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Trio of Studies Predict the U.S. Navy Fleet of 2030

Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Jonathan Morel, assigned to USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112), uses a radar tracking system to track surface contacts on Jan. 30, 2017. US Navy Photo

Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Jonathan Morel, assigned to USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112), uses a radar tracking system to track surface contacts on Jan. 30, 2017. US Navy Photo

Three congressionally mandated studies outline what the Navy of 2030 could look like and present three very different takes on how the service could tackle its roles and responsibilities in the future.

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis (CSBA), MITRE Corporation and the Navy completed the studies that were required by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016 and would feed into the service’s future fleet design, Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson told USNI in August.

“There will be an operating and warfighting component to that new fleet design, new ways of getting at sea control and some of those other things that it describes. Some of that work is being done now, we’re using the fleet in different ways as we build that readiness and deploy that readiness forward,” Richardson said.

The three studies differ from the Navy’s Force Structure Assessment, which the service released in December. The FSA was crafted to create an outlook for the service using current platforms while the architectures are more open ended and could include new platforms and strategic ideas.

The studies were delivered to Congress on Friday, USNI News understands.

CSBA Study

Chinese marines attend the farewell ceremony for Russian navy in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, April 27, 2012. Xinhua Photo

Chinese marines attend the farewell ceremony for Russian navy in Qingdao, east China’s Shandong Province, April 27, 2012. Xinhua Photo

The root of the CSBA study was based on how the U.S. would face armed conflict with China or Russia, which are “probably going to be the defining characteristics of the Navy of the future,” lead author Bryan Clark told USNI News on Friday.

The study plays up the speed to which expeditionary forces can arrive in conflict areas and spreads out the Navy’s offensive power away from a few heavily armed carrier strike groups. The plan includes light carriers paired with amphibious ready groups and full-sized air defense-capable multi-mission frigates and introduces a new small anti-ship guided-missile corvette to give the enemy more targets to handle in a major conflict.

For example, the corvette, which could resemble the small Visby-class used in the Swedish Navy, would field a limited air defense capability like the Enhanced SeaSparrow Missile and four to eight anti-ship missiles.

“The idea is this helps you distribute your surface fires so your [surface action groups] can be more numerous and create more places where the enemy has to consider the fires threat – surface fires or strike – as opposed to the Navy’s plan which has 108 larger surface combatants,” Clark said.
“You’re really concentrating your fires in the fleet the Navy wants to have, and we’re arguing for a much more distributed surface fleet by taking advantage of some of the technologies you can get on some of these smaller combatants.”

The frigate would be a departure from the modular design of the Littoral Combat Ship and include a Vertical Launch System and an anti-submarine capability.

A Swedish Navy Visby-class. The CSBA fleet architecture calls for the Navy to create its own class of guided missile corvettes. Swedish Navy Photo

A Swedish Navy Visby-class. The CSBA fleet architecture calls for the Navy to create its own class of guided missile corvettes. Swedish Navy Photo

“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 DDG and distribute your fires,” Clark said.

The light carriers – about 45 to 50,000 tons – would initially be modified America-class amphibious assault ships and feature a catapult launching system so the amphibious ready group could launch larger fixed-wing aircraft to provide, for example, air search radar like on the carrier strike group.

“The CVL is really designed to be part of the ARG, and it provides the long-range fires that Marines need for amphibious operations in this future environment,” Clark said.
“I need fires that accompany Marines to either do the softening up of the target or to provide [close-air support] or [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance], so you need have more fixed-wing aircraft on the big deck to afford them the ability to do that.”

Ultimately, the driving force behind the CSBA study is that forces should already be operating near the site of potential conflict so they can be used quickly without waiting months to prepare a battle space – a key feature of fighting foes like the Russians or the Chinese.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency tests its Sea Hunter unmanned vehicle -- the technology demonstration vessel it designed, developed and built through its anti-submarine warfare continuous trail unmanned vessel program, or ACTUV -- in Portland, Ore., prior to an April 7 commissioning ceremony. DARPA photo.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency tests its Sea Hunter unmanned vehicle — the technology demonstration vessel it designed, developed and built through its anti-submarine warfare continuous trail unmanned vessel program, or ACTUV — in Portland, Ore., prior to an April 7 commissioning ceremony. DARPA photo.

One idea in that vein would be to build unmanned vehicle hubs in the Black Sea in Romania and Turkey that would create a constant U.S. presence in the region with out running afoul of the Montreaux Convention that creates specific limits for ships that enter through the Bosphorus Strait.

