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Lockheed Martin Awarded First Contract for New Saudi Frigates

Artist’s concept of a Lockheed Martin Multi-Mission Surface Combatant. US Navy

This post has been updated with additioonal information on production of the Saudi frigate.

Lockheed Martin has been awarded the first contract for a quartet of frigates the company is building as part of a $20 billion foreign military sales package to Saudi Arabia, USNI News has learned.

Last week, the company was awarded a $22.74 million Pentagon contract to modify the design of the existing Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship class for a more heavily armed, “Multi-mission Surface Combatant.”

The new frigates will the centerpiece of the long-awaited Saudi Naval Expansion Program II. SNEP II is set to modernize the Royal Saudi Navy’s Eastern Fleet as part of a wide-ranging estimated $20 billion arms package.

“These vessels will replace aging U.S.-built ships, and represent a generational upgrade to Saudi naval capabilities and will mark the first major export of a newly built U.S.-manufactured surface naval vessel in years,” read a statement from the U.S. State Department provided to USNI News.

The frigates will cost about $6 billion, the largest line item of the $20 billion SNEP-II deal. The package will also modernize the frigate’s planned homeport at the King Abdul-Aziz Naval Base on the Persian Gulf. While the Freedom-class variants are being built in Wisconsin, a final production facility has not been selected.

“We look forward to supporting the United States Navy in delivering the first U.S.-built surface combatant to a foreign partner nation in more than three decades,” Lockheed Martin said in a statement to USNI News.
“This is a major endorsement of the quality and the capabilities of the United States Navy and Lockheed Martin’s Freedom-variant surface combatant.”

The new Saudi ships will be built around an eight-cell Mk-41 vertical launch system and a 4D air search radar. The deal also includes 532 Raytheon RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missiles (ESSM) which can be loaded four to a Mk 41 cell. With 16 cells per hull, the Saudi Freedoms will be able to potentially field 64 anti-air missiles per-ship.

At about 4,000-tons, the frigate can field a crew of 100 to 130. It runs on a power plant of two Rolls Royce MT-30 gas turbines and two Colt-Pielstick diesel engines. The ship will field eight RGM-84 Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles (ASM), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) sonar suites, and torpedoes.

The FMS case was announced in 2015 after years of negotiating between the U.S., the Saudi government and the several defense contractors.

The following is the complete Nov. 22, 2017 contract statement from the Department of Defense.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Baltimore, Maryland, is being awarded a $22,748,516 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-11-C-2300) to exercise an option for class services in support of foreign military sales for the Littoral Combat Ship program. Work will be performed in Hampton, Virginia (41 percent); Moorestown, New Jersey (38 percent); and Washington, District of Columbia (21 percent), and is expected to be completed by July 2018. Foreign military sales funds for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the amount of $22,748,516 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity.

 

  • Duane

    This extended variant of the LCS sounds a lot like a LM competitor for the FFG(X) competition.

    This seems to comport with NAVSEA’s recent memorandum touting the LCS-based FFG(X) as a viable competitor.

    As for the costs, as written here, the $6B Saudi contract includes a lot more than just the hull, such over 500 missiles that retail for roughly $1-2M each, and new stuff for the Saudi base of ops, plus DOD gets a fee (10% if I recall) on all foreign sales of US gear. Can’t tell from the public press release what the cost of the ship itself is …it seems likely to be under a billion per hull for a US buy, if the Navy bought it … perhaps a lower amount if the Navy agrees to a 20-ship block buy.

    • @USS_Fallujah

      Trying to dig out a per hull cost from a FMS is a fool’s errand, partially by design, but also because the FMS is required to be an all inclusive package since even spare parts would require a whole new FMS approval.

      • NavySubNuke

        Not to mention the prepackaged maintenance support these included —- especially for countries like Saudi Arabia which lack any indigenous ability (or work ethic) to maintain their own equipment.

    • El Kabong

      Blah, “LCS is awesome!”… blah, “LCS is the best ship in the world!”… blah….

      • Langston Smith II

        IMO, an old Fletcher-class would be better than the LCS.

        Gotta love those Fletchers’!! Backbone of the Small-Boy fleet until the Gearings came along!

        • El Kabong

          Absolutely agree!

          Heck, something like the OHP’s would be better.

        • Old Salt

          A single WWII Fletcher with it’s radar guided (5) 5in guns, and many 40mm and 20mm guns, and torpoedes, would lay waste to a FLEET of LCS. Heck I’d like to see a LCS take a single or even multiple Kamakazee hits and keep fighting like the Fletchers did. Heck, a single shot from a 50 cal. would easily take out a LCS.

          • PolicyWonk

            Sadly, you’re right: a WW2 Fletcher class destroyer would absolutely waste an LCS of today – which is a SAD statement.

            For that matter, a determined assault with a can opener could cost the taxpayers millions of dollars in damage ;-P

  • A voice of reason

    Wow, an LCS with weapons, isn’t that an oxymoron? Silly us, we all thought they were just flimsy but fast admiral barges

    • Duane

      The only difference in weaponry is the Saudis added ESSM for area air defense, which is one of the missions for the FFG(X) but is not and never was a mission for the LCS. LCS has exactly the same anti-ship OTH missiles – Harpoons (soon to include NSM and LRASM). The post doesn’t say, but the illustration (which the caption says is LM’s enhanced multi-mission LCS) shows the same 8-cell Mk 141 angled canister deck launcher as used in LCS. Uses the same Mk 54 lightweight torpedoes as LCS does (air dropped from the MH-60)

      It didn’t say here, but again from the graphic, it’s likely got the same Mk 110 57mm gun, which is great for taking out swarms of small surface craft which is a key requirement the Saudis have. Whether the Saudi frigate also uses the other weapons of the LCS – including the 24-cell vertical Hellfire launcher and the twin Mk 46 30mm guns, again, this post doesn’t say, and it’s hard to tell from the graphic. Probably the answer is yes to both.

