 140 meters long were initially intended as a menu of options for international customers, North said during a media day at the company’s Arlington, Virginia, offices. The existing LCS 1 is 118 meters long.

“We did answer the mail on that … with options to upgrade the existing Freedom-class ship,” North said. “We have a lot of flexibility in the hull. We’re carrying around 100 metric tons of capability — empty space right now — for the mission packages.”

Lockheed stands by its steel hull as survivable in high-threat environments. Critics have asserted that modern anti-ship missiles would force it out to sea beyond the littorals where it is designed to operate.

“We’ve looked at the vulnerability aspect. Between the sensors we’ve got [and] the capabilities we’ve already got put into the ship, we’re very confident that all requirements today are met, but if there are additional things [Navy leaders] want to consider, we certainly have the flexibility with that hull,” North said.

The company also pitched some new technologies in its RFI response. The proposal included options for new sensors and additional firepower like the installation of launchers for AGM-114L radar-guided Longbow missiles, he said.

“The RFI is just [asking] what else can we do?” North said. “We looked at it and said … we can put more enhanced radar capability on it. We can put different guns — we’ve always been gun-agnostic.”

Adding a vertical launch system would give the ship the ability to fire several types of munitions including the evolved Sea Sparrow air defense missile, he said. The existing LCS 1 could accept between three and 30 vertical missile launchers.

The two existing LCS designs will be used as baseline for capability, performance and cost, Burrow said. The task force will then decide if the Navy’s desired capability improvements “can be incorporated into a modified LCS, or does it drive you to a new ship design?” he said.

“The good news about LCS is we have a pretty good idea of what it costs to build an LCS, and we’ve got a good idea of what it is going to cost to modify,” he said. The per-ship cost has hovered around $300 million since fiscal year 2006.

Companies that responded to the RFI insist they can accomplish the LCS missions for far less. Juliet Marine Systems CEO Greg Sancoff said the company’s Ghost stealth patrol boat could outperform both existing ships for just $10 million a copy.

“We have been called, by some smaller countries, a poor-man’s LCS,” Sancoff said. “It is really designed to be a fighting vessel, like a jet aircraft on the water. It is all fuel, all engines, all payload.”

The Ghost’s gyro-stabilized dual-pontoon, supercavitating hull design allows the vessel to run at top speed through 10-foot seas and fire precision weapons, Sancoff said. It can also perform mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare and other missions LCS was designed to handle. Each can be armed with up to 90 Nemesis missiles, a 20 mm Gatling gun, two towed arrays and four torpedoes. The current version is designed for fleet protection with a crew of between three and five sailors. Plans are in the works to build a corvette-sized Ghost of 150 feet or more that would cost around $50 million per vessel, Sancoff said.

“Ghost can be utilized almost immediately for conducting the same missions as LCS,” he said. The company is offering its craft to international customers including Bahrain, Qatar, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Japan that have near-shore national security interests. For those nations that have little need for a blue-water navy, the small, affordable craft can be bought in large numbers to perform maritime border patrol and defense, he said.

Sancoff said the U.S. Navy is slow to adopt smaller craft for inshore operations because senior leaders lust after large-hulled oceangoing vessels. That is driving the ongoing commitment to LCS, despite its initial shortcomings and high cost, he said.

“As you know, the Navy likes big ships,” Sancoff said. “Admirals want to stand on bridges of big ships. That’s why we have LCS. Our country has not readily adapted to new technologies in hydrodynamics.”

Burrow said the task force considered whole-ship designs that are in production and mature designs with a “high degree of fidelity.”

“These things are ideas and concepts that industry should already have,” he said. “We’re looking at everything.”
 

Triton

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No Report Expected Just Yet on LCS Alternative
Jul. 30, 2014 - 05:59PM |
By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS

Source:
http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140730/DEFREG02/307300026/No-Report-Expected-Just-Yet-LCS-Alternative

WASHINGTON — For those of you with July 31 marked on your calendars as a red-letter day in the US Navy’s Small Surface Combatant (SSC) program — hold that thought.

