Home » Budget Industry » UPDATED: Lockheed Martin Awarded Design Contract for Saudi Frigates


UPDATED: Lockheed Martin Awarded Design Contract for Saudi Frigates

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

This post has been updated to include additional information on the contract award.

Lockheed Martin Corp. has received a $450 million award for complex design work and some long-lead materials for the construction of four new frigates for the Royal Saudi Arabian Navy, part of the kingdom’s multi-billion dollar shipbuilding plan.

This new contract modifies a November deal, where Lockheed Martin was awarded a $22.74 million contract to adapt the design of its Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship into a more heavily armed frigate concept for use by the Saudi Arabian navy. USNI News has previously reported the frigate concept will not include the LCS modular mission functions, but does bulk up its armaments.

In March, the company received a $481 million award for the bulk of the long-lead materials.

“The Multi-Mission Surface Combatant is a lethal and highly maneuverable surface combatant capable of littoral and open ocean operation,” according to the Department of Defense contract notice.

The Lockheed Martin contract is part of the Foreign Military Sales program run by the Department of Defense, which serves as an intermediary between contractors and foreign governments.

These new frigates are intended to be the core of the long-anticipated Saudi Naval Expansion Program II, a plan in the works for more than a decade to upgrade the kingdom’s Eastern Fleet. Ultimately, USNI News understands Saudi Arabia plans to spend up to $20 billion on new ships, with approximately $6 billion earmarked for the frigate program built by Lockheed Martin.

Saudi Arabia has also recently inked a roughly $2 billion deal to build out more of its upgraded fleet, according to media reports. Saudi Arabia is buying five Avante 2200 corvettes from Spanish shipbuilder Navantia, according to a story reported by Paris-based Navy Recognition. Construction is set to start this year and Saudi Arabia expects to accept delivery of its last ship in 2022.

The corvettes will be built in Spain. Lockheed Martin builds the Freedom-class LCS variants at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine Corporation shipyard in Marinette, Wisc., but the company has not yet specified where the Saudi Arabian frigates would be built.

  • TheFightingIrish

    The Saudi variant a great improvement over the Freedom Class. The kind of ship the Navy should have had from the beginning.

    • Duane

      The only substantive difference is a longer hull and added a small VLS for area air defense, which was never the defined role of LCS anyway. The Saudi frigate, as does FFG(X) gives up modularity which is a significant loss of both flexibility and capability and future proofing that only LCS has. But the Saudis are only building 4 frigates and depending upon others (the USN) to handle MCM and other mission packages yet to come for LCS (including a special forces insertion MM, a fleet ECM MM, and a fleet digital comms MM that are already in initial development).

      • Retired Navy

        “Does give up modularity” Well, they’ll enjoy that advantage tremendously, cause’ look out it’s turned out for us-a big nothing burger. “All hands stand by to deploy the towed anti-submarine module, let’s do better this time team and get her done in the next 4 hours…” LOL

        • Duane

          The very opposite of what you say. We get many different ships for the same investment in hull.

        • Rocco

          Copy that!!

      • Rocco

        What modules???

    • Rocco

      Agreed

    • USNVO

      Hardly, the USN was not looking for a super-duper FAC, they wanted a patrol ship that could do MIW. Notice the Saudi’s ship can’t. I mean LCS is severely compromised by the 40kt speed requirement, so the ships can’t carry as much or be as inexpensive as they were supposed to be, but at least they can perform the mission they are designated to do.

  • DaSaint

    So the MMCS gets an 8-cell Mk41 forward of the superstructure, immediately aft of the 57mm for 32 VL ESSM. It also gets 8 Harpoon Block II SSMs, and 1 SeaRAM launcher over the helo hangar. Plus it also appears to get 2 fire control radars, linked to the same (I presume) COMBATSS-21 CMS.

    For all those who like this platform, it’s at least a comparable baseline for the FFG(X).

    • Duane

      MMCS is similar in many respects to LM’s frigate design, though I expect a larger VLS array than 8 cells.

    • Rocco

      So why aren’t ours set up that way?

      • USNVO

        Because that wasn’t the requirement.

        You will note that the Saudi version completely eliminated the mission bay as well as its stern launch and recovery system. Additionally, the USN version also has UHF, SHF, and EHF SATCOM, something that probably won’t be on the Saudi version either. So besides using the basic hull and mechanicals, it is pretty much different across the board.

        The USN asked for an air capable, shallow water patrol ship that could support MIW and inshore ASW if required using remote systems. So basically a multi-purpose medium endurance cutter. Then some idiot thought it needed to do 40kts, and another idiot thought we needed two classes of them, and you have LCS.

        They Saudis really wanted an air capable FAC and the LCS hull is perfect for that. It is basically a super sized WWII PT Boat with air capability and that is what they wanted. And for that role, it is close to perfect even if not especially transformational.

        The US requirement was basically for a modern version of the AUK or ADMIRABLE classes of AM from WWII, a cheap minesweeper that could do more than just be a minesweeper. Neither LCS is especially good for that because of the ludicrous speed requirement.

