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Rep. Courtney Frustrated With Pace of Frigate Program

Contenders for Navy frigate program. USNI News Image

ARLINGTON, Va. – There’s a growing sense of impatience among Capitol Hill legislators over the Navy’s pace for selecting a future frigate (FFG(X)) program design, the new chairman of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee said on Wednesday.

The Navy is considering five possible frigate designs, and Congress is eagerly awaiting a decision, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), said while speaking at the 2019 Surface Navy Association Symposium.

“I think there’s frustration about the fact that it keeps getting sort of pushed back and delayed,” Courtney said of the Navy’s future frigate program.

Several years ago, the Navy planned to modify one of the two littoral combat ship variants into a frigate design, according to January 2016 Congressional Research Service report. Under this plan, former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter directed the Navy to purchase the first of 12 frigates during Fiscal Year 2020.

At the time, the Navy planned to field a fleet of 40 small surface combatants, according to the CRS report. The Navy has since revised its plan and now intends to build a fleet of 52 small surface combatants, according to a 2018 CRS report.

However, with the LCS program winding down – the 31st and final planned LCS contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin on Tuesday – there’s been a constant concern among the shipbuilding industry and legislators that hot small surface combatant production lines could go cold if the Navy delays settling on a frigate design.

The Navy, Congress and shipbuilders all want to quickly transition from LCS production to frigate production in FY 2020 without a break.

“I understand the importance to these yards to try to maintain the industrial base, but we really need to get moving in terms of the frigate program,” Courtney said. “If there’s going to be another request for a delay, it is going to be frankly a bit of a headache for us this year,” Courtney said.

  • DaSaint

    And here comes the push to keep the Marinette and Austal yards in the game…

    • Curtis Conway

      (Revised 21JAN19)
      If the last two reports I have read are correct, then there are some items coming into play that were not there two years ago.
      1) They are looking for a potential DDG-51 replacement that will be timing out about the end of FFG(X) production run.
      2) Longer range requirement contemplated (no specific numbers revealed, but missions described require the ability to take off and operate independently for some time).
      3) The government will want all technical data after selection so they could bring on another yard for competition if more than twenty are built in the future (see #1).
      4) Budget for LCS may be redirected to FFG(X) in the future which would explain the inexplicable adding of LCS the US Navy did not ask for, does not want, and has little use for, other than to build SSC numbers. Might as well build some capability and survivability in there as well. Honor our sailors. Don’t just send them to sea to die, and that is what you are doing in the LCS by and large.

      For the first time in a long time I am encouraged. I hope it has a 5″ gun (HVPs), capable signal shack, and a 9-RMA SPY-6 with that SPY-1 tracking volume. Now the Navy will have something they can use, provides superiority to our side of the equation, supports the greater FORCEnet with greater quantities of more accurate data, and keeps the faith with the troops.

      One thing for sure, it will NOT be an aluminum frigate.

      • Duane

        No budget will be redirected from LCS to FFGX – 34 LCS are fully authorized by Congress.

        The only programmatic work left for LCS is just a little bit of ASW integration (all the equipment has already been delivered), and finishing up MCM which is not solely a LCS program of record anyway, as probably half the mission packages will go on ships other than LCS. In any case, MCM will be done before actual construction of the first FFGX begins in around 2021 (it will take roughly a year to finish detailed design and begin ordering long lead items for construction).

        Rather, the Navy is already working on conceptualizing the Future Small Surface Combatant, to run in parallel with the Future Large Surface Combatant.

        The likely outcome is the FSSC will follow immediately on the heels of the stop-gap FFGX program to continue building small warships.

      • DaSaint

        LCS funding should be over…as Duane stated below, 34 (beyond the anticipated 30) were funded…unless the FFG(X) is delayed, and Congress deems that the yards need to remain open. The irony will be if neither yard is selected. Then what was it for. Conversely, has the deal already been done and it’s an admission that one or both yards WILL BE selected, in some way, shape or form.

        • Duane

          The best value design will be selected. it is quite likely that the best value design will be based on an LCS parent, because it will be much cheaper than the other designs (smaller displacement hulls, and the R&D has already been expended), and will be able to easily produce the first ship by 2025, while that target date is very unlikely for any of the other three designs none of whose parent designs are coming out of hot US production lines.

