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Navy Issues RFI for New Frigate Anti-Surface Missile

An artist's representation of a Harpoon Anti-Ship Missile. Boeing Image

An artist’s representation of a Harpoon Anti-Ship Missile. Boeing Image

The Navy has issued a call to industry for options for an over-the-horizon anti-surface missile for the service’s future frigate design, according to a notice from Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) posted on FedBizOpps.

The request for information (RFI) — issued on June 15 — asks industry for options for a complete systems that includes the munitions, the fire control system and the launch system for the future missile destined for the frigate with an upward weight limits of 22,500 pounds, according to the notice.

The new OTH missile is a key component for the frigate design, as outlined in broad strokes in December by the Navy.

Since the Navy announced its decision to modify the two existing Littoral Combat Ship designs for the frigate, two systems have emerged as likely contenders for the OTH business — Boeing with a modified version of its 1980s era RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile and a Raytheon-Kongsberg team with Kongsberg’s Naval Strike Missile (NSM) based on Kongsberg’s Joint Strike Missile (JSM).

An undated photo of a Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile in flight. Kongsberg Photo

An undated photo of a Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile in flight. Kongsberg Photo

The service tested a version of the NSM onboard the Littoral Combat Ship USS Coronado  (LCS-4) last year. The Harpoon as been a mainstay aboard U.S. ships for more than 30 years.

The striking power an OTH missile brings to the U.S. surface fleet has been folded into the Navy’s emerging “distributed lethality” concept.

The Navy has admitted repeatedly the anti-ship capability of its surface ships has suffered during the almost 15-year U.S. focus in low-intensity ground conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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As part of the distributed lethality concept — unveiled earlier this year by U.S. surface warfare leaders — the modified LCS frigate design could work with existing guided missile destroyers in three to four ship surface action groups (SAGs) that could give the U.S. effective lower cost options for power projection outside of the larger carrier strike group construct.

Responses to the query from NAVSEA’s Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS) are due by July 15.

  • Just go with the Naval Strike Missile from Norway.

    • Greg Lof

      And take all that money from the bureaucrats? Not going to happen Nicky.

    • Donald Bakon’s Army

      Yeah just take a missile without competition. What could go wrong. Its such a good missile we need not have an RFP and compete it out.

      • Steve Skubinna

        One thing it has in its favor it it exists today, and it works. Better than a project on paper. Which is what the LCS now has, since the SSM intended for it vanished.

        • Donald Bakon’s Army

          The NSM exists as an international weapon, it will have to be trialled by the USN to see if it fits its operational needs. Boeing is proposing upgrading their missile using their own money and showing up with that design for similar trials. Because the NSM is in service with the Norwegians does not mean that the USN will simply buy it without actually testing a few to determine how it fits into the operational need.

          To add to that these guys are going to buy a new system/missile when an upgrade to the current one can also compete. The Boeing option seems to be something that the current logistical train can accommodate without creating a new network. At the least they should be allowed to compete. I’ll get back to you guys after consulting Donald Bakon, to see if this Kongsberg/NSM thing is even legal. It may actually be illegal. We don’t want a few hundred prototype missiles with Norway to be a benchmark of what we buy.

          The question is, do we even need a new missile?

  • Cheech

    If it had VLS cells it could have used the LRASM which seems far superior to either the NSM or Harpoon.

    • Frank Langham

      The shallow draft of LCS precludes the full length Mk41 VLS or even the tactical length mod. … This is especially true of the Austral LCS variant. … We have discussed having the VLS raised up to 48 inches above the weather-deck but this could, potentially, upset the center-of-mass and weight distribution, on such a light and shallow hull. There is also much additional weight, space and expense associated with the fire-control and battle-management of the STANDARD MISSILE SUITE. … Better to go with a lighter, cheaper, less “systems intensive” option … I like the Nordic option, from what I have heard. Cost-per-shot plus fire-and-forget are important considerations in a surface-swarm scenario.

      • PB

        Just wondering if the ESSM missle could work on the LCS variants.

