Home » Budget Industry » NAVSEA: New Navy Frigate Could Cost $950M Per Hull


NAVSEA: New Navy Frigate Could Cost $950M Per Hull

The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) conducts routine patrols in international waters of the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands as the People’s Liberation Army-Navy [PLA(N)] guided-missile frigate Yancheng (FFG 546) sails close behind, on May 11, 2015. US Navy photo.

This post has been updated to include additional information on the Littoral Combat Ship costs for Fiscal Year 2018.

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy’s new class of 20 guided-missile frigates could cost an estimated $950 million per hull, the Naval Sea Systems Command FFG(X) program manager said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Surface Navy Association 2018 symposium, NAVSEA’s Regan Campbell said the new class of small surface combatant would set a so-called threshold requirement for a net average cost of $950 million for the second through 20th hulls in the FFG(X) next-generation frigate program following a downselect to a single shipbuilder in 2020. The lead ship in the class is expected to cost more than the $950-million average.

In comparison, a Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer (DDG-51) costs about $1.8 billion to build and equip with sensors and weapon systems.

That frigate number is also above the $588-million per-hull cost of the existing Lockheed Martin Freedom-class (LCS-1) and Austal USA Independence-class (LCS-2) Littoral Combat Ships slated for the Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

The estimate emerges as the Navy is in the midst of a conceptual design review with an unknown number of bidders for the follow-on to the LCS, following a request for proposal issued late last year.

By March, NAVSEA expects to award four to six contracts to further develop the conceptual designs ahead of the final construction contract award in 2020.

“We’re going to have a technical review of each of these proposals by the end and provide them feedback in where these designs might need some buffing up to get to a full and open competition,” Campbell said.
“You will see those requests for proposals by the fourth quarter of 2019, with an award in 2020.”

USS Coronado (LCS 4), an Independence-variant littoral combat ship, launches the first over-the-horizon missile engagement using a Harpoon Block 1C missile. US Navy Photo

While NAVSEA has not disclosed the bidders for last year’s RFP, USNI News understands up to eight or more designs are under consideration for the next phase of the program.

Those designs not only likely include the two existing LCS builders but also several European frigate designs. European shipbuilders, like Spain’s Navantia, have experience building smaller frigate-sized warships using the Lockheed Martin Aegis Combat System. Aegis shares a common DNA with the COMBATSS-21 combat system currently in use on LCS and planned for FFG(X).

“There are foreign ships that are competitors in the space and we anticipate those could be coming into play,” Campbell said.

In addition to previously disclosed requirements, NAVSEA has set the range it would like to see for the number of the Mk-41 Vertical Launch System cells – an objective target of 32 and threshold of 16. The cells could field a single Raytheon SM-2 or SM-6 per cell or four Evolved SeaSparrow Missiles quad-packed into a single cell. In comparison, a Flight IIA Burke has 96 VLS cells.

NAVSEA also will require the FFG(X) field a minimum eight over-the-horizon anti-ship missiles, with an objective requirement of 16.

  • Bubblehead

    Those are some lofty price goals. There seems to be some disparity between price & what the Navy wants. Even 16 MK41 cells disqualifies several of the applicants. Off top of my head, Freedom class FFGX & Ingalls NSC. Sadly both the American designs.

    • DaSaint

      It may be possible to cram 16 Mk41 cells in a Freedom. Question is strike length or not. The Saudis are getting either 8 or 16 cells, can’t recall which. I doubt the NSC could, but you never know. Don’t like the superstructure of the NSC, but nobody really asked me.

      • ShermansWar

        it’s too small a hull for the mission set. The engine choice is going to be a huge decision. Is it to be a proper warship with an LM 2500 or variant , or a smaller multi engine job that will be essentially a glorified corvette?

        • DaSaint

          For ASW, quiet is required, and waterjets just won’t cut it. In fact, it needs to be built around a CODLAG or Hybrid-Electric system, with 2 LM2500s or MT36s and an electric drive system of some sort. It has to produce more electricity than typical to ensure future uses, such as directed energy weapons and the like.

          It’s not hard to do that on a FFG hull…Type 26 is already so configured. Navantia’s F-105 isn’t.

          • ShermansWar

            This ship I guarantee will have no more than one LM 2500. They aren’t spending 3 bil on a frigate, dude, and they didn’t spec an ASW ship, they specced a few ASW sensors. A bow sonar wasn’t one. The type 26 proposal will be the first one in the wastepaper basket. Great ship, poor fot for the RFI.

            A lot of guys are on here speculating about will it have this or that, when for the most part almost all they can afford under the price tag has already been specifically stated and specified in the RFI, which is widely available yet few seem to have read, as it answered months ago questions we are seeing here now.

          • DaSaint

            Sure the RFI listed specs. But only now are we hearing 32 Mk41 VLS and 16 SSMs. Those are major inputs into the decision-making, and they significantly affect vessel options. I forget who said it, maybe it was you, but there will be accounting tricks played out here. There will be one cost for the build cost, and another budget for GFE.

          • ShermansWar

            I was going to say you’re wrong, but I checked and the Spanish Colon has 2 2500s.

            I still don’t think they want a 6000+ ton warship, though

          • Duane

            The Navy says that the $950 max average hull cost for the 20 hulls includes GFE. The Navy will supply the GFE costs, so that all competitors are working in the same apples to apples competition.

      • Duane

        The LM frigate variant of their Freedom class hull already features 16 VLS for the Saudis. LM stretched the hull length from 378 ft to 440 ft. If they need to add yet some more length (by inserting a longer VLS module) to get to 32, no big deal. LM has already designed it – they’ve been working on their FFG(X) design since at least 2014, knowing this was the way the Navy was going.

        • They already had to stretch the current hull just to give it acceptable amounts of buoyancy – I’m not sure there is enough growth potential left for all of the new systems. As to the Saudi variant, it still only exists on paper and who knows what compromises they accepted.

    • Duane

      LM has already stretched the Freedom hull for the four Frigate variants they just sold the Saudis, which includes a 16-cell VLS and extended fuel tanks for longer range (hull length increased from 378 ft to about 440 ft). Stretching the hull to go from an 16 cell VLS to 32 is no big deal, since the ability to hit 45 knots and maintain a 12.8-ft draft are no longer a design requirement for FFG(X). It just means making a longer VLS hull module and inserting it into the existing hull design. With modular ship building and computerized 3D design, this kind of change is easy peasy today.

      LM has been working on the FFG(X) design since at least 2014 as publicly announced.

      • @USS_Fallujah

        Removing the 40kt requirement should allow for a much less complicated, and much less expensive, propulsion system. It will also save space/weight for the increase power generation & cooling the new radar will require, plus more fuel obviously.

  • leroy

    $950M? That’s a lot of money. Whatever design is chosen better bring with it a lot of capability.

    I didn’t hear anything about ASW. Like I said, for what is basically $1B per ship, the USN had better get a lot of capability. To be honest, I don’t think they should be buying a frigate that costs a dime more than $750M. And that’s still a lot!

    • Ed L

      If the new Frigate is a winner then our Navy should have 65 built and 15 for the Canadians too

      • leroy

        That quantity might lower the price.

    • Rocco

      Agreed!! Hey bro how you doing!! I hear your boy Don bacon is a real general!! On BD this morning!!

      • leroy

        Bacon (not the politician, the commenter)? Has the perspective and “expertise” of a boot that washed out of basic! Now he’s all upset because Solomon told him where he can go. And it seems I have had quite the psychological impact on him because he keeps on referring to me in his posts. How I beat him up in past discussions. I’ve got the guy wound up tighter than a rubberband on a toy balsa wood airplane. He’s done! I finished him off – with extreme prejudice. Had to be that way. Lost the F-35 debate like a kindergarten kid trying to argue physics with Al Einstein. : )

        • Rocco

          Lol copy that!!!….. Makes me wonder if the general & him are one & the same? ………Na…. Can’t Be lol.

          • leroy

            Not in a million years! : )

    • echos of the mt’s

      If its going to cost that much they might as well buy more Burke’s.

      • ShermansWar

        The mission set is NOT one for a 10,000 ton warship. That’s not what they are shopping for. They don’t need every single surface combatant to be a Burke. They don’t want more AAW ships, which is essentially what Burkes are. They want a sensor and networked relay node with a strong ASuW capability, able to defend itself and provide escort that doesn’t require a Burke.

        They want a ship to scout and scrap with enemy recon assets ahead of the main battle group that can fall in with the task force and contribute once they have located the enemy.

        • That’s what they say they want, but I’m pretty sure a ship actually designed for that role would look a lot more like Hyuga than a traditional frigate – after all, it should be focusing on supporting aircraft and UUV/USV’s rather than directly engaging enemy surface vessels.

          • ShermansWar

            They already HAVE Burkes for that, which by the way, can’t effectively engage enemy surface combatants as they don’t carry a modern ASM, if they carry one at all.

            It’s disturbing the limited tactical minds the navy produces that can only envision a one size fits all warship, regardless of mission set ( and a 10,000 ton size, thereabouts, for that). Burkes for everyone!!! nice thought but not every mission requires a ship that size. Not to mention the DDG-51s are ALWAYS tied to the CBG in direct support and proximity, except for 4 out of Rota. If they want a ship explicitly to engage enemy surface combatants, why should it support aircraft? other than CEC, which it has, it needs what exactly, to support aircraft? you can imagine no tactics or operations where detached combatants generate actionable intel and engage enemy surface combatants if need be while doing so? No scouts ever. Everything is delegated to the airqwing, the intel, the recon, the combat power. That’s stale stagnant and lazy thinking, the kind that get destroyers rammed and cruisers and minesweepers run aground. one size does NOT fit all, and combat ability and sensors deployed from more than one spot in the ocean is a big asset.

          • Patrick Bechet

            Agreed. Cast your mind back to 1991 and Op Desert Storm and what USS Nicholas FFG-47 did in the Northern Gulf. Scouting, surface action, harrassement of installations etc. A Burke would be too valuable for that risky mission. A Perry and the FFGX fit the bill – enough capabilty that it can defend itself organically but if the worse happened and its lost, not fatal to a naval campaign (or a PR disaster).

          • Rocco

            I don’t like the way you put that a Burke is too valuable for that mission!!! It’s not about a mission it’s about what you encounter on patrol!! I’d rather have all resources on hand than to have not enough to do this job etc!!! Ship is a ship no matter the cost. It’s about the crew members that matter.⚓️

          • Patrick Bechet

            That is so sweet, however, its irrelevent to the real world of naval warfare. Commanders can’t be sentimental, ships are not all equal, and those ships that are of more value to a naval camapign need to be kept away from high risk missions since their loss will threaten the success of the naval camapign, cause a outsized loss of morale and result in an information warfare (PR) loss. A smaller, less important/ expensive/ lower manned but sufficiently powerful ship that can reasonably survive most threats is required for that mission ie a FFG. Otherwise, scrap everything less capable than a Tico cruiser/ Burke Flt III!