It appears the Navy is not yet prepared to begin talking about what’s next for the SSC — the alternative to the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) that may or may not look something like what’s already being produced.

By order of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, a special SSC task force was convened earlier this year to examine the LCS program and recommend potential ways ahead — whether to pick one of the two existing designs now in production, modify either of those designs to a more powerful, “up-gunned” variant, or to consider an entirely different design.

The deadline to submit a report is Thursday, but Pentagon sources are saying not all senior Navy officials have yet been briefed on the task force’s findings, and the Navy is not commenting for the record.

“It’s still an internal process that will be part of our 2016 budget deliberations,” is all Cmdr. Thurraya Kent, spokesperson for the Navy’s acquisition directorate, would say Wednesday.

Even after top Navy officials sign off on the recommendations, they still have to be reviewed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and presented to Hagel, who has directed that decisions involving the future of the program be incorporated into the 2016 budget submission.

John Burrow, the senior executive service official heading the task force, spoke to reporters April 30 about what to expect from the group’s efforts.

“My job is to give design alternatives that include design concepts or capability concepts, design alternatives, cost and performance,” he said during a media roundtable at the Pentagon. “I want to make sure everybody understands, I’m not coming in at the end of the day to say here’s your ship design and here’s your point design and this is what we want to do. That’s not what we’re doing.

“What we are going to do is present a few capability concepts, and with those capability concepts we’ll be able to talk specifically about here’s what it means for an LCS Independence mod, here’s what it will mean for LCS Freedom mod, here’s what it will mean from a new ship design. Here’s the technical feasibility and risk associated with it, and here’s what we think the costs are.

“At the end of this game I’m not going to come in and say here’s your ship and here’s your justification for your ship,” Burrow said April 30. “What I am going to come in and do and say is, if these are the missions and capabilities that are of value for a small surface combatant, then here’s what the design and costs associated with those are. And then that will feed the 2016 deliberations.

“What we are doing is coming up and saying for these capabilities and missions — which will be a set of several, three, four, maybe even five — this is what is feasible and not feasible. Then our leadership will make the decision on one, is this capability that we need? If it’s not, then they’ll decide to do something else. If it is a capability that we need, then here’s the next step that we need to take to pursue that.”

It is not clear whether Navy or Pentagon officials have a plan to talk about the report in public.
 

Triton

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"Navy Won’t Discuss LCS Follow-on Taskforce Results Until Next Budget"
By: Sam LaGrone
August 1, 2014 1:00 PM

Source:
http://news.usni.org/2014/08/01/navy-wont-discuss-lcs-follow-taskforce-results-next-budget

The results of the Navy taskforce for a follow-up hull to the Littoral Combat Ship are in, but the service will remain mum on the findings until they’re integrated into next year’s budget, the service said on Thursday.

Instead of speaking to what the Small Surface Combatant Task Force found in their four month study, the service will use the findings to inform the multitude of Department of Navy offices in selecting a ship that will supersede the two variants LCS as the service’s next small service combatant.

“Because the task force alternatives will be considered as part of Fiscal Year 2016 budget deliberations, the Navy will not comment publically on the report’s findings until budget decisions within DoD are finalized,” read a statement from, Sean Stackley, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development & Acquisition (RDA), the Navy’s chief shipbuilder.

A Navy official told USNI News that the service could address some of the process the task force used to reach its conclusion but not the results.

The Navy was mandated in February by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to, “submit alternative proposals to procure a capable and lethal small surface combatant, consistent with the capabilities of a frigate.”

Under the mandate, the Small Surface Combatant Task Force evaluated:

A modified design of an existing LCS.
Existing ship designs.
A new ship design.

The task force also examined ships systems and were provided a cost target for the new effort.

The product of the study wasn’t designed to select a final hull design, but rather survey a range of options evaluating capability and cost for the future small surface combatant, USNI News understands.

The current Flight 0 LCS program — built evenly between Lockheed Martin’s Freedom-class and Austal USA’s Independence class- will be capped at 32 hulls but the Navy will eventually buy a total of 52 ships at roughly the same size.