        • Duane

          Sorry, no idiots were involved in LCS. The idiots are the internet commenters.

          There are not 2 classes of LCS … there are 2 variants of LCS … just as there were multiple variants of many US naval warship classes historically and today. Recently we’ve built multiple variants of attack submarines (Virginia, and Virginia with VPM), and aviation amphibs (with well decks, and without). It is nothing unusual at all.

          To equate a LCS or the Saudi MMCS with a PT boat is ridiculously stupid rhetoric, and nothing more.

          The LCS speed requirement is the opposite of stupid. It is required to deal precisely with the most common actual threat in the littorals – high speed swarming small attack craft. If you had any understanding and appreciation of naval history you would know that littoral naval warfare has always been dominated by small, shallow draft, speedy, and highly maneuverable vessels, going all the way back to US colonial times. Speedy shallow draft sloops of war were the preferred warship of the American colonists and later patriots in the littorals, whether gun running and smuggling of all types past the lumbering blue water ships of the Royal Navy, or taking British prizes, or 60 years earlier, chasing down pirates like Blackbeard. In the 20th century, DDEs, corvettes, armed cutters and large gunboats became dominant in the littorals, carrying on the traditions from the 16th thru 18th centuries.

          The LCS is the 21st century successor to the sloop of war. Speed, maneuverability, and shallow draft are key performance requirements. Obviously you and most other LCS critics are biased against LCS because of your background in blue water vessels, and you all completely do not get littoral ops. It is the easiest thing in the world to dismiss that which you do not comprehend. Clueless, you are.

          • USNVO

            Sorry, I sat through virtually every LCS Meeting for three years, the number of idiots involved was very high. I also reviewed the ROCPOE for the class (it was worse than bad), did you? But you are welcome to your own opinion. If you want to pretend that two ships with different hull forms, different combat system, different sensors, different control consoles, different internal arrangements, different MPGTE, different MPDE, different SSDGs, different flight decks, different helo handling gear, different mission bays, and different stern cranes are variants of the same class (about the only thing in common is the waterjets, the weapons themselves, and the MPCE (but the MP consoles on the ship are different)), knock yourself out. The NORTH CAROLINA and the SOUTH DAKOTA class battleships have more in common , by an order of magnitude, than the LCS “variants” and they were separate classes, the same is true with the FLETCHER Class and the GEARING Class. But then you knew that, right?

            If you knew anything about recent history, you would know your examples are no longer valid. Top Speed used to be very important. In the age of sail, you had to chase down ships (although one could argue that really fast ships like the WASP carried too much sail for their size, making them vulnerable to loss from being pushed under or knocked over), probably why it was lost with all hands. Later, you had to close with the enemy to launch torpedo attacks before being destroyed by counter fire (of course that rarely happened. Quick, how many large warships were destroyed by PT Boats?). As late as the 1973 Yom Kippur war. the Israeli Navy missile boats had to be fast enough to chase down the fleeing Egyptian and Syrian missile boats and get in range after they ran away when they missed with their longer ranged missiles. But then something happened. In Desert Storm, virtually the entire Iraqi Navy, made up of fast, shallow draft, heavily armed FACs were destroyed by ships using armed helos. Why do you think all of the high speed, shallow draft FACs are being replaced with slower, deeper draft, air-capable ships with air defenses? Well, except for the Saudis, they are buying really big FACs that look like LCS-1 “variants”.

            But that’s not all. USCG Medium Endurance Cutters, that can maybe go 23kts going down hill with a tail wind routinely capture “go fast” boats doing more than 50kts because they use helicopters and/or high speed pursuit RHIBs.

            Danish ships barely able to go faster than 20kts chase down much faster Somali Pirates with, wait for it, helos and RHIBs! With a 5nm ranged torpedo, you needed speed, with a 120nm range missile, not so much.

            But wait, can’t high speed be used for ASCM defense and Torpedo Evasion? Sure, but then you would need the turbines to be online when you detect the attack, something very unlikely because your range drops dramatically.

            Sure, speed has some value in a very limited mission set, but what did you give up to go 40kts for the handful of times it might be needed?
            Payload. It is all about what you carry, right? Payload fraction is significantly less compared to a monohull. Put simply, the ship is way bigger than it needs to be to carry the payload it has to. I sat in an LCS meeting and listed to PMS-420 celebrate because they had saved a whole 800lbs by redesigning the module doors on the mission package. 800lbs, a lot for a airplane, but this was a 3000LT+ ship! Additionally, for example, a bunch of spares planned for the MCM mission package were left off because of weight.
            Cost. At least 1/3 of the cost of the LCS Sea Frame is specifically attributable to the requirement to go 40kts instead of something like 25kts. Plus they burn fuel at an incredible rate at speed and are not as efficient as other ships at cruising speeds. So they cost more.
            Crewing. High speed called for really big turbines turning water jets, A more reasonable 25kt speed would have required only diesels with conventional screws, reducing manning significantly or workload, take your pick. Beyond that, the requirements to maintain said water jets are more than for conventional propellers.
            Seakeeping. A semi-planing hull is not as capable in a seaway as a displacement hull.
            Durability. Ship design varies, but a semi-planing hulls have to be as light as possible to go fast, not so much displacement hulls. An all steel ships are generally cheaper than other, light weight materials like aluminium.
            Endurance/Mobility. Semi-planing hulls are less efficient at cruising speeds.
            Beyond that, high speed requirements forced a decision for waterjets over conventional screws, which are also less efficient at cruising speeds. Bottom line, the LCS can not go as fast or as far as fast operationally or strategically as an equivalent displacement hull with the same capability but designed for 25kts. So although they have tactical speed, they sacrificed operational and strategic mobility get that. And, the US is a long way from anywhere.