          • William Sager

            Speaking about sentimentality. It’s about time we force about a half dozen Battery ships on the Navy packed full of VLS’s filled with every type of missile and nothing else. No captain wants to command such a ship because it basically does nothing but escort carriers and provide extra firepower.

          • ShermansWar

            You have to stop posting reasonable arguments, i’m getting palpitations.

          • Patrick Bechet

            Youre getting palpitations? I’ve just found out from Rocco that I’m a liberal: I’m having a cardiac event!!

          • SDW

            compared to him…

          • JMIII

            But realize, quantity is also a quality. If one great ship gets trashed, you lose everything. If you lose on frigate, the other 2-3 you could buy with the same money, can hold up part of the slack. Also, when you have more ships, you can be more flexible in rotating ships off mission for support/maintenance (which has been sorely neglected – Thanks Obama -and Bush too!).

          • ShermansWar

            Nice post.

          • SDW

            No ship is “disposable” and even more so its crew. I think the discussion is about the most effective allocation of scarce assets. The DDG that you send to escort a replenishment group is one that you don’t have for participation in the point of the spear. Two FFGs may provide a better escort than a single DDG. That said, it still may be that a DDG is required.
            If the USN can acquire and operate 5 FFGs for the price of 3 DDGs they wouldn’t be interchangeable but they may provide the flexibility to address a given set of missions most effectively. If the ratio is 2 to 1 then even better so long as the FFG’s capabilities allow for competent and adequate coverage of the assigned mission.

          • JMIII

            I don’t want to send an FFG to do a DDG or CG type job. But if you spend 50 billion more on ships and you can buy 24 DDGs, 50 fancy FFGs or 100 ok FFGs, I think there is a value to the 100. If getting to 355 ships is going to cost 150 billion more, we won’t get there with this congress ever.

          • ShermansWar

            This is so wrong. Bigger is always better eh? The skipper will use the Jedi mind trick so no one sees his ship. OK. whatever.

            Or, if it’s likely to get sunk, may as well be a Burke. That’s just nuts. As is the concept none of our ships will be sunk because we fly a super special flag, or whatever the lazy logic is.

          • Bubblehead

            Correct putting 150 crew at risk bs 250-300.

          • ShermansWar

            Amen. Someone gets it. The rest consider it for a moment, then flinch at the idea of actually getting shot at and ask for more drones.

          • PolicyWonk

            Good Lord – if a Burke is too valuable – then what pray tell might you use a Zumwalt for?

          • ShermansWar

            Testing, silly. Didn’t you get the memo?

        • kapena16

          Really? When was the last time a US Navy ship actually “scouted ahead and met (with surprise?) the enemy and scrapped with them” ahead of a main battle group? What are we really building here? What do we really need, being specific. What do we want to have that works, efficiently and reliably? The multipurpose sea-going platform that does many things, usually does a poor job of everything, not a good job of anything.

          • ShermansWar

            When? Quite some time. Last time I believe was when they got into a shooting war with a competent opponent at sea, something they haven’t faced in , oh, 75 years.

            But go ahead, assume that we will always be able to dictate the terms of the engagement, won’t be jammed, our satellites will always be up, theirs wont, and our networks will continue to function under their cyber attacks while theirs succumb to our assaults. and that we will always have air and naval superiority.

            And if it all doesn’t go our way we’re left holding our junk.

            As to what the ship is supposed to do, it’s pretty clear, as it’s it’s missions set. You want to pretend you can’t read it,or understand it, or that a ship that has very specific capabilities spelled out while others are neglected entirely isn’t a specialist, well, that’s on you, not me or the Navy. Just cause you don’t like the idea of actually having to fight for actionable intel doesn’t mean it has no worth, rather,it may be that some have no belly for what the navy clearly sees as the impending fight.

            I realize you think having all your ships being cookie cutter Burke copies of each other with a Tico and a carrier thrown in, deployed in one tight blob in one place is to you is the epitome of the Naval Art of War and tactical expertise, but others may differ, having more imaginative concepts as to how they may wish to deploy, shape the battlefield, seize the initiative and dictate the terms of the engagement. This Frigate, as specced ,is an excellent asset in that regard, especially if used aggressively, and forward. Not every weapon or tool need be a hammer or a broadsword. Stiletto’s have their place in one’s acroutment’s when going to war.

            If your going to try and make the case claiming the current Navy’s tactical prowess, vision and skill in offensive maritime operations against a near peer state actor are fine and dandy as is, then you must excuse me while I laugh in your face, sir. They’re lucky if they can maneuver without crashing.

          • michaelstephani

            In the event of a war with Russia or China, after 2 days there will be no satellites left and we will be forced to fight World War II Style. Our competitors know this and have game planned it – we will be at a severe disadvantage.

          • Currently the US has 800 satellites, 300 of which are government owned. Many of those are in extremely high orbits that would take powerful missiles to reach.

            Further, in the event that all satellites are destroyed, aircraft will become the primary recon platforms – and the US has a massive advantage in the air.

          • El Kabong

            The Tanker War in the Persian Gulf… Op. Praying Mantis…

      • leroy

        Or cut $200M from the price so we can buy the number we need.

        • Rocco

          That means the caddy can’t have heated seats with leather. Or a big sunroof!!!

          • leroy

            But it will still give a good ride. They need YOU to guide this procurement. You’ve got my vote!

          • Rocco

            Lol copy that!! Pop had a 67 2 door wight BLK roof 425″ engine!!

          • leroy

            Those were the days! : )

          • dboconnor

            Sounds like my first car, spanking new ’65 Olds Starfire with 425CID engine.
            I loved that car!!

          • William Sager

            Or replace the two turbines with diesels. It’s not like Frigates need to go 45 knots. And while we’re at it get rid of the expensive Jacuzzi water jets. Not much chance ones props are going to run afoul of a reef while looking for submarines. This should also make up extra room for bunker oil and other goodies, not to mention lower cost.

          • SDW

            The two biggest problems with diesels are 1) There aren’t enough diesel snipes in the Navy and 2) the USN doesn’t want anything with a “G” in its type designation (e.g.,FFG) that can’t make a decent rooster tail. OK, so that’s an overstatement but there are some obscure factors that play a real role in figuring the impact and cost of a new design.

          • TomD

            I’m not an expert on ship turbines, but I know that ships and aircraft both have increasing need for electrical generation, and turbines are now being designed basically with integral generators right in the turbine core. I would bet that these will likely be lighter than comparable generators geared off of diesels. So, from my armchair it seems that diesels might not be attractive as cyberwar needs go up. Your opinion?

          • SDW

            I wouldn’t call me an engine expert either but over the years I’ve been told a few things and I’ve tried to listen. Diesels shine at slower speeds for a longer time. This means a slower top speed but also that efficiency is skewed towards the lower speeds; i.e., diesels begin to top out when the turbines are just hitting their stride.
            The Coast Guard doesn’t have many (any?) turbines except the NSC because they can’t afford the gas. The USN has mostly turbines but their also have replenishment tankers. The USN has so many LM 2500 turbines that training, spares, yard maintenance, etc. are not issues.
            My comment was to emphasize that there are many factors, some obscure, that influence an acquisition decision and some of them are valid.

          • El Kabong

            Doesn’t the “G” stand for Guided missiles?

            I know “K” is used for D-E submarines.

          • SDW

            Yes, but don’t expect too much consistency. The “G” is supposed to mean that the ship doesn’t have only guns. Now it is used for a ship that is primarily an anti-air ship. The line isn’t rigid in that a G (CG, DDG, and FFG) still has ASW and ASuW capabilities. In fact, the Perry class FFGs were strongest in the ASW area.

            Submarines with a G are cruise missile platforms, B denotes a ballistic (strategic) missile boat. The K was invented for a “killer”, that is, an ASW-oriented sub. Now it is used to designate a diesel-electric or air independent (non-nuke powered) submarine and is fundamentally a non-nuke SS that costs a lot. Every submarine carries torpedoes and so is an ASW sub. Even the SSBNs have an ASW capability that they try very hard to avoid using.

          • El Kabong

            I agree, it’s a mess.

            I miss the days when ships were named according to their type, not after any old person.

          • SDW

            There are two standard ways to get a ship named after you. You can retire (usually from this planet) as a powerful politician or die heroically. Mere age is not enough. I am too old for the former and not inclined to the latter. (Especially as regards the military, getting your name on something usually involves dying spectacularly.) At least nine times out of ten I agree with the name. That’s a pretty good record for a government decision.

          • El Kabong

            I miss the days of subs being named after fish…

          • SDW

            Fish still don’t vote. Here’s another idea for you. Aircraft always get a name even when we develop a new aircraft only every ten years. Missiles sometimes do. Why don’t we start naming missiles and torpedoes? Torpedoes can be named after fish, missiles after edged weapons like swords? Sorry, for one minute there I guess I just wanted to think about something non-political.

          • El Kabong

            ???

    • Bubblehead

      The USN has made very clear the FFGX will have significant ASW. Bow sonar, towed array, ASROC, torpedoes & variable depth sonar. Add at least one sh60 helo to that list also. The USN has also made very clear the FFGX will utilize Enterprise radar.

      I no longer see NSC as being a good fit. Even the 4921 has very limited VLS. Ingalls did propose one model with 16 Mk41 which meets the threshold. But even 16 seems like too few VLS.

      The Type 26 is the most capable Frigate without a doubt. But it also has 2 major strikes which almost eliminates it. There isn’t a Type 26 built yet. And because of this they could never estimate the price without just wild speculation. Its a shame because this is one deadly ship, especially if outfitted to USN specs.

      The Spanish frigate uses Aegis, mk41 with plenty VLS, and is basically a scaled down AB. You have to like their chances. The USN is very traditional, loves their AB, and will be looking for something non-risky that will not require major restructuring.

      • ShermansWar

        Nowhere, anywhere, does it state, not in the RFI, RFP or in any discussions anywhere, a bow sonar. Doing so would preclude LCS considerations, and they can’t have that. Same goes for ASW weaponry. .Sensors are specced for ASW, but no weapons. Nor are they even requested, let alone required. Please show me a mention of torpedoes anywhere ( and no, heliborne torps don’t count.).

        Navantia should win this walking away if there is an justice or reason involved.

        • DaSaint

          And Navantia has partnered with Bath, who could surely use the additional work.

          • ShermansWar

            And General Dynamics. BIW is the weak link there, having a record of consistent cost overuns. I Trust GD and Navantia, however.

          • DaSaint

            Well you know it will have cost overruns. That’s a given. Figure 20% easily, possibly 30%. This will end up as a $1.2B ship, but may also end up at least as capable, if not more so, than the Flight I Burkes, which I predict it will eventually replace.

          • ShermansWar

            In the fleet as numbers towards 350 ships but not in missions set. it just doesnt have enough VLS to fill the role. Even if they want with Navantia full 48 VLS, it’s still half a Burke on a good day. I don’t see it, it will never fill the role of primary AAW ship in a CBG.

          • DaSaint

            See, I don’t see it that way. Remember the Flight IIIs are still in production. They have more capability than the earlier ships. At some point, someone may argue that you need less Burkes for a CAG. Say 2 and not 3, or 3 FIII Burkes instead of 2+ 1 Tico.

