• Curtis Conway

    We need real frigates to provide meaningful presence that have real teeth for the COCOM Commanders. Congress can reprogram every other DDG-51 Flt III to be two frigates, or one out of each yard for less cost. It would use the same combat system parts and some of the same propulsion system parts.

    This new little frigate is not an LCS replacement. It is a real Blue Water vessel that is a COMBATTS-21 Combat System & Arctic Capable all-ocean hull, and can perform the same missions as the DDGs, it’s just smaller with the same capability with less capacity. The National Security Cutter will provide the room. It will be tight, but we can make it fit once we lose the Coast Guard habitability standard, install the power distribution system, new propulsion and power generation systems.

    PROPULSION/HM&E: I would prefer that a new Hybrid Electric Drive (HED) propulsion system be installed and enable either shaft to be driven with an LM2500, Electric Motor (use the same electric motor used on the destroyers), or both. It’s optimal for the Permanent Magnet Electric Motors manufactured by DRS be mounted on the drive shaft, but Main Reduction Gear (MRG) mount will do. As much commonality with the DDG-51 Flt III HM&E should be maintained as possible (gearing, shafts (modified), auxiliaries, etc.). We might lose one GTG, but the remaining units should be the 4 Megawatt units using the 4160 power distribution system. At GQ the DRS PMMs can provide additional power, or emergency power if required.

    RADAR: The radar requirement must be precisely determined to meet battle force requirements in our modern battlespace. If DDG/CG engagement capability is required, then the new AMDR AN/SPY-6(V) is installed with fewer Radar Modular Assembly (RMA) units (less than 37/antenna). If a SPY-1A tracking envelope is sufficient, then the 9-RMA AMDR Light AN/SPY-6(V) is our radar. The Naval Integrated Fire Control (NIFC) shooter capability can be placed in the combat system software included with the Cooperative Engagement Capability system (CEC). Nothing less will provide the new frigate survivability in the modern battle space, and provide Battle Force Commanders with sufficient firepower.

    PASSIVE SURVEILLANCE SYSTEMS: The ability to remain in EMCON in bad weather and during some operations will be a fundamental capability of every Surface Combatant platform of the future. By extending the NSC’s forward deck-house upward about 3/4s of a deck on top of the bridge superstructure provides the maintenance support space for the radar, as well as access for daily maintenance of Directed Energy Weapons (DEW) and Electro Optic/Infrared (EO/IR). The four quarters, on the external flattened quarters of the external base of the deck-house are the mounting locations for the FLIR Sea Star SAFIRE EO/IR Tracking Systems hanging above the DEWs, and center-line fore and aft will provide the platform for additional Directed Energy Weapons. This provides maximum, redundant coverage, and availability for maintenance at as high a location as practical. This layout provides ability for a DEW full horizon coverage [with redundancy] & vertical engagement to zenith. It also facilitates a dual engagement per side if required.

    COMBAT SYSTEM: The Lockheed Martin COMBATSS-21 appears to be capable, and more ‘Commercial Off The Shelf’ (COTS) oriented. This folds in nicely with the COTS nature of the Aegis BL9 Combat Systems of the cruisers and destroyers, and can use some of the same line replaceable units and Single Board Computers. However, I know of no Land Based Test Site where the COMBATSS-21 integration and operational testing is taking place, so if this program were to proceed one must be established ASAP using the Aegis CSEDS, Moorestown, NJ type system as a model. Truncate illuminators and use the capable EO/IR tracking systems along with the radar for missile control. I would have the Mk15 CIWS installation port & starboard between the DEWs, or if any changes were to be made, a Combination CIWS DEW unit go in their place, or perhaps a RAM launcher. However, I would want to be able to spit tungsten at the last possible instant as a last ditch measure.

    ELECTRONIC WARFARE: Install the most capable version SLQ-32 SEWIP III. This platform should be the most compact and integrated Passive Combat System built in HiStory. If any version of the AMDR is on board with those AESA antennas, then advanced signal processor with a wide band receiver and analysis capability should be possible in the future. This is tasking for the LBTS for use on every Surface Combatant so equipped (AMDR).