      As in all cases, form follows function.

      • El Kabong

        “… it’s likely got the same Mk 110 57mm gun, which is great for taking out swarms of small surface craft which is a key requirement the Saudis have.”?

        Prove it.

        Cite ANY sort of credible source to back up your claims, for once.

        Gun tests against swarm attacks?
        Saudi requirements?

        Anything, Duaney?

        • Duane

          I make no claims. Facts are facts. Look’em up.

          • El Kabong

            Back up your blather, boy.

          • BlueSky47

            Duane get’s paid by the word, that’s why he says so much but so little at the same time

          • No keyboard warrior here

            The Facts are:
            1. The 57mm is unrealiable (as proven by tests and reports)
            2. The 57mm gun cannot hit anything, not even a giant orange ball 100 yards away
            3. The 57mm performed very poorly agains simulated small craft attacks
            4. When the LCS has to face a real warship with much large and radar guided guns,it will be greatly out ranged and be blown out of the water before it can it get a single shot on target

          • Duane

            No – the Mk 110 gun is NOT unreliable. State your “reports”. It is the most commonly used gun in small warships in the world, adopted by 19 navies including the US Navy and the US Coast Guard. The Navy specified the 57mm gun as the required gun for the FFG(X),

            The 57 mm gun did not perform poorly against small craft. If you are referring to the DOT&E audit report from the 2015 fires, that was a ridiculous “test” – the auditors required the sailors to use contact fuses on high speed, radically maneuvering small craft from long range. A purely dumb and poin tless test, without the use of the ORKA precision guided rounds. No gun in the US Navy, including the 76mm or the 127mm could pass such a test. For such radically maneuvering targets, the logical munition to use that is deployed on LCS today is the Mk 295 ORKA “one shot/one kill” precision guided round with proximity fusing – the same type demonstrated in videos posted here at USNI back in 2016, where each target – both a small craft and a drone – were taken out with one shot each.

            Against “real warships” – no real warship would attempt to engage in surface battle with a medium to large warship using a popgun of any current size – whether 57, 76, or 127mm. “Real warships” use anti-ship missiles, which have vastly longer range, vastly larger warheads, and very smart targeting and maneuvering capabilties that the 76 and 127 guns completely fail on. The LCS deploys Harpoons and NSMs (both thoroughly certified on LCS) and, when it goes IOC within the year, LRASM.

          • El Kabong

            Prove him wrong with facts, Duaney.

          • Duane

            I don’t need to prove an obvious non-truthful statement is not a lie. It is the burden of him to prove it.

          • El Kabong

            LMAO!

            You never prove anything, Duaney.

            YOU make a claim, it’s up to YOU to back it up.

            That’s what grown-ups do.

            If it’s SO “obvious”, you won’t have difficulty proving it.

          • No keyboard warrior here

            Well, I suppose you know better than ALL of the experts running the tests eh? Tell ya what, I’ll give the DoD a call and tell them to leave all future testing to you since you’re the expert in a all things-BAR NONE!

          • Duane

            You mean, DOT&E auditors, who’ve never spent a day in defense of our nation, most of them? You prefer to believe the auditors rather than the men and women who put their lives in harms way with the platforms and weapons they have, and take pride in fighting?

          • Chesapeakeguy

            The Zumwalt program managers and testers found the gun lacking in lethality and other key factors. Their words, and reports, no one else’s. That should be a basis for the Navy and military leadership to reconcile the conflict of a weapon that is indeed in world wide service and is abundant in our own Navy and CG, yet was rejected for non-performance by the concurrent major ship design (along with the LCS) being built. It doesn’t make sense. They were designed and engineered for the very same purpose on both the LCS and the Zumalts, to defend against ‘swarm attacks’. They were NOT rejected because of weight and space concerns, as all that had already been factored in to the Zumwalts design. The citizens of this country, in addition to the sailors and Coast Guard personnel who will have to rely on those weapons if the fur ever does hit the fan, need to know that everything is on the up-and-up as far as testing and certifying them. Why are they supposedly so successful on other platforms, and in other navies, yet didn’t pass muster for the Zumwalts? That MUST be answered…

          • Duane

            It was rejected as an excuse to reduce both the topside weight and the additional cost of the Mk 110 gun over the much smaller, lighter weight, and much cheaper Mk 46 30mm gun. The Zumwalt was found to be very topheavy in its initial design, which is a huge problem with the tumblehome hull design which was not very stable to begin with. Since then, literally dozens of LCS have come of the ways with the 57 mm gun and it works great, the Navy loves it. The 30mm Mk 46 is useful, but only a a CIWS, given its maximum 2 mile effective range, and unguided “dumb” rounds with minimal lethality … while the Mk 110 57mm gun has an effective range of 9 nm, it shoots precision guided (bimodal seeker – passive IR and laser) rounds with far superior lethality referred to as “one shot/one kill” in which a single round completely destroys a typical fast light surface craft or a low flying aircraft. The Mk 110 actually has just as high a rate of fire – 220 rounds per minute – as the 30mm, which is more than 10 times the firing rate of the 5-in naval gun used on DDGs,which also lack anything but dumb rounds.