          The other non-LCS designs have no experience integrating most of the required GFE (guns, deck launchers, combat info system, ASW system, etc.).

          The LM Multi Mission Surface Combatant (MMSC) for the Saudis is a pretty good approximation of the likely winning design. It already meets nearly all of the requirements set for FFGX, including range, VLS, and nearly all the GFE, yet is only 3,600 tons (though there is a somewhat larger stretch model too) vs. 4,500 to 6,000 tons of the competing designs. Cost is strongly correlated with displacement when equal capabilities are present.

          • Old Coasty

            Duane you are wrong, the USCG NSC line is hot and has produced ships that already have R&D paid for and it is wholly owned by the US Government model bought from a NATO manufacturer. All of the GFE has already been interfaced. HII has proposed two “Patrol Frigates” that would fit the bill with only minor changes and still be within the coast requirements.

            The USCG and USN then could share economies of numbers for materials, logistics, and training.

          • Curtis Conway

            THAT should have been the model all along. Instead what did we get ? . . an equation that MAXIMIZES expenditures on materials, logistics, and training, for two DISPARATE hull-forms (that was a good decision?), then instead of manning them properly in the first place, they changed up manning with two crews. Now . . . NO ONE OWNS his/her equipment, and can always point their finger at the other party. BASIC ACCOUNTABILITY, but we won’t accuse past Navy Leadership guilty of that . . . we have the Fort Report to PROVE IT!!!

          • Duane

            The NSC line is only hot for cutters, not warships, and it’s not that “hot”. There are many differences in design between cutters and warships. And the NSC, even without all of the added equipment and capability of FFGX already comes in at 4,500 tons .. it will likely end up at around 4,800 to 5,000 tons when all is said and done for their FFGX design. Making it 1,200 to 1,400 tons heavier, and therefore more costly, than the LCS-derivative designs.

            Also, the NSC line is a far less “hot” line than either of the 2 LCS lines, which have been pumping out ships at 2 per year for years now, whereas NSCs having been built a total of only 9 ships in 14 years, or about 1 every year and a half.

          • ShermansWar

            bottom line, 16 VLS is rubbish

        • Curtis Conway

          Well, JHSVs are still coming out. I would like to see a new big hovercraft for civilian use and the military. Something you can park on an ESD on the flight deck when they are ballasted down. Bigger than a LCAC/SSC. The Britt’s made some civilian ones that are very impressive.

        • Al L.

          There are 38 LCS authorized, and as of yesterday 35 awarded. There are 3 odd numbers authorized but not awarded. The even numbers have been awarded through #38 to Austal as of mid december. #31 was awarded to L-M yesterday. Awards for # 33, 35, & 37 are outstanding. Depending on which time period one considers or under which secdef, the planned build of LCS has varied from about 24 to 64.

          • Curtis Conway

            Old information. Ash Carter changed that equation before he left. Truncating LCS at 30 and building the last 20 for a total of 50 has been the plan for some time. We actually need the existing LCS to transform into Combat MCMs and transports, and get the FFG(X) out in substantial numbers.

          • Duane

            No – it got truncated to 32 and the 32nd was the hull requested by the Navy in FY2019. Congress then added two more hulls to that making 34.

          • TheEvilBlight

            Given our acknowledged need for MCM and SW, you’d think some cheaper non-interchangeable mission package specialists in this role would make sense…

          • Curtis Conway

            It is my belief that the LCS fleet will go that direction if for no other reason out of necessity.

          • Duane

            No – just 34 are authorized. The hull numbers go higher than 34 because the Navy has been buying more Indy variants the last couple years, and they are all even numbered hulls, so some of the odd numbered hulls in between won’t get built .. at least not unless Congress authorizes more LCS.

            The LM Freedom variant production line is remaining hot with fewer LCS sales because they will shortly start construction of the 4 MMCS for the Saudis. The MMCS is effectively the LM entrant for FFGX, meeting all of the requirements for FFGX including addition of a VLS and the 5,000 mile range.

          • DaSaint

            Did the Saudis finally sign a contract for the 4 MMCS?

    • Sir Bateman

      If memory serves me correct the Marinette yard gets the contract if the FREMM variant wins.