Given the current strain on the Navy’s shipbuilding budget, an entirely new ship design for the LCS follow-on maybe outside the range of affordability and a variant of one of the two existing LCS hulls maybe the Navy’s most cost effective option.
 

Triton

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"Navy Ready for Briefing on Small Surface Combatant, SecDef Not
Marines: Base New Amphib on LPD 17 Design"
Oct. 2, 2014 - 03:45AM |
By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS

Source:
http://www.defensenews.com/article/20141002/DEFREG02/310020034/Navy-Ready-Briefing-Small-Surface-Combatant-SecDef-Not

WASHINGTON — After months of preparation, the US Navy was set Thursday morning to brief Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on its recommendations for a new Small Surface Combatant (SSC), and a delegation led by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus waited to make a personal presentation.

“Everything’s ready to go,” one source said of the Navy’s presentation.

But the SecDef never appeared. According to several Pentagon sources, he was delayed by a prior engagement, and the briefing is waiting to be re-scheduled — no easy task, given the hectic schedules of many of the principles.

The results of an SSC Task Force charged with coming up with a more heavily-armed warship to succeed the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) have been one of the more eagerly-awaited secrets in naval circles this year. Those in the know have been exceptionally tight-lipped, and those outside the loop hope that with the Hagel briefing completed — and the recommendations approved — the Navy will be forthcoming about where its small surface warship programs are headed.

Decisions on the SSC need to be made soon — in time, Hagel has directed, “to inform” the 2016 budget, due to be sent to Congress in February.

Meanwhile, a decision on another shipbuilding program could also be close to finalization. The Navy and Marine Corps have promised to decide whether the next amphibious ship design, dubbed LX(R), will be based on existing LPD 17 San Antonio-class ships or developed from other designs. The Navy isn’t planning to award a contract for the ships until 2020, but industry needs to know soon to begin work on competitive designs.

Pentagon sources said Gen. James Amos, Marine Corps commandant, in a recent letter to Mabus, is recommending the new ship be based on the LPD 17 hull form.

To keep the production line hot and costs down, Amos also reportedly recommends buying LPD 28, the yet-to-be-named 12th ship in the San Antonio class, a ship the Navy has not requested but three of four key congressional committees support buying. Congress so far has provided partial funding, but the Navy is declining to order the ship until full funding is available.

Plans call for the Navy to buy 11 LX(R)s, each costing about a third of the price of an LPD 17.

This summer, Sean Stackley, the Navy’s top acquisition official, told Congress the service had completed an LX(R) analysis of alternatives study.

“Affordability will be a key focus for this ship class,” Stackley told the House Seapower subcommittee on July 25. “Industry will be involved in identifying cost drivers and proposing cost reduction initiatives to drive affordability into the design, production, operation, and maintenance of this ship class.”

The choices for the LX(R) design, he said, were for a modified LPD 17 derivative, a foreign design, or an entirely new, clean sheet design.

Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding, builders of San Antonio class, has developed variants of the LPD 17 that it calls Flight II. Those designs strip off significant portions of the LPD 17’s superstructure, replacing many features of the ship with lower-cost alternatives, but keeping the basic hull form and machinery spaces, along with its large flight deck.
 

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http://defense-update.com/20140824_super_ghost.html

Plans are to build a corvette-sized 46 meter (150 ft) ‘super Ghost’ at a cost of about $50 million per vessel – six times cheaper than the $300 million per-ship cost of a current Freedom-class and Independence-class littoral combat ship. Such a vessel could operate with LCS or with other oceangoing naval vessels, providing a more affordable, agile and survivable naval strike forces.
 

Triton

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Grey Havoc said:
http://defense-update.com/20140824_super_ghost.html

Plans are to build a corvette-sized 46 meter (150 ft) ‘super Ghost’ at a cost of about $50 million per vessel – six times cheaper than the $300 million per-ship cost of a current Freedom-class and Independence-class littoral combat ship. Such a vessel could operate with LCS or with other oceangoing naval vessels, providing a more affordable, agile and survivable naval strike forces.
That would be the plan of Juliet Marine Systems, the article makes it seem as though the United States Navy has plans to acquire the "super Ghost."
 