    GUN: This hull should not be down-gunned, with guided 5″ projectiles right around the corner keeping commonality with the fleet logistical support train, and operational and maintenance schools with the cruisers and destroyers.

    MISSILES: If the forward missile magazine is not going to be large, then Strike-Length Cells should be forward, truncate a helo hanger and use Mk41 or Mk57 cells Port & Starboard in the space made available just aft of amidships. Standard or Self-Defense Length cells could go in these locations. If Standard-Length are used, we have the most versatility and can carry SM-6 minus the Mk-72 boosters. If Self-Defense Length is used, then this frigate will be a mini-arsenal ship with ESSMs. Another option would be to put all the short Self-Defense Length cells forward and maximize the Strike-Length cells in the sacrificed helo hangar space. This would provide the maximum loadout of Strike-Length cells providing more long range weapons including land attack, and surface to surface.

    ANTI-SUBMARINE WARFARE: This hull can accommodate the SQS-53 Sonar utilizing the SQQ-89 Anti-Submarine Warfare Control System (ASWCS), but if the SQS-53 transducer and rubber window are not present, then the VDS and Tail provide data for the ASWCS. This helps maintain commonality with the fleet with respect to logistical support train, operational and maintenance schools, and they all have the same ASW capability with cruisers and destroyers minus the hull mounted sonar.

    • Ed L

      I like the setup, maybe for ASW sonar buoys can be dropped by Drones, Drones that are Launch from Aircraft Carriers, Cruiser or Destroyer. The other thing is why does a Frigate need a helo hanger? They take up a lot of room. A flight deck big enough for a Seahawk is good enough.

      • Curtis Conway

        If we are to launch those drones of which you speak, then they must come from somewhere. Reloading those buoys should happen in enclosed quarters sometimes so the electronics are not affected by in-climate weather, and the troops can be safer. Aviation is a Force Multiplier and extends the reach of sensors and weapon systems, in addition to picking up the mail, spare parts, and the most secure message delivery system. In almost every communication of a design for the new frigate I trade a double hangar for a single, and provide more room for missiles, but that space could be used for Directed Energy Weapons as well, for they have deeper magazines. If the new frigate is to be a Defensive Force Multiplier then a greater population of DEWs makes sense. Imagine two DEWs per side with a Mk 15 CIWS mounted between them on both sides of the existing helo hangar. Give it a capable propulsion system for Plane Guard Duty and keep it near the carrier for DEW and ESSM defense of the High Value Unit. Two versions could come out, modular in nature with the mission package determined by the loadout of the VLS, but the Passive-Centric situation awareness system would be common. This makes the platform survivable, capable, and possessing a morphing utility based upon tasking, yet still an asset for the Battle-force Commander regardless of his tasking. Be much like the LCS in many ways, just less helpless when conducting Independent Steaming Exercises, which is something all US Navy vessels do from time to time, and the COCOM Commanders are most looking for today.

        • Ed L

          Well, since the Navy’s Maritime version can cruise about 300 knots. for a 14K plus miles and over 24 hours. Pick your poison on where the launch site could be. From Land or a bird farm. Or since the Sonar Buoys take a good wallop when they hit the water, could they be launch from a mortar? using compress air or even tossed over the side. If you can get a sonar buoy line on station and then open the gap by moving the ship. A bit simple but then the best ideas are simple. Aren’t they.

          • Curtis Conway

            Once upon a time there was this thing called ASW Weapon Alpha (shipboard mortar of a sort). I always thought it should be a sensor dispenser and a weapons delivery device. The Australians used to have their own version of the ASROC called an Ikara. Today we will drop a torpedo that has wings out of the bomb bay of a P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft. Perhaps that same setup can get a rocket booster and a micro-turbine to take it to the target that is over 10,000 yards away. The new sonars aboard ship and in some aviation platforms can certainly track the sub that far out.