            But, for the Zums, the extra weight of the 57mm mount on its topsides was just too much given the other design decisions. The result is that the Zum is far less capable in dealing with littoral threats, including high speed small crafty swarms and aircraft swarms. Perhaps that is the real reason that the Navy has reassessed the Zum’s usefulness as a near-shore gun platform .. it is not survivable, as is the LCS, with today’s littoral threats.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            That is wrong. The change RESULTED in weight and space savings, but the decision to reject the Mk 110 came AFTER extensive testing and evaluation. Below are direct quotes from the Zumwalt’s program manager, then captain, NOW Rear Admiral Jim Downey…

            The Mark 110 57mm gun, “was nowhere near meeting the requirements,” said Capt. Jim Downey, program manager for the DDG 1000 Zumwalt class.

            In fact, Downey said, the 57mm gun — selected years ago for the DDG 1000 as a close-in weapon and in service as the primary gun for the littoral combat ship and Coast Guard national security cutters — is overrated.

            “They were significantly over-modeled on the lethality,” he said. “The results of the actual live test-fire data was that the round was not as effective as modeled.”

            For the DDG 1000’s particular requirements, however, Downey said the 30mm met more overall performance points than the 76mm or 57mm guns. All three guns were part of his program review, with the 30 coming in just ahead of the 76 and significantly ahead of the 57.

            The program manager also contends the lighter weight of the Mk46 was not a consideration.

            “That is absurd, the fact that we changed the guns for weights,” he said in a September interview. “The weight had zero, absolutely, 100 percent nothing to do with the decision on the guns.”

            That again blows out the usual excuses given for the rejection of the Mk 110.

          • Duane

            No – “that” is not wrong. It is exactly and precisely the truth. The replacement of the Mk 110 for the obviously way way way inferior Mk 46 was solely because of the top-heaviness and the cost overruns of the Zums, and for no other plausible reason. It is extremely well documented the top-heaviness and over-priciness of the Zums, and it is proven that the Mk 110 57mm gun is vastly superior for protection from littoral threats. Really, how is it even remotely possible to argume that a gun with 1/5 the range, and with 1/10 thefirepower, and with none of the precision guided munitions can ever be considered superior? Only a dolt or a zealot would try to make that ridiculous argument.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Geezz, you really are the proverbial wall, aren’t you? So the PROGRAM MANAGER LIED, right Duane? His OWN WORDS, which absolutely refutes ANY contention about weight and size being factors for the rejection, don’t mean anything, because they are not what you want to hear or read, right?

            “They were significantly over-modeled on the lethality,” he said. “The
            results of the actual live test-fire data was that the round was not as
            effective as modeled.”

            That says it ALL. It (the Mk 110), didn’t WORK, not in the way they need it to! But of course, your handful of years in the Navy makes you far smarter and more knowledgeable than the MAN tasked with developing a new and complex system like the Zumwalt. eh? Yes, he’s only a REAR ADMIRAL. LOL. Below is his resume per the official bio the Navy keeps on him…

            “Rear
            Adm. James Downey is a native of New York. He graduated from the State
            University of New York, Albany with a Bachelor of Science in Economics
            and Computer Science in 1986 and was commissioned in 1987. He earned a
            Master of Science in Computer Science from the Naval Postgraduate
            School, Monterey, California in 1997, followed by Engineering Duty
            Officer (EDO) School in Port Hueneme, California, where he graduated
            with distinction and received the Founder’s award.

            He qualified as a surface warfare officer (SWO) on the USS Hayler (DD 997) in 1989. Additional
            operational assignments include intelligence briefing officer to the
            commander in chief, Combined Forces Command, U.S. Forces Korea (USFK),
            Seoul, Korea; and multiple deployments afloat in the North Atlantic,
            Baltic, Arctic Circle and Pacific.

            Engineering duty officer (EDO)
            assignments include assistant program manager (APM) for surface and
            subsurface integration for GPS and Navigation Sensor System Interface
            programs, leading Tomahawk integration; chief engineer for high
            assurance systems at the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and
            National Security Agency (NSA); officer in charge of Space and Naval
            Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), Yokosuka Japan; CVN 21 program chief
            engineer, principal assistant program manager (PAPM) and warfare systems
            director; CG(X) major program manager; and major program manager for
            the DDG 1000 program including delivery of the first ship of the class.

            Downey assumed duties as the commander, Navy Regional Maintenance
            Center June 29, 2016 and as Naval Sea Systems Command deputy commander
            for surface warfare on July 1, 2016.

            Downey’s awards include the Legion of Merit (two awards), the Defense
            Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), the Meritorious Service Medal
            (two awards) and various other personal, unit and service awards.”

            Yeah Duane, I can see now how YOU are so much more accomplished and knowledgeable than him. LOL.

          • Duane

            Facts are facts. I know that you really don’t like the facts, but the facts remain. They’re very stubborn things.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Facts ARE facts Duane. And as ALWAYS, they’re on my side here. And even YOU know that. LOL..

          • Duane

            Keep trying. Maybe some day you’ll acknowledge the actual facts, and not your Trumpian “alternative facts” (otherwise known as “wishes”, “lies”, and “fairy tails”).

