Home » Budget Industry » Report to Congress on U.S. Navy Next-generation Frigate (FFG(X)) Program


Report to Congress on U.S. Navy Next-generation Frigate (FFG(X)) Program

The following is the April 6, 2017 Congressional Research Service report, Navy Frigate (FFG(X)) Program: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the Report

The Navy in 2017 initiated a new program, called the FFG(X) program, to build a class of 20
guided-missile frigates (FFGs). The Navy wants to procure the first FFG(X) in FY2020, the
second in FY2021, and the remaining 18 at a rate of two per year in FY2022-FY2030. The
Navy’s proposed FY2019 budget requests $134.8 million in research and development funding
for the program.

Although the Navy has not yet determined the design of the FFG(X), given the capabilities that
the Navy’s wants the FFG(X) to have, the ship will likely be larger in terms of displacement,
more heavily armed, and more expensive to procure than the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships
(LCSs). The Navy envisages developing no new technologies or systems for the FFG(X)—the
ship is to use systems and technologies that already exist or are already being developed for use
in other programs.

The Navy’s desire to procure the first FFG(X) in FY2020 does not allow enough time to develop
a completely new design (i.e., a clean-sheet design) for the FFG(X). Consequently, the Navy
intends to build the FFG(X) to a modified version of an existing ship design—an approach called
the parent-design approach. The parent design could be a U.S. ship design or a foreign ship
design. The Navy intends to conduct a full and open competition to select the builder of the
FFG(X). Consistent with U.S. law, the ship is to be built in a U.S. shipyard, even if it is based on
a foreign design. Multiple industry teams are reportedly competing for the program. Given the
currently envisaged procurement rate of two ships per year, the Navy envisages using a single
builder to build the ships.

The FFG(X) program presents several potential oversight issues for Congress, including the
following:

  • whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s FY2019 funding request for the
    program;
  • whether the Navy has accurately identified the capability gaps and mission needs
    to be addressed by the program;
  • whether procuring a new class of FFGs is the best or most promising general
    approach for addressing the identified capability gaps and mission needs;
  • whether the Navy has chosen the appropriate amount of growth margin to
    incorporate into the FFG(X) design;
  • the Navy’s intent to use a parent-design approach for the program rather than
    develop an entirely new (i.e., clean-sheet) design for the ship;
  • the Navy’s plan to end procurement of LCSs in FY2019 and shift to procurement
    of FFG(X)s starting in FY2020;
  • whether the initiation of the FFG(X) program has any implications for required
    numbers or capabilities of U.S. Navy cruisers and destroyers.


via fas.org

  • Ser Arthur Dayne

    First off, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- the FREMM is perhaps the best “small” surface combatant on the oceans and would be the best ship we could buy (and I have a feeling that if we bought the FREMM, but built in some Americaness, we’d have the best combination of Italian sexay-smoove and American toughness and boom boom…awesome!) but that the Ingalls Patrol/Sea Control/etc. FFG(X) design will be the best overall value for dollar. I could live with the F-100 “Mini-Aegis” Frigate but not my top choices. Anything besides a Littoral Combat Frigate. and TWO, I am not digging this “EMW” Electromagnetic Maneuver Warfare… just does not sound right…. ain’t right. EW is fine. Sometimes there is no reason to change a name, just doesn’t do it for me. Excuse me while I go maneuver around the electromagnetic spectrum while conducting warfare on my breakfast.

    • PolicyWonk

      Excuse me while I go maneuver around the electromagnetic spectrum while conducting warfare on my breakfast.
      ==================================
      May victory be yours!

      • Ser Arthur Dayne

        Thank you my good sir! Likewise I am sure!

    • NavySubNuke

      I love the – now combat proven – FREMM.
      I’ll never tire of pointing out that the French Frigate Languedoc was laid down in 2011, launched in 2014, and commissioned in 2016 and has now been successfully used in combat. It also deployed to the eastern med in summer 2017 too!
      Contrast that with USS Jackson (LCS-6) and USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) which were both also laid down in 2011 but have yet to ever go on a deployment and, according to USNI News, aren’t expected to deploy at ANY point in 2018. (In fact, NO LCS is expected to go out on deployment in 2018 according to the write up. Of course now that it has been called out in public I expect PEO LCS/N86 to rush at least one LCS out on an abbreviated “show the flag” photo op deployment to avoid that PR fiasco).

      • Duane

        News flash to NSN .. ALL ships are unable to deploy when they are assigned to non-deployed tasks, such as testing and integration work with weapons and aircraft systems, or maintenance availabilities, certification activities, etc.

        If you’d bothered to read and …. here’s the hard part for NSN .. to comprehend the USNI post on LCS deployments, the lack of a 2018 LCS deployment was a confluence of scheduling factors, between PSAs, training assignments, and MM integration assignments .. and zero failings of any of the ships.

        But of course, for the tiny cadre of noisy LCS haters, they can never let pass any opportunity to build mountains out of anthills. It’s what you guys do.

        • NavySubNuke

          Your excuses, along with the excuses of the few remaining LCS supporters, are hardly “new flash” worthy. I realize your support to this failed class, along with the support from the other LCS fan club members such as Putin and Xi, will never waver though.
          Speaking of wavering – have you discovered the wonder that is over the horizon radar yet? I only ask since I provided you two excellent sources yesterday to contradict your absurd claim that “There is no such thing as an “OTH radar”. All radar is line of sight.”

          • PolicyWonk

            Yo NSN –

            Now its the fault of the USN, and their people who can’t schedule their way out of a paper bag if you gave ’em a chainsaw and a blowtorch.

            The crews of our DDG fleet are being sent to sea despite being overworked, exhausted, and not getting the training they need. Yet the vaunted “littoral combat ship” with its mighty SuW mission package can’t even land a presence mission in a quiet part of the planet.

            So to the pier they remain tied…

            I’m all but convinced they’ll be sent to the breakers before they do anything useful ;-P

          • Curtis Conway

            Target? I didn’t say who for.

          • Rocco

            & he so he claims!!