            So yes, for a ship that was going to do the maritime security missions to free up larger ships, by definition an economy of force mission, 40kts is truly stupid.

            And from a program that was sold as building 4 ships in two versions, testing them, combining the best of both into one design and building that, yes building both is truly stupid. Even having two different hulls with common systems would have made fare more sense, but would have still been stupid.

          • Rocco

            Well said & put!! But as idiot Duane response 👇had no counter!!

          • Duane

            So you alone in the meeting room was not an idiot. Right.

            You still do not comprehend littoral ops if you refuse to acknowledge the need for speed in littoral ops.

            You cite CG ops … that destroyed your entire argument at the outset. The coast guard is a law enforcement force, not a combat force. The CG does not face off agains IRGCC (Iranian) surface combatants, which include large swarms of manned and unmanned heavily armed fast boats, most of which are armed with anti-ship cruise missiles and ATGMs and deck guns. These boat swarms can easily number in the dozens.

            The CG faces off one or two go fast boats carrying contraband that don’t shoot back with anything more powerful than an Uzi submachine gun. They just run away 99 times out of 100 because the goal of the smuggler is to get away, not destroy other vessels … so a single chopper armed with a 7.62mm machine gun is plenty to deal with the actual threats the cutter will face.

            The LCS must be capable of running down these small but deadly high speed boat swarms at high speeds and in shallow coastal waters before they can put an ASCM into the hull of a supertanker in the Persian Gulf, or before a Chinese squadron of fast patrols can damage or destroy a supermax container ship transiting the narrow Malacca Strait.

            Just as I wrote above, you are obviously a bluewater guy who simply does not comprehend littoral ops. The technology changes over time, but the littoral threats remain mostly the same. The goal of an enemy combatant in the littorals is to harass and damage or destroy sea-based supply lines using small, shallow draft, speedy, and maneuverable craft that can easily outsail and avoid lumbering blue water combatants.

            One or even two MH-60 cannot contain the threat. To combat the threat requires a specialized littoral combat SYSTEM that features many overlapping layers of sensors, weapons, platforms, and shooters. That is precisely what LCS is, and that is precisely why you and the other LCS critics just don’t get it.

          • USNVO

            What a silly reply.

            First, no I was not the only non-idiot in the room, I had lots of company. Most officers and Enlisted involved, at it was a huge number, were just trying to do their jobs, and the 40kt speed requirement and the fact that you had two completely different ships just made it harder.

            Second, speed is one of many factors but is rarely critical or even important.

            In WWII in the Pacific for instance, the PT boat, beyond having really good PR, failed in most missions it was tried on. It worked well as a sentinel and to pick-up pilots, covert insertion of agents, etc. But when they tried to use it to interdict shipping they failed, not just in the Solomons, but also in the Philippines twice. What did work really well was the converted LCI Gunboats which although slow, had much better payload, range, endurance, durability, and maneuverability. They also worked well for close in support of amphibious forces, another role the PT Boat was tried on and failed miserably. I guess speed wasn’t so important.

            As for how a LCS will be used tactically, frankly you are clueless. Why would an LCS try “running down” a small boat (why exactly wouldn’t the small boat get in water the LCS can’t follow by the way?)? Your comment flies in the face of 70+ years of naval advancement. What to do, go duke it out with guns or use air support or remote systems? LCS has an armed helicopter which flies 4 times faster than the ship itself, why not use that? Or use the radio and get a flight of AH-64s to make the threat go away. You only use the guns if you have to.
            Need to board a ship or boat, how about the 11m RHIB that is even faster than the LCS? Your right, it is a system of systems and the LCS “Sea Frame” is the mother ship and doesn’t have to do everything itself. The one thing above all other that makes LCS useful in ASuW, is that it has an awesome air capability.

            As for your sanctimonious claims of people just not getting it, I gave you a concrete example, Desert Storm and the elimination of the Iraqi Navy, and explained why other factors were more important than top speed, you gave me platitudes. Yeah, I just don’t get it.

          • Duane

            Yup, you just don’t get it when you base your argument on PT boats and CG cutters.