      • Curtis Conway

        That is correct, and like that idea. I have been waiting for something out of Pascagoula, MS, but nothing yet. Bath’s proposal of the Spanish Frigate is good too.

        • Sir Bateman

          Regardless of whether the Austal or Marinette yards are awarded the FFG(X) contract I wouldn’t mind both staying open, for no other reason than to provide the USN with additional yards capable of providing them with vessels of one sort or another.

          • Curtis Conway

            I will go with that statement as long as Austal is NOT making surface combatants out of aluminum. THAT is the dumbest thing I have ever seen, and against most combat fleets experience.

            Austal has only proposed their aluminum planing hull, which is inappropriate, nie on antithetical for this FFG(X) task, particularly if it goes to the Arctic/Antarctic.

          • Sir Bateman

            I agree, I really don’t want to get into a big debate with anybody, but my personal preference is for the FFG(X) contract to go to whichever non-LCS variant the powers at be deem most viable.

          • Curtis Conway

            Looks like a Marinette FREMM then. That would give time for Austal to get their training done, and if the contract was properly negotiated they could split production right up front. Austal would be able to deliver units year round. Marinette can build year round, but it gets tough to deliver when the Great Lakes freeze . . . UNLESS . . . it has an Ice-hardened hull (Oh I wish).

          • Sir Bateman

            I could live with that.

          • Curtis Conway

            Sitting in class at church tonight and my mind was racing. Austal will have to do more than just qualify their welders, though steel will have to become there forte in this effort. There would be a huge equipment outlay for handling and welding the large steel. Welding of a large scale is usually done with machinery. Youtube has some videos of large scale welding of ships. A huge capital investment would be required just to get up to speed. Tax considerations in this area with the current administration is conducive to this kind of expansion. Austal would be able to make a good case and competitive bid given year round accessibility of the yard to open sea, and a lower labor rate. It would take a team to put that package together. Rough estimates could be assembled before the design specifics were shared, if this is the direction that we end up going. BIW and HII Pascagoula have their hands full, and the destroyer builds are not going away. The Large Surface Combatant would probably be built by them anyway. If we want to maximize our shipbuilding infrastructure, that would be the way to go. Marinette and Austal building the Small Surface Combatant MYP competitively just like BIW and Ingalls build the Destroyers. Cost low via block buys of parts & materials, and quality maintained via competition for extra work. probably going to build 50+ of these things anyway over the next 25-30 years. That’s my best guess. Gotta put up the Crystal Ball now.

          • Sir Bateman

            Thanks for the detailed and well thought out response. I sort of figured that Austal switching over to steel hull construction wouldn’t be just a simple flick of the switch.

            Also, you bring up an interesting point vis-a-vis maximizing our shipbuilding infrastructure. HII down in Pascagoula is currently or scheduled to build the Flight III DDG-51, LHA-6, Flight II LPD-17 classes and finishing up the Coast Guard’s NSCs. If their design were to win I wonder how efficient or practical it’d be to add yet another warship type to their book would be?

          • Curtis Conway

            Well, if one IS added, it should be the Large Surface Combatant. An LPD-17 hull with the LHD-8 propulsion system that has a bit more power, would do the trick. Lots of space. Large aviation support, and room for some big guns (HVP capable). A full blown 69-RMA SPY-6 IAMD radar.
            Go ahead and put the SQS-53 sonar on the bow, and we have something. A case could be made for the LRDR for diversity and survivability in the EM Spectrum, but I’m not the expert for that question.

          • Rocco

            You better have gone to confession!! Lol. Not paying attention in church is a no no!!😇. The best design is already being built in the NSC.
            I say put the monies for the FFXG into subs & DDG Burke’s !

          • Curtis Conway

            Hey, I’m Church of Christ, and He extends Grace! Like you should!! Rocco Boy!

          • Curtis Conway

            Burke Money will not go away, though that part of the budget may be a little less until FFG(X) sells off with a good design and two yards get cranking. Then its Manufacture On! Configuration Management is going to be difficult. There should be a commonality coincidence between FFG(X) crossing and joining the DDG-51 Flt III path (except for the gun [unfortunately]). A common gun on both would increase capability, particularly with HVP and put more explosive on target.