        • Frank Langham

          ESSM is an AAW (Surface to Air) missile.
          This article is dealing with an Over the Horizon Surface to Surface capability. … As far as AAW for the LCS goes, I am pretty sure that the Rolling Airframe Missile is the solution that has been selected for LCS. …. ESSM is a contender for any sort of medium to large cutter or frigate AAW solution, though.
          ESSM *can* work on an LCS or LCS/FFG variant, but it really depends on many factors, including but not limited to Acquisition and Fitment costs, size, weight, cost-per-shot, depth of magazine and magazine replenishment, consoles and support electronics size, weight, cost and power and cooling requirements, training, range, rate of fire, and many other factors. … ESSM always seems to be under consideration for any new combat platform, as it offers many advantages and capabilities and can be adapted to lighter and smaller (and cheaper) platforms.

          • Jiesheng Li

            Could buy Sea Ceptor which is AA/ASuW but politically wont be chosen.

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  • Bush+Obama=Satans love child

    That’s the best artists rendition of a missile I’ve never seen! Boeings visual stealth is impressive.

  • LT Rusty

    I’m about 99% sure that “undated photo” of a Konigsberg missile is actually an undated photo of the ocean, with a missile photoshopped over it.

  • Jiesheng Li

    They could work with a version of the UK’s Sea Venom aka FASGWH and turn that into a VLS launched ASuW weapon. But politically, that won’t be the case. As many said, use the NSM, VLS-launched. The UK’s Type 26 could also use that missile.
    Or, just buy the CAMM/Sea Ceptor AA/ASuW missile…no wait, another missile they wont want to buy off the shelf.

  • bitterJOSWO

    A mk25 mod 25mm? great, when (not if) it breaks I will have a whole bunch of 25mm ammo I cannot use with the 30mm guns, someone really thought this one out. Maybe I can throw the shells at the guy with the RPG on a jet ski. Probably more effective than CSSN trying to shoot them with the 50cal she only shot once before.
    On OTH-T, distributed lethality is not a new idea, we had harpoon on EVERY surface combatant in the 80’s and 90’s. Even frigates with only ASROC launchers or MK13’s had them. Why couldn’t the LCS have harpoon as a baseline weapon to begin with? Apparently the admirals who were ensigns before I was born know better. F***ing Aegis mafia.

    • bitterJOSWO

      ***mk38 mod2 25mm***
      even JOs are not infallible

      • Curtis Conway

        Please don’t be too hard on the Aegis Mafia. It’s quite a system and does ITS job well. It just doesn’t do EVERYTHING.

        • bitterJOSWO

          So your telling me that Aegis C&D has no interface whatsoever with ASW and ASuW systems? That a separate C&D is available for those warfare areas? Aegis is optimized for AAW at the expense of other warfare areas.

          • Curtis Conway

            Quite to the contrary it has a very capable interface. The weapons on the other end of that very capable interface have not been significantly improved (VLA range, no really capable long range ASuW Tomahawk all these years . . . until now?). How long has the TLAM been around? The range was always there, and the technologies have been sufficient long before today. The will to develop it was never matched up with budget to develop, produce and field. I look forward to what this new Blk IV can do.

            However, what ever the Tomahawk Blk IV turns into, it ain’t going to help the LCS/FF. Perhaps we could get the old armored box launchers off of the BBs. They would look good topside forward just in front of the superstructure.

  • bitterJOSWO

    yes, it needs essm, sea ram ain’t gonna do sh!t!

  • bitterJOSWO

    Got rid of TASM and decided to build FLT IIA without harpoon. This was a conscious decision by our “leaders” and was not dependent on our involvement in ground wars for the past 15 years.

    • bitterJOSWO

      Weight and cost savings? give me a break, it’s a 10,000 ton, $1.5 billion DDG. And we’ve built dozens on them…

      • Frank Langham

        UHM … WE are talking about an LCS based Fast Frigate and it is not even designated as an FFG … It is basically a hopped up coastal patrol boat with a lot of configurable mission space. (operations deck and hangar). … There is not space or power or cooling or budget for anything particularly exotic or “intensive”. … We are just looking at self-contained, bolt-on, light-weight and systems independent options … Fire and forget … Minimal training and console support.

      • Frank Langham

        Oh … I guess he got off-topic and was talking about Burkes.
        I thought we were discussing OTH Anti-Ship options, for the LCS based “FF”s

  • Ed L

    Stupid is as stupid does, in the old gator sailor opinion an LCS can’t fight it’s way out of a paper bag, One of our PCS could most likey take out an LCS. Heck the Old Shreveport LPD-12 with her old 3″ 50’s could take an LCS.