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Small Surface Combatant Task Force concepts

gtg947h

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Translation: The swappable/reconfigurable mission module concept didn't work, so future ships will be built for dedicated missions.

The article's author somehow turned that into "the Navy admitted everything about the ships is a total failure".

Random LCS question:

Does anyone know the median age and naval architecture experience level of the design teams?
 

bobbymike

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https://news.usni.org/2016/09/13/lcs-ddg-1000-lessons-learned-will-shape-future-surface-combatant-design
 

Triton

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"SAS 2017: Austal Unveils Updated LCS Frigate Design with 16x Anti-Ship Missiles"
Published: Wednesday, 05 April 2017 03:45

Source:
http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/news/naval-exhibitions/2017/sea-air-space-2017-show-daily-news/5068-sas-2017-austal-unveils-updated-lcs-frigate-design-with-16x-anti-ship-missiles.html

At the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space 2017 exposition currently held near Washington D.C., Austal USA rolled out an updated LCS Frigate design called the "Austal Frigate". The main modifications consist in a slightly shortened flight deck in order to fit anti-ship missile launchers and a variable depth sonar in order to add capabilities to the ship's aft.

According to Austal USA, the Austal Frigate possesses increased lethality and high-speed shallow draft multi-mission combatant capabilities on a seaframe nearly identical to the Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship. This ship's ability to meet and exceed current US Navy requirements makes it one of the most cost-effective, maneuverable and flexible ships in the fleet.

Thanks to the extra space at the stern, there are now 8x over the horizon (OTH) anti-ship missiles in additition to the 8x launchers fitted forward, for a total of 16x anti-ship missiles. An Austal representative explained to Navy Recognition that the increased number of missiles exceeds the minimum requirement expressed by the US Navy, but is in line with the distributed lethality concept and doesn't need additional development.

The new stern space is also fitted with a variable depth sonar and its handling system as well as a towed array.

Austal Frigate specifications:
Length: 419 ft
Beam: 104 ft
Draft: 15 ft
Full load displacement: Approx. 3,500 Tons
Speed: More than 32 knots
Range: More than 4,300 nm @ 12 kts
Berthing: 130
Mission bay size: 7,000 square ft
Watercraft operations: 2x 7 meters RHIBS. Launch and recovery up to sea state 3
Flight operations: 1x H-60, up to sea state 5
Hangar:1x H-60 and 1x MQ-8C
Sensors: 3D search radar, 2x navigation radars, EO/IR fire control optics, variable depth sonar, multi-function towed array, electronic surveillance
Processing systems: COMBATSS 21 CMS, AN/SQQ-89 undersea warfare system, integrated bridge control system, automated machinery and damage control systems
Armament: SeaRAM, Mk110 57mm gun, 6x .50 cal guns, NULKA, 16x OTH missiles, 2x 25/30mm cannons, Helllfire AGM-114 missiles, torpedo countermeasures, 2x Mk41 launchers
Propulsion: 2x GE LM2500 gas turbines, 2x MTU 20V8000 diesel engines, 4x Wartsila steerabe, reversing waterjets.
 

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Those foredeck .50 caliber mounts seem like a terrible place to be standing when stuff starts happening.
 

sferrin

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TomS said:
Those foredeck .50 caliber mounts seem like a terrible place to be standing when stuff starts happening.
I see enough cells for 64 ESSMs but no radar to find them targets or guide them. ???
 

TomS

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sferrin said:
TomS said:
Those foredeck .50 caliber mounts seem like a terrible place to be standing when stuff starts happening.
I see enough cells for 64 ESSMs but no radar to find them targets or guide them. ???
The CEROS 200 over the bridge presumably has a CW channel. And I think that cone under the tripod mast is Sea Giraffe for target indication.
 

Triton

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"Uncharted waters: US Navy still searching for path to a bigger fleet"
by Christopher P. Cavas, April 3, 2017

Source:
http://www.defensenews.com/articles/uncharted-waters-us-navy-still-searching-for-path-to-a-bigger-fleet

... By far the greatest shipbuilding controversy has centered on the small surface combatant, where OSD and the Navy – particularly Mabus – butted heads for several years on the program’s future. Prior defense secretaries Chuck Hagel and Carter sought in succession to end LCS procurement, move to frigate variants of each of the two designs in production, or move to a single frigate variant. Starting in January 2014, when Hagel first ordered the frigate to be developed, the LCS and frigate programs have gone through virtually annual changes to accommodate new directives.

Officially, the Navy plans to end LCS procurement and choose a single frigate design in 2019 – and there is pressure from OSD, the Navy and Congress to move that forward to 2018. Both industry teams, Lockheed Martin and Austal USA, long have been working to anticipate the Navy’s frigate design requirements — even as those requirements have fluctuated — and the service has been funding research and development work. But a formal request for proposal (RFP) for the frigate is scheduled for September, and the responses are unlikely to be delivered much before the end of calendar year 2018.

But the cumulative effect of the nearly constant changes in direction have set the program back more than is publicly acknowledged, a number of sources said. For example, if both frigate designs are going to be built, a high degree of commonality needs to exist between the two. If only one design is chosen, commonality is not as important, simplifying each team’s task. The current direction is for a down-select to a single design.

The simple truth is a down-select is highly unlikely. The primary drivers for continuing to build both variants are 1) political pressure in Congress, where there will certainly be strong opposition from whichever builder is left out of a single-source frigate program, and 2) any move to eliminate one of the shipyards would cut in half frigate shipbuilding production, imposing a significant setback in the larger move to grow the fleet — a retrograde move unlikely to find favor on the Hill or in the White House.