          • DaSaint

            Austal’s yard in the Philippines was all-aluminum, but now does steel as well. It is possible to make the transition and to do both. Bollinger does both, as do other yards. It just takes the training and commitment, and with the right incentives, it’s possible.

            The covered bays at Austal are second-to-none, so it would be a waste to not utilize those 3 bays.

            BTW, have you seen their latest design for FFG(X)? Longer by 20m, twin-screw, all-diesel. RAM instead of SeaRAM aft of the 57mm. 2 quad NSM aft. Space above the hangar for a future directed-energy weapon. And 32 VLS, plus room for where I would put a Phalanx CIWS aft.

            But alas…all aluminum.

          • Bubblehead

            Google what happens when fire & heat meet aluminum and water. Its an explosion.

          • Curtis Conway

            Yeah . . . that’s right and we don’t want to relive it like the British did. I was on a ship that fought a major fire at 2am-7am in an aluminum superstructure, and it ate its way all the way down to the steel hull. For those of us who ‘have been there and done that’ any suggestion of an aluminum Surface Combatant needs to have their head examined, because it is one of those Academic Elites who have NOT BEEN THERE . . . but they will write you a book, and give you a lecture about how it’s a good idea. Probably a Special Executive Salary level expert!

          • Rob C.

            You were on the USS Belknap had it ran into USS John F Kennedy CV-67?

          • Curtis Conway

            Second PRECOM Crew. We did the Pre-Aegis work with SM-2, UYK-7 Computers and we had an AN/SPS-48C instead of SPY-1 radar, SPG-55B Fire Control Radar (Big Base Drum). I did have a SPS-49 though. I wish I had my old console. Me and that piece of furniture/equipment spent a lot of time together. USQ-36 terminal for the Link-11. One of the best pieces of equipment ever made. It worked perfectly every time. Being Force Track Coordinator with it was a dream.

          • Andy Ferguson

            Or look at the Royal Navy’s experience with aluminum ships in the Falklands…

          • Al L.

            “Austal has only proposed their aluminum planing hull,”

            There nothing planing about it. Its a displacement hull.

          • Curtis Conway

            Is it made of aluminum? Can it conduct unrestricted operations in the presence of Ice like the Arctic?

          • Al L.

            There are no US cruisers, destroyers or frigates that can conduct “unrestricted” operations in the arctic. Thats a standard only you seem to be convinced is necessary. The preponderance of strategists believe we need to be building our forces to counter China, that would make ice hardening a low priority.

          • Curtis Conway

            If you think the Arctic is the only theater I am concerned about as a goal, then you have not been reading all of my post. However, your statement of “no US cruisers, destroyers or frigates that can conduct “unrestricted” operations in the arctic” is true, and it’s primarily because of the location of the sonar, and the hulls are not ‘ice-hardened’. That IS something that must be built into the hull & system deliberately, and at construction time, not added on like a new combat system element. THAT is why I harp on it so much.

            The United States seems to be the Only Power that has NOT planned for the Arctic/Antarctic. All other Arctic Powers have, and are building in that direction. We cannot even get budget for the three heavy Polar Security Cutters, though I would like to see them build all six as heavies.

            One CANNOT accidentally build a ship that is Arctic capable, contrary to popular belief.

          • Andy Ferguson

            What NATO warships are “arctic capable”?

          • Curtis Conway

            Canada, and NORDEFCO ships (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden). We should have JOs riding their ships in every region they operate coming off their first assignment in a Surface Warfare Officer tour, and the logistics, aviation and Deck Force representatives too.

          • Andy Ferguson

            What exactly have those navies done that makes their ships “arctic capable”?

            Have navies stopped doing exchanges?

            The air forces still do them.

          • Curtis Conway

            They do still exchange individuals, I would just expand and accelerate the program making sure we are taking full advantage of the training opportunities. The Norwegian Frigate HNoMS Helge Ingstad had a US Naval observer on board. With, or without Arctic Hardening in our Surface Combatants, the greater the experience level of those who may have to operate there can only increase readiness and safety for our vessels should steaming there become necessary.

            ANY suggestion of Ice-hardening existing CG/DDG surface combatants is a non-starter with those SQS-53 sonars under the bow. These suggestions are a nonsensical argument, and a Red Herring. Existing amphibious ships could perhaps undergo sufficient hardening, but probably not very effective, but it is my belief that their propulsion systems do not have sufficient reserves for that duty. That leaves the FFG(X)!