            Or if the Flight 3 Burkes are extremely capable, AND the AAW coverage was there – somehow – one may make the argument to then replace the earlier Burkes with a less expensive ship than a Flight III.

            Time will tell, say in 2025 when the first FFG comes on line, and the first few Flight I Burkes reache 30+ years of service.

          • ShermansWar

            “3 FIII Burkes instead of 2+ 1 Tico.” That’s where we are headed, as the Ticos are going to pasture, soon, and they have nothing to replace it with.

          • DaSaint

            Well someone better add Flag Staff capability, as the DDGs don’t have it, and the Ticos do. Someone has to be in charge of the AAW duties.

          • ShermansWar

            yes, they have plans to slough it off on somewhere else.

          • tpharwell

            The chairman and ranking member of the SASC said to have it up and running by the earliest point in the next decade. That means 2020. I am afraid the only point of this release was to say “we are not going to make that deadline”, since they used it as a reason to push back their schedule for settling on an RFP.

          • 32 VLS can give you 56 SAM’s (24x SM-6 & 32x ESSM) – that’s more than any Eurofrigate or Cold War destroyer. Maybe not enough to be the primary AAW ship but enough to be a powerful AAW asset.

          • ShermansWar

            Oh, it will be an AAW asset, but they will never load an SM-6 into this frigates’ silos. Doesn’t have the radar to support it at full range. It will be able to field SM-2s( 90-130 miles) however, which is VERY capable for all it’s envisioned roles.

          • DaSaint

            You forgot about Distributed Lethality and Cooperative Engagements, and Tritons and P-8A Poseidons, and F-35s sending sensor data to every ship afloat…

          • ShermansWar

            No, I didn’t, but it’s not in the RFI and I don’t see this ship requiring an AA missile with a range in excess of 130 miles. which an SM-2 will give you.

          • Well, if Raytheon is to be believed EASR is supposed to be as powerful as SPY-1. And we never built that many SM-2ER’s so SM-6 is going to be our only LR SAM fairly soon.

          • ShermansWar

            dunno why you think they plan to fit an ER AA missile to this ship…..

          • tpharwell

            A sensible long range plan would be to bracket the Burkes with both a new frigate and a new cruiser.

        • SDW

          Shipborne torpedoes aren’t universally valued. They are arguably only suited for self-defense. Air-mailed light weight torpedoes (by missile or helicopter) have a much greater chance of catching the target. The Vertical Launch ASROC would have to be a big part of the loadout for the FFG(X).

          • ShermansWar

            should be, but it isn’t in the RFI.

          • ShermansWar

            it’s not.

          • SDW

            Yes, sadly. I should have finish my comment with “…to be worthwhile.”

      • ShermansWar

        Type 26 is an ASW ship, this isn’t, if it was it would require ASW weapons and it doesn’t, not even a bow sonar. It may wind up with one, but it’s not required.Anywhere. I’m rooting for Navantia ( Spanish F100/105 class) myself.

        • SDW

          If you think we all see arguments here with a lot more speculation than fact just wait until the FFG(X) proposals come in! Every one named so far seems to be a fine ship with solid plusses and minuses.

          • tpharwell

            The interesting thing is that they appear to have come in, and Navy is not sharing them.

          • ShermansWar

            Somebody else noticed that, eh? it’s because they have offerings that will blow away bastardized LCS’s and the NSC variant as well, and no one can figure out how to break the news that the foreign designs are way more bang for the buck.

        • Duane

          The FFG(X) will have substantial state of the art ASW systems. Per the Navy’s briefing this week it will have (as GFE) the AN/SQQ-89F undersea warfare system to integrate all the sensors both onboard and offboard; the AN/SLQ-61 lightweight tow; the TB-37 multifunction towed array; the AN/SQS-62 variable depth sonar; the MH-60R and MQ-8C unmanned aerial vehicle that are equipped with sono buoys and deploy the Mk 54 lightweight torpedo. The 16-32 cell VLS will be capable of shooting ASROC.

          If all of that is “not an ASW ship” equippment, pray tell us what is?

          • ShermansWar

            yeah, that was me that posted those specs 2 days ago, because i actually read the RFI that makes zero mention of any ASW weapons whatsoever.

            Aren’t you the guy that yesterday was telling us how the Zumwalt is getting the HVP a day before USNI posts an article about how,no it isn’t, it isn’t getting anything, and BTW the HVP is at least a decade away???

            You formulate theories and present them as facts. reading your posts is like reading a Russian Dossier.

          • Duane

            Uhh, the weapons are the Mk 54s that are deployed by the MH-60R aircraft that it deploys, and the ASROCs that will be deployed in the required 16-32 cells of VLS. Those are the same ASW weapons used on every other US Navy ASW vessel.

            I don’t recall commenting on HVP on the Zum. Some have touted it to replace the LRLAP rounds that were cancelled, but the Navy has no current plans to do so, as reported in a post that is here today at USNI.

          • ShermansWar

            I can’t help you if you can’t tell the difference between a ship and a helo.

          • Duane

            The helo is carried by the ship, sustained by the ship, and completely integrated with the ship. The chopper is literally an extension of the ship.

            Plus you’re ignoring ASROC, which IS fired directly from the ship’s Mk 41 VLS.

    • ShermansWar

      ASW specs were in the RFI released in the summer and have previously been published ,here, by USNI .

      They are :

      AN/SLQ-61 light weight towed array
      AN/SQS-62 variable depth sonar
      AN/SQQ-89F undersea warfare/anti-submarine warfare combat system

      AN/SQQ-89F is basically the command , control and coordination suite for the other ASW sensors, ( including Helo). The “F”, (for frigate), variant does not yet exist, but basically it’s the same as the regular AN/SQQ 89, but without a bow sonar , torpedoes or ASROC, thus the F suffix.

      They can add those on if they want to, but the weapons and bow sonar aren’t in the RFI. That would go well over 950 mil, however. They are laying the groundwork for early accounting tricks, if they are really being ambitious about it’s ultimate capabilities, as once the suite is onboard it’s simply a matter of bolting on torpedoes tubes and loading ASROC in the silos.

      Not much can be done about the bow sonar, however. At this juncture a contractor is going to have so offer it, unsolicited, and remain price competitive, and show how it won’t affect manning and maintenance requirements thus making the bid non-competitive. I wouldn’t bet on a bow sonar. This was done to assure the LCS manufacturers wouldn’t be knocked out of the competition at the start, with their noisy speedboats that preclude an effective bow mounted sonar setup. Thank you Lockheed and Austal.

      • DaSaint

        Agreed.
        Unless you’re going to constantly tow your TASS or VD Sonar – which you’re not – you need a bow sonar. It will happen.

        • ShermansWar

          Not if they go with Austal or Lockheed they won’t. The only thing you’d hear is your own engines and wake.

          • DaSaint

            While I’m a proponent of the absolute maneuverability of waterjets over props, I concede that you can’t easily make it quiet. Only modern submarine pumpjets, near cousins of waterjets, have been made quiet, and at significant cost.

          • ShermansWar

            This program has no business being under the Aegis of the PEO for the LCS . They shouldn’t even consider Freedom and Independence based variants.

          • NEC338x

            PEO Ships didn’t want the mess this will inevitably become. Congresscritter’s in LCS districts are driving the process. The selection will go to one of the primaries.

          • Duane

            Actually, pump jets generically are quieter than propellers or screws, which is why modern submarines use them to get quieter. By using shrouds around the impeller, instead of an open propeller, it greatly reduces tip vortices and, by increasing water pressure around the outer edge of the enclosed impeller, prevents cavitation, both of which make up a lot of the noise that surface ship propellers routinely generate at high speeds and rapid acceleration. The shroud also reduces radiated noise, and of course makes the propulsor much more efficient than an open bladed prop or screw, and less susceptable to damage if run through sand and sediments in shallow waters.

            i’ve read a lot of comments from LCS critics over the years claiming that their pump jets are “too noisy”, but have never seen a study or test reference that actually establishes that. If you have one, please share it.

          • DaSaint

            Duane, the difference with pump jets is that they are completely submerged, and as you stated, the shrouds helps prevent cavitation.

            Waterjets on the other hand, are not completely submerged when at speed, thereby thrusting the jets through the air and into the water. It’s the impact of the directed water into the ocean that makes the noise.

            I’m not sure the comparative effect at slower speeds (under 15 knots) vs. a typical propeller though.

          • Duane

            No ship that moves fast (above 25 knots) is ever going to be quiet, for the purpose of subhunting. Hull noises, machinery noises, and whether prop or water jet, high speed propulsors make a lot of noise.

            In any event, I’ve never seen any quantitative data on the ships noise generated by typical prop-driven surface ships vs. LCS with the waterjets. That’s why I asked if you had any source to offer.

            To effectively hunt subs, a surface ship needs to be moving at a moderate speed, not flank speed, preferably with either a towed array or a VDS … or relying on sonobuoys deployed by the ship’s aircraft. If the surface ship is part of a Carrier Strike Group, the most effective ASW element will not be the skimmers, but the one or two Los Angeles class or Virginia class SSNs that are usually part of a CSG.

          • DaSaint

            Hop on board one of the many commercial passenger catamarans in Vancouver, San Francisco, Tampa/St. Pete, New York, or Boston, and you’ll hear the noise generated by waterjets at moderate to high speeds.

            And here’s the thing, props are most efficient generally for 1 to 26 or so knots. Waterjets are most efficient at 28 and above. So operating a waterjet-equipped subhunter at 20 knots is going to be inherently inefficient.

          • Duane

            Noise transmission in air – which is what you hear on a ferry – is not noise tramsmission in water, which is what submarines will hear, or what the ship’s own hull mounted sensors will hear. What the ship’s remotes sensors will hear (towed array and VDS, as well as dipping sonars in sonobuoys dropped by the deployed aircraft) will not be the same as what the hull mounted hydrophones will hear. Indeed, the vds or dipping sonobuoy will hear exactly what a target sub will hear, while also hearing the sub itself.

            Nothing is louder, to a nearby submarine, than the cavitation proiduced by a traditional propeller on a high speed surface escort. Cavitiation is literally the sound of hundreds of explosions per minute traveling through the water.

            Indeed, the current Rolls-Royce water jets were specifically selected in part on reducing the noise from earlier propulsors.

          • DaSaint

            What are you talking about Duane? Kamewa waterjets are excellent propulsors, but are anything but quiet. They’re dependable and resilient. Wartsila makes good sets too, but waterjets create noise! It’s that simple. Really.

            Sprinting and dipping or towing at very low speed may mitigate that, but it’s mitigation, not a comparable to an acoustically optimized surface veasel.

          • Duane

            I am saying what you hear with your ears in air is NOT what a cruising submarine hears. Have you ever been on a submarine? I spent four years of my life on one in the Cold War, where my boat fulfilled its principal role in finding and tracking Soviet boomers from long range. Far longer range than any surface ship can detect with hull-mounted tranducers. Even 40 years ago our BQQ-5s (still used today in the LA class) with towed arrays, we could literally hear fish fart and whales mate from many miles distant, and we could hear Soviet boomers and track them from even longer range.