The frigate program itself is in some jeopardy. There is virtually no chance the ship could happen in 2018, and the annual change in executive management’s requirements have made 2019 problematic. More likely, 2020 is a more realistic goal — or even later, giving the new Pentagon leadership more time to evaluate the situation and decide if the project is what is wanted.

The Navy can’t even define — really — what it wants in a new small surface combatant. While it has responded to the need to justify OSD’s directives, there has been no gap analysis performed for a new frigate — a comprehensive look at what capability gap exists, followed by an analysis of alternatives on how to fill that gap. There is no shortage of opinion regarding smaller combatants to be built, but reality is that, aside from the LCS-derived frigate, any other design, including adapting an existing foreign ship, would take many years to develop and cost far more.

The irony is that the Navy’s best choice to expand its fleet sooner rather than later is to continue building the ships so many opponents want to dump — rightly or wrongly.

The issue will become how soon the establishment faces up to that reality and puts solid, consistent effort into making the ships as effective as possible.
 

sferrin

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TomS said:
sferrin said:
TomS said:
Those foredeck .50 caliber mounts seem like a terrible place to be standing when stuff starts happening.
I see enough cells for 64 ESSMs but no radar to find them targets or guide them. ???
The CEROS 200 over the bridge presumably has a CW channel. And I think that cone under the tripod mast is Sea Giraffe for target indication.
Hopefully a whole lot more than one channel. :eek:
 

Triton

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Politics aside, is a frigate design based on the Legend-class cutter, such as the Huntington Ingalls FF4923 proposal, better than turning the Independence-class and Freedom-class LCS into frigates?
 

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sferrin said:
TomS said:
The CEROS 200 over the bridge presumably has a CW channel. And I think that cone under the tripod mast is Sea Giraffe for target indication.
Hopefully a whole lot more than one channel. :eek:
Any way you slice it, this is a minimal capability. Unless they shell out for something like CEAFAR/CEAMOUNT, it's going to be very crude by modern standards.
 

sferrin

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TomS said:
sferrin said:
TomS said:
The CEROS 200 over the bridge presumably has a CW channel. And I think that cone under the tripod mast is Sea Giraffe for target indication.
Hopefully a whole lot more than one channel. :eek:
Any way you slice it, this is a minimal capability. Unless they shell out for something like CEAFAR/CEAMOUNT, it's going to be very crude by modern standards.
Yeesh. For the kind of coin these things will cost you'd think you'd want to be able to have at least four rounds in the air at once. Even TOR can do that.
 

Triton

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"McCain Pledges Hearings on Navy Frigate Program, Wants to Consider More Designs"
By: Sam LaGrone and Megan Eckstein
February 28, 2017 6:00 PM • Updated: February 28, 2017 7:29 PM

Source:
https://news.usni.org/2017/02/28/mccain-pledges-hold-hearings-navy-frigate-program-wants-expand-designs-consideration

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) plans to hold hearings on the Navy’s frigate program amidst calls to open the competition to more domestic and foreign designs.

McCain – a constant critic of the Littoral Combat Ship, which serves as the basis for the Navy’s frigate plans – told reporters on Tuesday that hearings before the Senate Armed Services seapower subcommittee would seek to reexamine the entire frigate program.

“The frigate acquisition strategy should be revised to increase requirements to include convoy air defense, greater missile capability and longer endurance,” he said at an event outlining the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments’ recent U.S. Navy fleet architecture study, reported Inside the Navy.
“When you look at some of the renewed capabilities, naval capabilities, that both the Russians and the Chinese have, it requires more capable weapon systems.”

A committee staffer confirmed to USNI News on Tuesday the LCS program and the Navy’s plan for a frigate would be major topics of the seapower subcommittee’s hearings in the spring.

Current Plans

At the moment the Navy is set to downselect to an up-gunned version of either the Lockheed Martin Freedom-class or the Austal USA Independence-class and is set to keep a brisk schedule to keep work progressing the yard set to build the frigate.

The LCS program office said earlier this year, and others confirmed recently, that the Navy should release a draft request for proposals for the frigate in March or April, with the full RFP coming out at the end of this year or early next year. That would put the service on track to decide on a single builder – or to change course and award contracts to both, if the new administration decides to support the frigate program and increase its funding as part of the fleet buildup – in late Fiscal Year 2018 or early 2019. When then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter curtailed the frigate program in a December 2015 memo, he mandated that a downselect take place by FY 2019.

However, in a pair of December hearings at the House and Senate armed services committees, Government Accountability Office employees warned lawmakers to slow down the frigate acquisition timeline.

In the Dec. 1 Senate hearing, GAO Managing Director of Acquisition And Sourcing Management Paul Francis told lawmakers that, if they allowed the Navy to move from LCS into a 12-frigate block-buy contract, they would abdicate any oversight opportunities they might want to have.
“[The frigate program] is not going to have milestone decisions. It’s not going to be a separate program. There won’t be a Milestone B. You’re not going to have Nunn-McCurdy protections for the frigate itself. You won’t have a selected acquisition report for the frigate itself. And some of the key performance parameters, as they relate to the mission modules, have been downgraded to key system attributes, which means the Navy and not the [Joint Requirements Oversight Council] will make decisions on what is acceptable,” he warned the lawmakers.