            High speed has always been a primary success factor when fighting in the littorals, along with shallow draft and high maneuverability. Effective weapons and sensors are also keys. The PT boats and CG cutters lack either or both for warfighting. Cutters are effective law enforcement platforms, but they are no more effective at warfighting on littoral seas than police cruisers are on land battlefields.

            You simply discount what you do not comprehend … an all too common affliction of internet commenters.

          • USNVO

            So, give me a historical example? I gave you several real world examples, which you are mute on, and instead recited platitudes. Are you saying the LCI(G) was fast? That it wasn’t better than the high speed boat that was supposed to do that mission?

            Really, for someone who seems to think LCS is transformational, you seem to not understand the biggest one, which is that it is a mothership for other things. You send a UUV to find mines and a Helo to neutralize them, not the ship. You send Helos and VTUAVs to find boat swarms, or pirates, or drug runners, not the ship.

            Just as a historical point, before calling an LCS a modern “Sloop of War”, you might want to look up what that means in the US Navy. I would recommend Chapelle’s The American Sailing Navy, I don’t think it means what you think it means.

          • El_Sid

            Without wanting to get dragged into this, there is an argument for speed not in the kind of offensive missions you’re talking about, but as a defensive weapon. It’s particularly important in the kind of less-than-war missions that the USN seems to be seeing a fair bit of at the moment. In terms of historical examples – USS Pueblo ended up with a choice of either surrendering, or shooting and starting World War III. If she’d had more speed, she wouldn’t have ended up in Pyongyang. You can imagine more Pueblos happening in the SCS for instance.

            If you are in a shooting war, a boat swarm pretty much implies more than what a single helicopter, or even a couple, can cope with – and if just one of the swarm carries a MANPAD, then life gets a lot more complicated for the chopper.

          • USNVO

            Absolutely. In fact, defense is the strongest argument for tactical speed, but does it justify the cost and other compromises? And what speed is more important. Would LCS be better with a 25kt top speed with a 23kt cruising speed or a 40kt top speed with a 14kt cruising speed?

            For instance, a 40kt ship can outrun torpedoes (well, not outrun but run them out of fuel) if you detect them soon enough. It can also make ASCM defense more effective (I know people always repeat the mantra about not being able to outrun a missile, which you can’t do, but you can get out of its seeker area or get better separation from your countermeasures). And, you can run from small boats to give you longer time to engage.

            As for the swarm, sure one helo is not enough, although with two rocket pods and APKWS, one helo can easily take out 30+ boats with pretty much impunity to MANPADs (the whole shooting down hill thing). With Hellfire it can mission kill multiple FACs. But why would you just have one, you have a radio, call for help. Then helos and air craft from all over the theater can come to kill them, that is what happened in Desert Storm to the Iraqi navy. The SH-60s found them and A-6s and Lynxs killed them.

            What you wouldn’t want to do is send a ship, any ship, into the middle of them. Because to kill them, the ship has to get close to them, and you can’t kill them fast enough. Much better to use your speed to stay away but 25kts works almost as well as 40kts for that.

            A 40kt top speed has value but it also requires really huge trade offs. Would LCS be more palatable to the naysayers if cost 1/2-2/3rds as much? had a longer range and endurance? faster cruising speed? was made of steel? had fewer crew? lower maintenance? better seakeeping? I mean really, even with human error, do expect a diesel electric drive to be less reliable than a light weight combiner gear for close to 50,000SHP? And fixing it is much easier as well.

            For the missions envisioned, the tactical speed of the LCS has limited utility compared to what you have to trade off to get it.

          • Duane

            The LCS is a “mothership” for MCM, which is entirely performed by deployed aircraft (manned and unmanned) and unmanned vessels deployed from LCS. But LCS is fully capable of self-contained ASW and SuW, while also deploying aircraft for some functions in addition to or backup to onboard systems.

            I’ve given you the example you say you want to see – fighting off small craft swarms in the littorals that directly and lethally threaten surface traffic. With a vessel that itself can keep up with the fast small craft, plus its weaponized deployed aircraft (MH-60 and MQ-8 B and C, with up to 4 aircraft deployed), a single LCS can cover a vastly larger sea surface area than any other ship in the littorals. Speed id a huge and necessary asset.

            But as always, you do not comprehend the littoral battlespace, so you use sophist rhetoric (“you use ‘platitudes'”) to cover your lack of comprehension and ti dismiss out of hand the critical performance requirements of an effective littoral warship.

            One of your 22 knot CG cutters would simply be left in the wakes of the dozen heavily armed swarm of fast craft as they go on to damage or sink merchant ships in the Strait of Hormuz (exactly as Iran threatened to do last week) or in the Malacca Strait.

          • Duane

            I understand exactly what a sloop of war was and its role in littoral surface combat. Being sloop rigged rather than square rigged like larger frigates and ships of the line they were much more weatherly (ability to point higher into the wind) and shallower draft than the bluewater ships, a huge advantage in sailing around islands, bays, and harbors in the littorals. They were heavily armed for ships of their size, and were as fast or faster than most of the coastal ships and boats that they went up against, as well as the larger merchantmen going to and from coastal ports.