            Pump jet noise, which is just water thrashing around on the surface, is easily filtered out by sonar systems. It is the other sounds that tend to make surface ships easy to detect and track, including bow waves (which are present on all surface ships, and are quite noisy), machinery noises, and the extremely loud thrashing sounds of high speed open propellers.

            In any case, don’t confuse what you hear with your ears in air with what transmits in deep ocean waters. Sound transmission in water is extremely different, being affected by the frequency and nature of the generated noise, the temperature and salinity of the ocean waters, and the background noise in the water itself (think of millions of fish constantly farting as they adjust depth with their air bladders, as well as in nearshore waters, ocean reef systems full of parrot fish, as well as whales doing their thing).

          • DaSaint

            Yes, yes, yes, and yes. I know that. That’s not my point. My point is simply that a waterjet is inherently more noisy than props, and therefore it makes it LESS optimal as an ASW platform.

            You don’t have to defend EVERY aspect of the LCS. This facet is suspect at best. It’s like stating a turboprop is generally quieter than a Turbofan.

            And finally, the LCS are equipped with waterjets, not pumpjets. Big difference. Big speed difference. Big water flow difference. Different hydrodynamic. Different.

        • Duane

          A bow sonar is inferior to a variable depth sonar. For the simple matter of thermoclines that hide submarines from sonar sensors located at or just below the surface. That’s why submarines make the best ASW platforms – they can vary their own depth while constantly monitoring the depths of the thermoclines in the water column.

          • airider

            Exactly.

          • KazuakiShimazaki

            A bow sonar has advantages and disadvantages compared to a VDS. Yes, you don’t get to dip it below the thermocline. On the other hand, it also won’t have a speed and maneuverability limit, and in terms of sheer power it’s hard to see that toy being dangled off a thread from the back of the ship matching that huge ball glued right to the front.

          • Duane

            High ship speeds end up generating lots of own-ship noise that masks out returns from underwater targets. Both mechanical noise from power plants and props or waterjets, and water noise that the hull itself generates. The most effective ASW sensing is purely passive, not from generating high power active pulses.

            Submarines almost never use active pinging, because that only gives away the position of the attacking sub. Once you’ve identified and tracked a target, at that point the game shifts to the weapon’s own sensors, not the ship’s sensors – be that a Mk 54 homing torpedo, or an ASROC rocket-assisted torpedo.

            The ability to passively sense submarines is the supreme objective of ASW, and that necessarily entails the ability to sense below the thermoclines. Nuke subs are the best ASW platform we have, bar none, because they are underwater and rely on stealthy passive sensing. With variable depth sonars, surface ships finally have a means of reliably detecting deep submarines. To do the sub-hunting work well requires that the ship not be sprinting around at flank speeds, because you can’t find jack when you’re doing that.

          • Donald Carey

            Which brings up the question of the speed of the target sub. A sub that is faster than the hunter’s effective speed will be very hard to counter.

          • Duane

            Well, not really. A sub operating at very high speed is necessarily much noisier and easy to detect. That’s why subs don’t cruise at flank speed unless on transit from point A to point B. When patrolling on station, whether they be hunters (attack boats) or hunted (boomers), they slow way down from flank speed. Slowing down not only significantly reduces the ship’s sound signature, but it also makes it much easier for the sub to detect and track targets and threats.

            Besides, no submarine can outrun a MH-60R and its Mk 54 torpedo, or an ASROC and its Mk 46 torpedo.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    I still take these claims that the LCS costs $460 million with a huge grain of salt. They got caught trying to hide some significant cost over runs to the program recently, and late in 2016 they put a muzzle on some info about the costs of the program. That said, it stands to reason that the FFG would cost quite a bit more, as it will bring quite a bit more capability to the fore.

  • ArmChairGeneral

    The good is there is a minimum of 16 VLS and minimum 8 OTH anti-ship missiles in the requirements. I always felt this was absolute ground floor for the new frigate. Seeing objective of 32 and 16 was music to my ears. They will surely have to increase the hull size. Don’t like the $950M price tag. The beauty of the LCS version was because it was 1/4 the cost of the DDG.

    • Rocco

      There’s nothing of beauty with the LCS!!

      • ArmChairGeneral

        Sure there is. Sorry I am optimistic but seeing the Saudi version of the frigate makes some sense although it skimps on weapons still. A cheaper frigate with a proven Hull makes sense, but not at $950 million. I would expect a price increase of the lcs to go frigate, but this is a shocker. Everyone thinks the frigate should be a destroyer, but that is not the roll of this frigate. We are still building aegis destroyers and that is not stopping. We can’t afford the destroyer to play the frigate roll and get up to 350ships. I like the speed of the lcs and I think it would be handy. I think of captain Phillips and the aegis destroyer was on pirate patrol? What a waste. I am not a navy man, I don’t know military ships like others, but I am an engineer. I work on projects and I understand how difficult this work is while the outsiders believe things are going wrong when it is part of the process and things are actually going well. So yeah, I think the lcs frigate has a good chance to be successful. But not the austal version. Just looks hideous.

        • Rocco

          Your avatar says it all plus you admit you know nothing about ship’s.!!! As an engineer like what kind ?? Hands on experience makes for a better resume!!

          • ArmChairGeneral

            What is your job? Don’t need to be a ship engineer to understand how technical projects work. I see a lot of projects and there is a lot of commonality with what I do and what they trying to accomplish. You don’t even know what an avatar is so I will make mental note that you are in the clueless club. Nothing you said in my thread provides rational or intellectual information. You hate the lcs and you chose to attack anyone who doesn’t agree with you. That makes you pretty much worthless to the discussion. I am at least paying attention, researching and piecing this together. You are coming up with conclusions when there is little information on the requirements. The vls requirements of 16 is new to me. I have read of vls as a likely requirement, but this is more factual info now. You seem to think you know what will be built when in fact, you don’t. As the article mentions, it is in conceptual design phase? You understand what that means right? Oh and by the way, the article doesn’t mention that an lcs frigate would cost $950 million. The article mentions that the ffg program could cost $950 million per hull. Since the author didn’t say specifically that number is specifically for the freedom or independent version, I am going to assume that is the high mark for all hull entries.

        • ShermansWar

          Saudi frig jams weapons into a hull, has no range, endurance, no significant sensor or ASW capability, and isn’t networked along the line the RFI specs out. it’s apples and oranges.

          • DaSaint

            Saudi version placates us, and replaces their previous US-built fleet of corvettes and FAC. It’s no coincidence that their other fleet is completely French-built.

            We spend some with you, we spend some with them…that’s the plan. Let’s not get too happy with the Saudi LCS. It may not be a jobs program, but it’s a Politics program.

          • ArmChairGeneral

            I’m super happy about Saudi lcs. Super duper.

          • Duane

            No,DaSaint. The Saudis are very much in need of a capable frigate with area air defenses, ASW, and SuW capabilities – they’re going toe to to with the Iranians in the Persian Gulf. The Saudis are not into jobs programs and couldn’t care less about jobs created in the USA. They care very much about defeating the Iranians in their own home waters.

        • ENS Pulver

          Please explain “proven hull.” I appreciate the candor of you statement. You admit that you are not a “navy man,” yet you are someone who “understands [sic] how difficult this work is….” What is you definition of a “proven hull?” One that has put to sea, or one that has seen (and survived) battle damage (regardless of cause)? In modern terms, the difference between “destroyer” and “frigate” are no longer what they use to mean. Tonnage/guns are no longer the driving characteristic. In fact, should an “LCS” have been on station during your Captain Philips situation, it would have played no different part than any other vessel. Finally, what is the “lcs frigate”? Is such a thing defined?

          • ArmChairGeneral

            Oh I love it. You guys hate it when someone goes against your narrow views. What is up with all your double quotes by the way? Of course an “LCS” should have been on station for captain Phillips. Do you need a Tomahawk to take out a survival boat. I am just saying, an lcs would the job of pirate patrol just fine. Probably better with hellfire missiles on board. What are going to do, launch a harpoon at it? A “proven hull” is a hull in production. That reduces costs so you don’t have to design from ground up. Much cheaper. Now I know you are going to say that it has to prove it can survive an attack. Fine, the that would take out type 26 design and probably just about every other hull then wouldn’t it? Hey I’m sorry but I am just being real here. How many type 26 frigates have seen battle and survived?

    • ShermansWar

      950 mil is dirt cheap for a networked warship with Enterprise air defense radar, a towed array AND a VDS, SEWIP3, Nulka, 32 VLS, ESSM and SEARAM and 16 SSM. Forget the fact the gun is useless, has no Bow sonar and zero ASW weaponry outside the Helo. if you can get the above for 950, take it any day of the week.

      To be clear, there is NO bow sonar either specced, required or requested, nor is their any ASW WEAPONRY. only sensors.

  • MarlineSpikeMate

    NATO allies already have proven designs for less. With all the recent problems in every new ship build (not just LCS) the Navy has had, why would we expect anything different?

    • ShermansWar

      Show me a nato design for less, TODAY, that can do the mission set specc’d out in the RFI. You can’t. 2004 prices are non applicable.

  • bohemond

    $460M per for the LCS is a joke figure. The (still nonexistent) mission modules cost as much again, and without them the LCS is just an expensive speedboat. And that’s without getting into the hideous lifecycle maintenance costs.

  • Curtis Conway

    From a cost analysis and long term lifetime logistical maintenance and manning point of view it makes more sense to just truncate the LCS frigates and go completely with FFG(X). We will have more hulls with the same or similar equipment, with common maintenance and operations training schools, maintenance parts, and yard periods all looking almost exactly alike, instead of the three different kinds that just complicate the schedule and budget in the future. Who does that serve? It’s not the taxpayer, or the Navy.

    • Rocco

      I agree with you but we know that ain’t gonna happen. We invested way to much money on them to begin with.

    • ShermansWar

      meh. The LCS is a jobs program, and by the time they build the 20th frigate in 2030 the first LCS will either have broken down, been prematurely retired or approaching the end of their useful life anyway.

      By 2030( after they’ve had years seeing the difference in both deployment and availability) the Navy will be more than willing to give the LCS the Spruance treatment, declare them obsolete, and shred them so the only option will be more frigates ,which is fine by me.

      • johnKHut

        The LCS does not have a “useful life.”

    • Duane

      There’s next to nothing to truncate. Per the FY-2018 NDAA, Congress has already ordered 31 of the 32 planned, and most of those are already built, in construction, or on firm contract order. The Navy needs all the LCS it has planned, and has no plans to reduce that number at all. The 20 FFG(X)s are the difference between the 32 SSCs that are in the pipeline as LCS, and the total of 52 SSCs that now include 20 FFG(X)s.

  • Ed L

    Build 80 of the new frigate bet the Canadians would buy a dozen or more

  • johnKHut

    A major difference is probably the idea that these will work as opposed to the LCS platform which does not.
    However, the 950 M is ridiculous.

    • ShermansWar

      950 is way low considering new frigates are going for 2-3 billion in foreign navies.