The surface and subsurface unmanned vehicles could provide defense and offensive power in the region quickly.

“I don’t want to garrison a bunch of ground troops in NATO like I did back in the Cold War,” Clark said.
“You have to demonstrate to the Russians that you can trade the pain with them right away and not wait six months to build up to it. Right away you’re going to be able to poke them in response in what they do, so you can keep it proportional, you can keep that from escalating.”

Navy Study

An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Kestrels of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 137 launches at sunset from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) on July 10, 2015. US Navy photo.

An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Kestrels of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 137 launches at sunset from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) on July 10, 2015. US Navy photo.

Like CSBA, the Navy’s internal Future Force Assessment study focused on creating a distributed fleet that would put more firepower in more places and complicate and enemy’s targeting. In creating that future fleet, the Navy team made few recommendations for new platforms and instead focused on taking today’s platforms and netting them together, augmenting their battlespace awareness and firepower with various unmanned platforms, and creating new strike group constructs to go after potential threat sets.

This vision for 2030 operations is still carrier-focused, with today’s carrier strike group getting an upgrade into a “augmented carrier strike group” for round-the-clock warfighting operations when needed. Today’s CSG composition – with a Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in lieu of a cruiser – would be supplemented by an LHA/LHD amphibious assault ship and two Littoral Combat Ships. Those ships would support 27 Navy F-35C and F/A-18E/F strike-fighters, up to 23 Marine Corps F-35B vertical landing strike fighters, 14 EA-18G electronic attack aircraft, six E-2D airborne early warning aircraft, 14 MH-60R maritime strike helicopters, six MH-60S sea control helicopters, two CV-22 carrier logistics aircraft, 10 unmanned aerial vehicles dedicated to tanking, and up to six UAVs for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).

Bringing in the amphibious assault ship to carry strike fighters allows the aircraft carrier to bring along more electronic attack and ISR capabilities than today’s carrier strike group. Having strike fighters launching from two capital ships instead of one would also complicate the enemy’s targeting, the report notes, and would decrease the impact of a successful attack on a Navy ship.

USS New Orleans (LPD-18) on May 5, 2016. US Navy Photo

USS New Orleans (LPD-18) on May 5, 2016. US Navy Photo

Other than the addition of the amphib and LCSs to the CSG, this construct looks very much like today’s fleet. The report notes that “today’s fleet possesses most of the platform capacity and payload volume” to support this vision and that the Navy would have to focus its research and acquisition on boosting capability through prioritizing “increasing weapon lethality and more robust kill chains.” Specifically, “priority was given to next generation offensive surface warfare weapons for sea control within a contested maritime area, as well as multi-mode weapons capable of striking multiple types of targets.”

In addition to the augmented CSG, the Navy’s FFA also proposes several other strike group concepts. A “Long-Range Strike Surface Action Group” would consist of a Flight IIA DDG or a DDG-1000 with a smaller amphibious ship, with both ships carrying four to six UAVs for over the horizon targeting (OTH-T) and the amphibs carrying up to four unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) for long-range strike. This SAG would “deploy throughout the theater using a combination of organic sensors and the netted common operational picture to engage enemy forces – particularly naval targets.”

A Raytheon SM-6 launched from an Aegis guided missile destroyer. US Navy Photo

A Raytheon SM-6 launched from an Aegis guided missile destroyer. US Navy Photo

An “Integrated Air and Missile Defense SAG” consisting of two Ballistic Missile Defense-capable destroyers would “deploy to provide IAMD of critical infrastructure in the theater, particularly in the early days of conflict before land-based IAMD systems arrive.”

The collective capability of all these augmented CSGs and various SAGs operating in theater together “replaces combat power originating from a few nodes to a netted system of nodes able to sense, communicate and act in unison. At full implementation, in a major theater war the concept would provide several dispersed, netted CSGs as well as other combat nodes, supported by unmanned surface and air vehicles providing [ISR and targeting] and alternative weapons delivery options,” the report reads, noting elsewhere that the Navy would have to make investments in data links, communications and other enabling capabilities beyond what is planned today in support of the Navy Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) web of sensors and shooters.

Due to the FFA mostly relying on today’s platforms, as well as advances in unmanned systems that are already in their beginning stages of development, the Navy could achieve this vision of 2030 operations mostly by accelerating already-planned research.