          • USNVO

            Well, if you understand what a sloop of war was, you wouldn’t claim it was sloop rigged, since virtually every US Sloop of War from the Hornet of 1775 to the Constellation was either ship or brig rigged. About the only sloop rigged vessels in the US Navy were Jefferson’s gunboats which were notable failures. Sloops were single gun deck ships. They were not especially shallow draft although shallower than frigates (although Constellation (Sloop from 1854, the one in Baltimore not the frigate) had roughly the same draft of the heavy frigate Constitution), were generally not as fast as frigates, and being ship rigged where not especially good upwind. In any event, everything you describe about them is false. Feel free to check it out, Chapelle’s The American Sailing Navy is still about the definitive resource and available from USNI.

          • Duane

            Sloops are sloop rigged … hence the term “sloop”. By definition. Everything I wrote is a fact. You do not understand littoral naval warfare, obviously.

          • USNVO

            It burns, it burns…..

            You know, putting your fingers in your ears so you can’t hear and closing your eyes so you can’t see really doesn’t change anything. I would hate to hurt your self-esteem further, try looking it up. Or better yet, go visit one. The Sloop of War Constellation, built in 1854 and the last all sailing ship the US Navy ever built, has been restored and is on public display in Baltimore, check it out sometime. Just don’t try to find the sloop rig, well except possibly in the small boats.

          • Duane

            I am talking, and have been throughout, fast small sloop rigged vessels used in the 17th and 18th centuries, mostly starting service as merchant ships and later converted to either pirate ships, privateers and blockade runners. The RN only considered a vessel a “sloop of war” if it had fewer than 18 guns with frigates being of 18 to 44 guns, and were far larger and deeper draft vessels than the ones I refer to.

            The Constellation, a mid-19th century warship, is by 17th and 18th century standards (the timeframe I specifically cited) a 23 gun 1,400 ton frigate, not a sloop of war. By RN standards it would be called a frigate. In the Continental Navy, 13 ships, all called frigates, ranged from 24 guns to 32 guns, and the Constellation would have been labeled a frigate. Later, when the US Navy was reconstituted in the late 1790s and early 1800s, the frigates grew in size to as many as 44 guns.

            The vessels I referred to (17th and 18th century) were in fact sloop rigged, so could point higher into the wind, and were smaller with smaller draft than frigate sized vessels. As a result, they were more maneuverable than either frigates or ships of the line in the littorals.

            Ships generally got larger throughout the 19th century, both merchant ships and warships, so ship categories also crept upwards. Nice trick there, switching centuries.

            My points remain exactly the same and exactly valid. Successful littoral warship design, whether in th 17th and 18th, or in the 21st century, requires high speeds, shallow draft, high maneuverability, and good weapons systems. Good sensors, of course, is more of a 20th and especially 21st century requirement, as all they had prior was the human eyeball.

            You discount all of that, of course. Just like a lot of folks who came out of the bluewater navy. You discount what you do not comprehend.

          • USNVO

            Do you even know what sloop rigged means?

            Sloops were never sloop rigged, at least not in the traditional sense of a single mast with a triangular sail and a jib.

            The vast majority of sloops in the 17th and 18th century were either snow rigged brigs (two masted ships with square rig on the forward mast and combined square rig and spanker on the aft mast), brigantines (two masts square rigged
            forward with fore and aft rigged sails aft), or brigs (two square rigged masts) although some were ship rigged. None were sloop rigged. Later, after 1795, the RN introduced the Bermuda Sloop to counter french privateers although it really wasn’t a sloop at all but a topsail schooner.

            The first ship in the continental navy was the sloop Alfred (is that early enough for you?), it was ship rigged (three or more masts with square rigged sails if you don’t know what that means). So was the sloop Ranger (JPJ’s first ship), sloop Hornet (first sloop constructed for the continental navy). The sloop Andrea Doria was a brig. The light sloops Wasp and and Fly were sort of like what you describe as topsail schooners (two masts, gaff rigged with square topsails) but were definitely not sloop rigged.

            Late in the 18th century the British had some dispatch boats that were sloop rigged, they required too many crew and generally were considered failures. The only sloop rigged vessels in the US Navy were small boats and some of Jefferson’s gun boats. But I could be wrong, even Chapelle could be wrong, so show me an engraving of these mythical beasts or even give me a name and I will look it up.

            As for being fast, sloops, even top-sail schooners, were not as fast as larger, more powerful ships but they were more maneuverable especially upwind. And yes, sloops being smaller ships had shallower draft, but there primary function was not littoral operations, primarily conducted by ships boats, but blue water operations like escorting convoys, scouting, carrying dispatches, raiding the other sides merchant fleet, etc.

            Let me bottom line it for you.

            Once again, I have given you concrete examples that are easily verifiable that you are wrong. You haven’t given me anything but your own fantasies. Either put up or shut up.