      Look at the Canadians and the Aussies.

      • DaSaint

        The Canadian procurement system is a joke. They ‘select’ the yard first, then determine the type of ship to be built. Any business person knows that 1/2 that cost is profit for the yard. That’s why Naval Group made that offer which would allegedly have saved them $20B. The Canadians are trying to preserve a shipbuilding capability, and must pay through the wazoo to do so.

        The Aussies have a similar problem, but better managed. They have a good shipbuilding industry and infrastructure, but have too many gaps in production. This current effort seeks to eliminate that, and they seem to have run a good competition thus far, with BAE, Navantia, and Fincantieri. But the capabilities of those vessels are such that they will cost more than their US counterparts, partly due to the startup costs, partly due to the relatively limited runs (9 vessels), and partly due to their building them in 2 separate yards.

        No, we’re not the only ones who have projects to create work and satisfy constituencies.

        • ShermansWar

          So you’re saying 950 is high for what the RFI specs plus 32 VLS and 16 SSMs? I disagree. You’ll be lucky to get that, here, or anywhere else on the globe for 950.

          • DaSaint

            No, not at all. Let me be clear – NO, I’m NOT saying that. One has to be clear on this blog.

            I believe this FFG will eventually be well north of $950M, somewhere between $1.2 and maybe $1,4 when all is said and done. It happens. ALWAYS.

          • ShermansWar

            sure, once they add in the bow sonar and ASW weapons it needs. but they’ll buy a few hulls first, rave about it’s performance and future potential, then cry they need ASW weapons and bow sonar on the realize to capitalize on it’s full capabilites. Which, honestly, is fine by me. i get how things work. if you’re going to juggle numbers, one way or the other ( they do and they will) I’d rather they do it to get a more capable ship as opposed to being a jobs program producing pier queens.

          • DaSaint

            Agreed!
            Ok, I’m out.
            Fingers crossed for the FFG.

    • thebard3

      The LCS does have some significant weaknesses but large strides have been made in the last year to improve operability and reliability. Survivability is a significant design deficiency that cannot be fixed post-build. The LCS design IS getting closer to what the Navy expected from them at the start, and I think it will eventually become an effective platform for it’s intended mission for many years to come.

  • RunningBear

    $460M/ LCS and $920M/ FFG with 32 Mk-41 VLS cells (16 fwd & 16 aft) with COMBATSS-21 57mm cannon (similar to LCS). Ship engagements with VLS LRASMs.

    • ShermansWar

      Box Launchers specced. SSM requirements are set so as not to cut into VLS silo availability.

      NSM is the only VLS capable SSM available anyway.

      • DaSaint

        I’m surprised at the desire for 16 SSMs. 8 is pretty typical. I’m hoping they mean 16 long-range SSMs, and not some combination of VL Hellfire plus NSMs.

        • ShermansWar

          Studies have shown that against a properly equipped warship, 8 SSMs give less than a 50% chance kill probability. That rises to 90% with 16.

          8 SSMs are for show, in a real battlespace. You want 16 if you are planning to get into a fight and win. That’s the difference. It’s a significant offensive capability.

          Slinging 16 SSMs, along with a minimum of 32 ESSM plus SEARAM and an Enterprise radar set, you can send it against a proper warship and have good odds of coming out on top. That’s what they’re after. They want to keep enemy SSM equipped ships away from the Battle Group.

        • 8x Harpoon/Exocet/Otomat is simply a joke against modern guided missile ships.

          Just look at what the Soviets put on their last generation of ship killers:
          Kirov – 20x AShM
          Slava – 16x AShM

          And those were both much larger weapons than anything NATO has and were built before AEGIS and active homing SAM’s.

  • homey

    Yeah but it will have infinitely more combat capability lol

  • WColton

    The Navy wants 32 cells with a minimum of 16, which means the Navy will settle for 8 cells. The Navy wants a minimum of 8 anti-ship missiles, which means the Navy will settle for 4. Like the LCS, the FFG will not have a happy ending.

    • Rocco

      Lol!!

  • Wait, if the US Navy is saying a Frigate will cost them $950 Million dollars each. How come the USCG’s National Security cutter cost alot more less than the propose Frigate?

    • ShermansWar

      Because maybe the fix is in and all we’re going to get is a glorified LCS with corvette capabilities if we’re lucky, and Lockheed is going to get twice as much money for putting in a few VLS cells?

      • Horn

        The question is, can you fit 4-8 OTH missiles and 16-32 VLS cells on an NSC for under $200m?

    • @USS_Fallujah

      WMSL-756 (7th NSC) came in at $487m officially, and about $730m sail away cost, so still well under the FFG cap. I’d bet the HII bid based on this design will be very competitive, and perhaps a small favorite.

      • Bubblehead

        Compare the weapon systems. You guys act like an Enterprise radar will run you what a TRS-90 runs on the LCS. You are comparing a radar that the USN labelled as not having confidence in detecting ASCM to the most advanced radar in the world, SPY6 aka Enterprise.

        And now about a dozen more weapon systems that are not on the NSC. Plus more communications gear. Jamming equipment. The list goes on and on.

    • SDW

      NCS has most of the room and many of the capabilities for the FFG(X). What’s not there (deltaGFE + structure) more than accounts for the difference in cost.

  • Sherman Brown

    Hope these expensive ships are equipped to avoid cargo ships. So far it’s cargo ships-2, US Navy-0.

    • John Locke

      If you look at historical records the ratio is much worse.

    • publius_maximus_III

      Weld a 12′ fender all the way around the deck, putting below-the-waterline out of reach of those bulbous nose “torpedoes” — that, or just keep your eyes and ears open…

  • leroy

    Starts at $950, ends up costing $1.5B (or more). Fixed price (and perhaps a lower price if some real competitive bids come in) or no deal!

  • Dave S.

    And how much do the Burke’s cost . . . . . . . I’d rather have 1 Burke vice 2 POS Frigates or 4 Crap LCSs!

    • John Locke

      Yes but………… it’s going to be a while before there is a replacement for the CG’s (if ever) so count on the Burke’s to creep into that role which would leave a gap for escorts.

  • thebard3

    The Perry class frigate design was abandoned due largely to it’s limitation of 40 rail-launched missiles (combination of SM-1 and Harpoon), making them susceptible to saturation attack. The new design only includes 32/16 cell launched AA and 8/4 rail launched ASM’s. I don’t really get it.

    • Ctrot

      I believe the susceptibility to a saturation attack had more to do with the one armed launchers rate of fire than it did with the quantity of missiles aboard.

      • thebard3

        The MK92 FCS could fire a missile, reload and re-fire in less than 8 seconds. They could only engage 2 airborne targets simultaneously (each required illumination from one of the 2 fire control radars for the duration of the engagement) which was the limit for the the rate-of-fire. Hopefully the FCS to be incorporated in the new frigate design will provide for mid-range guidance similar to the Aegis system so that multiple targets can be engaged.

    • A 32 cell VLS can give you 56 SAM’s (24x SM-2/6 & 32x ESSM) plus SM-6 can double as a AShM. But the real AAW problem with the Perry’s was not missiles but obsolete sensors and combat systems. SPS-49 was low frequency and didn’t provide altitude information and the ships never had the updates to make use of SM-2.

      • thebard3

        Right you are. I think the Stark incident revealed the root problem posed by a saturation attack, and from that point forward, the Navy chose to not support or update the ships or weapons to counter the threat. That’s why the launchers were removed years before they were decommissioned. I know the Stark incident wasn’t a saturation attack, but a single airplane launched 2 ASM’s and both hit the ship. I’m familiar with the MK92, and less familiar with the combination of weapons which compose the VLS systems. Hopefully the new FFG will have lots more capability than the Perrys and with similar survivability.

  • John Locke

    1985, FFG-7, $330M
    2018, FFG(X), $1B
    Using the handy inflation calculator an FFG-7 would cost $498M today.
    I wish my 401k used the same calculator the defense industry does.

    • Bubblehead

      Unions run the shipyards.

    • And what was the sensor fit and design life margins on FFG-7?

      • John Locke

        The differences are obvious but the concept of a small escort is not a shrunken CG.

  • PolicyWonk

    “That frigate number is also above the $588-million per-hull cost of the existing Lockheed Martin Freedom-class (LCS-1) and Austal USA Independence-class (LCS-2) Littoral Combat Ships slated for the Fiscal Year 2018 budget.”
    ================================================
    Riiiiiight. We’re not comparing apples to apples here. First of all, neither version of the deceitfully designated “littoral combat ship” variants come with significant weapons or the ability to protect itself (unlike other navies ships of the same – let alone half, the tonnage). Rather, the mission profiles have them working in groups of three, with a Burke in the neighborhood to protect them should they have to run and hide from a naval adversary.

    Nor does that initial cost include the required mission package that transforms an otherwise useless utility boat into an asset of dubious value (we do, however, need minesweepers).

    A naval vessel that is intended for combat, independent patrols, or presence missions should have the weapons and protection to give some pause to an attacking enemy.

    These are virtues missing in the “littoral combat ship”, which itself needs to be protected by a far more expensive warship, rendering it all but useless when the going gets tough – and therefore a lousy investment. Comparing the cost of the dubious LCS to that of a frigate that’s designed for combat as if they are somehow on equal footing is disingenuous at best.

    • @USS_Fallujah

      It is very telling that the $950m cost cap includes all GFE, whereas the Navy’s own budget request still hide the full cost of the LCS’ modules in other programs. Each LCS is costing the Navy somewhere around $750m, but getting an exact figure is impossible.

      • Duane

        Not true. The full cost is the hull cost (which is a fixed price based on two 11-ship block buys) plus the mission module costs, which are GFE and also have fixed costs now that design development and testing are complete on all three modules, and the SuW module went active last year, and the program management and R&D costs. The average $588 includes the hulls, mission modules and program management costs for both variants.. For example the hull cost on the Freedom is just $360M average for the 11 ship block buy. Higher on the Independence hulls (not officially disclosed by Austal but in the range of $510M plus or minus). The Reports to Congress that are published here at USNI give frequently updated costs on the three mission modules … the ASW and SuW modules come in around $34M each, and the MCM module comes in at around $100M (it has a lot of extra equipment including USVs and UAVs).

        • @USS_Fallujah

          Care to document those Mission Module costs, because the numbers in the DON budget request disagree.

          • Duane

            Just look at the Reports to Congress that are posted in the archives here at USNI … I’m going off memory, so don’t have the numbers in front of me, but that’s where it’s at now. The SuW module cost went up quite a bit from prior year MM costs when it was decided to add the 24-cell vertical Hellfire launcher and the angled cannister OTH missile launcher … all part of the Distributed Lethality strategy adopted a few years ago.

        • ShermansWar

          Design and development complete on all 3 modules? lies, and you fail to mention they cut everything of any value from the modules. They just gave up on them is closer to the truth

      • PolicyWonk

        The problem with LCS isn’t merely the purchase price, but there’s also the high maintenance costs, while the almost doubling of the crew size also increases costs while decreasing the time the ship can remain on patrol without replenishment.