          • Todd

            I hear crickets-coming from Dueneee’s basement

        • WhiskyTangoFoxtrot

          Now that’s funny, the entire LCS fleet can’t deploy because of some paperwork mixup

        • Spectreoneone

          Hmm…in 18 months, I have personally watched two LCS hulls remain tied to the pier…never once getting underway on their own power. During that time, two DDGs underwent dry docking periods, with one going through a first-in-class major overhaul that gutted the entire combat system suite as well as significant HM&E upgrades. The LCS pier queens are also a drain on the rest of the fleet…they don’t contribute like the other ships do. It’s a poorly managed program as well as an appropriations nightmare. Frankly, with respect to the new frigate program, we need to go with a tried and true design, not something based off of either one of the LCS hulls.

          • Rocco

            So how vis it that you can personally watch this?? You have this on film??

          • Spectreoneone

            When they’re moored less than 200 yards from where you work and you see them every single day, you know when they come and go.

          • Rocco

            Nice of you to disclose this to all the world!! If you are serving you should be discharged!! If I were your boss I’d fire you!!

          • Spectreoneone

            When it’s open source information, there’s nothing disclosed that’s sensitive. I chose my words very specifically. Nothing was said that hasn’t been said by every news source that reports on this. I’ve just seen it with my own two eyes.

          • Rocco

            True!! However…I hope you’re avatar is not used anywhere else. I would tread lightly!

      • Rocco

        Well good for you trader !!!

        • NavySubNuke

          I’m not a trader Rocco — I don’t even live anywhere near Wall St!

          • Rocco

            Lol dam auto correct!! … Traitor!!

          • NavySubNuke

            Ah yes – because actually wanting a Navy that is capable of deterring other Navies from fighting us and, should deterrence fail, be capable of fighting and winning the Nations wars totally makes me a traitor right?

          • Rocco

            Yes if you come on a Navy supported site & brag about other countries equipment doesn’t set a good example for others on here to understand! Granted things could be & should be better!! However from someone who has served you demean the Navy!

          • NavySubNuke

            Incorrect – I demean the beauracrats and members of congress who are more interested in lining their pockets than building the fleet our nation needs.
            Debate is a healthy thing – having a meaningful and fact based debate is what USNI is all about.
            Calling someone a traitor because they don’t accept the lies told by thieves and politicians works well in bastions of freedom like China and Russia but is hardly an American trait.

          • Rocco

            I’m with you on this! But you debate as if you know everything & everyone else is wrong!…. Your last paragraph is exaggerated! I never said you were a Traitor for that! Again you twist what I said!

          • NavySubNuke

            You literally in this thread just called me a traitor. That is a pretty heavy charge to be throwing around there Rocco my boy.

          • Rocco

            OK I admit it was wrong to say!! Sorry. We may not agree on views & that’s OK! I call people a traitor even if they don’t like the home team! Wasn’t meant for you to take personal.

          • NavySubNuke

            Apology accepted – have a great weekend Rocco!
            And do be a little more careful of the T word – it is one of the only charges actually defined in the constitution after all —- makes it a bit serious to throw around casually.

          • NavySubNuke

            Oh also – USNI isn’t Navy supported — at least as far as I know it is a public non-profit that is funded by users/members.

          • Rocco

            Yes if you brag about it on blogs as if we can’t hold our own!! Being envious is one thing. However the way you things is all about you! Yes …The LCS is a waste of money we all know this! Maybe that’s all we can agree on!

    • Scot H.

      F-100 has my vote.

      • Rocco

        Then go to that country!

    • Rocco

      The day we buy foreign ships & not build them ourselves will be the beginning of the end of shipbuilding in county!!

      • Spectreoneone

        We will be building them…that’s the thing…the Berry amendment prevents us from outright buying them. We will acquire the license, and a US-based company will build them. The design is solid, AND combat proven. I think we should have done this years ago with a license-built MEKO-based hull to replace the OHPs, but I think the FREMM is a solid option, as long as the pork traders in Washington don’t muck it up with “jobs program” requirements.

        • Ser Arthur Dayne

          Thank you for succintly explaining it. I am not sure that guy is playing with a full deck. — Also, I am not a fan of the MEKOs but big time FREMM fan, also believe the HII is going to be a real winner and certainly the F-100 Mini Aegis could do wonders as our FFG(X).

          • Rocco

            Not gonna happen

        • Rocco

          That’s Crap!!

    • Lou Ferrao

      i’m with you. I believe the FREMM would be the best option. It can be built in Wisconsin and deployed quickly. The R&D has been done and it is a proven platform. Hopefully the powers that be will get it as well.

      • Ser Arthur Dayne

        Hear, hear.

  • PolicyWonk

    The idea that LockMart successfully sold an LCS to Saudi Arabia is ludicrous, in that the variant the Saudis have contracted for is all but unrecognizable from the miserable failure that is the Freedom class. Its considerably larger, vastly better armed and protected (you’d have to squint a LOT to see the similarities – kinda like what you’d have to do to see the similarities between a Yugo and a Porche Turbo-Carrerra).

    The Saudi’s aren’t dumb (and seem to place some measure of value on the lives of their sailors): because they extirpated practically every feature touted by the self-anointed Grand Admiral Of The Fleet that deemed it the most awesomest, most baddest, most feared, most advanced, most bestest, most lethal, most BAR-NONE-est, most fastest, and most sinkingest, ship ever devised in the history of man; and quietly demanded serious combat capabilities. In short, the Saudi’s flatly turned down these so-called “littoral combat ships”, declaring they were far too expensive for such tiny ROI because they wanted sea-going assets – as opposed to the pier-queen fleet the USN deceitfully shafted the taxpayers/HoR’s into funding.

    The above said, that the USN decided to double-down on the complete failure that is/was the PEO LCS – and gave them responsibility for all manner of SSC’s and small craft. This lamentably, does not give much reason for optimism – however there is a tiny modicum of hope because they aren’t trying to do anything new/radical and are going with a parent design.

    If only there had been adult supervision over both of the LCS classes – then we might not have wasted $36B on useless per-queens.