            – Provide a name of a sloop rigged sloop that served in the RN or USN.
            – Point to a ship or a battle that unfolded like you say happened all the time.
            – Show me a sloop that is faster than a frigate. Not shallower draft, not better performance to windward, but flat out speed.

            If you can’t do that, you prove me right.

          • Guest

            Why would any rational person send in a 3500t ship, made of aluminum
            foil, with
            optically aimed weapons, with 100+ crew, that costs close to $1B all up…to
            fight $1.98 boghammers? Each and every boat in that swarm has the
            ability to at minimum, mission kill an LCS. Defies common sense.
            There’s far better ways of dealing with them, such as air. Because if
            you don’t have control of the airspace, you’re not going to be sending
            in an LCS anyway…

          • SierraSierraQuebec

            I like your extended series of arguments, but relevant facts will not change Duane’s mind. I would further argue that speed biased ships have never been successful, be they the four RN battlecruisers that exploded at Jutland, the poor service records of the fast Italian destroyers and similar warships, and the LCS. When you sacrifice so much to achieve minimally useful extra speed everything else suffers.
            If you want to run down pirates or similar multiple small targets a small 60 knot hydrofoil built up from helicopter components could do the job as well, with low cost LED optical counter illumination, basic radar shaping and coatings, and potable & seawater counter IR misting, the craft could get to within 2-3km of the boats and destroy them with a few thousands of light cannon shells before its presence would even be detected. There would be a design cost, but the hydrofoils would be faster and more seaworthy than RHIB’s and less costly to operate than helicopters.

        • Rocco

          Indeed!! That idiot was some Admiral!! In my mind it’s a Corvette size ship that no one wants to call it!

    • SierraSierraQuebec

      The Saudi’s don’t require their ships to operate far from their bases or for any length of time underway. It’s easy to stuff extra missiles in to it, especially when you remove other features and the extra capacity to man and provision the ship for more than a week or two.
      No, this is not a baseline for a future USN frigate, but its disconcertingly common to confuse the weapons outfit of a ship as being the only thing to factor in to the equation.
      The basic ironwork of a DDG-51 hull is about $300M, that’s the baseline on to which a sub class of a dozen or two frigates could be built, provided the discipline to limit outfits is maintained. There are countless ways to equip the vessels by omissions or substitutions while enjoying the advantage of a common ship baseline that also could leverage in enhanced capabilities like greatly increased endurance, training berths, free or adaptable space, etc., etc.
      The pattern of buying everything as a first class platform effects just about every area of the military, and the only people that benefit from the perpetual supply constrained procurement policy are the companies and the extended chain of benefactors in the system. Ironically, these are usually the same people that decry how the first line equipment is so expensive to operate and lament how if only a cheaper system without the unneeded bells and whistles were available (???).
      The joke is ultimately on the profiteers, this decades old stategy of limiting supply to generate a deliberate demand for more funding is at the core of the continuously declining demographic support for military spending and why in future years the percentage of GDP will drop to low levels that have not been seen since the first century of its existence when there was no need for a significant global presence.

      • Rocco

        I don’t know how you figured a base line of 300m for a dozen subs or 2 frigates could be built??

        • SierraSierraQuebec

          The $300M was for a DDG-51 hull only, in to which the LM2500 turbines could be replaced by diesels of half the power along with the AG9160 generator sections from the Flight III ships, resulting in 27 knots and/or around 10MW of the 16MW as excess electrical power for energy weapons in the future; separate generators would not be required. The Mk41 VLS arrays could be replaced with 2-3 MK57 modules while conserving top weight; similarly the CIWS and 5″ gun could be replaced with a SeaRAM of current or enlargened forms incorporating Hellfire and APKWS missiles already carried for the helicopters; 20/30/40mm weapons could be integrated in various ways with these missile systems. Other cost saving measures might include phased arrays built up from F-35 or other less powerful modules, although a lot of the existing electronics of the ship might remain the same. Weights and balances could be readjusted with semi-permanent additions of tankage and structural and protective steel.
          This is an under $1B frigate sharing a high level of commonality with the DDG-51 ships that can be built quickly given that the baselines require almost nothing new to be designed or developed and no new production lines to be started.
          Bombers, fighters, aircraft carriers, submarines, armored vehicles, all these platforms can be economically produced in simplified but effective second line forms to flesh out numbers while being less expensive than the classic hi-lo mix of separate systems, but the staff officers and the military manufacturers are always pushing for maximum systems to soak up as much money as possible in order to generate a perpetual demand for bigger budgets, a myopic approach that has seen military spending as a percentage of GDP drop continuously from 14-15% in the early 1950’s down to less than 4% today and which will descend below 3% or even 2% as soon as any new administration succeeds the current presidency. The best strategy to preserve a 4% budget would be to start demonstrating the efficient and effective use of current funding.

          • Rocco

            Interesting combos!! But I don’t know why you mentioned the same thing for sub’s?