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Oh, now it’s about Trump! And Duane here is on record lecturing us that he’s ‘not an ideologue’! LOL..

            Yo Duane. You cite test ‘results’ when they present something that you want to believe. You state how tests were done that resulted in the Mk 110 destroying a drone, and a small boat. Ummm, weren’t those tests done by ‘auditors’ too? From their desks, and after they ‘bayoneted all the wounded’? Please, enlighten us!

          • Chesapeakeguy

            So anyone involved in testing these systems who come up with a result you don’t want to read are merely ‘auditors’ who never served this country? Seriously? Talk about ‘disparaging’ people, which you always accuse others of on here. So those ‘auditors’ have nothing better to do than just throw wrenches in the works of our sailors? Again, seriously?

          • Duane

            No .. it’s very simple. “Auditors” are “auditors”, and “sailors” are “sailors”. Even the GEICO cave man can understand that.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            In other words, you just confirmed my point. Those people doing the testing, yeah, right, they never served in the military. They aren’t patriots. They just want to denigrate the LCS, right? That IS it as far as how YOU see it, right?

          • Duane

            The definition of auditors is those are the guys who come in after the battle is lost and bayonet all the wounded.

            Auditors don’t fight – they write. They don’t ride ships or subs or aircraft .. they ride desks. They get paid by the finding. If they don’t find, they don’t have a job.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            So ‘auditors’ is defined as murderers? Ummm, genius, they DID the actual testing. They were THERE! Keep digging Duane.

        • Duane

          I don’t need to prove something that I say is “likely”. You don’t understand common English words, apparently. However, there is logical support for what I wrote was likely:

          The US Navy specified the Mk 110 57 mm gun in its recent RFP for the FFG(X). And all of the LCS to date have the same gun, as do all of the HII National Security Cutters.

          • El Kabong

            “I don’t need to prove something…”?

            Of course you don’t.

            It’s all blathering drivel.

      • RealSailor

        I love it, the Saudi’s will soon find out the true meaning of “Little Crappy Ship,” perhaps they’ll love us even more once they operate these for a few months LOL

        • Duane

          Our Seventh Fleet commander loves the LCS, wishes he had more in theater – he was quoted on that earlier this week in a competitor publication. He speaks from experience, having had one deployed the last 14 months extremely successfully. The Navy will deploy two to SCS in mid-2018. The theater commanders in the Persian Gulf are begging for them now, and are anticipated to do the first deployments there within the year, with up to 7 of the Freedom class to operate out of Bahrain.

          The Saudis are well aware of what the LCS is and does, and they liked what they saw, but wanted a multimission platform with area air defense, hence the mods to the base LCS as seen here.

          • Duane-aka Sir Lockmart

            Yep, “Deployed” for the LCS means several things
            1. It didn’t sink
            2. It’s didn’t have to be towed back into port
            3. it spent more days at sea than it did tied to the pier being fixed
            4. but best of all, it has demonstrated that it can “run and away” and hide in shallow waters when the Chinese navy shows up

          • Kuane

            But the 3rd and 5th Fleet commanders hate them, in fact they expressily forbid any LCS entering their fleet areas of responsibility

          • Duane

            State your sources. You’re not telling the truth.

          • BlueSky47

            So, when war breaks out in the Pacific, is said commander going to raise his flag on an LCS or an aircraft carrier………………….I thought so. hahahahahaha

    • El Kabong

      Cue the USNI’s Little Crappy Ship cheerleader….

      • Big-D

        Big Duane never misses a beat (to get paid by the word) 😛

  • 532 ESSM! The US has only ordered around a 1000! Maybe the Saudis are getting serious after their losses off Yemen.

    • Duane

      The Saudis are prepping for all out war with Iran, and their proxies (Houthis and Hezbollah), who are armed with Chinese C 802s, at least.

      • Old Salt

        Well I say awesome, the US navy can witness first hand how quickly the LCS’s will be sunk by the Iranians, maybe, just maybe then they’ll realize what a crappy ship it really is.

        • Duane

          That’s a very caustic, disrespectful statement to make. Do you realize that we have officers and crews on those vessels that you disparage? And that they have pride in their vessels and their role in support of our naval forces, and do not appreciate that some folks have such sour opinions of what they do?

          You might want to ponder that. The arguments over whether the LCS is something that the Navy should have ordered are long past their sell-by date. The Navy obviously believes very differently than you do.

          • Bob467

            You sound like a old woman “do you realize that we have blah blah blah…..” News flash, since your ignorant of Navy matters-those sailors were “assigned” to those crappy little ships-they had no choice. If war breaks out 100% would want to be elsewhere.

          • Duane

            No – I sound like someone who is a naval veteran who is proud of our serving members, and ashamed of a small cadre of old cranks who convey immense disrespect with rantings like seen here.

          • Bob467

            If I was CNO I should show my “respect” to the sailors by tranferring all of them off of these aluminum coffins the LCS and putting them on destroyers, where at least they’ll have a fighting chance if war breaks out. Then I’d show my respect to you by reinstating you and assingning you to be a single crew on a single LCS thirty miles in front of the battle group with the orders “attack the chinese fleet” Then we’ll all say “what a brave sailor Duene was, he went down with his beloved LCS…” and who knows maybe they’ll name the next LCS after you, the USS Dimwitt Bar None”

          • Duane

            Well, then it’s a very good thing you’re not CNO, and that we have an intelligent CNO, and an intelligent Seventh Fleet Commander who in a media interview last week stated that he loves the LCS, and wishes he had a bunch more of them, because they can do important naval warfare tasks that no other ship can do.