    • jetcal1

      You mean the Saudi LCS has the same relationship to the USN LCS that an F-18E has to a F-18C?
      This could be the solution that saves face for leaders while still ensuring they get that cushy post-retirement job. Maybe there’s hope.

      • Curtis Conway

        Don’t bet on it if an LCS has to go into combat in the mean time.

        • PolicyWonk

          This does depend on what you mean by “combat”. If the adversary is a non-naval pirate, or a few speed boats that’s one thing.

          If, OTOH, an LCS ever has to tangle with a peer naval opponent…

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Didn’t one of them just engage in a multi-month ‘PIER naval engagement’ in Montreal? (see what I did there?)…

          • PolicyWonk

            That’s about the only naval engagement against a “pier opponent” either class of LCS has a chance of surviving.

          • Curtis Conway

            Most of those ‘neer peer’ opponents shoot things that go Way Far, at tremendous speed, have their own seekers, and huge crowd pleasing warheads, some of which will entertain those on shore who will be able to observe from quite some distance.

          • PolicyWonk

            We both share the same level of dread w/r/t the likely outcome should the target be either class of LCS (manned by patriotic Americans).

          • Curtis Conway

            G-d even Blesses drunken sailors, but rearely when the planned to fail up front.

        • jetcal1

          Yeah, I understand. It’ll be like the Buffalo at Midway.

          • Curtis Conway

            The Brewster F2A Buffalo could dive like a rock if it had altitude. The LCS always has altitude, but if IT uses its altitude . . . we lose the crew . . . everytime.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    Well, so much for the claims that certain posters always present on here about the true costs of the LCS. Right there in this report is the price tag for the latest ships ordered, and they cost the better part of $600 million each. But the Navy is also admitting that they anticipate the costs of these frigates to be around a billion dollars a pop. Seeing how they are putting an Aegis derivative on them, that’s no surprise..

    • Rocco

      So then what’s the point of wasting the money!!

      • Chesapeakeguy

        I’m not for wasting any money, so I can’t answer that. Personally, I think they are expecting too much out of this new FFG. With an ‘Aegis derivative’, it’s already being gold plated as far as I can tell.

        • Rocco

          An FFG is supposed to be for escort duty! & Cheap presence !! Not a full fledged capable ship that costs as much as a Burke class!! Plus we need a New Cruiser class that has all the bells & whistles!

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Yes!

          • Escort against what? Modern submarines? Then you need a large well silenced hull with multiple advanced sonars. Air and missile attack? Then you need advanced radars and combat systems. Both (and since almost all modern submarines fire missiles it basically has to be both)? Then you’re pretty much looking at a Burke.

          • Rocco

            This is what happens when you but in a conversation!! I never said against anything!!! Escort duty !! Look it up!!

    • PolicyWonk

      It is important to note that the price for these “littoral combat ship” variants, as published in the report, doesn’t include the price of a mission package, which can add a good deal to the price of a fully outfitted ship.

      Nor, do those costs include the cost of the mission package crew, which is in addition to the 70 crew assigned to each LCS (which was increased from the original 40).

      The more you look at it – the more its costs add up. Its pretty simple at this point: we’re easily better off with a real frigate.

      • The SUW modules costs $23.1m and the ASW modules $19.8m, only the MCM modules are all that expensive at $87m. Even with modules and crew LCS still costs only 1/3 as much as a Burke.

        • NavySubNuke

          You are ignoring the $1B+ spent on “common support articles” for the mission modules.
          You are also ignoring the multi-hundred million dollars spent on each LCS post-delivery to give it some sort of teeth. Look at the pictures of the LCS that was trapped in Canada for the winter – do you notice anything missing? The ASCM launcher is just one of the many items welded on post delivery and thus not actually included in the SCN budget line of the LCS to hide the true cost.
          When you look at the actual cost of an LCS that is ready to deploy the cost is actually much closer to 1/2 that of a Burke than 1/3.
          And I don’t know about you but in a fight between 32 LCS and the 14 Burkes we could have bought instead I’d take the 14 Burke’s every time.

          • And in a fight between 14 Burkes and 2 Fords, I would take the carriers every time – does that mean all of our surface vessels should be CVN’s? LCS is a second tier ship designed to take some stress off the DDG fleet in low threat operations.

            As to common support articles, every single ship in the Navy uses that trick to some degree or another. The cost of a Burke for instance doesn’t include the towed array, engines, or generators – much less the $100m+ worth of missiles for the VLS.

          • NavySubNuke

            You’d really take 2 Fords? I’d stick with the 14 burkes my self.

          • In a straight up naval battle? Definitely. While attacking 14 Aegis ships would certainly be difficult, 100 Hornets and Growlers should be able to inflict at least some damage. But if the carriers are handled correctly there is no way the Burkes should ever see them, let alone hurt them.

          • NavySubNuke

            Who said anything about an 2 Air Wings – the cost of 14 Burkes and all their munitions doesn’t even come close to 2 carriers and 2 air wings and their munitions.
            The cost of the Burke’s munitions is why I only said 14 Burks vs. 32 LCS and not 15 Burkes vs 32 LCS. When you add the cost of munitions for 32 LCS + the cost of 1 Burke you get pretty close to the cost of munitions for 14 Burke’s after all.

          • I didn’t bother analyzing the numbers you gave because it was tangential to my point (that not everything boils down to a straight up naval battle between the two options). However, I have time today so if you want to…

            Currently LCS has a gross unit cost (averaged across FY 17, 18, & 19) of $565m compared to a Flight III Burke at $1,737m. You can add around $25m to both of those for various pieces of equipment procured through other line items so let’s go with rounded costs of $590m and $1,762m. LCS has one MH-60 ($22m flyaway in 2015) and one MQ-8B ($15m flyaway in 2015) for an additional $37m bringing it to $627m. The Burke has two MH-60’s for a total of $1,806m.

            For weapons, we will give LCS a SUW module ($23m), 11x RAM ($9m), and a dozen Hellfire for the helicopters ($1m) for a final total of $660m. For the Burke we will have 32x Tomahawk ($60m), 32x SM-6 ($128m), 32x ESSM ($23m), 16x SM-3 ($264m), and 8x VLA (? – let’s say $4m), as well as a dozen Hellfire. Altogether, this puts a final price on the Burke of $2,286m.