The FFA report calls for new types of unmanned vehicles, such as armed unmanned surface vehicles that deploy from an amphib and “independently deployable large unmanned underwater vehicles” – possibly akin to the Extra-Large UUV (XLUUV) – to bring sensors and weapons into contested waters unsafe for manned submarines.

Four F-35B Lightning II aircraft perform a flyover above the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) on Nov. 20, 2016. US Navy Photo

Four F-35B Lightning II aircraft perform a flyover above the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) on Nov. 20, 2016. US Navy Photo

The study does recommend a few new variants of ship: a CV-LX light carrier, or “Short Take- Off Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant based on the LHA-6 class but modified for a larger flight deck, fuel, and aviation ordnance, weighing approximately 43K tons. It would carry up to 23 F-35Bs and would generate 30-40 sorties per day but not be able to support the Navy’s program of record airborne early warning or electronic attack aircraft.” A DDGH would be a Flight III variant that has only forward missile-launchers, with the aft missile launch system being replaced by enhanced aviation space that could support two helicopters and four unmanned vertical takeoff UAVs.

In sum, the plan requires a modest increase in manned ships – from today’s planned 304 ships in 2030 to 321 – and a decrease in manned aircraft – from 1,555 planned down to 1,220 – all of which would be supplemented by 713 unmanned air, surface and underwater vehicles of various sizes. Though efficient due to its reliance on netted nodes and unmanned systems, the study does not address the cruiser, LCS/frigate and possibly destroyer replacements that will be needed shortly after 2030. The Navy had previously worked on a Future Surface Combatant study that pointed to a family of systems approach, which could have nestled nicely with the FFA’s desire to have a destroyer plus a more aviation-centric destroyer, a frigate plus an unmanned small surface combatant, and the emphasis on carrier operations which necessitates a suitable air defense commander capability that currently only resides in the cruiser.

MITRE Study

The guided-missile destroyers USS Sterett (DDG-104), USS Dewey (DDG-105), USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108), USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112), and USS O' Kane (DDG-77) transit the Pacific Ocean on Oct. 25, 2016. US Navy Photo

The guided-missile destroyers USS Sterett (DDG-104), USS Dewey (DDG-105), USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108), USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112), and USS O’ Kane (DDG-77) transit the Pacific Ocean on Oct. 25, 2016. US Navy Photo

On the other hand, MITRE took a very aggressive approach in its FFA, calling for a 414-ship fleet – with a preference towards expensive options such as large surface combatants over small ones, and both today’s nuclear-powered submarines and a diesel variant as well – and faster and longer-range weapons to support that fleet.

Though MITRE notes its ideal 2030 fleet is unaffordable, it still lays out a vision of 160 large surface combatants, 72 attack submarines, 14 aircraft carriers and two guided-missile submarines. In an attempt to reduce cost, the report recommends cutting LCS production to help pay for increased destroyer production, modifying the Ford-class carrier design or creating a conventional-powered carrier to reduce cost, scaling down the LX(R) amphibious dock landing ship replacement, and supplementing today’s nuclear-powered stealthy Virginia-class attack submarines with a less-expensive diesel sub to create a larger force for combatant commanders.

The current frigate plans – an evolution of the LCS, meant to create a more survivable multi-mission ship – would be scrapped, and a new frigate (FF(X)) would be designed to include an electromagnetic railgun with high velocity projectile, a Vertical Launching System with Tomahawk missiles, the ability to launch and recover unmanned surface vehicles, and the ability to rearm and refuel other ships’ helicopters.

A test shot of an electromagnetic railgun. US Navy Photo

A test shot of an electromagnetic railgun. US Navy Photo

The next destroyer would be large, displacing more than 10,000 tons, and the three Zumwalt-class DDG-1000 would serve as command and control ships when the current LCC command ships decommission.

Additionally, to supplement the surface combatants, the study recommends building a magazine ship (MG(X)) “to act as ‘wingmen’ for large surface combatants.” Each would have two to four weapons sections – with each section holding either an electromagnetic railgun with 1,000 rounds, 128 to 256 VLS cells for Standard Missiles, or 12 to 24 VLS cells for a Pershing 3-sized missile – and each MG(X) could be built with a different configuration to provide some variety to the fleet. The study proposes building these on the John Lewis-class fleet oiler hull with some modifications to increase speed.

USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) steams in formation with USS Independence (LCS-2) on Dec. 8, 2016. US Navy Photo

USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) steams in formation with USS Independence (LCS-2) on Dec. 8, 2016. US Navy Photo

In all, while the report talks about some cost-saving measures – such as scaling down the LX(R) plans to a modified Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport (EPF) or a modified Watson-class large, medium- speed roll-on/roll-off ships (LMSR), instead of keeping it at the current San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock (LPD) derivative – it proposes a lot of pricy solutions to address future operating concerns.

  • Duane

    The MITRE study recommendations are a total non-starter. Radical restructuring of the fleet is not going to happen, not to mention an unachievable 414-ship fleet. The CBSA study recommendations seem worthy of consideration, alongside the Navy’s own plan.

    The number of ships is not nearly as important as the capabilities of the ships, aircraft, and crews, and the degree to which they can all be networked together such that the sum of the whole is greater than parts. But this kind of strategic thinking, which seems obvious, still seems to get lost in the la-la land discussions of “rebuilding” the Navy to 355 hulls .. a discussion that is going to end up going nowhere in the real world of limited budgets.

    The needed evolution is already well underway. We just need to keep it going and readjust from time to time as the real world becomes more apparent.

    • Samuel Clemens

      Perhaps the rules of the game are not obvious. One group of consultants proposes the absurd. The next group mocks them. They then out compete the original by advocating something even more stupid. The next group on mocks them. And so on. Until Congress gets paid under the table to do to the irredeemably ignorant. Thus setting off a new round of consulting studies. Great work, if you can get it.

      • Duane

        Your extremely cynical view is not reflective of reality. Serious people are giving the concept of our future Navy a lot of serious thought and consideration.

        • Samuel Clemens

          Obviously you have never been one of those “Serious people”. Had you been, you would recognize your own world. Like I said, great work if you can get it.

    • vincedc

      You have to wonder how much we paid for the MITRE study. I have not read any of them, but it does not seem that a lot of effort went into staffing, maintaining, refueling and all the other logistics of keeping these small ships operational as part of a blue water navy. Unmanned ships and planes are sexy, but securing these vehicles from cyber attacks in the future will be a major obstacle. All the AI in world will not duplicate a good watch officer in a combat situation.

      • Samuel Clemens

        Ask Congress, they own Mitre. That’s right, the US does have government owned companies and Mitre is one of them.

        • vincedc

          Thanks, I didn’t know that.

          • Samuel Clemens

            Generally they are pretty knowledgeable. Often they caught in the position of having to de facto represent US government interests with defense contractors who more accurately might be called military profiteers. But the ability of those same contractors go behind their back to the Congressional overlords can make that very tricky. Nobody ever said the system was very clean. Let us at least live in the real world.

      • Samuel Clemens

        Not in the short run. But in the long run (30 to 50) years humans in the loop will be intolerable, they won’t be able to understand the complexity of the systems or what those forms of non-biological intelligence are doing. [One might hope such systems would gain enough insight to stop killing humans, but Sky Net is at least as likely.] For the transition period that we have now entered certain weapon system will be autonomous for operational reasons and for reasons that human abilities cannot match (such as air superiority where UAV can maneuver in ways that kill human pilots) and some because it is beyond human capacity to function at that speed with that much inputs and ultimately that level of tactics and strategy. Get over it. Less people may die, many more may die. We are now in one giant experiment unprecedented in evolutionary history for which there is no way to be prepared.

      • MJNCR

        AI will beat the good watch officer within about 5 years. It is happening much, much faster than people think. How long until Alexa (Amazon) can speak like a 100 IQ human?

        And you only have to train one for the pattern recognition, and that model can be used for every one afterwards. Every watch officer has to be trained anew.

        And even a young person with great eyes/ears won’t hold a candle to a small device with the types of sensors that can now be deployed cheaply. This is happening.

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    Visby class corvettes?

    In what could be the first time such a sentence would be uttered: the LCS would be better.

  • aztec69

    REPAIR, REPAIR, REPAIR: MEN, SHIPS, AND A SHORE! That should be the Navy’s mantra. Is it that difficult for the CNO, the Secretary of Defense, the rest of the E-ring, and the Congress to understand?

    • Samuel Clemens

      Yes. Kickbacks and pork barrel are much easier to comprehend than mere details like “mission” and “readiness”.

    • Duane

      That’s a different issue, being solely about Congressional funding, and has nothing to do with the strategic design of our future fleet. Funding for operation and maintenance is obviously important, but unrelated to the subject of this thread.