“So let me wrap up by saying, the ball’s not in your court. In a few months you’ll be asked to approve the FY18 budget submit, which will, if current plans hold, include approval for a block buy of 12 frigates. In my mind, you’re going to be rushed again, you’re going to be asked for upfront approval for something where the design isn’t done, we don’t have independent cost estimates, the risks are not well understood.”

After Francis’ comments, McCain retorted “this idea of a block buy before it’s a mature system is absolutely insane.”
A week later, GAO Director of Acquisition and Sourcing Management Michele Mackin told lawmakers that frigate cost was unknown and risk too high, and that the Navy did not need to rush into the program because both LCS builders had a backlog of work – a statement the Navy strongly pushed back against.

“Our work has shown that both LCS shipyards are running quite a bit behind in delivering ships already under contract. Backlogs are many months long and up to a year or more in some cases. So the bottom line here is that both shipyards will be building LCSs for years to come, at least into 2021 at this point. So there’s no schedule imperative to add frigates to the pipeline right now,” she said.

“There’s an opportunity here to not repeat the mistakes of the past. Continued concerns about the capability of LCS, testing that’s years away from being complete, unknowns about the frigate and production backlogs at the shipyards are all factors that need to be taken into account. This potentially $9-billion investment can wait until more is known about what the taxpayers are being asked to fund.”

After that hearing, Sean Stackley – who served as the Navy’s acquisition chief and is now acting secretary – told USNI News that the Navy had a tight timeline to stay on if it wanted either LCS builder, Lockheed Martin or Austal USA, to remain a viable option to build the frigate.
“If the shipyard doesn’t have a backlog, it’s out of business,” Stackley told USNI News right after the hearing, adding that the GAO report’s language about shipyard backlogs shows “a misunderstanding of serial production.”

“Her comment in terms of the timeframe is that when you award the last ships in 2017 … you still have work to take you to the 2020, 2021 timeframe. Well that’s true, because you’re going to order material and then you’re going to build the ship,” he said.
“What that means is, the day you award that last ship, you’re going to start laying people off, and you’re going to lay them off until they’re gone. You’re going to lay them off in the sequence in which you build the ship. So [later on] when you are going to build another ship, if you are going to stop production and [later] build another ship, you’ve lost your skilled labor and you’ve got to rebuild it. Where that has occurred [in previous shipbuilding programs] we have experienced extreme cost delays and quality issues. So that is something that we as a Navy, we as a nation do not choose to do. We do not want to lay off skilled labor and then try to rehire them a couple years later to restart production.”

He then confirmed that the frigate contract needs to be awarded heel-to-toe with the last LCS contract to maintain serial production, “unless you want to put the shipyard out of business.”

Other Options

Calls to create a more lethal multi-mission frigate with a more robust air defense capability have been around since the genesis of the LCS program.

The CSBA study called for starting a new frigate program to spread more air defense assets throughout the fleet.

“We costed out the version we had was going to be about a billion a frigate, so it’s still expensive, but you can buy two frigates for the cost of one [guided-missile destroyer] and distribute your fires,” CSBA study lead author Bryan Clark told USNI News earlier this month.

Existing designs that could meet that criteria are already in service with the Norwegian Navy and the Spanish Armada and are set to enter into service with the Royal Australian Navy soon.

The Spanish and Australians field ships based around the Spanish F-100 design – a 4,555 ton ship that operates the U.S. Aegis combat system, pairing an AN/SPY-1D air search radar with 48 Mk 41 Vertical Launching System cells armed with Standard Missile-2 Block IIIA/B air defense missiles and Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM).

Huntington Ingalls Industries has also pitched a naval version of its Legend-class National Security Cutter for the role of a “Patrol Frigate.” The company has said it could include Mk-41 VLS and an air search radar in its design.

On the larger end, the joint French and Italian 6,500-ton FREMM frigate could also fit into the CSBA construct for a multi-mission frigate, Clark told USNI News.
 

RP1

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IIRC ESSM is slated to get an active seeker at some point around 2020 in Block 2.
 

DrRansom

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Wouldn't a frigate need an ASROC capability before a substantial anti-ship missile capability?

I wonder if the vest play for a frigate asap is to partner with the UK.
 

zen

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DrRansom said:
Wouldn't a frigate need an ASROC capability before a substantial anti-ship missile capability

I wonder if the vest play for a frigate asap is to partner with the UK.
That is highly unlikely considering we're talking of the US here.
But it would be ironic if they came aboard the Global Combat Ship......
 

sferrin

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zen said:
DrRansom said:
Wouldn't a frigate need an ASROC capability before a substantial anti-ship missile capability

I wonder if the vest play for a frigate asap is to partner with the UK.
That is highly unlikely considering we're talking of the US here.
But it would be ironic if they came aboard the Global Combat Ship......
"Global Combat Ship"? ???
 

TomS

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DrRansom said:
Wouldn't a frigate need an ASROC capability before a substantial anti-ship missile capability?

I wonder if the vest play for a frigate asap is to partner with the UK.
US frigates lived without ASROC for a long time (since the last Knox was retired). We rely more on helos for torpedo delivery. But VL ASROC could fit in those Mk 41 cells easily enough.
 