            Sea Ice Coverage maps have shown that ice is present in much of the Northern Passage whatever thickness most of the year.
            Excerpt from ARCTIC PLANNING Navy Report to Congress Aligns with Current Assessments of Arctic Threat Levels and Capabilities Required to Execute DOD’s Strategy, GAO-19-42 Arctic Planning:
            “Navy officials from the Naval Sea Systems Command stated that ships built to operate in ice and extreme cold environments have unique features, including stronger, thicker construction of all portions of the hull that would come into contact with ice; different hull form design; redesigned propellers constructed of higher than traditional strength material; increased strength ship parts, such as rudders and seawater intakes and discharges designed to resist the formation or accumulation of ice; and more powerful heating and ventilation to accommodate sustained operations in extreme cold environments, among other things. They also noted that research completed to date has advanced the Navy’s knowledge in several of these areas including hull form and propeller design.”

            The ‘different hull form design’ does NOT Mean it has the hull of an Icebreaker, but it does mean it will be different from the average non-Arctic capable Surface Combatant. All the other inputs are germane and should be included in the FFG(X) Specification IMHO. Not asking NORDEFCO countries for input in this document (and others) is patently obvious. The Experts in NAVSEA are supporting the Experts in the Coast Guard, neither of which drive Ice-hardened Surface Combatants in the Arctic in the presence of Ice (USCG Icebreakers the exception, and they are NOT combatants). Quite a Holy Huddle, and they agree to . . . save money so they can keep this most important vessel . . . CHEAP! Thicker tougher hull, proper propeller, ventilation improvements, and sufficient reserve power should be in the requirements. The FFG(X) will be the ONLY US Navy Surface Combatant that can steam in the Arctic in the presence of ice . . . IF it is built for that contingency for which we have NO OTHER SURFACE ACTION CONTINGENCY. Let us NOT PLAN TO FAIL in the Arctic/Antarctic.

            Once again the Safety and Security of our Sailors hang in the balance, just like LCS! With no-nonsense General Milley taking the helm at JCS, I think this subject should be considered very carefully. Particularly if the FFG(X) will be a DDG-51 Flt I replacement in the future, and an adjunct for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter capabilities being brought synergistically into fleet capabilities of the future.

          • Andy Ferguson

            So….which navies have “ice hardened” warships?

            And what exactly does that consist of?

          • Curtis Conway

            Canada, and NORDEFCO ships (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden).
            Thicker tougher hull, proper propeller, ventilation improvements, and sufficient reserve power should be in the requirements. All listed above.

          • Curtis Conway

            US Participation in NORDEFCO
            The United States should petition NORDEFCO for Participation as a provisional member. Participation would be by US Navy and US Coast Guard Captains, and a Colonel in the US Army, US Marine Corps, and the US Air Force. They would not have a vote in any NORDEFCO activities, but attend meetings regularly, and take advantage of, and determine if, US Armed Forces could/should participate in any NORDEFCO activities on a ‘not to interfere’ basis. If opportunities arise this group of officers should be able to suggest to the Joint Chiefs participation in exercises, testing, procurement of items for US Armed Forces use/testing. These activities could be providing riders on NORDEFCO ships, participating in NORDEFCO member military (or other) exercises, or coordinating a visit of US aircraft to NORDEFCO bases. Closer cooperation, communication, and understanding will result as relationships are established between these ‘Brothers in Arms’. Ascension of the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will be the perfect time to embark upon this program/project/adventure.