          • Timo

            Bravo!

  • Langston Smith II

    And why didn’t LM start building these FFLG’s for the USN before starting on the LCS Program? I mean, with the base design of the Freedom-class already blueprinted, what would the cost been if the FFG Version has been built first?

    We could’ve been replacing/upgrading our OHP’s on a 2 for 1 basis before starting on the LCS Program. At least it might have been possible to work all of the Gremlins out of the Mission ‘Modules’ while still meeting some of our Naval commitments without running our DDG-51’s ragged like we are now.

    If we’d done that or gone with the FF/FFG, versions of the new USCG cutters (can’t remember the class name right now) or run both programs instead of the 2 LCS programs we have right now, our Burkes could be utilized better.

    I guess nobody thinks this way nowadays.

    Secundus, your thoughts???

    • DaSaint

      The answer to ypur first question is because the USN didn’t order it armed this way. It wasn’t that it couldn’t have been, it was because thw decision-makers didn’t make it so.

    • Duane

      The Freedom class LCS hull, upon which this ship is based, did not exist until it was developed as a result of the competition for the LCS build contracts. At the time the Freedom was designed – early 2000s – the Navy was not in the market for a multi-mission small surface combatant. Now the US Navy is in the market. Things change – technological threats, geopolitical threats, own weapons tech, etc. In other words, the requirements are different now than 14 years ago.

      • Langston Smith II

        I understand what you are saying and agree with it. However, if the Navy knew or suspected that the FFG-7’s were going to be decommed, why didn’t they just have the RFP be for a Multirole SSC instead of the boondoggle that became the LCS’s.

        Granted, the LCS’s are a technological advancement but IMO, they could have been better utilized in 5th Fleet working alongside (and ultimately replacing) the venerable Cyclone-class PC’s. Though larger than a Cyclone, both the Freedom-class and Independance-class are about equally armed as a Cyclone; though the Cyclones could’ve used a 76mm as well. But that’s just me thinking.

        • Duane

          Well, firstly the LCS is no boondoggle. The Navy is very happy with it, remains committed to it, and wishes they had more .. that’s exactly that Commander Seventh Fleet stated in an interview this week. The vessel performs well, it’s very cost effective. It went through developmental challenges, just as all new ship types do (see DDG 1000, Ford class CVN, Spruance DDG, etc.).

          Second, the Navy had no near peer surface naval competitors at the beginning of the 2000s. The Russian fleet was the remnants of the old Soviet fleet, left rusting at the piers. China had not yet begun its naval fleet buildup. Why build a ship for which there was no need?

          The Navy finally had the challenge of near-peers starting in the second decade of the 21st century. And so it developed “distributed lethality” to respond.

          Stuff changes. Fleets change with the stuff.

          • Langston Smith II

            That is true. Fleets and threats do change. But even though the Navy had no Naval near peers at the beginning of the 21st century. Wouldn’t it have been prudent to look towards the future and the possibility that a near peer would appear around this time.

            Don’t get me wrong, the LCS is a major technological leap forward in Naval Technology regarding combat in the Littoral Areas. But, without a Frigate to perform certain duties that didn’t need a DDG, we’re going to run our Burkes into the “ground” in my opinion.

            Some duties are better suited for a multirole frigate than for either an LCS or a Burke.

          • Duane

            I think in a perfect world, from a national defense perspective, we would have had a better crystal ball to say that yes, the Russians and Chinese (and Iranians and NORKs) are likely to upgrade their navies eventually.

            But we cannot forget where we were as a nation in the early 2000s: reeling from 9.11.01. Working up to a land invasion of Iraq, which thoroughly discouraged the Iranians and NORKs for at least a few years … and once we were engaged (bogged down) in both Iraq and Afghanistan spending trillions we didn’t have on those two wars, we weren’t spending much on anything that didn’t contribute to defeating radical Islam. SecDef was busy cancelling weapons and platform contracts, cutting back on readiness,putting everything into going after the Jihadis

            Then the financial system crashed in 2008, and there wasn’t money for anything that wasn’t already in the developmental pipeline. After the 2011 BCA (“sequester:) the military was even more constrained in funding, and we’re still dealing with that today.

            There was no likelihood of much forward thinking then.

          • Langston Smith II

            Like the old saying goes ‘Hindsight is 20/20’. I guess that is even truer nowadays. 🙂

            Thanks for the discussion Duane. It was illuminating.

          • A voice of reason

            Logic and reason would dictate that since the threats and hence the ‘requirements’ have changed and by extension, the LCS no long meets our requirements, we need to deep six the LCS program yesterday. But apparently logic and reason have no place here, so we keep feeding the Lockmart beast and we wonder why we have no Navy anymore.

          • Big-D

            So what you’re saying is that the LCS was built with no enemy in mind, it was built simply to be shiny and look awesome, hense it has no capabilities. But now that enemies are popping up the ‘requirements’ have suddenly changed, but we’re stuck with a bunch of do nothing very expensive, flimsy, unreliable, but somewhat fast ships. Wow! what a great program (and money maker for Lackmart). Q: how much does Lockmart pay you for your dribble?

          • Duane

            I don’t need you to attempt to tell me what I am saying. I say exactly what I say.