            Thus, in the final equation we have 32 LCS against 9.2 Burkes – not 14.

            CVN-79 is expected to cost $11,341m. For the airwing (using 2018 average recurring cost) we have 48x Super Hornet ($71m each for $3,408m total), 6x Growler ($76m each in 2016 for $456m total), 6x Hawkeye ($170m each for $1,020m total), and 6x Seahawk ($22m each for $132m total) for $5,016m. Thus, one carrier equals $16,357m (not including weapons, which are difficult count). This is the equivalent to 8.1 Burkes and with carrier procurement going back to one every 4 years instead of every 5, the Navy is expecting over $1b in savings per ship.

            Thus, 2 Fords is 14 Burkes under the current pricing and 13 under the MYP.

          • NavySubNuke

            You certainly did a good job of grabbing the numbers most favorable to yourself and then including the worst case numbers from my standpoint — such as using the average cost over 3 years for LCS average cost but then using the first in class cost for Arliegh Burke flight III.
            Not to surprising though – when you start slinging around actual data the numbers only look worse for LCS.
            I’ll should have time to redo this with closer to actual numbers tomorrow but if not I’d still take 9.2 Burke’s over 32 LCS any day – especially since the cost figure you used doesn’t include the post-delivery modifications to add the ASCM launcher or the munitions for the SUW module so they are entirely unarmed (except for the helo) outside 5 miles.

          • The Burke cost is the same three year average as LCS. You’re free to go through the budgets and find a comparable figure for the Flight IIA’s but I’m betting its not going to be that much lower. While I don’t have proof, I’m pretty sure the SSMM price includes the missiles. Even if it doesn’t, they would only add $1-2m most.

            Again, if it were a straight up surface battle between the two forces, I would also go with the Burkes. But it’s not. We have ships falling apart from lack of maintenance and crews ramming cargo ships for lack of training time. We need raw numbers and it doesn’t even take what little combat capability LCS has to hunt down Somalian pirates, or train African navies, or host diplomats from minor nations. So if I already have 80+ Aegis destroyers, buying 32 LCS is a much better use of $20b than buying 10 more Aegis destroyers or even 15 more Aegis-lite frigates.

          • NavySubNuke

            I completely agree on the need for a “low end” combatant.
            But that low end combatant needs to come with a low end price. Right now we are spending well over $700M for each LCS when you include all the post delivery costs and are receiving a ship that is in many ways far more capable than is needed for what it will actually be useful for (you don’t need range or speed like that to hunt pirates) and far less capable than what is needed if it is actually going to be in combat.
            Too bad we didn’t buy something more like the Khareef Class Corvettes (built by BAE for Oman at <$300M — we could have bought 2 for every LCS) or the Absalon-class support ship operated by the Danish Navy, also <$300M each.
            Finally, we could have just bought FREMMS for a few hundred million more each and gotten a ton more capability for just a little bit more money (or a few less hulls for the same amount of money). Never mind that when you consider the R&D costs for the LCS – and the added sustainment costs of two different school houses and two different logistics tails since the Navy cowardly decided to keep both type – we probably could have bought more FREMMs than LCS.
            As a final point – had we not invested in LCS and all of the tail associated with it and instead bought the extra 14 Burkes the current Burkes in the fleet wouldn't be so broken down and untrained — the Navy wouldn't have to divide it's training and operations budget between war fighters and two different types of pier queens that aren't even going to deploy in 2018.

          • We don’t need more combat capability – we have 10 carriers, 54 attack submarines, and 88 Aegis destroyers. What we need is raw numbers and trading 32 LCS for 20 FREMM or 14 Burkes would be a step backwards in that area (and I think it is more likely you would get 16 FREMM or 10 Burkes).

            Suggesting the Khareef or Absalon as an alternative is just funny since they were built to even lower survivability standards than LCS and their cost doesn’t include most of the weapons and electronics – but I guess they get a pass since they have Exocet/Harpoon (ignoring the fact that LCS does as well and that OTH AShM’s are a questionable capability in the first place).

            If I were in charge of designing the Navy’s next low end vessel, probably the only weapons I would specify would be a 30mm gun and a SeaRAM launcher. When combined with some helicopters that’s plenty for patrol work and it keeps people from sending it somewhere dangerous (see USS Stark). Of course, that would never fly because everyone wants a proper old-fashioned frigate regardless of the fact that the frigates were a controversial and arguably failed program in their own right.

          • ElmCityAle

            This seems to reflect the navy’s high/low philosophy. If LCS had been called “Long Range Patrol Ship” from the start, much confusion might have been avoided. But in no case would it ever cease to be in the sights of the pro-frigate crowd, who were looking for blood with the retirement of the FFG-7 class ships. With respect to design, I would suggest RAM/SeaRAM on each end, so there would be no coverage gap (as seems to exist on both LCS models).

          • I like the LRPS designation and that is what should have been. I’m not sure about the need for fore and aft launchers though. From my reading of battle accounts it seems that ships generally had time to maneuver to unmask weapons. However, given the relatively low impact and cost of SeaRAM, it might be worth including two just for redundancy if nothing else.

          • NavySubNuke

            Actually we do need more combat capability – as recognized by the Navy and everyone else outside of the LCS fanboy club – that is why the Navy is trying to up the fleet size by building more carriers, more submarines, more destroyers, and a small surface combatant that is actually meant for combat rather than just having combat in the name.
            Adding more high cost but punchless ships to the Navy is a waste of money and crew.
            If we are going to build low end vessels that have no role in an actual fight we should be buying cheap low end vessels.

          • Give me a good argument why we need more combat capability. Looking at the world’s top 10 navies there are only three who aren’t treaty allies – China, Russia, and India – and we have almost as much combat capability as all three combined. In fact, when you consider that most of the Russian Navy is rusting away in port and a sizable chunk of the Chinese fleet is coastal craft we probably have far more useful capability than all of them combined. And that’s before you start considering the powerful navies of our close allies such as Japan and the UK.