          • Curtis Conway

            I posted this above, and didn’t want you to miss it.
            In Risk Management it is all about probabilities and consequences. If we guess wrong on Surface Combatants having to deal with ice in our future . . . and it actually happens, the Russians will have won the day for all of their ships are ice-hardened, and we have none. There 40 Icebreakers (particularly the nuclear ones) are going to put in overtime in that reality.
            An Ice-hardened hull can go anywhere within reason (one meter thick ice, or less). A non-ice-hardened hull cannot with the exception of placing your platforms at great risk in the presence of ice, and if you go there and incur damage, you will not have enough dry-docks on either coast if the fleet must persist in such activities, should you survive the encounter.
            Federal authorities are responsible to be cognizant of all intelligence available for Risk Assessment activity in order to safeguard the public. So, if you are aware of the intelligence, and not properly managing Risk, then you are doing that ‘Ideological thing’, and ‘to heck with the Intel’. This describes the liberal mindset.
            If the boy/girls over at NOAA watching sun spots, and looking at the HiStorical record are correct, and we are headed to a mini-ice age like occurred 200-300 years ago, and we don’t have ice-hardened hulled Surface Combatants, we will have wantonly and knowingly ceded the world’s oceans North of the Equator to those navies that do have them, and Russia has the most. Our SSN fleet will be overtasked, and home ports have to change.
            If the influence that is driving the Earth’s Magnetic Poles is connected in some manner to this sun spot activity, and there is no evidence I have seen that indicates this, then we could have a real problem with indicators forecasting that eventuality, and the government will be selling out the public to save money by building non-ice-hardened FFG(X)s.
            We haven’t even discussed unforeseen things that can happen that can have a huge impact on the planet’s atmosphere quickly (asteroid from space, large/super-volcano eruption, Pole Shift, Gulf Stream [ocean conveyor] changes direction or stops, etc.), and ALL of those drive the atmosphere in ONE direction, and it AIN’T warmer.
            Now place ANY ONE of these in the context of ‘great power competition’, and what do you have? An impotent US Navy in Northern Waters whose definition for that border coming much farther South, perhaps even as far as CONUS. If you want an estimate of the impact this reality would have on Surface Navy Operations, just talk to our forces who were in Trident Juncture 18. That experience should inform the LPD Flt II hull-form as well as all new Surface Combatants, not just FFG(X).
            Oh, by the way, if any of these actually happen, you will wish that Southern Border Wall was built YESTERDAY.
            Plan for the worse, and hope for the best.

          • Al L.

            What I’d like to hear is some strategic reason why any US Navy surface ships would need substantial ice hardening.

          • Curtis Conway

            The Russian economy is driven by oil. The Russians over the last decades have opened up every Soviet base along the Arctic, rebuilt/refurbished them, and they have claimed the Arctic on their side all the way to the North Pole. In some cases their continental coast is over 850 miles or more from the North Pole. Their forces have increased fourfold over the last two decades. They have over 40 Icebreakers some nuclear powered. Their ally China has conducted coordinated fleet exercises with the Russian Fleet in the Arctic. Most of the Lomonosov Ridge is on their side of the pole, and they are preparing to drill for oil in that cache along the ridge. They have prepared themselves to defend the region.

            Of course all of these are reasonable things one would do for your own territory, and we would support that from our Allies. However, with the Russian adventurism in Georgia, Crimea, military buildup in Kaliningrad (checked out google earth lately (?), and they are moving in more Iskander launchers), and flying even in Baltic State airspace with their Ilussian-20 intel collectors in bad weather and squawking nothing, and the Russian Arctic Forces have flown multi-aircraft missions all the way to our Alaskan Arctic ADIZ, some of those formations having bomber, tanker, and long range fighter formations.

            Arctic commercial traffic has increased steadily every year for the last half decade. Many of those transits are down the Russian side where the greatest passage free of ice exist.

            The Magnetic North Pole is currently racing for the Russian Arctic Coast at over 40 miles/year.

            Educate and inform yourself, then participate in the discussion. Unless your asleep – somethings up.

          • Al L.

            A list of conditions is not a strategy. Again: why is it strategically necessary for the US to harden its ships to conduct such ice operations? How does Russia moving further off its northern coast to exploit resources in the arctic pose a strategic threat to the US? Is there any evidence Russias moves would take US resources, deny US access to vital sea lanes that we couldn’t defend with existing assets? Would it undermine US allies or alliances? How is it wise for warships to move at miniscule speeds with very restricted maneuverability through a meter of ice?

            “However, with the Russian adventurism in Georgia, Crimea, military buildup in Kaliningrad (checked out google earth lately (?), and they are moving in more Iskander launchers), and flying even in Baltic State airspace with their Ilussian-20 intel collectors in bad weather and squawking nothing, and the Russian Arctic Forces have flown multi-aircraft missions all the way to our Alaskan Arctic ADIZ, some of those formations having bomber, tanker, and long range fighter formations.”