      • aztec69

        Beg to differ. I think it has everything to do with the subject.

        • Duane

          Beg all you like but they’re entirely different subjects. Tactical funding of today’s needs is unrelated to the strategic requirements of the fleet 13 years from now.

  • aztec69

    Let me explain: IF the Navy would repair what needs to be fixed and maintain what it has properly and when scheduled it it would effectively increase the size of its at the ready fleet by a third and do it for a lot less money than new ships, planes and crews would require. Let’s see somebody on the Hill with a few left over thousands from the last campaign pay for a study of this. Give Mitre and the rest of them something to think about besides how to spend more money and make the MIC happy.

  • aztec69

    One last thought and I’ll be quiet. Get some of those ships and men out of Okinawa, Guam, etc. My Uncle Max Valdyne Peery would appreciate it more and the North Koreans less.

  • kalahun

    Oh do tell where all those fleet staff personnel will be when the Zumwalt class (minimally manned already) are required to embark the flag and staff?

  • old guy

    What a crock. I have not read the actual report, but if this is a true representation of it we are in deep yogurt. For example, the beloved “rail gun” is an abject failure as an available weapon, and Navy knows it. It just has”glamour”. They show it firing, but it takes a phenomenal 3 minutes to fire it again. When we developed the system, in the mid-60s, it was evident that its best use was as an A/C catapult, so we sent it to Lakehurst, which has done very well with it. As a weapon, we concluded it was too inefficient, required too much power to operate and could easily be bested by other weapon means.
    I could comment on the other suggestions, but it would make an overlong message.
    If Mr. La Grone would like a full analysis by a former, retired Director of S&T development, he can contact me.

  • madskills

    So we are going to have enough fire power to destroy 1000 enemy ships with advanced weapons, not counting airplanes and their capabilities. Problem is Russia only has 35 modern ships and most of the Chinese Navy is not blue water so probably under 100….

  • MJNCR

    Feels like constrained thinking to me. 10%, 20% more ships is basically just saying should I have one more egg in my omelette.

    Russia is as good or better than we are at microelectronics, and China will match the basic capabilities in due time to put up jets, destroyers and missiles.

    If you were Russia and China, how would you counter our threat? Building tons of huge ships? Probably not. Force projection. Nope. Smart weapons for destroying aircraft carriers in a domestic theatre? That would be smart. I’d put half the research budget on that and half on anti-sub and sub detection. And it would be a doable proposition.

    What the tech world is teaching us today (Internet, Tesla, IoT) is that we can fundamentally change our idea of scale and emergent capabilities. Don’t build three more aircraft carriers. Build 3 million drones that can attack as one and be launched via a sub missile tube or long-range missile. Build thousands of small subs that can just sit on the bottom and not surface for 2 years (like the War of the Worlds movie) and just sink them in the China sea.

    And take the humans out of the ships where possible. They are incredibly expensive and they change the risk profile of the craft.

    All of these are relatively conservative, or just plain silly. Every force assessment should start with where will the war be (China Sea, Baltics, Arctic), what will the likely enemy strategy be based on their current understanding and how do you upend that assumption. With enough missiles and precision targeting against them, our aircraft carriers will be as effective as forts were in WWII.

  • Anthony Papagallo

    our biggest problem is quality of manpower, our Navy is so desperate for bodies it is now taking convicts and the medically obese, plus our current generation of feminised millennials who know the difference between a pedicure and a manicure and can spell ‘menstrual cycle’ are completely inadequate for defending our land, at the first sight of a Russian anti ship missile they’ll piss their pants and mutiny probably killing their commanding officers in the race to escape from the combat zone. No, the real and far more pressing issue is where are we going to find men in sufficient quantity ready to die in the tens of thousands in the coming war with Russia?

    • Cody3/75

      You are painfully fucking stupid.

  • James B.

    Only half out of sarcasm, did these three studies agree on their straw-man bad ideas ahead of time? All three seem heavily skewed to make the current Navy procurement plan seem by far the wisest idea, and many of the silly ideas are shared by all three plans.