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Re: Small Surface Combatantooooooooooooooooooooppoooooop Force oppo

Triton said:
"Lockheed Outlines Post Littoral Combat Ship Pitch
By: Sam LaGrone
Published: June 10, 2014 5:42 PM
Updated: June 10, 2014 6:08 PM

Source:
http://news.usni.org/2014/06/10/8077

Lockheed Martin outlined the range of options they presented to the Navy as part of the Pentagon mandated study into a follow-on ship to the Flight 0 Littoral Combat Ships in a media briefing on Monday.

Lockheed — as part two April requests for information (RFI) from the Small Surface Combatant Task Force — submitted a variety of options based on their current Freedom-class (LCS-1) design.

Joe North, vice president of Littoral Ship Systems for Lockheed, emphasized the sea frame ability to accommodate increasingly sophisticated radars and weapons systems within the constraints of the basic design.

“We have a lot of flexibility in the hull. If you remember, we’re carrying around 180 metric tons of capability, empty space right now, for the mission packages, so depending on what they’re looking at we have a lot of capability in the hull from a naval architecture standpoint,” North told reporters on Monday.
“From a performance standpoint, we can add to the ship and make [systems] permanent or if you want to look at separate packages.”

Part of those options include a much more robust anti-air warfare (AAW) capability with permanent vertical launch system (VLS) cells capable of holding anti-air missiles and much more capable radar.

“[Increased] radar capability is everything from solid-state more capable rotators to a high end capability —the hull allows that,” North said.

As part of its international offering for ships based on the Freedom hull, Lockheed has offered a SPY-1F air defense radar — an 8 foot diameter version of the radar on U.S. destroyers sized for frigates.

An upgunned Freedom — at its current length of 118 meters — could also include 4 to 32 VLS cells. Each cell would be capable of fielding four Raytheon RIM-162D Evolved SeaSparrow Missiles (ESSM), North said.

“[VLS] is a modular package in itself because it gives [the ship] the capability to launch several types of missiles including ESSM, which is one of the things they’ll absolutely come back and look for to give the ship some more self protection… as a permanent installation,” he said.

Critics of the current Freedom and Austal USA’s Independence classes of ships have zeroed in on a perceived lack of offensive capability for the two ships.

Austal and Lockheed have developed preliminary designs of their ships with VLS for international sale.

In remarks earlier this year, then acting deputy defense Christine Fox implied the current LCS variants were “niche” platforms and the Navy needed tougher ship.

“We need more ships with the protection and firepower to survive against a more advanced military adversary,” Fox said in February, just ahead of a Pentagon announcement forcing the Navy to take a second look at the LCS program.

As part of the coversheet for its response to the Navy’s RFI, Lockheed included a Freedom variant with a quad cell VLS firing what appear to be Raytheon Standard Missile (SM) 2.

In the surface-to-surface realm, North said the ship could accommodate either the current BAE Systems Mk 110 57 mm gun or a larger Mark 45 five-inch gun. The range of offerings did also factor in Naval Sea Systems Command decision to integrate the Longbow Hellfire AGM-114L for the fast attack craft/ fast inshore attack (FAC/FIAC) threat.

The Flight 0 Freedom and Independence LCS will be manned by 90 sailors for surface warfare (SuW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and mine countermeasure (MCM) missions by a series of mission packages that can be swapped out of the ship depending on the circumstances.

The Navy’s original plan was to build 52 LCS but cut the Flight 0 program at 32 — a reduction of 20 ships as part of the current reexamination of the LCS begun in February under mandate from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

The RFIs were part of the work of the Small Surface Combatant Task Force tasked to evaluate other options beyond Flight 0 LCS. The group was mandated to examine: A modified design of an existing LCS, existing ship designs and a new ship design.

“The RFI will ask for pretty specific information that will give us insight to the ship integration requirement, the performance, what are the primary, second and third order costs associated with [concepts],” John Burrow, executive director of the Marine Corps Systems Command and current head of the Small Surface Combatant Task Force told reporters in April.
“It’s a fairly detailed list of information that we’re looking for.”