            Pointing out all the nasty things Russia is doing outside the arctic is not a good way to argue we need to do more to counter them in the arctic.

            “The Magnetic North Pole is currently racing for the Russian Arctic Coast at over 40 miles/year.”

            So? Its a navigation marker. Thats like saying we need to prepare to defend the east against Russia because thats where the sun rises and Russia is active in the east. And if thats one of your best foundations for an arctic strategy then you dont have much to argue for.

          • Curtis Conway

            The US Navy has ice-hardened NO SHIPS. We possess none!!! If called we CANNOT Respond at present, except to put our surface combatants at risk in the presence of ice. We Have No Contingency!!! I have to explain this to you? FFG(X) is still in the definition stage. If the box is appropriately configured, and the hull has sufficient power, then we are good.

          • Curtis Conway

            Let’s talk more about what that Ice-Hardening looks like. An Ice-Hardened Hull is capable of operating in one meter thick ice without damage. That does not count pressure ridges. This does not mean it has a bow and hull like an Icebreaker. However, that bow will handle the impact of and break ice up to over three feet thick as you proceed through it at a few knots. Icebergs are still dangerous and can sink you. Watch yourself when near them, and use that sonar expeditiously when in clear water. The FFG(X) will only have VDS, a towed array, and aviation support. Remember that 90% of that ice is underwater, and there is no guarantee what shape it will take/be. There are unique Arctic weather that can place you in an ice environment literally in hours right before your eyes,all the way to the horizon. If your not ready and prepare for this, you will be a victim of it, and today we would most likely be begging others for help. We need those US Coast Guard Polar Security Cutters bad, and can’t get them soon enough. We will eventually need that 12th National Security Cutter they haven’t funded yet too. The Offshore Patrol Cutters are not coming fast enough. We need them now. A strong case can be made for the US Coast Guard to take on a larger mission set.

            A fundamental change in the way the US Coast Guard is employed in international affairs is in order. The US Coast Guard is a Law Enforcement organization, not military until mobilized. The Coast Guard has multiple (over 80) bilateral agreements with many nations around the globe w/r/t Law Enforcement cooperation, and I believe this includes Russia and China. Proactive cooperative Law Enforcement activity in other national waters with whom we have agreements can nip many situations in the bud, and could diffuse and prevent the employment of Naval Combat Forces. This approach would require a significant increase in National Security Cutter numbers, and the Polar Security Cutters would provide Presence (Show-the-Flag) services. Those new Polar Security Cutters need extensive and expanded aviation capability. This adds a new lower level of activity to the sequence of events that may enable an avoidance of conflict.

      • Duane

        The Navy has also stated specifically in the RFP last year that it reserved the right to build the winning design in more than one yard, provided a contract can be successfully negotiated with a yard that did not propose the selected design.

        Logic: Two yards can double the production rate of one, and competition between yards will act to hold costs down and keep quality high. We’re already doing that with construction of the DDG-51s.

        Best bet is both LCS yards get to build FFGX, and so the question is just which design gets built.

        • Sir Bateman

          Isn’t the Austal yard currently only producing aluminum hull and superstructure vessels? If so if Austal doesn’t win the FFG(X) contract with their Independence variant would they be able to easily switch over to steel hull construction? How difficult/expensive would it be for them to make the switch?

          • Curtis Conway

            Aluminum welding is a different certification compared to steel. Better start training now. If Marinette gets the FREMM option, the technical data will most likely be shared by the government for units beyond 20. It that transpires, and the upgraded/enhanced FFG(X) follow-on ends up being the DDG-51 Flt I replacement, then we have a second manufacturer for the Lo-end, of the High-end (DDG-51 Flt III) and low end mix. Can’t get a better world than that for growing the fleet. Hi-end competed between two yards for higher quality and lower cost (Bath v HII Pascagoula), and the same equation for the Lo-end units (Marinette v Austal) as we grow the fleet. The Large Surface Combatant will be in addition to all this construction activity, more Fast Attack SSN builds, the Columbia FBM, and the CVN-78 Class follow-ons. Not going to be cheap.

          • I’d say keep them building their LCS variant at 1 a year. We’re always going to need low-end ships and it doesn’t make sense to shut down a hot production line.