            Right now we are in the same position as Great Britain during the 19th century. There simply isn’t a serious peer opponent and our main problems are colonial wars and maritime policing. Back then the Royal Navy didn’t build battleships for those tasks and we don’t need Aegis ships for them today. Our fleet is incredibly topheavy compared to any historical navy and effectively only consists of ships of the line. Building armored cruiser counterparts in the form of guided missile frigates isn’t going to help things as much as building light cruisers in the form of LCS or something similar.

          • NavySubNuke

            The best unclassified and public argument I can give you is the Navy’s ship building plan which was put forth under the Obama admin (in it’s dying days) and carried forward by the Trump admin.
            The view point is that the Navy needs to grow and not just in terms of empty numbers but in real power — get back to 12 carriers, get back to 70 submarines, start building a real small surface combatant, build more large surface combatants.
            The exact reasoning and analysis behind those numbers is classified but they weren’t just drawn out of a hat.

          • In other words, you’ve got nothing. Going “the Navy says so” is just amusing when you are constantly lambasting the Navy for making poor decisions. And it’s not like I’m looking for some top secret analysis, just a simple explanation as to why having twice the firepower of our strongest competitor is somehow insufficient (especially since it would actually be 3-4x the firepower once you consider our allies).

            I also seem to recall you accusing me of being dishonest in my cost comparison of Burke and LCS and saying you would “correct” it – since you apparently have no intention of doing so, I think you should probably retract that accusation.

          • NavySubNuke

            If you can look at all that China is building and look at all the new missiles and systems they are introducing and think about where they will be in 15 years and still not understand the problem there is nothing I am going to do or say that is going to convince you. Their type 055 “destroyer” is a great example. The fact that they are head of us on railgun and hypersonic missile technology is another.
            Sorry – haven’t gotten around to running the numbers yet. Thought I would have a chance before vacation but ran out of time — will get to it.
            And I didn’t say you were dishonest – I just said you used the best case numbers for LCS and worst case for Burke rather than using a more equity. Oh and that you didn’t include the mission module munitions costs.

          • Duane

            You are ignoring that the MMs are GFE, the LCS builders have nothing to do with them

          • NavySubNuke

            I’m not ignoring anything – I am simply pointing out the total cost of the LCS including mission modules.

          • Dean687

            LCS is the turd that just get’s sweeter everyday, right admiral?

        • PolicyWonk

          The expenses you list (the SuW MP is junk, and only adds incremental offensive capability) might be warranted, IF the taxpayers were getting something useful in return.

          But these “littoral combat ships” were “never intended to venture into the littorals to engage in combat” (according to CNO Greenert), and have little to no room whatsoever for growth – to add either armament or protection of significance.

          These are commercial-grade utility boats that have no business taking on a naval opponent of even half its tonnage.

          • Rocco

            Agreed good piece!

        • Duane

          And half the cost of a FREMM or a F100.

          • NavySubNuke

            This is demonstrably false.
            Per the Navy’s own budget documents show the SCN cost of an LCS is over $600M while the cost of a FREMM is ~$800M.
            Never mind the fact that the FREMM is a combat proven design and both types of LCS struggle to make it to sea.

          • The FREMM cost estimates I’ve seen range from $500m to over $800m. However, it is difficult to reconcile those numbers with the FREMM bid for the Canadian frigate program, which was 15 ships for $30b (presumably Canadian).

          • NavySubNuke

            FMS bids are always a crap shoot and not useful for comparisons – especially for nations that lack a credible technical and industrial capability to sustain the ships such as Canada, Australia, or the Middle East.
            The contracts always include boat loads of up front money for spare parts, engineering support, and even direct maintenance/refurbishment costs.
            In reality the FREMM, when updated to US Navy standards and produced is a US shipyard, will likely come in close to $900M but until we know what is GFE and not included in the cost we can’t know for sure.
            One thing is for sure the price won’t include all the parts, engineering support, and maintenance costs you see front loaded into FMS contracts such as the bid for Canada. Considering their maintenance issues to date that probably helps LCS even more than it does FREMM though.
            Regardless the talking point that an LCS is 1/2 of the cost of FREMM is utter fantasy.

          • I don’t think Canada should be lumped in with the Middle East, given that they are building the ships themselves – exactly like the US is doing with FFG(X). However, I tend to agree that a US FREMM would likely cost around $900m.

          • NavySubNuke

            Well I did also lump in Australia too which I think is closer to Canada. Agree that both aren’t anywhere close to where the middle east is.
            It would be interesting to see what the details of the bid actually were – how much was going to pay for shipyard infrastructure updates and staff training for instance.

          • Adrian Ah

            I think NavySubNuke is correct. Aust and Canada usually build, then let all skills and infrastructure whittle away after their projects and completed. This has been the pattern for decades. Australia is making an effort to maintain sovereign warship building ability though, for at least the next 30 years, by slowly building their new naval vessels of x12 OPV’s, x9 frigates and x12 subs.

            To be honest I think it’s an unusual bit of long term planning for a democracy. Most democracies tend to do 1-3 year plans based on election cycles.

            I’d love to see the US build 50 frigates, the original 20 and replace all LCS 1 for 1.

          • Rocco

            Agreed

          • PolicyWonk

            Regardless the talking point that an LCS is 1/2 of the cost of FREMM is utter fantasy.
            ================================
            Sadly, LCS isn’t even half as useful as a FREMM.

            But if you look at it from a purely expense perspective, the most expensive ship in the fleet is one that can’t fight, can’t protect itself, can’t take a punch, or reach out and touch someone.

            Hence – these LCS classes are by far the most expensive ships in the fleet. The USN needs ASSETS – not LIABILITIES.

          • Kypros

            If it were up to me, I’d gladly trade all of the LCSs for one half the number of FREMMs.