The task force is due to submit their findings by the end of July.

Given tightening Pentagon budgets, an entirely new ship design is unlikely, however North speculated that several European yards have likely submitted information for the RFIs.

“I can imagine every shipyard across Europe — which is very stagnant and a lot of them have designs — [submitted a packet],” North said.
“I bet you woke up the entire planet.”
An artist's conception for two variants of the Freedom-class LCS design provided to USNI News. Lockheed Martin Image
 

Triton

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"US Combat Ship Decision Coming in 'Very Near Future'"
Nov. 7, 2014 - 03:45AM |
By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS

Source:
http://www.defensenews.com/article/20141107/DEFREG02/311070021/US-Combat-Ship-Decision-Coming-Very-Near-Future-

WASHINGTON — Senior US Navy leaders have made their final presentations to the Pentagon’s top leadership on their choice for a small surface combatant (SSC), and a decision by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on what sort of ship to build after the littoral combat ship (LCS) could come soon.

“The secretary took another meeting by Navy leaders during the last week of October,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said Friday. “The purpose of the meeting was to review the Navy’s recommendation for the way forward. The secretary expressed his gratitude for the hard work and analysis that went into forming that recommendation and assured Navy leadership that he would be rendering a decision in the very near future.”

Asked to confirm if Hagel now had all the information he needed to render a decision, Kirby added, “we do not anticipate that he requires more at this point.”

The future course of the LCS program has been in doubt since February, when Hagel directed the Navy to develop a more heavily armed warship — the SSC — to succeed the politically troubled LCS. A decision on the form of the SSC is to be made, Hagel directed, in time “to inform” the 2016 budget submission, due to be sent to Congress in February 2015.

The Navy presented its initial findings to Hagel on Oct. 6 in a meeting attended by Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work; Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics; and Jamie Morin, the director of cost assessment and program evaluation.

Unusually, Director of Operational Test and Evaluation Michael Gilmore also was in attendance. Gilmore has long been a critic of the LCS program, particularly regarding survivability issues, and has heavily influenced Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., expected to chair the Senate Armed Services Committee when the new Congress is seated.

Meanwhile, the LCS program itself is moving forward. The Fort Worth is to leave San Diego later this month to begin a 16-month Western Pacific deployment — the second such LCS cruise. The Freedom-class LCS Detroit, of the Lockheed Martin variant, was launched Oct. 18, and another ship, the Independence-class Montgomery, will be christened Saturday at Austal USA.

The Navy expects to double the number of ships in service during 2015 when four more ships are delivered, bringing the active total to eight.

Twenty-four LCSs are either in service, under construction or on contract. Another eight ships are expected to be ordered based on existing designs. The switchover to the SSC, Hagel has directed, is to begin no later than the 33rd ship to be ordered.

It’s expected the Navy will call the ships something other than LCSs or SSCs — perhaps light frigates or corvettes.
 

Triton

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Model of Lockheed Martin Small Surface Combatant (SSC) concept, also known as Surface Combat Ship (SCS), based on the Freedom-class LCS.

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20141107/DEFREG02/311070021/US-Combat-Ship-Decision-Coming-Very-Near-Future-
 

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bobbymike

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Triton said:
Lockheed Martin Surface Combat Ship (SCS) brochure.
Interesting looks like it packs a pretty good offensive and defensive punch.
 

Triton

Donald McKelvy
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Haven't seen anything from General Dynamics/Austal USA concerning the Small Surface Combatant Task Force. Are they pitching the Multi-Mission Combatant configuration of the Independence-class?
 

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Triton

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I stand corrected:

"Navy begins weighing future of littoral combat ship; or whether to replace it"

by Michael Finch II | mfinch@al.com By Michael Finch II | mfinch@al.com
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on August 01, 2014 at 12:42 PM, updated August 01, 2014 at 2:06 PM

MOBILE, Alabama -- It's judgment day for the littoral combat ship.

The July 31 deadline has passed for a task force of U.S. Navy officials to collect information for a new or improved small surface combatant. In a released statement the Navy said it will begin reviewing the preliminary findings that will decide the future of the littoral combat ship, or whether to replace it.