Moose

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sferrin said:
zen said:
DrRansom said:
Wouldn't a frigate need an ASROC capability before a substantial anti-ship missile capability

I wonder if the vest play for a frigate asap is to partner with the UK.
That is highly unlikely considering we're talking of the US here.
But it would be ironic if they came aboard the Global Combat Ship......
"Global Combat Ship"? ???
Type 26. The Brits are dragging arse on it, hoping someone signs on to help foot the bill.
 

DrRansom

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TomS said:
US frigates lived without ASROC for a long time (since the last Knox was retired). We rely more on helos for torpedo delivery. But VL ASROC could fit in those Mk 41 cells easily enough.
Checking Wikipedia, the Knox frigates were retired after the cold war ended, that is, after the End of History made ASW obsolete.

For ASROC, works in more weather conditions than helicopters. But, as you point out, the USN doesn't exactly have a shortage of Mk 41 VLS cells on Destroyers.
 

marauder2048

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TomS said:
US frigates lived without ASROC for a long time (since the last Knox was retired). We rely more on helos for torpedo delivery. But VL ASROC could fit in those Mk 41 cells easily enough.
Did VLA-ER make any progress or are they looking at a VLS version of HAAWC?
 

TomS

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marauder2048 said:
TomS said:
US frigates lived without ASROC for a long time (since the last Knox was retired). We rely more on helos for torpedo delivery. But VL ASROC could fit in those Mk 41 cells easily enough.
Did VLA-ER make any progress or are they looking at a VLS version of HAAWC?
I'm not in the loop on this, but I can't find media reporting about either system since about 2010. Lockheed was talking about HAAWC being VLS-compatible (part of the same mods that adapted it to the P-8) but it's been crickets since then. The only folks doing serious work on new ASROC-type systems appear to be South Korea (Red Shark) and Japan (Type 07), but details from either are very sparse.
 

sferrin

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TomS said:
marauder2048 said:
TomS said:
US frigates lived without ASROC for a long time (since the last Knox was retired). We rely more on helos for torpedo delivery. But VL ASROC could fit in those Mk 41 cells easily enough.
Did VLA-ER make any progress or are they looking at a VLS version of HAAWC?
I'm not in the loop on this, but I can't find media reporting about either system since about 2010. Lockheed was talking about HAAWC being VLS-compatible (part of the same mods that adapted it to the P-8) but it's been crickets since then. The only folks doing serious work on new ASROC-type systems appear to be South Korea (Red Shark) and Japan (Type 07), but details from either are very sparse.
Any idea why the USN seems to have no interest in a new heavyweight torpedo or a VL-ASROC/SUBROC replacement? Presumably they'd want to extend CEC beneath the sea, in which case a modern Sea Lance would be a god send.
 

TomS

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sferrin said:
TomS said:
marauder2048 said:
TomS said:
US frigates lived without ASROC for a long time (since the last Knox was retired). We rely more on helos for torpedo delivery. But VL ASROC could fit in those Mk 41 cells easily enough.
Did VLA-ER make any progress or are they looking at a VLS version of HAAWC?
I'm not in the loop on this, but I can't find media reporting about either system since about 2010. Lockheed was talking about HAAWC being VLS-compatible (part of the same mods that adapted it to the P-8) but it's been crickets since then. The only folks doing serious work on new ASROC-type systems appear to be South Korea (Red Shark) and Japan (Type 07), but details from either are very sparse.
Any idea why the USN seems to have no interest in a new heavyweight torpedo or a VL-ASROC/SUBROC replacement? Presumably they'd want to extend CEC beneath the sea, in which case a modern Sea Lance would be a god send.
Underwater CEC was a thing they studied a couple decades ago, IIRC, but it's painfully hard. Acoustic track data is never as precise as electromagnetic and there's a lot of misleading noise, so track consolidation is a nightmare. And many of the units you want in the network (submarines and eventually UUVs) don't have real-time RF connectivity to share a track picture anyway, so you're always handicapped by that.

I'm not convinced the Navy sees a need for much longer range ASW missiles. Past 12 miles (current VLA range), you're probably in convergence zones and target localization is bad anyway. So you send out a helo (or UAV or even USV) and have it reacquire the target and drop on it directly.
 

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I think it may have been more of a case of the United States Navy practically abandoning ASW from the mid-1990s onwards, increasingly leaving any submarine hunting to the shrinking submarine force. A state of affairs that got even worse in the 2000s with both finite assets (such as much of the P-3 fleet) being diverted to directly supporting the War on Terror, and the USN concentrating on turning itself into a Green Water (littoral) navy as it's contribution to 'Transformation'.
 

marauder2048

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Grey Havoc said:
I think it may have been more of a case of the United States Navy practically abandoning ASW from the mid-1990s onwards, increasingly leaving any submarine hunting to the shrinking submarine force. A state of affairs that got even worse in the 2000s with both finite assets (such as much of the P-3 fleet) being diverted to directly supporting the War on Terror, and the USN concentrating on turning itself into a Green Water (littoral) navy as it's contribution to 'Transformation'.
Or a basic recognition that organic, embarked helicopters with imaging LiDARs represented a much denser and more responsive ASW asset.
 

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You mean the ALMDS? Not only has that program been highly problematic, but If I'm not mistaken it can't track (nor reliably detect for that matter) moving objects. Not to mention that a Sea Hawk using the system has to make itself very vulnerable to operate it (fixed flight pattern, no manoeuvring) nor can it carry any weapons such as torpedoes or depth charges. Oh, and it can't be used in deeper waters. You might be able to catch a sub playing possum on the seabed near a port or anchorage, if local sonar conditions prevent them from hearing the Sea Hawk on passives and they don't have some sort of sensor buoy (or worse) deployed. But that's all assuming you have a spare Sea Hawk to prosecute the actual attack.