          • A voice of reason

            You right almighty Duane, the LCS is “no boondoggle” – for LockMart!!! In fact it’s been a great money maker for them.

          • Duane

            The Navy loves the product and is happy with the price. Best bang for the buck of any naval warship today.

  • Ed L

    Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division has launched its eight National Security Cutter (NSC) built for the U.S. Coast Guard. NSC Midgett (WMSL 757) was launched on November 22, 2017, and will be christened during a ceremony on December 9. Three more too go. There is still time for more hills to be started before it gets shutdown. In 2012, Ingalls introduced the “Patrol Frigate 4921” concept ship with improved weapons and combat systems. Which Ingalls said it could meet the US Navy survivability requirements for the new Frigate. It has an upgraded 76-mm main gun, a new CEAFAR 4th generation active-phased array radar, and both a hull mounted sonar and multi-functioned towed array (MFTA). Installed behind the main gun on the forecastle in a “reserved space” is a 12-cell Mk 56 Vertical Launch System (VLS) capable of holding 12 Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles (ESSMs) with up to a 30-mile engagement range. In lieu of the Phalanx is a more effective SeaRAM CIWS with 11 RIM-116 rolling airframe missiles. In place of the stern launch ramp is one Mk 32 triple torpedo tube set and eight Harpoon anti-ship missiles. It supports the SH-60 Light Airborne Multipurpose System Mk III with either Mk 54 Torpedoes for an ASW mission or AGM-114 Hellfire missiles for antisurface warfare. It has a 45-day endurance and a range of over 8,000 nautical miles at 12 knots.4 (In comparison, LCS-1 and 2 have ranges of 3,500 nm and 4,300 nm with a 21-day endurance, and DDG-51 has a range of 4,400 nm with a 30-day endurance.5)

    • Frigate sailor

      But Ed, we already have the foremost and fearsome “Battle Frigate-Bar none” the ship formally known as the “Frigate” formally known as the “LCS,” why would we want a ‘real’ warship as you propose, we might scare somebody with all those missiles, guns, and real capabilities, the LCS might have to go and find a “safe place” to hide.

    • Duane

      HII can and probably will submit a proposal in response to the FFG(X) RFP.

  • FactChecker90803

    I know what a 2D and 3D air search radar is, but never heard of a 4D air search radar or was the writer lazy and forgot to give the full nomenclature of the radar AirbusTRS-4D.

    • Stephen

      4D radar is in the offing. Don’t be surprised when CIC is filled with helmeted technicians interfacing with a virtual reality projection. We keep integrating technical advancements, with Science-Fiction writers leading the way!

    • Duane

      4D is three dimensional position plus direct speed readout. It’s a generic tech term that the TRS-4D adopted in its model name.

      • FactChecker90803

        In actuality I was being sarcastic, the writer did forgo the complete naming of the Radar. The TRS-4D is a G-Band three-dimensional, multi-function naval radar for surveillance, target acquisition, self-defense, gunfire support, and aircraft control. With 4D, just being a evolution of the previous 2D and 3D radars.

      • Big-D

        Who all thinks Duane is from the 5th dimension ?

  • PolicyWonk

    “This is a major endorsement of the quality and the capabilities of the United States Navy and Lockheed Martin’s Freedom-variant surface combatant.”
    ===========================================
    If it was, the Saudi’s wouldn’t have demanded such substantial improvements that all but make it make it an entirely different ship. The Saudi’s turned both LCS variants down flat, declaring they were far too expensive for the small ROI (again – why are we the only smart ones? they aren’t the only ones who turned down LCS).

    The Freedom class LCS variant makes the better starting point for a warship simply because its got a lot more steel than the glorified car ferry the Independence class is based upon (which is OTOH a more advanced design). As much as some might try to delude folks into thinking this somehow validates the dreadful design of the Freedom class LCS variants, they will likely not bother telling people about how much larger, let alone how much better armed and protected the Saudi version is, Nor will they discuss the better price point for return on investment than what US taxpayers are being stuck paying for with the Freedom class LCS (which ironically was “never intended to venture into the littorals to engage in combat”, according to former CNO Adm. Jonathan Greenert).

    A frigate based on the Saudi variant of the heavily modified Freedom class might be a viable alternative for the USA – especially since the Saudi’s are paying for all the design and development work. This would save the taxpayers a lot of money.

    • Duane

      The changes made at Saudi request were not due to deficiencies in quality of the LCS. They wanted a multi-mission ship that included area air defenses as well as SuW and ASW. That’s the purpose of the VLS and the ESSMs – to provide area air defense against cruise missile attacks (from Iran and their proxies. To provide the multi-mission capability, it was necessary to stretch the hulls of the Freedom class from 378 ft to 440 ft, and increase the displacement from about 3,400 tons to 4,000 tons.

      Ship designs need to be in response to specific requirements.

      As for your last paragraph, that is a very good point. This buy by the Saudis and NAVSEA’s statement last week that they believe the LCS-based FFG(X) to be a competitve option for their RFP lead many to believe that that’s a backhanded way of saying the Navy is most likely to go with the LCS-based FFG because it is a proven hull type with proven systems, mostly developed (based on 31 LCS already built and/or on order), and will meet their desire for a 2020 construction start.