          • PolicyWonk

            If all we were talking about was offensive capability, I’d happily trade the whole she-bang for half the number of FREMMs. The ONR, when they outlined the need for a littoral combat capability, they laid out is vision for the “street fighter” concept for a combat platform built to fight in the littorals, that eventually became these so-called “littoral combat ships” that ironically weren’t designed to fight in the littorals. Hence – the only thing that survived the street fighter concept were the terms “littoral” and “combat”.

            It is my suspicion that the USN saw an opportunity to get a pile of funding, and instead of giving the money to NECC (which would’ve put the money to good use), they gave it to a collection of incompetents that created this Franken-fleet of hyper-expensive, unreliable, utility boats.

            The end result being, that the USN is still without a littoral combat platform.

            That said, due to outright neglect on the part of the USN (for which heads should’ve rolled), we’ve got a serious deficiency in mine warfare/sweepers. Sadly, at this point, these commercial-grade utility boats are all we have.

            That they might find something useful for these pier-queens to do isn’t the point: the denizens of the PEO LCS should have been court-martialed, demoted, and drummed out of the service for willfully defrauding the taxpayers and HoR’s.

          • Lazarus

            The FREMM cost you cite is the claim of a state owned European shipyard. Comparing US and European shipbuilding costs is one of apples and oranges. Europeans only get those costs in small production runs. That is why Canada, looking for a buy of 15 ships was quoted at a much higher price of $1.5m US.

          • Rocco

            Great point

          • NavySubNuke

            Quality comes at a cost.
            Do we want to pay way too much money for a stretched out pier queen (that isn’t even capable of deploying in 2018 despite having 6 ships that were constructed before or the same year as the Languedoc that has now deployed twice) with little to no real capabilities or do we want to buy into a combat proven design that is actually capable of deploying year after year?
            I know which one I would choose.

          • WhiskyTangoFoxtrot

            If we only spent $10 on the LCS, it’s would be way way way overpriced for what we get in return. Sheeeeeeesh!

          • Rocco

            & no better than a PT boat!!! Actually I like it better!!

        • Chesapeakeguy

          Aren’t those costs ‘targets’ they hope to achieve? ALL of the modules are still in development. Until final acceptance of any of them, the final costs won’t be known.

          • Yes, but outside of the MCM module they are all low risk systems and most of them are already operational.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            So some say! That supposed ’72 hour turnaround’ to swap out modules is now three weeks minimum. So I will still await final delivery and the final costs..

            (That 3 week turnaround is reported in the April 4, 2018 edition of Defense Industry Daily)..

        • airider

          Fair, but since none of the packages are ready yet, can we put a firm cost on their procurement?

        • Todd

          1/3 the cost and 1/1000th the capability of the Burke, in other words, the LCS is all talk

      • Rocco

        Just like gasoline!!

    • Duane

      The contract block buy price for the LM variant is published data … $350M average price per hull for all 11 hulls. It is nowhere near $600M. It is $350M.

      The Austal variant is more expensive than the LM variant but the 11-ship block buy price is not public info.

      Nuff said.

      • Chesapeakeguy

        Ummm, Duane, you accuse others on here of not being able to read, or if they can read, that they have no comprehension skills. So which of those is YOUR excuse? If you bothered to READ the report, AND if comprehension is not TOO much of an impediment to you, you would have seen, like I did, that the price for 2 LCS ships is listed as $568 million each in the 2018 budget request. However, there is another entry in it that reports on a purchase of ONE LCS at a cost of $646.2 million. As you mention, and thus you might actually be correct about it, the cost difference might apply to the different designs of the LCS. REGARDLESS, those figures sure are a ‘tad’ above $350 million, wouldn’t even YOU agree? LOL..

        Oh, and Duane, per this part of your comment “….but the 11-ship block buy price is not public info.”

        Well, lightening strikes twice, in that we have an occasion where you are right AGAIN. That info is NOT public, because the Navy won’t release the actual figures. That ‘policy’ has been in place since near the end of 2016. By MY criteria, that rates as a ‘coverup’…

        OK?

        • Rocco

          Lol

      • WhiskyTangoFoxtrot

        And I only spent $5 buying my new car…and if you don’t believe me I’ll go “sheeesh” a thousand times.

    • NavySubNuke

      $636M per the FY18 SCN budget.
      That cost doesn’t include munitions, mission modules, or after-deliver add ons such as ASCM launcher (as shown by the LCS that was trapped in Canada for the winter not having one). All those “extras” are added costs not included in the actual $600M+ SCN budget price.

      • Chesapeakeguy

        In re-reading the report, I see where the costs for two LCS requested in the 2018 budget are $568 million each (which makes them the better part of $600 million). But there is another entry that has a request for ONE LCS that lists the cost as $646.2 million. I’m not confident about any costs assigned to the modules and other elements of this program. The Navy has had an ’embargo’ in place as far as releasing any info about the real costs of this program. Last I saw and heard, that embargo is still in place.

        • NavySubNuke

          The 2018 SAR Report by DoD (sorry can’t post links) under the “Nunn-McCurdy Unit Cost Breaches for 2017” lists the total program cost of producing 48 mission modules to be $6,478.7 million or about $135M per Mission module.
          I haven’t dug into the numbers yet to see if that adequately captures the R&D costs as well as the production costs but it is there and published — publication date is 3 Apr 2018 – actual title is “Comprehensive Selected Acquisition Reports (SARs) For the December 31, 2017 Reporting Requirement as Updated by the President’s FY 2019 Budget”

          • Chesapeakeguy

            NSN, an interesting site is the April 4, 2018 edition of Defense Industry Daily. it has detailed costs of the ships and MMs through the years. It showed an increase of over 80% for the modules just for the years 2012 to 2014. Check it out if you ever get a chance..

          • Lazarus

            The average includes equipment other than modules and makes for a larger number.

          • NavySubNuke

            Sure it does — we can of course believe your word over the word of DoD’s own documents….

        • Lazarus

          There is no embargo. The most expensive module is the ASW one at $110m.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            It’s not just about ‘modules’. And those ‘modules’ are still under development, so final costs are still not known.

            Check out the March 16, 2017 issue of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel titled “Navy won’t disclose cost overruns for USS Milwaukee” by Rick Barrett sometime.