So trying to use ALMDS against, say a SSK about to blow your ship to smithereens would definitely be a bust, and no mistake.
 

marauder2048

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Grey Havoc said:
You mean the ALMDS? Not only has that program been highly problematic, but If I'm not mistaken it can't track (nor reliably detect for that matter) moving objects. Not to mention that a Sea Hawk using the system has to make itself very vulnerable to operate it (fixed flight pattern, no manoeuvring) nor can it carry any weapons such as torpedoes or depth charges. Oh, and it can't be used in deeper waters. You might be able to catch a sub playing possum on the seabed near a port or anchorage, if local sonar conditions prevent them from hearing the Sea Hawk on passives and they don't have some sort of sensor buoy (or worse) deployed. But that's all assuming you have a spare Sea Hawk to prosecute the actual attack.

So trying to use ALMDS against, say a SSK about to blow your ship to smithereens would definitely be a bust, and no mistake.
Gasp! A sensor that just hit IOC with its initial increment has limitations? That's unheard of.
And ALDMS isn't the only helicopter borne imaging lidar in US service, merely the most obvious.

And it's unclear why the Sierra is vulnerable while employing lidar since it's operating under the
AAW/ASW umbrella of the Frigate or Destroyer on which it's embarked.

The criticisms about the Sierra not carrying torpedoes is spurious since the Sierra isn't the
torpedo carrier in the general case: that's the Romeo, the surface vessel, and in the CSBA's
fleet architecture report, the main role of the P-8, since like just about all of the land based
MPAs you advocate they are far too vulnerable in wartime to do anything other than lob
torpedoes at standoff ranges against contacts tracked by surface ships and their organic, airborne assets.
 

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http://breakingdefense.com/2017/04/austal-pushes-big-missiles-for-small-ships-lcs-vls/
 

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http://www.defensenews.com/articles/us-navy-considers-a-more-powerful-frigate
 

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It amuses me somewhat that some of the same people who have bemoaned requirements creep for years are among those demanding ever more capabilities from the LCS/FF end of the spectrum.
 

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Moose said:
It amuses me somewhat that some of the same people who have bemoaned requirements creep for years are among those demanding ever more capabilities from the LCS/FF end of the spectrum.
Reading some of the comments on various websites it is often as if a single comment has two distinct authors. For example some are seriously suggesting the way forward is to convert the Legend class high endurance cutter into an AEGIS FFG, restart FFG production because they are such powerful warships, or licence build Navantia F-100 FFGs because the LCS are so poorly armed and can't defend themselves, then when you ask about the other missions, i.e. mine warfare, the response is to keep building single role, difficult to deploy and support Avenger Class mine hunters, Cyclone class PBs etc.

Not every ship can be a high end DDG, but then again they don't need to be, but when talking global patrol and sea control missions, expeditionary mine warfare, special forces support, inshore (as opposed to open ocean) ASW, something able to self deploy, operate with minimal support and survive against unexpected low to mid level threats is needed, otherwise the USN ends up having to use a DDG or Amphib.

Then there's the cost argument where it doesn't matter how often you point them to the data showing the baseline Legends are $200m a piece more expensive and an F-100 is close to twice as much as an LCS they still don't get it. Try and explain that a modern mine hunter is a very sophisticated platform that make extensive use of ROVs and is definitely not cheap, though no where near as deployable as an LCS, they just get abusive.
 

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Volkodav said:
Moose said:
It amuses me somewhat that some of the same people who have bemoaned requirements creep for years are among those demanding ever more capabilities from the LCS/FF end of the spectrum.
Reading some of the comments on various websites it is often as if a single comment has two distinct authors. For example some are seriously suggesting the way forward is to convert the Legend class high endurance cutter into an AEGIS FFG, restart FFG production because they are such powerful warships, or licence build Navantia F-100 FFGs because the LCS are so poorly armed and can't defend themselves, then when you ask about the other missions, i.e. mine warfare, the response is to keep building single role, difficult to deploy and support Avenger Class mine hunters, Cyclone class PBs etc.

Not every ship can be a high end DDG, but then again they don't need to be, but when talking global patrol and sea control missions, expeditionary mine warfare, special forces support, inshore (as opposed to open ocean) ASW, something able to self deploy, operate with minimal support and survive against unexpected low to mid level threats is needed, otherwise the USN ends up having to use a DDG or Amphib.

Then there's the cost argument where it doesn't matter how often you point them to the data showing the baseline Legends are $200m a piece more expensive and an F-100 is close to twice as much as an LCS they still don't get it. Try and explain that a modern mine hunter is a very sophisticated platform that make extensive use of ROVs and is definitely not cheap, though no where near as deployable as an LCS, they just get abusive.
I wish we had a "like" button some days, well said.
 

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"The U.S. Navy Wants to Build a Super Frigate"

Source:
http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/the-us-navy-wants-build-super-frigate-20156

The Navy is exploring the possibility of adding Local Air Defenses, new weapons and enhanced protection technology to its requirements for a new Frigate slated to emerge in the early 2020s.

While the new Frigate was conceived of as a more survivable adaptation of the Littoral Combat Ship, new analysis is no longer restricted to the idea of loosely basing the "hull design" upon the LCS. Furthermore, new requirements analysis underway by a Navy Frigate Requirements Evaluation Team is examining the feasibility of making the ship even more lethal and survivable than what previous plans called for.