        The USN would’ve been vastly better served if they’d built hulls to the level-2 survivability standard with room for growth (missing virtues in LCS), and outfitted them with only minimal armament, because then at least we’d be able to quickly upgrade them and have useful warships in the inventory.

        With LCS being constructed to near-commercial standards without room for growth (w/r/t adding firepower or protection), we get a very expensive sea-frame that you really can’t do much with to improve. The best attribute of LCS is the very large (for their size) aviation facilities that might yet be able to provide some kind of value to the taxpayer.

        Regardless, to your point: getting straight answers w/r/t LCS out of the LCS PEO or USN remains difficult, because they know they have a stinker on their hands, but lack the ethical courage to admit it.

  • Bubblehead

    I don’t see why everybody is complaining about price. Look at what the USN has said they want out of the FFGX. It can do everything an AB can do, but with less capacity (VLS cells). If they get a ship that can do that for less than Bill a copy, its a steal. The Billion dollar figure includes the price of the weapons systems which is a large part of the price.

    First off it will have the best radar in the world, a smaller version of what is going into the AB III’s. And FYI, that isn’t cheap. They want SEWIP 2, the latest ESM/ECM. Superior ASW than any ship in the fleet: variable depth sonar, torpedoes, bow sonar, towed array, & minimum 1 SH60 helo. 16-32 VLS. 8-16 SSM, hopefully LRASM. Combatts 21. SEARAM. CEC.

    Its twice the price of a worthless floating Coffin LCS but 4 times the capability. Its radar in many ways will be superior to AB Flight 2A’s (not in ABM).

    If you can get all that for < Billion, the USN should jump on it and produce them at maximum capacity.

    One other thing worth noting. SM6's versatility. It can perform every mission needed. Anti-ship, wide area AA, and ABM self defense.

    Curios to see what the X band horizon radar will be. Hopefully they can get one that guide the missiles as well as do the searching. The USN is lagging behind in this field. It would clear out space and weight of the illuminators.

    • publius_maximus_III

      Thanks for that, and agree with your conclusions based on the data you’ve provided. Arleigh Burkes are my favorite, but realize the Navy has a real need for something smaller for near-coastal patrols.

      If the new frigate design is intended to replace the poorly-received LCS, then I’ll assume it will be expected to operate in the littorals, too. But making them like a scaled-down destroyer, might that require too much draft? Still, I’m in favor of a more ship-like design than the yacht-like appearance of the current LCS. If not truly blue water, then hopefully at least blue-brownish, with the capability to keep up with a CSG if needed for emergencies, including at-sea refueling.

      I think neither the DDG-1000 or the LCS were the USN’s finest moments. Hope they get this next one right.

      • Bubblehead

        The DDG-1000 would have been a fine ship if they had not had to make so many cuts in its systems to save $$$. It is a worthless ship like the LCS but for different reasons. Most importantly its radar was cut making it defenseless. And the guns ammo became priced like gold after the number of ships were cut reducing economies of scale. The hull of the DDG1000 with an Enterprise radar, new guns & CIWS could go a long way in solving its problems. Its hull has a lot of potential unlike the LCS.

    • William Watkins

      Given the history of naval acquisition, there is NO way these ships wind up costing anywhere near $950 million.

      • @USS_Fallujah

        Virginia & Burke program officers beg to differ.

    • KazuakiShimazaki

      Maybe the real question is whether these “economy ships” should be designed for a billion dollar cost. Your most dangerous enemy is making its frigates for under $400 million. It has a hull sonar and an active towed array (thus doubling as the VDS sonar). It has a helo. It has 32 SAMs and 8 SSMs. It has a helo. Yes, it is inferior, but they are popped them out by the dozen without breaking their bank.

      • @USS_Fallujah

        Our ships would cost a lot more if we could pay Chinese labor rates.

    • ShermansWar

      SEWIP3, not 2, no ASW weapons,no torpedoes,no bow sonar, no real main gun worth mentioning,

      Please read the RFI and stop spreading misinformation. Your making stuff up, either that or just stating a wishlist that bears little relation to what’s specc’d out in relation to it’s ASW suite.

      Just because it makes no sense to have the sensors and not the weapons doesn’t mean that’s not exactly what they did. Remember this is the US Navy we’re dealing with, the institution that brought you a 588 million dollar 57mm gun called an LCS…

      They really do like their 57mm guns, don’t they, they even put them on the Zumwa..Oh, wait..

  • @USS_Fallujah

    In the original AoA the cost estimate for a Frigate version of the Burke was about 50% of the Flight IIA cost, or about $900m. That said I think HII is committed to using it’s NSC design as the basis for it’s FFG bid, better endurance, more free design space and an equally mature hull design.
    It is a fair question to ask if, at 50% of the price of a Flight II and getting only likely 32 VLS, are you buying 1/3 the capability of the Burke for 50% of the price?

    • ShermansWar

      NSC based design will have 16 VLS, not 32

      • @USS_Fallujah

        The original sketch was for 16, but the sea frame has ample space to incorportate 32, or perhaps even 48, without a significant price pop. The key upgrades the NSC design needs to take in a power & cooling to run the more powerful radar suite, VLS isn’t that expensive (comparatively at least).

        • ShermansWar

          If it meets all the RFI specs and can mount 32 I’d go for it over a foreign frigate, even if the foreign design was a little better, but I have seen every variant HII has proposed and not a one has more than 16 VLS. I just don’t believe the ship has the room for it.

          • @USS_Fallujah

            I’ve seen comments that the NSC seaframe has ample room to accommodate more weapons, the previous HII proposals were intended to compete with the LCS program, not an FFG bid, so they were looking to cut costs wherever possible to create a viable alternative on a cost basis. With a $950m cap they can put a lot more in that hull to provide greater capabilities to match the foreign FFG designs.

  • David Oldham

    Initial cost estimates for the LCS was around $250 million, now well over $500 million. Don’t much trust ANY estimates coming out of the Pentagon these days. Just build more Burkes and get on with a new cruiser design.

    • Bubblehead

      Burkes take 5 years before they hit the fleet and only a few shipyards can build them. The FFG’s can be built by other shipyards that cannot handle the size of a Burke. Depending on which ship USN picks, it is an excellent chance to learn shipbuilding technics and gain technology from other Countries & shipyards. Other Navies X band horizon radar can also act as illuminators for missiles and is not limited to the number of missiles that can be launched at one time. Even the Burkes are limited in this field.

      • Duane

        It seems extremely unlikely that any of the foreign yards will win the competition. They build in Europe, have no American experience. Rules and regulations are completely different, and climbing the manufacturing learning and cost curves takes several hulls at least within an existing ship construction yard and supporting infrastructure, with trained workers and proven management systems. If the Navy were set on a much longer developmental timeframe, as they did with LCS, the competitive advantage of domestic yards wouldn’t be that great. But the Navy is in a hurry – they want it fast, they want it capable, and they want it cheap.

        That’s why LM and Austal, especially LM, are going to beat the pants off any of the European yards, because this ship must be domestically produced. LM has already climbed the manufacturing learning and cost curve on not only the Freedom class LCS, but also are already adapting that to the new Saudi Frigate variant of a stretched LCS They will experience very little learning curve, meaning they will come in with a significantly lower price than the Europeans. We’ll go through the competition, of course, but only LM and Austal will be able to prove to the Navy that they already are manufacturing very similar ships (LM, at least) domestically at audited prices. That will always beat hand waving and promises.

    • Duane

      The Navy plans to enter into a block buy for the 20 ships to be delivered at a maximum $950M per ship average including GFE. After the first two developmental hulls of the LCS for each variant were delivered at a relatively high cost, the Navy entered into two 11-ship block buy contracts with both yards (LM-Marinette and Austal), and all 11 ships have been delivered at the contract price for each type. Austal never released their contract price, but LM did release theirs ($360M average across the 11 hulls), which coes not include GFE (i.e., the mission modules) or program costs. The average $588 per ship authorized by Congress in the 2018 NDAA is the all in cost averaged between the two variants … it seems likely that the Austal variant is quite a bit more expensive than the Freedom variant. The Navy did not release individual shipyard costs due to that being treated as competitive data – which seems strange, but that’s how the Navy does it.

      • SDW

        Block buys and multi-year contracts need congressional approval. I doubt a block buy of more than 10 units would be approved–especially since the LCS program has been “problematic”. (Sorry Duane but it has.) There will be no block buy until at least the first in class is launched and maybe later no matter how many similar ships have been built elsewhere. (Thanks to LCS, Zumwalt *and* NAVSEA in general.)

        By the way… since there were only two contractors for LCS, each one knew how much they bid, and assuming the GFE was the same for both, the only ones that don’t have the full-up price for both are the US taxpayers!

        Do the math. Paustal = 2Pavg -Plmm – Pgfe where the Price of the GFE, Pgfe, is the same for both, Plmm=360, and Pavg=588
        (assuming also that nothing else was slipped in like DoD construction, training, or “black program tax”)

        • Duane

          Actually, no, the contracting for the LCS has been anything BUT problemmatic. The Navy used the LCS procurement to test out the effects of a block buy, and found that it indeed significantly lowered costs over individual ship purchase contracts. The Navy has already announced that it will do the same on the FFG(X), so there is no point in arguing against it, or against its value, as the Navy has already proven block buys provide significant (at least 10%) reductions in purchasing costs.

          • NavySubNuke

            Liar Liar pants on fire. The Block Buy Contracts were specifically invented for and first tested by the Virginia Class program —- not the failed little crappy ship program.
            You should realize by now Duane that when you post willfully ignorant nonsense like this “The Navy used the LCS procurement to test out the effects of a block buy” people are going to call out your lies.
            I know you are desperate to create some benefit – any benefit – of the failed LCS program but you should at least try not to lie about completely obvious things like this.
            From CRS (if you doubt me go ahead and google CRS multi year procurement and read the report yourself but since I am not a liar this is an actual true quote): “When and why was BBC invented? BBC was invented by Section 121(b) of the FY1998 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1119/P.L. 105-85 of November 18, 1997), which granted the Navy the authority to use a single contract for the procurement of the first four Virginia (SSN-774) class attack submarines. The 4 boats were scheduled to be procured during the 5-year period FY1998-FY2002 in annual quantities of 1-1-0-1-1. Congress provided the authority granted in Section 121(b) at least in part to reduce the combined procurement cost of the four submarines.”
            It wasn’t until 12 years later — 2010 — that the Navy used it for the Little Crappy Ship program too.
            Nice try though!

          • Duane

            If the Virginia class boats used block buys first, fine. Then I will qualify my statement to say that the LCS was the first surface warship to use the block buy contracting process.

            As I wrote above, when I say something that requires correction, then I admit it and move on. But it takes a particurly peculiar personality to never admit errors when it is obviously proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they’re wrong. It’s a form of pathology. Check yourself dude.