            “The GAO said it withheld the data from the public at the request of the
            Defense Department, which deemed it “sensitive but unclassified
            information.”

            As the Trump administration proposes to ramp up defense spending and
            expand the U.S. Navy’s armada, the long-term future of a combat
            shipbuilding program in Marinette ultimately may hinge on a combination
            of those ships’ cost-efficiency and performance.

            But in a new report that examines Navy shipbuilding, the Government Accountability Office has deleted cost overrun data on the Marinette-built USS Milwaukee, launched in 2014, as well as the USS Jackson, also launched that year but built in Mobile, Ala.

            The GAO said it withheld the data from the public at the request of the
            Defense Department, which deemed it “sensitive but unclassified
            information.”

            “We always ask the Department of Defense to go through our information and ask if there is anything that should not be publicly released. They did that in this case,” said Michele Mackin, a GAO official familiar with the report.

            “We did not argue or push back. It’s not our call,” she said. “We only asked for their rationale. We wouldn’t take something out (of a report) because it was embarrassing or they didn’t want it to be seen by the public. But in this case, we understood their point.”

            The USS Milwaukee and Jackson were the fifth and sixth vessels produced in
            the Navy’s littoral combat ship program, which so far has been dogged by
            high costs, mechanical breakdowns and lackluster performance. Littoral
            ships are designed to perform in shallow, near-shore waters.”

    • Lazarus

      It depends on how many are purchased each year. Block buys lower costs. LCS still meets its mandated Congressional cost cap; adjusted for inflation. The modular equipment is not that expensive; the most expensive is ASW at $110m. Given that FFGX is going to cost $1.2b per unit or more, an LCS at half that price remains a good value.

      • Chesapeakeguy

        Which particular ‘cap’ is that? It’s changed so often as to be meaningless. Costs of the LCS presented in the report above do not include any of the modules. The costs for EACH LCS were supposed to be far less than the present $568 million to $646 million PER vessel. If you ever want to discuss what constitutes ‘good value’ as far what the money buys on an LCS vice a new FFG, I’ll be happy to engage in that.

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        Value implies both cost and effectiveness. LCS might win on the former metric, but seems a little questionable in the latter.

        Capabilty matters. Building a fleet is a lot like managing a basketball team. Five players who are six feet tall is NOT the same as six who are five feet tall.

  • Kypros

    Still curious on HII’s secrecy and what they have up their sleeve.

    • Curtis Conway

      To use LCS and combat capability in the same sentence is oxymoronic. The United States needs a Surface Combatant that can take the fight to ANY Ocean, including the Arctic/Antarctic Regions. We have nothing like that today, particularly in the LCS.

      • Rocco

        Agreed

      • Kypros

        The LCSs may one day hopefully be of some use with the MCM module, etc., my question remains why Ingalls is being so secretive with their FFGx proposal.

        • airider

          Yep, I’d like to see what the have under the tarp as well.

  • Ed L

    I strongly feel that this selection process is fixed. The LCS primates will get the bid and our navy will be stuck with another turkey

    • Curtis Conway

      If that is true, then it’s a numbers game, not a capabilities game . . . and we are sunk! The LCS capabilities in the Arctic are minimal, and do not exist at all in the presence of ‘Ice’. Remember, these babies have waterjets not screws.

      • Ed L

        It wouldn’t be so bad if the LCS had better legs to do a 30 to 60 day at sea period. We once stay out at sea for 25 days but the 3 of us were on a 37 foot sailboat. The FFGX stills needs a bigger gun 127mm and still keep the 57mm like the FREMM Italian version with there General Purpose variant has 1 × Leonardo Otobreda 127/64 Vulcano and 1 × Leonardo OTO Melara 76/62 mm Davide/Strales CIWS gun.

        • Curtis Conway

          Once all 340+ of us stayed on station for pert near four months with a break in Haifa, Israel for Christmas. All our UNREPS were at night.

          • Rocco

            Pert?

          • Curtis Conway

            That’s Texican Talk.

          • Rocco

            Which means??? You can’t expect us yanks up here to understand cowhide!!! Lol

          • Curtis Conway

            That’s Rawhide to you Yanks . . . LOL! I was listneing to the news the other day listening to this [Ynkee] reporter describing a ‘Cow Farm’ . . . I just rolled by eyes and LOL.

          • Rocco

            He I used to watch that show!! One of these days I may head down your way to see the Lady Lexington. I went aboard her when she was still in service. BTW the air show is next weekend so I will ask your question about the F-16!

        • Rocco

          Agreed

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      No doubt.

      The Euro contenders are there to give the illusion of competition.

      In all likelihood it will be that Freedom class

    • PolicyWonk

      Concur – especially given who’s in charge of the FFG(X) program and their historical willingness to double-and-triple down on stupidity, which is well known to this forum.

      The only minor solace, is that they’d probably use the Saudi variant currently undergoing design at Lockmart as a starting point, which should render a result that is substantially different from the Freedom class: far better armed and protected.

      IMO, while the Independence class is considerably more innovative, the all-aluminum construction is a non-starter.

      The above said, I have to agree with Curtis, in that any FFG(X) must be tough and seaworthy enough to venture into the arctic oceans as effortlessly as the Legend-class NSC’s.

  • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

    “Another potential oversight issue for Congress is whether procuring a new class of FFGs is the best or most promising general approach for addressing the identified capability gaps and mission needs, and whether the Navy has performed a formal, rigorous analysis of this issue, as opposed to relying solely on subjective judgments of Navy or DOD leaders….

    ***

    Here we go again. Just like LCS. If you shortcut the analysis, you’re just kicking the problem down the road. Cannot wait to read about this again in a decade.

    • Al L.

      Ah yes. The analysts say that analysis is the solution. What a surprise.

      A year ago you said ” My personal experience is that this has generally improved the process.”

      Where’s the proof?

      The “subjective judgments of Navy or DOD leaders” shape the analysis before it is started. So is it not more honest and efficient to just rely on their “subjective judgments” from the start?

      Tell me Mr. Analyst exactly how you would eliminate political manipulation of analytical efforts to avoid this problem. I am honestly interested.