"As a result of the Navy's 2016 Force Structure Assessment, increased emphasis on Distributed Maritime Operations, and increasingly complex threats in the global maritime environment, the Navy continues to assess the capabilities required to ensure the Frigate outpaces future threats," Alan Baribeau, spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command, told Scout Warrior. "The Navy is pursuing an update to the analysis performed by the 2014 Small Surface Combatant Task Force to reassess Frigate requirements and capabilities."

This new analysis, which will be briefed to Congress and Pentagon leadership later this Spring, may lead to a larger, more reinforced hull able to better withstand enemy attacks. Existing plans for the Frigate have called for "space armor" configurations, a method of segmenting and strengthening ship armor in specified segments to enable the ship to continue operations in the event that one area is damaged by enemy attack.

While Navy officials did not specify details of new technologies now under consideration, they did say the new examination could lead to a different kind of hull design, as well as new offensive and defensive weapons. Stronger air defenses and enhanced survivability initiatives open the door to a wide range of offensive and defensive weaponry, such as emerging low-cost laser weapons able to incinerate incoming enemy attacks or launch offensive strikes.

News of this new Frigate analyses was first reported by Chris Cavas of Defense News.

This revised assessment of the Frigate transpires as the Navy is finalizing the weapons, sensors and technologies it plans to engineer into its new Frigate - a more survivable and lethal Littoral Combat Ship variant designed to perform anti-submarine and surface warfare functions at the same time, service officials said.

The Navy already plans for the new Frigate be integrated with anti-submarine surface warfare technologies including sonar, an over-the-horizon missile and surface-to-surface weapons such as a 30mm gun and closer-in missiles such as the HELLFIRE.

Some of the over-the-horizon missiles now being considered by the Navy include the Naval Strike Missile by Kongsberg-Raytheon, a Harpoon or the Long-Range Anti-Ship missile (LRASM) made by Lockheed and the Pentagon's research arm, DARPA.

It is not yet known whether the Frigate will be engineered with Vertical Launch Systems (VLS) to fire larger, longer-range missiles such as a Tomahawk or Standard Missile 6, among others. However, that could be a possibility depending upon emerging Navy requirements for weapons on the ship, developers have said. It is certainly conceivable that these kinds of considerations could inform ongoing deliberations. The LCS hull is not engineered to accommodate VLS. However, should a different hull form be considered for the Frigate, the prospect of VLS or other kinds of ship-launched weapons could emerge.

Alongside ongoing efforts to specify weapons for the emerging Navy Frigate, the service is also hoping to integrate additional weaponry on the LCS itself. As a result, weapons development for both the new Navy Frigate and existing LCS are distinct, yet also interwoven initiatives.

Along these lines, Baribeau added that while the design for the Frigate matures, "the Navy remains firmly committed to execution of the current LCS program of record, in order to maintain the viability of both shipyards, maximize competition for future ship contracts, and deliver critically needed capability to the Fleet as quickly as possible."

Some of the weapons such as the Kongsberg-Raytheon Naval Strike Missile, however, may still be configured for both Frigate and LCS platforms..

Distributed Lethality

Engineering a more up-gunned, lethal and survivable Frigate than previously planned is unambiguously consistent with the Navy's often articulated "distributed lethality" strategy. This concept, underway for a year or two now, involves numerous initiatives to better arm its fleet with offensive and defensive weapons, maintain a technological advantage over adversaries such as the fast-growing Russian and Chinese navies, and strengthen its "blue water" combat abilities against potential near-peer rivals, among other things.

Arming the Littoral Combat Ship, and its more survivable and lethal variant, the Frigate, is designed to better equip the LCS for shallow and open water combat against a wider range of potential adversaries, such as enemy surface ships, drones, helicopters, small boats and maneuvering attack craft, at beyond-the-horizon ranges.

The LCS is already equipped with 30mm and 57mm guns to destroy closer-in enemy targets such as swarms of small boats and the Navy is also engineering a maritime variant of the HELLFIRE Missile aboard the ship to destroy approaching enemy targets from "within the horizon.
 

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TomS said:
Underwater CEC was a thing they studied a couple decades ago, IIRC, but it's painfully hard. Acoustic track data is never as precise as electromagnetic and there's a lot of misleading noise, so track consolidation is a nightmare. And many of the units you want in the network (submarines and eventually UUVs) don't have real-time RF connectivity to share a track picture anyway, so you're always handicapped by that.
I was reading the report on Sea Tentacle a couple of days ago, the 2005 Naval Postgraduate School TSSE project for a ship to deploy a distributed ASW UUV array across a 100x70nm area, and the model they were using was a central hub (a 'connector sled) in each 10x10nm block with an acoustic modem to talk to non-wired UUVs (it also had 16 wired sensor UUVs) and a deployable comms buoy if it needed to report a track back to the mothership, which carried two MH-60Rs and two Firescouts, plus VL-ASROC for prosecuting targets.

Parts of the CONOPs seemed seriously flawed, but the idea of a comms node seemed reasonable, sort of an undersea version of BACN.

https://web.nps.edu/Academics/GSEAS/TSSE/subPages/Projects.html
 

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http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/the-littoral-combat-ship-is-a-disaster-and-this-is-the-1796783565
latest on small combatant.
 