          • SierraSierraQuebec

            sub class means a subset of the class, maybe the proper spelling should be hyphenated; I was not referring to submarines, even though you could do similar things with a Virginia, but that’s a different discussion.

          • Rocco

            Oh !!… Copy that.y bad for not picking it up lol! Thanks for the reply.

      • Duane

        The “profiteers” of the US defense industry make but a tiny sliver of the profits of consumer products manufacturers, contrary to the propaganda spread by such as you.

        Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest and most successful defense supplier, made approximately the same topline revenue last year as Apple … but LM’s profits were only about 10% of Apple’s profits last year.

        Both are public shareholder corportions so their books are open for all to see. As are virtually all of the major defense contractors. Also all defense contractors are subject to DOD audits of their books and operations.

        • SierraSierraQuebec

          The term profiteer was an awkward word choice for want of a better expression, but I would have to reject as irrelevant your defense of LCS manufacturer Lockheed Martin and the apples to automobiles comparison to other companies.
          Your fixated views qualify as genuine propaganda since they persistently advocate matters that are simply wrong, even though you understand a lot more than a lot of the commenters here and maybe more than half of them are insightful remarks.

          • Rocco

            He’s a Narcesis!!

          • Duane

            I cited a fact, not opinion. You are the propagandist who peddles propaganda and spin.

        • Todd

          And how much did you rank in from Lockmart for all of your word-smithing and trolling? 20K, 40K, or more? Perhaps you got a 2K bonus for every “Sheesh” you typed

          • Duane

            I have never had any relationship whatsoever with LM as employee, consultant, stockholder, subcontractor, supplier, family member thereof, etc. etc. My comment only cited LM as an example of the many US defense contractors slandered by the previous contractor. LM are at the top of the heap in their industry, but the same applies to Raytheon, Boeing, BAE, Electric Boat, HII, etc.

          • Duane

            How much does Putin’s Chef pay you?

            I have no financial stake whatsoever in any defense contractor, by the way. Facts and logic are all that matter.

  • Ed L

    The Avante 2200 Combatant Wärtsilä 5C11 CP propeller 76mm main gun 35mm 325 by 45 by 12 feet the Saudi’s already buying. Nice size for the Red Sea an PG. hope the Saudi’s pick shaft and propellers for the freedom frigates. Bet they pick the 76mm as main gun which is what Janes and other rags. Are saying. Especially since the Saudi’s got many ships already with the 76mm. They also are looking at a submarine fleet of at least 12 German AIP submarines. Myself I am thinking the saudi’s Are asking for trouble

    • DaSaint

      The only problem I have with the Avante design is actually it’s proprietary CMS. Armament is fine, but now they’re introducing another combat management system? Doesn’t make much sense to me, and they’re certainly not penny pinchers, so they must be comfortable with it.

    • Duane

      The Saudi MMSC is already spec’d with the 57 mm Mk 110 gun system, as used on LCS and FFG(X). The 57 mm gun is superior to the 76 mm gun, with nearly three times the firing rate and 50% deeper ready round magazine. The 76 mm gun system has only a single mode precision round, GPS/INS guided (meaning useless for moving targets, though the builder promises someday to develop a laser guided round for moving targets). The Mk110 57 mm gun system has two competing multi-mode (laser guided and imaging IR) precision guided rounds available that are good against moving targets, which is about all you see in SuW anyway.

      • Graeme Rymill

        “The 57 mm gun is superior to the 76 mm gun, with nearly three times the firing rate”

        220 rounds per minute versus120 rounds per minute – not even twice the firing rate let alone three times the rate.

        • Ed L

          Maintenance will probably be done by foreigners (non saudi’s)

        • Duane

          The standard firing rate for the 76mm is 80 rpm. Only if equipped with an optional kit can it do 120 rpm which is still barely half the firing rate of the 57mm. When being simultaneously attacked by swarms of small craft and aircraft in the littorals, it’s all about firing rate, depth of magazine, and precision guided munitions good against moving targets. The 76 mm fails on all counts, the 57mm wins on all counts.

          • Graeme Rymill

            “The standard firing rate for the 76mm is 80 rpm ” Oh I can see where you are getting confused – you are quoting the firing rate for the Compact version first produced in 1964. Not surprisingly things have moved on. The Super Rapid version with a firing rate of 120 rpm was introduced in 1988 (thirty years ago!). It isn’t “optional kit”. If you consult the Manufacturer’s web site (Leonardo’s) you discover that the Super Rapid version is the only version available.

          • Duane

            Still half the firing rate of the 57 mm. It and you still lose by a huge margin.

            The 57 mm still has 50% larger ready round magazine.

            The 57 mm still has two multi-mode precision guided rounds that take out moving targets, while the 76mm has NONE. Moving targets are the only targets you have in SuW, unless you can convince the enemy to tie up at the wharf and never move.