"Because the task force alternatives will be considered as part of (the fiscal year 2016 budget) deliberations, the Navy will not comment publicly on the report's findings until budget decisions within the defense department are finalized," said Sean J. Stackley, assistant Navy secretary for research, development and acquisition.

The Navy requested information in April from defense contractors and shipbuilders, casting a much wider net outside the two incumbent prime contractors: Austal USA and Lockheed Martin.

Austal's shipyard in Mobile builds the Independence class littoral combat ship, an aluminum trimaran that's 419-foot-long. The Marinette, Wis.-based shipbuilder Marinette Marine constructs the Freedom class version, a 388-foot-long steel monohull.

In response to the Navy's request Austal submitted ideas to improve each of the ship's three mission packages:

Anti-Submarine Warfare: Towed array sonar, torpedoes, vertically launched anti-submarine rocket and a tremendous aviation capability to support the MH-60 helicopter.

Surface Warfare: Surface to surface missile system, 76mm gun and remotely-operated smaller caliber guns.

Air Warfare: A vertically launched surface to air missile, C2 (command and control) capability for a much greater radar detection range to detect and respond to threats at a greater range.

"Austal has submitted a strong response to the Navy's RFI on the Small Surface Combatant," the company said in a released statement. "Austal's Small Surface Combatant incorporates significant offensive and defensive capability to support higher end missions with the existing sea frame."

The program was designed to foster competition between the two companies, allowing the Navy to reap the benefit of increased efficiency. But the littoral combat ship has been chided for its high cost, lacking firepower and performance issues while deployed abroad.

Mounting concerns prompted defense secretary Chuck Hagel to stop buying any more of the ships until the issues were addressed. Not long after his announcement the small surface combatant task force was formed to reassess the future of the program.

The task force will tailor the new or modified vessel with the Navy's future needs to deal with emerging threats in East Asia. Hagel said in February that he wanted a "capable and lethal small surface combatant generally consistent with the capabilities of a frigate."

In the meantime, two reports from the U.S. Government Accountability Office were released, blasting the LCS program for the weight management issues, testing and uncertainties about cost.
 

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Triton

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Model of Independence-class LCS armed with 18 Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM) anti-ship missiles. Kongsberg proposal?

Source:
http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?237160-Navy-Adds-Hellfire-Missiles-to-LCS/page4
 

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Triton

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Model of Freedom-class LCS armed with 12 Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM) anti-ship missiles. Kongsberg proposal?


Source:
http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?237160-Navy-Adds-Hellfire-Missiles-to-LCS/page4
 

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TomS

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Yes, both of those models came from Kongsberg at Sea-Air-Space 2014. They reflect ways to up-arm the existing LCS surface warfare packages, not proposals for the Small Surface Combatant.
 

bobbymike

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Looks like SSC with be 'uparmed' LCS I'm kind of disappointed was looking for a new and larger 'frigate'

http://breakingdefense.com/2014/12/lcs-lives-hagel-approves-bigger-gunned-upgrade/
 

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I don't think anyone seriously should have expected a new hull design out of SSC. I'm a bit surprised they still aren't fitting VLS of any sort, though. That is going to keep LCS from carrying antiaircraft missiles other than RAM. I hope RAM Block 2 is really, really good.

It's also really odd that at least some of these ships will apparently have both 25mm guns AND 30mm guns (the 25mm being permanent and the 30mm being part of the ASuW mission equipment.)

The slides describing the two fits are here:

http://news.usni.org/2014/12/11/gunned-lcs-hulls-picked-navys-next-small-surface-combatant

Edit: Images attached for posterity.
 

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sferrin

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TomS said:
I don't think anyone seriously should have expected a new hull design out of SSC. I'm a bit surprised they still aren't fitting VLS of any sort, though. That is going to keep LCS from carrying antiaircraft missiles other than RAM. I hope RAM Block 2 is really, really good.
It could be really, really good but if you only have 8 of them on hand (if that) that's a problem. I'd like to know why they couldn't put an 8-cell, SD length Mk41 with 32 ESSMs on board. Seems like that would be a no-brainer.
 