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"Experts question the US Navy’s ideas for a new frigate"
by David B. Larter   3 days ago

Source:
http://www.defensenews.com/naval/2017/07/28/experts-question-the-navys-ideas-for-a-new-frigate/
 

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"DSEI 2017: Lockheed Martin Unveils LCS 125M Concept Design for US Navy FFG(X)"

Published: Wednesday, 13 September 2017 00:10

Source:
https://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/news/naval-exhibitions/2017/dsei-2017-show-daily-news/5562-dsei-2017-lockheed-martin-unveils-lcs-125m-concept-design-for-us-navy-ffg-x.html

At DSEI 2017, the international defense trade show currently held in London, UK, Lockheed Martin unveiled the new LCS 125 meters. A company representative explained that this "concept" is representative of Lockheed Martin's answer to the U.S. Navy FFG(X) requirement.

he US Department of Defense released a Request for Information (RFI) in July this year to let the industry know what the U.S. Navy is expecting from the Fast Frigate, Guided (Experimental) or FFG(X). The RFI says, "A competition for FFG(X) is envisioned to consider existing parent designs for a Small Surface Combatant that can be modified to accommodate the specific capability requirements prescribed by the US Navy."


The U.S. Navy wants a frigate that can keep up with carrier strike groups as well as conduct missions on its own. “The FFG(X) will normally aggregate into strike groups and Large Surface Combatant led surface action groups but also possess the ability to robustly defend itself during conduct of independent operations while connected and contributing to the fleet tactical grid.” The U.S. Navy expects the frigate to be survivable in complex scenarios: "FFG(X) will perform its missions in complex electronic warfare and anti-ship missile threat environments".

The new Frigate would likely replace the troubled, very modular, Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) for typical "frigate missions". The U.S. Navy is requesting the FFG(X) to conduct the following missions:
- Over the horizon anti-surface warfare (ASuW )
- Anti-submarine warfare (ASW)
- Independently escort logistics ship convoys
- Electronic warfare (EW)
- Electronic signals intelligence and collection (ELINT)

The frigate displacement isn't mentionned in the RFI, but it is likely to be comprised between 4000 tons (if the design is to stay as close as possible to the LCS) and in excess of 6000 tons (in view of the requirements set by the U.S. Navy, which is particularly interested on how the shipbuilders can fit VLS for ESSM and Standard Missiles and how many).

The U.S. Navy intends to award a Detail Design and Construction contract for the first FFG(X) in 2020.

Lockheed Martin latest Frigate design is based on the Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). The frigate measures 125 meters in length (compared to the 115 meters of the LCS). Lockheed Martin representatives didn't wish to go into detailed specifications in terms of displacement, width and draft. Its crew complement is 130 sailors (compared to a crew of 65 sailors on the LCS).

The scale model unveiled at DSEI features 16x anti-ship missiles, likely LRASM (Lockheed stressed they can fit any type of missile selected by the customer): 8x forward, below the bridge and 8x more aft, on top of the helicopter hangar. There are also 16x Mk 41 VLS cells for ESSM and/or Standard Missiles. The main gun is a BAE Systems Bofors Mk110 57mm as per the RFI. There is a SeaRAM launcher on top of the helicopter hangar on top of the helicopter hangar as per the RFI as well.

Other additions (when compared to the baseline LCS) inlcude two SEWIP EW antennas/jammers, 4x Nulka decoy launchers, 2x RWS (which appear to be the Seahawk by MSI Defence) and 2x fire control radars, all located on top of the main structure.

The propulsion system remains unchanged, however we noted one last addition on the frigate's hull: the presence of bilge keels. They increase hydrodynamic resistance to rolling, making the ship roll less. Bilge keels are passive stability systems.
 

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RFI: FFG(X) - US Navy Guided Missile Frigate Replacement Program
Solicitation Number: N0002418R2300
Agency: Department of the Navy
Office: Naval Sea Systems Command
Location: NAVSEA HQ

Solicitation Number:
N0002418R2300
Notice Type:
Sources Sought
Synopsis:
Added: Jul 10, 2017 1:10 pm


Synopsis: THIS REQUEST FOR INFORMATION (RFI) IS FOR INFORMATIONAL AND PLANNING PURPOSES ONLY AND SHALL NOT BE CONSTRUED AS A REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL, REQUEST FOR QUOTE, OR AS AN OBLIGATION ON THE PART OF THE GOVERNMENT. THERE WILL NOT BE A SOLICITATION, SPECIFICATIONS, OR DRAWINGS AVAILABLE. THIS ANNOUNCEMENT MAY OR MAY NOT TRANSLATE INTO AN ACTUAL PROCUREMENT(S) IN FUTURE YEARS. THERE IS NO FUNDING ASSOCIATED WITH THIS ANNOUNCEMENT.

https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=cdf24447b8015337e910d330a87518c6&tab=core&_cview=0
 

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"Navy Releases Details of New FFG(X) Guided-Missile Frigate Program in Request to Industry"
By: Megan Eckstein
July 10, 2017 12:39 PM • Updated: July 10, 2017 1:33 PM

Source:
https://news.usni.org/2017/07/10/navy-releases-details-of-new-ffgx-guided-missile-frigate-program-in-request-to-industry

The Navy released the first formal details on what it wants in its guided-missile frigate in a new request for information to industry issued today. The new ship concept outlined in the RFI in many ways resembles the Navy’s previous frigate plans but also looks at upgrades like more powerful radars and vertical-launch missile tubes.