          • NavySubNuke

            Well thank you – in this instance – for admitting you are wrong and correcting your false statment.
            The problem with the rest of your nonsense is that I actually do admit each and every time I say something that is incorrect. I don’t have a problem with admitting when I am wrong and I don’t constantly try to change my story afterward to show that I am not wrong.
            That is why you can’t even provide a single accurate example of me saying something wrong that I haven’t admitted to while I can easily provide numerous examples —- with real quotes not lies and deliberate distortions like you attempt to use — on things you have said that were wrong that you never admitted to.
            Nice try though.

          • NavySubNuke

            Are you ready to admit yet by the way that you were wrong and had no idea what you were talking about when you said “The so-called “supersonics” only go SS in the terminal phase, they spend 95% of their time at subsonic speed. And stupidly, they pop up high and go SS in order to, well, mosly in order to claim they go supersonic”?
            That is my favorite (of your more recent) lies since it is so easily dis-proven.

  • thebard3

    Crew size is a major consideration for a smaller, less capable ship. I haven’t recently looked up the figures, but the FFG is expected to have a significantly smaller crew. This decreases the on-going operational costs, which greatly reduces overall cost of each platform over it’s expected lifetime.

    • Bubblehead

      You have to be careful with just reading crew size figures online. Just because a ship can be manned by say 100 people doesn’t necessarily make it a good idea. I can drive a car with my foot, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.

      Many of the European and foreign Navies underman their ships. They don’t spend the same amount of time at sea and don’t spend 6 month deployments half way around the world. They also don’t have the manpower for damage control. Perfect example is the current LCS. They had to add a lot more crew members because the bean counters said you only require 100 men (or whatever the number was) to man the ship.

    • ShermansWar

      200 crew ( per RFI) is not such a small crew.

  • Duane

    The Navy is going about this procurement in the right way. Setting a maximum average delivered unit price of $950M including GFE, providing for 4 to 6 competitive conceptual designs, and then downselecting to one design in 2020. The capabilities mix also seems about right. Not a gold plated AB, but does provide the ability of the ship to escort other ships with both ASW and SuW and missile defenses. The cost – about half that of an AB Block IIA Restart – seems about right.

    The Europeans are going to have a very hard time meeting that cost number for an American manufactured vessel. They must go from a standing start of zero US capacity to a pretty high capacity to deliver 20 ships in a reasonable timeframe. The two American yards now producing LCS are going to have a huge leg up on the cost curve using modifications to the current LCS design. LM has already sold a stretch Freedom class to the Saudis, and have had their FFG(X) design already developed over the course of several years (going back to at least 2014), and have already climbed the manufacturing learning and cost curve in their Marinette shipyard. They seem to be the most likely winner of this procurement.

    • thebard3

      I would be shocked if the Navy contracted with a foreign yard or builder for any combatant ship.

      • @USS_Fallujah

        Legally they can’t but the foreign FFG designer/builders can (and are) partner with a domestic defense contractor & shipyard to build a foreign based design. It will be very interesting to see how they alter their designs to meet the price requirement. Having mature designs to work from is helpful, but it’s going to be hard to compete with designs based on the existing LCS design or the HII’s NSC.

      • Duane

        It could easily be a team that includes a European builder – LM teamed with Fincanteri (an Italian ship builder whose been building in the USA since WW Two) for the LCS, and Austal built a shipyard in Mobile for the LCS. I would expect that LM will continue to team with Fincanteri for the FFG(X). I just don’t see how a foreign builder who does not already have an operating shipyard in the US, either alone like Austal, or with an existing American partner like LM will be able to compete on price and schedule. LM-Fincanteri already have a working production line on a vessel that will probably have at least 50% or more parts commonality with their proposed FFG(X).

        • thebard3

          Well, you learn something new every day. I thought Austal was some division of General Dynamics but I guess the partnership is more complicated than that. I’m shocked.

  • Bubblehead

    The American shipyards have a huge leg up in costs compared to the Euro designs but the Euro designs have significant greater capability & capacity/VLS. The Saudi LCS means the minimum/threshold VLS the USN is asking. And that ship is costing Saudi $1.7 Bill without Enterprise radar and many other desired systems (varible depth sonar, CEC, SEWIP 2). Adding Enterprise radar will increase its price significantly. I would be surprised if the USN can get the Saudi LCS with Enterprise within budget. All the proposed NSC designs also do not match the USN wishes for VLS.

    I think the Italian Fremm is the leading candidate. It is one of the leading shipbuilders around the world, and I think they can get a Fremm in budget. The Fremm design is highly adaptable.

    • ShermansWar

      SEWIP3, not 2 dude

  • RTColorado

    At $ 950,000,000 per, the Navy should get it in whatever color they want…with special pinstripes. Keep in mind that the Navy gets each hull with the LX package and with special financing they get 0 down plus 0% financing for 48 months.

    • Rocco

      Lol that’s all!! Make it 72 months deal!!

      • RTColorado

        I’ll have to talk to my Manager…..but, Okay let’s do this.

  • JMIII

    Congress should tell the Navy, you have $500MM per hull float away cost. Make the best ship you can in this budget. We have and should continue to buy Burke Class DDGs. We need a capable but low cost supplement. Should be able to buy 3-4 for the cost of a Burke. The idea is not to have a mini-DDG but to have a ship to handle the low end routine tasks- especially in Peacetime and then make up in quantity it lower capabilities as part of a combat fleet. For example, some ships could be focused on an air defense mission, some on ASW, and some on anti-ship rather than build up a ship that can try to handle all those missions. You don’t need all those capabilities when your primary peacetime role is anti-piracy, show the flag, or counter smuggling. And these should form part of a larger task force so that all roles are filled during combat.

    • thebard3

      The Navy needs the best design platform required to conduct the mission assigned. That can’t be done with an arbitrary $ figure that doesn’t apply to the requirement.

      • @USS_Fallujah

        Operational needs first, from which you develop a list of required capabilities which you then prioritize and divide into platforms. Price is always going to be a consideration, but arbitrary cost caps are no way to build a fleet.

        • If we had bothered to spend $50-100 million more on the Perry’s back in the ’80’s to given them decent combat systems and proper growth margins we would probably still have them in the fleet today.

          • thebard3

            I served on a Perry class and they were built with then state-of-the-art technology as part of Ronald Reagan’s 600 ship fleet, required to counter the threats perceived to compete against the Soviet Union and other powers of the day. Much changed when the Berlin wall fell, including naval requirements.

      • Malph

        Yeah…but this time the Navy is giving a target price. They seem to be asking…what can you build us for 950 as that’s what we think we can spend.

        It seems like after the DGX and LCS programs, the Navy is trying a different approach.

      • JMIII

        The Navy will load the ship up with capabilities until they use up all the cost. Lower the cost and and the ships will be less capable But keep the total budget amount similar. More less expensive ships. We need high quality ships and we have some of the very best. But we also need a larger quantity of ships to be able to better manage the vast number of taskings for the Navy. An article in Military times was talking about how the Navy can handle less than 50% of the tasking. Not every tasking needs a mini-Burke.
        Imagine if you had only 1 pair of underpants- sweet, silk lined and all that, but only one pair to wear everyday. Not the best deal right. So how about a Hi/Lo mix. And $1B per hull is not a low mix ship.

    • Malph

      That’s basically what they are doing just using 950Mil rather than 500.

      • JMIII

        They will never hit 355 ships if the cheap ships will cost $1B each. That is why they should opt for some less expensive, less capable ships but have more.

        • Bubblehead

          Do you even know the prices the military is paying for its jets? Or Subs? Or Air Craft carriers? Did you see the list of systems the USN is asking for in FFGX. If the USN can build a ship for less than a Bi$$ with all those listed systems, then they are getting a really good deal. Modern warships aren’t cheap. That is why Europe (look at Britain for example) fleets are shrinking to the point they hardly exist.

          FYI the Ford carrier cost somewhere around 12-15 Bi$$. And that does not include all the weapons systems which are inlcuded in the FFGX price.

          A F35 is over $100 Mi$$. The B model is over $120 Mi$$.

          And one Virginia class sub will run you around $3 Bi$$.

          • JMIII

            Trade off, less capabilities for less cost. As I said, don’t need a mini-Burke as the FFG. Some ships do ASW, some do AAW and some are Anti-ship capable. If they hadn’t basically let them crap apart, a refurbished Perry Class would fit the bill. The idea is not to have a mini-jack of all trades ship. Not of the Navy is to hit 355 ships. They won’t if the cheap ships cost a $1 billion each.

  • Crom!

    The oliver perry was a great design. Why not just build a more advanced version with VLS, double quad pack harpoons, CWIS Phalanx + ESSM, and 5 inch gun? That would be an awesome ship!

    • It wasn’t. Second rate sensors, second rate weapons, low survivability, and no design margins. It was a towed array tug with good aviation facilities. The Perry’s were built to keep costs down and it showed.

      • SDW

        I don’t think that survivability belongs on your list. Planned and unplanned destruction showed the OHPs to be eminently survivable. While some systems were certainly “B-Team”, it was more than decent for its intended mission–escort convoys from CONUS to Europe and underway replenishment groups, fly the flag a bit all over, and fight pirates/drug runners/smugglers/sanction breakers/et al.
        Lack of design margins/upgradeability (though much more could have been done) was a real shortcoming but nobody in his right mind saw it as a Spruance replacement, no less Tico or Burke.

      • BlueSky47

        The OHP proved to be very tough ships; missile hits, mines, etc. At the time of their comissionings they were very capable front line ships, and were expected to ‘hold the line’ against Russians subs, etc. But of course, as Navy custom, they ignored the Frigates, not maintaining nor upgrading up as much as destroyers and cruisers, etc., thus they ‘got old’ before their time.

      • KazuakiShimazaki

        It’s no Aegis cruiser, that’s for sure, but the medium frequency sonar does have advantages in shallower water, and for deep water there’s the towed array. It also has a limited area air defense capability, which is rather nice when everyone else (including Spruance class destroyers) was on the Sea Sparrow.

  • James B.

    The requirements give the FFG(X) compatibility with the CSGs and other blue-water battle fleet assets, which gives them great potential as ASW ships, but these frigates would come at a too high a cost for detached low-priority missions.

    This is a vast improvement over the LCS, which is neither capable enough for the battle fleet, nor cheap enough to be an economical patrol vessel, but our goal shouldn’t just be to outperform a generational low point in ship procurement.

    But it means we still need a tier of second-class patrol vessels, and making them cheap will require making them small, slow, and unimpressive. That is easily done–plenty of designs already exist–but would require a shift in the Big Navy mindset, which is much harder.

  • john

    Just build the dam Arleigh Burke.

  • On Dre

    This admin has advertised that the already bloated DoD budget will get an increase no matter if it needs it. Every defense company probably has access to a newspaper or google and can find this out. Of course they will then raise the profit margin on the products they sell us. This is capitalism, this is what happens. They will get the highest price the market will bear and we are telling them “TAKE MY MONEY NOW!!!!”

  • ShermansWar

    because they have missiosn they don’t need a lamborghini for, and don’t want to risk them. They were kinda clear on the fact they want those hulls free for other jobs..