      Any other competitive European frigate design has never been built in a US shipyard – a requirement of the RFP – and the various design features of ships like the Type 26 and FREMM tend to make them too big, with too much capacity for a small surface combatant, too expensive, and will take too long to start construction. Basically, all those competitive designs are mini-me’s of the Arleigh Burke, produced at costs way too high (up to $1.7B for the Type 26) to be acceptable.

      Perhaps the NSC could work from a timing standpoint, but with costs now of around $700M without any of the required offensive capabilities (air defense, ASW, and SuW), they’re almost certainly going to come in at over a billion.

      • BlueSky47

        But Duane, you’ve been telling us all of time that the LCS can do everything, best warship ever, most capable, BAR NONE! (with it’s mythical modules). Are you now telling us that the Saudi’s want ‘real’ capabilities instead of the mythical and mysterious modules?

        • Duane

          I’ve never stated your silly straw man argument. I repeatedly stated, and stand behind, the FACT that the LCS is the world’s most capable littoral warship, bar none.

          This particular ship is not an LCS, even if it is based upon the LCS Freedom design. It is a multi-mission warship, designed to function as a frigate not an LCS. It provides area air defense which is not and never has been a mission of the LCS.

          • Old Salt

            “Littoral” meaning the LCS can run and hide in the shallow waters, better than anyone BAR NONE, when a chinese warship shows up. You must be very proud of lockmart

          • Duane

            The LCS can go toe to toe with any Chinese warship. It has exactly the same principal armament in surface warfare that the much larger DDGs and CGs (at least some of them – a majority of ABs lack any kind of ASM) have for SuW – OTH missiles. No reason to run and hide. The shallow draft and the high speed of the LCS is for it to chase after the bad guys that DDGs and FFGs cannot go after at all.

          • SamIam

            “go toe to toe” I want some of the stuff you’ve been smoking, it must be really good

          • Duane

            Tell me why an antiship missile fired from an LCS is any different than an anti-ship missile fired from a frigate, or a DDG? Same missile, same capability, same range, same firepower, same seeker, etc. etc. etc.

            None you guys can explain why there is even the tiniest bit of difference. When you are the target and you’re killed or disabled by a Harpoon, Naval Strike Missile, or LRASM, why would it matter where it came from … an LCS, a frigate, a DDG, a Super Hornet, an F-35, or a ground based battery … it all goes boom exactly the same.

          • Notalockmartspokesmouth

            Because a real warship can no only deliver a punch but can also take one, aka a real Frigate like the OHP (which has been proven in battle many times), whereas the flimsy alumimun foil, built to commerical standards, LCS cannot take a hit, let alone a wee little bump from a tug without suffering major damage. Adm Greenert himself said the LCS was never meant to go into harm’s way. Bottom line, it’s nothing but a ‘show the flag’ boat dispite how many times you say “BAR NONE.”

          • Duane

            No surface warship can take an antiship missile without being knocked out of the battle. Including CGs and DDGs, let alone frigates. Yes, a single ASM won’t sink a large ship, and it won’t sink an LCS either. It takes either a large barrage of ASMs or, more likely a single torpedo under the keel, to sink any of our current naval surface warships.

            People keep pointing to the Stark. Yes, it took two Exocets. But only one of them detonated. And the Stark with a single Exocet detonation was effectively out of the battle at that point, which is the whole point of a ASCM.

          • Admiral D

            The LCS doesn’t not have the water tight integrity, the reserve bouyancy, the toughness, damage control, redundancy, the people, defensive sysems etc., etc., to survive ANY hit. The commercial grade LCS would simply vaporize if it took an Exocet let alone some massive Chinese or Russian missile twice the size and power of the Exocet. LIke Adm Greenert said, it wasn’t ‘designed’ to go into harm’s way-but don’t Mr Duane, we won’t tell the good admiral that you disagree with him and that you want to go “toe-to-toe” with China’s best while you sitting safe at your warrior desk.

          • Duane

            That is simply not true. The LCS would no more vaporize than did the HSW-2 Swift, which is not even a warship at all, vaporized when it was hit by an Exocet-equivalent C-802 ASCM.

            And like everybody else who quotes former CNO Greenert, you completely ignore his entire statement, which was that in an anti-access/area denial theater, the LCS (at that time, in 2012, years before it became armed as it is today) would need area air defense coverage from a DDG. Just as would a CVN, or a frigate, or an amphib, or any other vessel that is not a DDG or CG. And even that limited statement – which solely referenced the fact that the LCS did not have an air defense system AT THAT TIME (no longer true) – said nothing about its “ability to take a hit”.

            Since 2012, the LCS has been fitted with the SeaRAM short range air defense system – the very same own ships (as opposed to area air defense) air defense system now deployed on the Ford CVN and will be on the Arleigh Burke Flight IIIs. And the LCS has been fitted with OTH missiles – the very self same OTH missiles used on some (but not even all) of the ABs. So Greenert’s very limited statement has been fully superseded by facts.

          • Big-D

            So what you saying is that the Mighty BAR NONE Battle Frigate, the LCS, that can defeat any enemy and any threat (your words Mr Duane) needs to be babysat by a Destroyer. So the world wonders, what is the POINT of the LCS if it needs to be constantly babysat. We might as well leave the poor little LCS home and let the real warships do the job. If a ship is not a contributer to the battle then it’s a handicap.

          • Duane

            Stop it with your ridiculous “in other words” formulation. I wrote the words that I wrote, not the words that you wrote. I stand by my words as written. Read English much?