The RFI notes the Navy is still seeking industry input on a variety of capabilities – including, how to incorporate missile launchers for Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) Block 2 and Standard Missile (SM)-2, according to an early draft of the RFI obtained by USNI News.

However, the document outlines many key details on the frigate’s mission set, the weapons systems the Navy would like it to employ and the ship class’s procurement profile.

Much like the Littoral Combat Ship that currently fills the small surface combatant role, the FFG(X) mission will focus heavily on unmanned systems, using them to expand “sensor and weapon influence to provide increased information to the overall fleet tactical picture while challenging adversary ISR&T (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting) efforts.”

“This platform will employ unmanned systems to penetrate and dwell in contested environments, operating at greater risk to gain sensor and weapons advantages over the adversary,” according to the RFI.

“The FFG(X) will be capable of establishing a local sensor network using passive onboard sensors, embarked aircraft and elevated/tethered systems and unmanned vehicles to gather information and then act as a gateway to the fleet tactical grid using resilient communications systems and networks.”

In many ways, this FFG(X) design goes beyond what today’s LCS can do, particularly as it relates to surface warfare. The RFI states the frigate should be able to conduct independent operations in a contested environment or contribute to a larger strike group, depending on combatant commander needs.

“During Phase 1 (Deter Aggression) and Phase 2 (Seize the Initiative) operations, the FFG(X) will normally aggregate into strike groups and Large Surface Combatant-led surface action groups but also possess the ability to robustly defend itself during conduct of independent operations while connected and contributing to the fleet tactical grid,” the RFI reads.

As a result, it will have to be equipped with more sophisticated hard-kill and soft-kill technologies to protect itself during independent operations, or to protect logistics ships during escort missions in low- and medium-threat environments, which the RFI warns will include “complex electronic warfare and anti-ship missile threat environments.”

A major argument against the LCS – and the Navy’s first crack at the frigate requirements, which would have been an improved multi-mission version of the LCS – was that it did not have a Vertical Launching System to contribute to air defense missions. The Navy still has not worked out how to incorporate VLS into its frigate plans, and the RFI does not include VLS in its chart of required weapon systems but rather requests input from potential shipbuilders on how to incorporate the missile launchers. Though this issue doesn’t have an engineering solution yet, the new name of the ship class – guided-missile frigate (FFG(X)) compared to the previously named frigate (FF) – suggests a dedication to resolving this issue.

“To increase the FFG(X) self-defense, the Navy is particularly interested in understanding the trade space surrounding the addition of Launcher Capability to support Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile Block 2 and/or Standard Missile-2 Active missiles,” according to the RFI.

“Solutions should describe the launcher type, cell quantities the proposed design could accommodate, and if able to be cost-effectively integrated include considerations for strike length variants to maximize weapons flexibility. The Navy is also interested in the potential space, weight, and volume the launcher represents that can be included in the FFG(X) design as well as how many cells could be accommodated if design changes were pursued along with understanding the capability trades and cost impacts of those changes. Any innovative approach vendors may have in providing a Launch System or increasing capacity by making design trades across FFG(X) requirements will also be considered.”

Many of the required weapons systems are pulled from the previous FF requirements: the COMBATSS-21 Combat Management System, which pulls software from the same common source library as the Aegis Combat System on large surface combatants; the SeaRAM anti-ship missile defense system; a canister-launched over-the-horizon missile; the surface-to-surface Longbow Hellfire missile; the Mk53 Nulka decoy launching system; the Surface Electron Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) Block 2 program with SLQ-32(V)6; and a slew of undersea warfare tools such as the AN/SLQ-61 light weight tow, AN/SQS-62 variable depth sonar and AN/SQQ-89F undersea warfare/anti-submarine warfare combat system. It also requires use of the MK 110 57mm gun with the Advanced Low Cost Munition Ordnance (ALaMO) projectile being developed for the LCS and frigate.

Other required weapon systems would promote commonality with larger ships in the fleet, such as the Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR), a larger variant of which will go on future Ford-class aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships.

The RFI demonstrates an attempt to address the biggest concerns from LCS and FF detractors, chiefly in the inability to contribute in a meaningful way to air warfare. But the similarities between the requirements in this RFI and the previous FF plans are hard to ignore – and the RFI itself even makes the same argument that Navy officials have been making for years, that the small surface combatant shouldn’t have the same capabilities as a large surface combatant but rather should be able to take on lower-threat missions and allow cruisers and destroyers to handle more complex work around the globe.

The RFI states that one of the FFG(X)’s two main purposes is to “relieve large surface combatants from stressing routine duties during operations other than war.” It goes on to say later that “this ship will reduce demand on high-end cruisers and destroyers that currently conduct [anti-submarine warfare], [surface warfare], and theater security cooperation missions, allowing for an increase of more capable assets to maintain a stabilizing presence in regions where tensions with nations that have highly capable naval forces may exist.”

The RFI outlines a 20-ship class that procures one hull a year for two years and then two a year moving forward, though the Navy welcomes feedback on more affordable procurement profiles. The service would be looking to award a detail design and construction contract in Fiscal Year 2020, as leadership announced this spring – a one-year delay from its previous plans to allow another pass at the ship’s requirements and the inclusion of bidders beyond just Austal USA and Lockheed Martin that build today’s LCSs.

The RFI was posted online today, and responses from industry are due back on Aug. 24.
 
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