TomS

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sferrin said:
It could be really, really good but if you only have 8 of them on hand (if that) that's a problem. I'd like to know why they couldn't put an 8-cell, SD length Mk41 with 32 ESSMs on board. Seems like that would be a no-brainer.
The issue probably isn't the VLS istelf but fire control and the associated combat direction system. Adding 3-D radar is a start, but adding illuminators and the necessary processing and control consoles in the CIC would mean a bunch more complexity (cost) and manning (also cost). I'm sure that's what drove the omission. It just strikes me as incredibly "penny wise, pound foolish."
 

sferrin

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TomS said:
It just strikes me as incredibly "penny wise, pound foolish."
Especially given the cost of the ships.
 

Triton

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I am still left wondering if the Navy would have been better off going with one of the Huntington Ingalls Patrol Frigate concepts instead of upgrading the LCS into a frigate. I agree with you gentleman that the plan does seem penny wise, and pound foolish.
 

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Maybe just triggered by wish to get it through the debates in the senate easier ?
So it's "just an upgrade", sounding better than "a completely new ship".
From what I've read about US Navy history, those tactics have really a long tradition there...
 

sferrin

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Jemiba said:
Maybe just triggered by wish to get it through the debates in the senate easier ?
So it's "just an upgrade", sounding better than "a completely new ship".
From what I've read about US Navy history, those tactics have really a long tradition there...
F/A-18C -> F/A-18E
 

Jemiba

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sferrin said:
F/A-18C -> F/A-18E
Ah, yes, although I had more in mind the monitors of the Amphitrite class back in the 1870s ...
As said, it's a long tradition, but, if at all, the "upgraded" LCS hopefully won't take as long, as
the mentioned warships !
 

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Not just Congress, the whole procurement process.

If they had decided to pursue a new hullform, they'd have had to compete the entire process, which would delay any procurement by several years. They coudn't just pick the Ingalls frigate, they'd have to solicit alternative designs, give the various contenders time to complete them, and then take time to evaluate them in detail. By simply "updating" an in-production design, they don't need to compete anything and can transition directly into the new version. But that probably also contributes to the limited nature of the upgrades -- something extreme like adding SPY-1F would probably have triggered expensive and time-consuming competition as well.

I am hoping that a good deal of the upgrade can be applied retroactively to at least some of the current LCS hulls. It looks like the OTH antiship missile (probably NSM) can be done, as can the Hellfire fit. The harder stuff is the ECM and sensor fit. The armor and signature mods seem likely to be very hard to backfit.

I suspect that what we'll see eventually is the demise of the mission kits and various flights of LCS being permaently roled for specific missions like MCM.
 

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It seems to me that you could get a half-way decent ASW frigate out of the LCS-2 platform, though it would involve pouring in a bunch more money.


Replace the 57mm with a 76mm SR


Add a 32 cell VLS w/ mixed ESSM, Whatever you replace Harpoon with, and ASROC.


From the proposal, the towed sonar array, the 25mm bushmasters.


Sensors to run all of the above.


Some nod towards increased survivability.
 

TomS

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It's not clear that there's really much choice between the 76mm and 57mm guns. They end up with similar throw weights and effectiveness thanks to the difference in ROF. No need to spend the money to swap them out.

A block of 32 VLS cells is probably too big for the LCS forward mission module bays. More likely is around 16 cells (enough for 32 ESSM and 8 VLA). The shorter tactical-length version would be great, though I don't think they are fully type-qualified for the USN (another cost). Then add separate tubes for a few anti-ship missiles, most likely NSM. There is a long-term plan for a really long-range AShM that will be VLS-compatible (likely with the strike-length version), but it's not ready yet and isn't really necessary for LCS. NSM is basically off-the-shelf and I believe has some USN investment already (or maybe that's just Penguin?), so it might not need to be competed.
 

bobbymike

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more pictures

http://intercepts.defensenews.com/2014/12/a-closer-look-at-the-modified-lcs/
 
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