          • Duane

            Note that last year, a UAE-operated naval auxiliary (not a warship – no armor, no weapons, not built for surface combat), the former HSW-2 Swift, took a direct hit from a Chinese C-802 – a more modern version of the Exocet – and it couldn’t even sink that. It did severely damage the swift.

            “Surviving” an ASM hit is not difficult at all. But it will take the ship out of action.

          • SamIam

            Who’s this supposed enemy that’s going to be running in shallow waters, not subs, not warships? But perhaps it’s rubber dingies the LCS is best suited to “chase.” But what if the rubber dingy shoots back, will the LCS turn tail and run away?

          • Duane

            The shallow water threats are small craft, which happen to be the principal warfighting asset of both coastal pirates as well as various potential enemies of the USA, including the Iranians and NORKs and the various proxies and terror groups they sponsor such as Hezbollah and the Houthis, who nearly sank a Saudi frigate last year with a small craft swarm. It’s called “asymmetric warfare”.

            The LCS can defeat literally any threat, surface, subsurface, or aerial in the littorals, as well as go toe to toe with any surface warship of submarine. There’s no running away. The high speeds and shallow draft allow the LCS to go after the bad guys, while the deep drafted slow movers (like DDGs and frigates) cannot even go there.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Oh, I never knew that those ASMs you always tell us about are dependent on the depth of the water they fly over.

          • Duane

            The shallow water affects both the kinds of threats faced in the littorals, and the capabilities of the ships to take them on in the littorals. For deep draft ships like most frigates and destroyers, the shallow waters, both operationally, as well as many ports, are simply inaccessible, so a moot point. As pointed out in another posting on the subject of LCS, there’s dozens of allied and/or friendly ports that our LCS are accessing now, and have been since 2013 during their first deployment to the SCS, that the deep drafted ships simply cannot navigate to.

            As for ASMs, of course they don’t care what waters they are launched from. They do not need to be launched from water at all, given that virtually all of them are also launched from both aircraft and from land batteries. Just ASMs don’t care how big the ship is that they are launched from. Just feed them targeting data, and as long as the target is within range, they’re good to go. And their targets don’t care either from whence they are launched, only that they can defend themselves, or not.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Except those DDGs and CGs you are always disparaging can at least offer SOME modicum of protection against them, including protecting the LCS’s from them. The LCS cannot.

            One other thing. You keep trying to make it appear that the LCS’s will only operate in ‘shallow’ waters. Yet to justify their existence other warfare missions are being attempted to be added to them. Those other missions will certainly take them away from water that is only 20 feet deep. The LCS will have to traverse deep waters to get those ‘shallows’. An ASM is not going to have an problems traversing over those waters.

          • Duane

            Uhhh, no. I do not disparage DDGs .. they have a very important role to play, but it is NOT in littoral warfare. Just as CVNs have a very important role to play, SSNs and SSBNs, amphibs, etc. A DDG makes a lousy LCS, just as a SSN makes a lousy CVN. It’s so simple even the GEICO cav gets it.

            I never state that LCS’s will only operate in the shallows. In fact, every time I point to the quotes on the US Navy’s own website that says that the LCC is intended to operate in blue waters and particularly to provide ASW escort to carrier strike groups, I ALWAYS get huge blowback from the anti-LCS crowd about that.

            It’s very simple – an LCS can operate in any depth of water from 12.5 ft and more … not true of the DDGs, CGs, or frigates,. which require upwards of upper twenties water depth to not go aground. That doesn’t mean the LCS does the job of a DDG, or a frigate.

  • Rob Blakey

    Article states it will have an 8 cell VLS, but then says it can quad pack the ESSM into 16 cells for 64 total. So is it an 8 cell or 16 VLS? Or am I missing something?

  • Admiral D

    LCS, it’s the first ‘snowflake’ warship, in that needs a “safe place” to hide when the enemy warships show up. But man it up with a bunch of millenials and a few strategicially placed espresso machines that spit out endless stream of latte’s and they won’t have a care in the world LMAO

  • Old Salt

    In some future and twisted Duane’s world, the POTUS will ask, during a national emergeny, “where are the LCS?” 😛

  • Chesapeakeguy

    $6 billion for 4 frigates. And that is from using an existing design, though significantly modified. But there are no ‘modules’, which is smart. I remember the Kidd class ships built for Iran before their revolution had enhanced air conditioning systems and filtering for operating in that particular environment of the Persian Gulf and surrounding areas. I’ll wager some such considerations are in play here. But as our Navy starts its selection process for a new FFG, it appears increasingly doubtful that any new ship, even one based on an existing design, is going to come in under a billion a pop.

  • Spkrdctr

    Wow! I cant believe how many here are anti-lcs and want it to be what it was never originally designed to be. It was supposed to be an anti-mine, anti-pirate and anti- sub platform with the different modules. It was planned from the outset that it would not actually fight a real warship and would operate with AB protecting it while it worked on mines etc.

    I realize that many on here dont like how it has turned out cost wise. It is way, way over budget and still doesnt have working modules. But all of the “its not a warship that can fight another ship” statements are silly. It was never designed or meant too.
    Also I read people wanting OHP ships? They are junk. You would be back to building new ships from scratch at a very expensive price. The entire lcs program has blown up and now the navy is trying to make changes to try to save the money all ready sunk into the program. I could go on but fixing a boondoggle is not easy. Remember it was NEVER supposed to fight other ships! Well, except for pirate dingeys.