  • John McHugh

    The foreign platforms are way to expensive to approach even this number, high as it is. The LCS debacle goes without further comment, other than to say that it qualifies for RICO. Cost being the primary differentiator, as it always has been for Frigates, sure seem to point to HII and the NSC variant. It is capable, albeit undersized, to meet the true FFG(X) specs. Ramping up from approximately $650M-$700M per ship from the NSC to “only” $950M for the FFG(X) seems optimistic, at best.

    All that being said, the HII “Enhanced Patrol Frigate – 4923” seems like a strong contender as it offers the most capable variant that would likely be submitted that could come within 50% of the guestimate listed in this article.

    The FREMM, Type-26 and F-100/105/110 are all excellent ships but WAY too expensive. The LSC follow-on platforms just don’t offer enough capability and survivability to go blue-water.

    Originally, I wasn’t sold on the NSC variant but it is slowly growing on me. It does have some warts. 1) Not enough VLS cells although the loadout of ESSM, SM-2 and ASROC would be ideal. 2) Upgrade to MG from the BAE 57mm to the Oto Melara 76mm. 3) Upgrade the power generation; Upgrade the MGT from the GEAE (22MW) LM2500 to the (32MW) LM2500+ or the (35MW) LM2500+G4. The Module and footprint are identical but the enhanced output (MW) would provide for the increased HVAC and defensive power requirements. Upgrade the Main Diesels from the (7.4MW) MTU 20V 1163 to the (10MW) MTU 20V M91L. 4) The capable trays, power management, HVAC, hotel systems, etc. would all have to be improved.

    HII could sub out subassemblies and blocks to Austal to spread the love. Marinette should have gotten the OPC contract.

    • tpharwell

      Perhaps a helpful translation would be in order. Take “as much as”. Read “at least”. There. Fixed.

    • Bubblehead

      Everybody wanting to automatically dismiss the foreign frigates needs to read the RFI again. The first ship is by far always the most expensive ship to build. The price of the 1st ship is not required to be anywhere close to $950 mill. Also it says the AVERAGE price of the Frigate must be $950. This is spread out over 10 years & 20 ships. That is a lot of time to bring down costs. Just look at the NSC & LCS for an example of how much prices drop as economies of scale and improved shipbuilding technics take hold.

      The Spanish frigate and their cousins (Danes, Dutch) would be stretch for sure to get within $950 mill. Though they are already operating Aegis so that saves some costs. The Type 26 which is the most capable friage, can be tossed out. They do not have a ship in the water that the Navy insists on. But many other foreign ships can get within that budget. Namely the FREMM. You can’t dismiss the FREMM. Its builder is one of the largest ship building companies in the world. They know how to build a ship within time & budget. It also meets or exceeds every USN requirement.

      • Duane

        It’s not about the first ship cost, but the average ship cost. The foreign builders’ average ship costs today are far above the $950M cap. They will cost even more to build in brand new manufacturing facilities, processes, suppliers, and new workers to train that will have to be created from scratch here in the USA. We are never going to buy foreign-built warships. Building all of that infrastructure from scratch is extremely costly and takes many years to develop – but two domestic builders have already borne that cost and there is no need for additional time.

        Read the RFP language – the Navy wants “mature parent designs” and ability to guarantee pricing in a 20-ship block buy. The only builders who can meet that are LM-Fincanteri and Austal-GD.

      • John McHugh

        I’m not ruling out the Euro platforms but the cost, initial and average, is high for them. Ideally, the F-100 platform would be best. It’s a 2/3s Burke. It could help provide AAW, BMD, ASuW, and ASW but it is expensive. Even downgrading from 1F to 1D wouldn’t change costs. The F-100 might be overlooked because it offers too much. The FREMMs are very impressive as well but fitting them out will still push the costs.

        I’m not advocating for any specific product. Honestly, I have always thought that, other than the LCS options, the HII / NSC platform would be the least capable as compared to the Euro ships. That being said, it does offer the potential for a lower cost platform already vetted out. It’s weapons’ loadout will be shallow but no one ever accused a Perry of bringing too many guns to a fight. As with the Perry, the NSC would offer a good sea boat with reasonable weaponry at a lower cost…..the mini-bus returns.

        • Bubblehead

          The 1D & 1F are out of the equation. FFGX will have Enterprise Spy6 radar. In other words its radar will be superior to AB’s in many ways. The AESA SPY6 will have significantly superior anti-jam capability.

          F100 is a sweet ride with great capacity/VLS for a frigate. Because of its similarity to AB its got to have a great chance if it can get within budget. Also it uses the AGIES system which minimizes costs.

          The President of FREMM design, Frinc______, has already stated their design meets or exceeds every USN requirement. He specifically said the ship can be built within USN budget and it has already been designed.

          Latest news USN gave a list of government supplied equipment. More or less all the electronic systems. SPY6, SEWIP2, COMBATS21, towed array, etc. If I read that right, that means US govt is paying for those systems separately. Sounds like that equipment is not part of the $950 Mill per hull. If so, the competition is wide open.

          I couldn’t fault USN for picking NSC. Its American, reliable, checks all the boxes, a safe bet. But it definitely lacks VLS & isn’t very stealthy. If a ship is going to be operating on its own in the future, it best be stealthy. No doubt their will be great pursue in Congress to pick American. If that is the case please be NSC & not pos LCS.

      • Adrian Ah

        John, I don’t see why Navantia (Spain) wouldn’t get within $950m On wiki, their 5th frigate cost USD$1.1bn. They only built 5 frigates. Surely with 20, the economies of scale would keep it being no more than $1.1bn and probably less.

  • michaelstephani

    Nimrod was a king of Shinar. The Bible states that he was “a mighty hunter before the Lord [and] …. began to be mighty in the earth” .

    So, out of your apparent ignorance you complemented this guy.

    • Patrick Bechet

      Maybe he’s a P-3 Orion guy and was calling me a Nimrod as in the former Hawker Siddeley made RAF sub-hunter?

    • El Kabong

      The keyboard commando has no clue about the British Nimrod MR.2’s the RAF used in the Falklands and Desert Storm, clearly.

    • ShermansWar

  • FWGuy

    Bring back upgraded – Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates !!

  • wGraves

    You need to factor drone screens into the discussion, but you probably can’t have that one in public?

  • LowObservable

    Why not just build around a Burke F2/F3 template, non-AEGIS general purpose/ASW mission set. Similar to the old AB F1/Spruance setup in the 90s.

    This ship is going to cost as much with a smaller hull and decrease in capability.

  • eddie046

    Outrageous! The Military/Industrial complex Eisenhower warned of has taken over. Perhaps the Navy needs to start playing hardball with the defense industry here. Write a figure on a sheet of paper, let’s say 500 million, push it across the negotiating table and say this is what it WILL cost with no overruns allowed. As one of the millions of American taxpayers expected to foot the bill here I just want to say that the greed and avarice of the defense industry is beyond disgusting here!

    • Matthew Schilling

      You will sell me your car for $100. Where do I send the check, and when can I pick up the car?

      • eddie046

        Apples and oranges, the US Government is pretty much their only customer. You must not know much about how Walmart does business. That is exactly how they dictate price. I am not against a fair profit but what outfits like Lockheed-Martin and Boeing are raping the American taxpayer for with product like the F-35 and LCS is obscene.

  • sferrin

    They’ll build three then cancel. Too expensive. Then they’ll try again ten years down the road and they’ll be a billion and a half.

    • Duane

      Possible, but unlikely. With either of the current LCS builders in the competition, who are known producers at known costs and existing manufacturing lines in operation producing nearly the same ship, with certain mods, their pricing is going to be far more reliable than the foreign yards. They’ll sign up for the block buy contracts and live within them and make money doing so. The foreign builders simply can’t do that.

      • BlueSky47

        What the Admiral is saying is that it’s better to get “known costs and known crap” from Lockmart than to RISK an alternative that would be much better, cheaper, and more effective. After all, who NEEDS a real warship when you have the LAME CRAPPY SHIP that can do everything

  • Lazarus

    An LCS variant will likely be selected as the FFGX platform as no other competitor has much chance of getting in at $950m or less.

  • Rob C.

    I just hope they go with new design and get away from LCS if they can. Even if they were enlarged they have too much negativity following those two designs around now.

    Anyways, it will be interesting what they choose. I am kinda disappointed that the South Koreans or even the Japanese didn’t get involved. They have sturdy designs they could team with one our existing shipyard to produce. I would think South Korean’s Frigate design would work the best from what I’ve read of them.

    In the end i think we’ll end up with one two LCS variants dolled up as a Frigate. I read in previous publishing they going to do that, make the ships heavier (slower) while being upped armed more.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    I will say it ’till the day I die, those old Perry’s that were so infamously discarded well before their time are looking better and better. And so are the Spruances.

    If the Navy does indeed build this new ship with 32 VLS cells, AND includes separate launching tubes for some ASMs, AND provides for a flight deck and hangar that can handle two Seahawks, AND provides a viable close in defense system, they will have a natural successor to the capabilities the Perry’s provided. I’m confident they will provide this new ship with the best sonar and radar compliment and electronic capabilities it’s size can accommodate and its missions demand. But do NOT try to force an ‘Aegis lite’ approach into it. There are already 84 or so Aegis equipped ships (i.e., ships OPTIMIZED for fleet and area air defense) with more building and others contemplated (Tico replacement for example). We’re doing just fine with Aegis. If the vaunted, and successful, ‘hi-lo mix’ approach is reintroduced, the Aegis ships would be sports cars. And while we all love a great sports car, a really good pickup truck comes in quite handy as well. Building FFGs and DDGs that are NOT equipped with Aegis to do some among those ‘non-sexy’ tasks should be something the Navy pursues in earnest. The LCS was a good start in that direction, though I fear they have gold plated that to the point where they might have diluted that original premise. IMHO of course!

  • ShermansWar

    They’re amongst the largest surface combatants in the world, at close to 10,000 tons, by no means are they a little guy, but this is like arguing how many angels fit on the head of a pin.

  • Deplorable Erik Dee

    LCS are crap. I thought there was already talk of stopping or halting the program. Am I reading this article wrong?

  • John B. Morgen

    Nine hundred and fifty million USDs per a hull is outlandish. Either the Navy is being taken, or the taxpayers must demand an complete audit, or look elsewhere for a better shipbuilder.

  • Tim Parent

    The FREMM frigate by Naval Group would be a perfect fit for the USN frigate program. They have bow mounted and veriable depth sonar. They can easily handle a Sea Hawk Helo. They are stealthy and proven. They can use the Mk 41 vls and the Seafire 500 radar and comm’s suite is capable of communicating and distributing data at ultra high speed to all ships, aircraft and commanders anywhere in the world. It has a 6000 kt mi range and room to carry a variety of weapons or a company of soldiers.

  • BlueSky47

    $588 Million for an emply hull LCS (before navy sensors and weapon) is beyond nuts. At $950 million for the new frigate, at least we’ll be getting a complete warship with built in capabilities, and not expensive and unworkable expensive modules add on like the LCS is. The true cost of the fully equipted LCS actually approaches the cost of the frigate once you add in all the modules, the dual crews, all the maintenace and dry-docking, etc etc.