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        If you think that sufficient, robust analysis was conducted prior to LCS entering design phase – you’re in a very small group. You’d be about the only one besides Lazarus who quite frankly is a shameless LCS cheerleader.

        I cannot comment on your assertion because I have never seen this nefarious political maninipulation of the analysis process. Can you provide an example or two?

        You seem think that all analysis is purely quantitative and/or modeling & simulation. The CBAs and AoAs I’ve worked on also utilize warfighter input.

        A danger in relying purely on SME input vice quantitative data is the tendency of SMEs to favor “sexy” characteristics at the expense of more practical ones.

        An example is the LCS bizarre fascination with high speed – the requirement for which was purely based on SME input…vice objective, quantitative mission analysis

        I think hindsight will likely show that high speed had little value – and in fact caused quite a lot of compromises in necessary characteristics. Like range, endurance and payload.

        • Al L.

          “If you think that sufficient, robust analysis was conducted….”

          No I dont. Nor do I believe sufficient, robust analysis was done on LPD-17, CVN-78, PC-1, FFG-7, DD-963, CG-47, FFG (x), LX (r), MHC-51, all the nuclear cruisers, LHA-6, LHA-8, DDG-51 Flt 1, DDG-1000 and many others. In my opinion even what you call “sufficient, robust analysis ” is a beaurecratic farce.

          “nefarious political maninipulation ”

          There is nothing nefarious about it. Its simple. Leadership wants to go in a direction, they set an analysis, they precondition it to point where they want to go. Politics is the art of exercising power. The leadership has the power, the analysts dont. Most leaders will exercise their power to manipulate the conditions of an analysis to yield a result they favor.

          “A danger in relying purely on SME input vice quantitative data”

          -LCS did not rely purely on SME input, there was extensive testing modeling etc done, including even building an experimental ship FSF-1 and the use of surrogates.

          -The original concept and the plan that was initially funded involved a robust data input: testing of 4 flight 0 ships and then subsequent modification of flight 1 ships to that data set. The problem was the Navy was wholely unable to discipline itself around that concept. It was a build test build model. The Navy turned it into a build guess, build guess, etc model.

        • Al L.

          “Can you provide an example or two?”

          DDG-1000. About as manipulated as you can get. It has 2 useless guns on it that are the result of analysis predetermined by internal Dept of the Navy politics.

          LPD-17. Everything on that ship intended to allow it to operate inside 25 nm are the result of analysis predetermined by internal Dept of the Navy politics.

          2 classes, full analysis (at least the way the beauracracy defined it), completely (DDG-1000) or substantially (LPD-17) irrational results.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            So you’ve actually seen all the studies (CBAs, AoAs) associated with the platforms? And you have first-hand knowledge of internal Navy politics and decisions at the Secretary/Flag level?

            Wow. You must be an extremely important and informed person to have that kind of first-hand evidence.

            PS – Your argument regarding FSF-1 as an “experimental ship” for LCS simply doesn’t hold water (pun intended). Or you simply don’t understand what words like experimentation mean. Look at the timelines:

            FSF-1 entered service 31 May 2005, completed sea trials on 06 July 2005.
            LCS-1 was laid down 23 June 2005.
            LCS-2 laid down 19 January 2006.

            Given that it takes 6-12 months to design a naval vessel, the fundamental characteristics of both LCS designs were essentially “locked down” well before FSF-1 was available for experimentation. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

          • Al L.

            “And you have first-hand knowledge of internal Navy politics and decisions at the Secretary/Flag level?”

            Why would I need such knowledge? The characteristics of both ships resulted from open debates between the Navy, USMC, DOD and Congress. DDG-1000 wouldn’t exist without those debates and the political pressure that resulted, the Navy would have built a cruiser first which may have looked nothing like DDG-1000. The Navy had already concluded fire support for the Marines could be done without a ship dedicated to it. This didn’t sit well with Marines and their supporters, they pressured the Navy into building a ship and any analysis after that point was predicated on that political outcome: a ship with guns on it that the Navy could point to and say “theres your NSFS ship”

            Re FSF-1:

            Again: LCS plan 1: build 4 ships to experiment with, adjust, build up to 9 more. FSF-1 was built to inform the final product decision. That adjustment could have been to build no more LCS and go in a different direction. The Navy almost immediately threw that out the window, decided it knew better and and started adjusting LCS 1&2 in stream, which threw the whole plan into turmoil. Under the original plan LCS-1 wouldn’t be available until 2009 and LCS-4 about 2012 or so. FSF-1 was in service in 2005 which allowed 4+ extra years of experimentation to inform the design and purchase of flight 1, modules, conops, etc.. All 4 flight 0 LCS were R&D funded ships. It was expected that they would not all be the same, and would probably be different than the Flight 1 ships if flight 1 got built.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Sorry – but your lack of first-hand knowledge is leading to a decidedly second-rate argument.

            PS – you mean shipbuilding is influenced by political concerns? I am simply shocked. 🙂

    • Al L.

      P.S. I like your honest and continuing use, and appreciate the connotation of “the artist formally known as m”, but I really really believe you should change your name to “The Analyst”. It’s so obvious no one would confuse you with another identity. It also has a Hollywood quality to it, kind of like “The Mentalist ” Very marketable.

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        Great. And I’ll change yours to “LCS_Supporter”. I’ll bet that it is still available.

  • Todd

    “more heavily armed…than LCS” it certainly wouldn’t take much to leap that very low bar (oh look out everyone, here’s come Dueaneee foaming at the mouth).

  • Lou Ferrao

    Why not consider the French Navy Aquitaine? It has some stealth to it and definitely has firepower. and NATO members (France & Italy) already use them in their navies. They can be made with US Navy requirements in Wisconsin. It’s a proven design and can be deployed quickly. We don’t have the time for a “clean” sheet production. Unless of course we still have the mentality of “Not invented here” syndrome.

    • Rocco

      Negative!! What part don’t you people understand!! The only ship for this is based of the coast guard cutter!!! Period. No foreign design’s!!