    Light carriers have some World War II romance or something, but no navy has ever operated CVLs when they could have CVs. The US built CVLs during the war because they used different hulls than the CVs, making them extra carriers, but they were all sold, scrapped, or converted by the mid-1950s. A modern CVL would either be a very stunted STOVL-only ship, or it would be 2/3 the size of a CVN while only carrying half the airwing. A STOVL CVL would be useful for amphibious assault support, which is why we have LHA/LHDs, but it wouldn’t carry much useful to a blue-water CSG. The half airwing on a large “CVL” would be large enough for self-defense or strike, but not both at once, so it would need assistance from at least another CVL in order to move a conventional war forward. If there was no enemy air threat, and LHA/LHD would work.

    The think tanks are also far more enamored of the F-35B as a full-up fighter than any sane aviator would be. The F-35B will be the best manned STOVL aircraft ever, and it will probably be the closest a STOVL jet will ever come to it’s conventional equivalent, but the F-35B will still have 30% less fuel than the F-35C coming off the carrier, which means less flight time and less tactical flexibility.

    Light frigates are also a trendy idea, but the proposed ships have the same issues as the light carrier fantasies. A frigate with ESSM and 4-8 Harpoon-class missiles would cost $1billion, per CSBA, or half what a Flight 3 Arleigh Burke would. However, that one DDG has 96 VLS cells of Tomahawk, SM-2/3/6, ESSM, VL-ASROC, a vertically-launched Harpoon replacement, etc. It would probably take half a dozen frigates to equal the firepower of a DDG in the best case. Thus a mini-DDG frigate is one of the worst ideas since the barely-armed LCS.

    All of the problems mentioned above are accessible to someone with an internet connection and the inclination to do basic research. As a taxpayer, I’m troubled that these think tanks either lack such information or are disinclined to consider it, because if we can’t do it right, we’ll have to spend the money to do it again.

    • Curtis Conway

      Except in a peer-to-peer war at sea, the light carrier in the form of an existing USS America (LHA-6) employing F-35Bs makes a lot of sense. Much of the tasking that the COCOM commanders are looking for can easily be handled by this lighter Expeditionary Strike Group construct, particularly in several of the operational areas. The Russian fleet will not grow significantly in the near term, and the Chinese fleet growth will slow soon (I hope), but even the proposed ESG construct could handle a current Chinese CSG. The fly in the ointment is there is not such think as a VSTOL/STOVL AEW&C asset except in the Royal Navy.
      As for the frigate idea, you already know my argument for the passive-centric, but equipped with a non-rotating AESA 3D TRS-4D (or three array faced 9-RMA SPY-6) equipped Directed Energy Platform where the DEWs make this particular platform very survivable using ESSM to begin the defensive kill chain. An ice-hardened hull makes this all-ocean Arctic capable platform something that could operate in the Northern latitudes where the SQS-53 ships are inappropriate. That passive-centric EO/IR combat system would work very well in the Arctic region. Trying to equate a new light frigate to a destroyer is fallacy for they have different missions, and the frigate would be a defending escort with either ASW or limited AAW capability.

      • James B.

        Curtis, your last comment alone contains more considered thought than the three reports combined had on either CVLs or frigates. An LHA with F-35B and a true frigate both have value, but you are wise enough to understand that they aren’t direct fractional equivalents of CVNs and DDGs.

        • Curtis Conway

          That is exactly the case. However, a full CSG and Aegis Destroyer are not needed much of the time, unless going up against a peer adversary. In the case of the Uber Frigate, if constructed as I have described on the US Navy Uber Frigate Facebook page, this would be a very efficient, and nearly unsinkable surface combatant, with a 32 cell Mk41 VLS that is tailor-able to the mission set required, but maintaining a TBM defense capability. If one is AAW and one in ASW (VDS & towed array) configuration with most of the Hybrid Electric Drive HM&E being identical, all-ocean Ice-hardened hull (Arctic capable), with a real gun, then we have solution for many problems, including the drop dead escort for high-value units that can take on multiple ASCM attacks using mostly ESSM, Directed Energy, and eventually Hyper Velocity Projectiles.

  • Curtis Conway

    “…but not be able to support the Navy’s program of record airborne early warning or electronic attack aircraft.”

    Is there a place for an VSTOL/STOVL AEW&C aircraft that could operate off of any US Navy flight deck?

  • Secundius

    In case anybodies interested, according to ‘g-Captain’ the ~$9-Billion USD for 12-Frigate class Scheduled Frigate Competition of 2018. Is being “Pushed Back” two-years by the US Congress. No reason was given! But I suspect, that the US Congress want to Extend the 2013 Sequester for another Two-Years…