          • Graeme Rymill

            Thanks for repeating exactly the same stuff you have already told me.”It and you still lose by a huge margin”. I have never argued that the 57mm is inferior to the 76mm or vice versa. All I have ever said in these comments is that your original statement was wrong – i.e “[the 57mm] with nearly three times the firing rate” when in fact it is nearly twice the firing rate. You have now accepted by saying “half the firing rate” that you were wrong. Of course, and as per usual, you refuse to simply acknowledge a factual error and instead attack me on positions I don’t hold.

          • Duane

            Then you are arguing to no purpose.

  • John Pruchard

    Wait a second, don’t the Saudi’s realize they just bought a pig-I thought that was against their religion.

    • Rocco

      Lol!!! Not when 🤑🤑🤑🤑🤑$$$$$$$ _$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$!!!! Is involved!!

  • SFC Steven M Barry USA RET

    Oh, good. The US is going to build ships for the #1 instigator and supporter state of international terrorism. Well, they’re an ally after all.

    • On Dre

      Yup. ISIS with oil contracts.

  • sstuyguyNat Kobitz

    Why not juxt give them the LCSs, ALL OF THEM!! That will assure that they stay well behind the state of the art.

  • publius_maximus_III

    Assume these will be built stateside? Good way to maintain domestic shipbuilding capacity — exports.

  • John B. Morgen

    That’s fine and good, but the frigate design still lacks amble CIWS protection. One unit is [NOT] enough to protect the ship from incoming SSMs, etc.

    • Rocco

      Small surface combatants never get more than one CIWS!!

    • Duane

      The SeaRAM comes in both 11 cell and 21 cell launchers, we’ll have to see what the designers come back with as to which launcher(s) they propose on FFGX. The Ford CVN class will feature two of the 21 cell launchers.

      Besides SeaRAM, the LCS and FFGX feature the Mk 110 57mm gun which is an excellent proven AA gun. In fact, the 57 mm was the 1950s successor to the highly successful Bofors 40 mm AA gun used on most US Navy warships throughout WW2. In the 1950s a bigger gun was needed to defend against jet fighter/attack aircraft. The 57mm gun features proximity fusing for AA work, as well as against swarming small craft. And it has available two competing precision guided rounds with a 1.0 m CEP, guided either by semi-active laser or imaging infrared, so is unjammable.

      It is also important to recognize that unlike VLS launchers, SeaRAM is reloadable at sea. The RIM116 missile itself weighs only 162 pounds vs. about 700 pounds for ESSM Block 2. The RIM116 missiles are variants of the AIM9X AA missile. Considering that a VLS ship must take itself out of the battle for at least a couple of weeks to reload, the ability to reload at sea is a big force multiplier.

      • ElmCityAle

        SeaRAM is an 11 cell RAM launcher mounted on a repurposed CIWS platform with detection (and tracking?) radar and cameras. The 21 cell launcher has no local radar or optical sighting, relying instead upon the main fire control / management system for detecting and queuing.

        • Duane

          Yes, but that was “then” and this is “now”.

          SeaRAM was initially integrated onto LCS back in 2010 when LCS had no battle data management system, so SeaRAM had to be self contained. When the Navy decided a few years later to adopt “distributed lethality” fleetwide, and thus to add more lethality to LCS, LM (developer of AEGIS) adapted a downscaled AEGIS-derivative combat data management system, “COMBATTS-21” to their newest Freedom variant LCSs. COMBATTS-21 went operational just 2 years ago, and will be installed and/or retrofitted to all Indy variant LCS as well as older Freedom variant hulls, and is the designated combat data management system for FFGX. It will eventually be installed on all US Navy suface combatants that don’t already have AEGIS.

          With COMBATTS-21, either the 11 cell self contained or the 21 cell system linked to COMBATTS-21 can be installed. Weight is not an issue, as the RIM116 missile weighs only 162 pounds each.

          As I wrote, we’ll have to wait for the FFGX designers’ entries to see what each specifically proposes.

    • ElmCityAle

      Both LCS models have a significant blind spot for the single missile launcher. You better hope either no one fires from the front 90 degree arc, or that the ship can detect and change position quickly enough to unmask the launcher. A second launcher in the front would resolve those potential issues; how much would that cost vs. the loss of the ship from a frontal attack?

      • Duane

        You are ignoring the 57 mm gun system on the bow. It is first and foremost an AA gun. That is its legacy – derived from the famously successful Bofors 40 mm AA guns used on virtually all US surface combatants and even some submarines in WW2; the 57 mm was adapted from that gun, upsized to handle high speed jet aircraft … an ASCM is essentially an unmanned jet aircraft.

        With COMBATTS-21 providing targeting data, and using its proximity fusing and very high rate of fire (220 rpm … nearly 4 rounds per second), the 57 mm gun provides ample defensive fire against incoming ASCM from the 240 degree or so arc across the ship’s bow.

  • disqus_CbFK3MPhJu

    awesome, let’s hope it has an EU radar, EU engines, EU, diesels, EU main
    gun, and can fire a non US anti-ship missiles.
    on and on.