          • Curtis Conway

            If it was worth building, and its not. The ones we have now will cost sooooo much to build, man, maintain and operate using its current model, its a wonder why those managing this program haven’t been locked up. Return on that investment is not worth it, long-medium-short run. AND . . . It’s ALUMINUM! Have you EVER got underway on one of our nation’s Man-O-War? I couldn’t do it on an LCS unless it was just off our coast, or in the Gulf of Mexico.

          • TheEvilBlight

            LCS is certainly an expensive “low end” ship…

          • Adrian Ah

            While Austal in the US might be building aluminium ships, Austal in AUstralia has built steel ships before. Perhaps the changes won’t be too painful.

          • Hugh

            Only steel hulled patrol boats, currently in their Australian yard.

          • Rocco

            Shouldn’t be to hard! Just like the automotive industry retool. Obviously steel is heavier so related equipment is needed as well as welding techniques.

        • old guy

          My name for all of this is Project SWIPE.
          S hipyard
          W elfare
          I ndulgient
          P rogram,
          E xpensive.

  • Duane

    I believe the correct number of LCS hulls authorized by Congress now stands at 34, not 31. Some have been saying 35, based upon the 2019 authorization of 3 new LCS, and people assumed that meant 3 above the previous total of 32 requested. But the 3 authorized was an increase of 2 over the official Navy request of 31 plus 1 more ship to get to 32 … hence 34 is the correct number of LCS authorized to date.

    Of course, Congress could elect to authorize more than 34 LCS in subsequent annual authorizations.

    • Al L.

      There are 38 LCS authorized, and as of yesterday 35 awarded. There are 3 odd numbers authorized but not awarded. The even numbers have been awarded through #38 to Austal as of mid december. #31 was awarded to L-M yesterday. Awards for # 33, 35, & 37 are outstanding.

      • Duane

        Nope – just 34, as I explained.

        You are confusing hull numbers with total ships. The Navy has been buying more Indy variants (even numbered hulls) the last couple years than Freedom variants (odd numbered hulls), at a 2 to 1 ratio. That is because the LM yard is also building the Saudi MMCS at the same time it’s building LCS. The result of this imbalance is that there will be odd numbered gaps in the hull numbers with the highest hull number being 38.

        • Al L.

          I stand partially corrected. There are LCS hull numbers to #38. There have been 35 total LCS budgeted, authorized, funded and awarded as of Tuesday when LCS-31 was awarded. #s 33, 35, and 37 have yet to be authorized.

          • Duane

            It’ll be 34 total. 2 over the official Navy request of 32.

          • Al L.

            Duane, look it up. the 35th (Hull # 31) was awarded this past Tuesday. 19 To Austal and 16 to LM = 35 not 34.

          • DaSaint

            The acquisition completes a contract option to purchase one ship in fiscal year 2019, the Navy said, bringing the total number of LCS vessels procured by the Navy to 35.
            The Navy’s 2016 Force Structure Assessment called for 52 small surface combat ships, including frigates and LCS. Thirty-five have been procured through fiscal year 2019 — including LCS 36 and LCS 38, which were awarded to Austal in December. LCS 36 and LCS 38 each carries a Congressional cost cap of $584 million.
            LCS 31 is expected to be completed by February 2026.

          • DaSaint

            Those ‘missing’ odd-numbered Freedom class may never be authorized, which is bizarre. We’ll have missing hull numbers in this total class.

    • Bubblehead

      Congress in their ultimate wisdom ordered 3 more LCS, two more than the originally planned buy of 1. Despite the USN begging Congress they did not want the Little Crappy Ship.

      • Duane

        The Navy never said it did not want 2 additional LCS. It requested up to the number previously specified by the former SecDef, and Congress added 2 more.

        Congress also funded more Super Hornets and more F-35s than was requested by the several services in FY2019. So is it your contention that the services “begged Congress not to buy them any more fighters”? Yeah, right, of course.

  • Duane

    There is no delay at this time, and it is not a situation of “keeps getting pushed back”. The original directive from SecDef was to purchase the first FFGX ships in FY2020. The current process has competitive designs being prepared now, with submittal of those designs to the Navy due this summer – which is FY2019 – and a selection by the Navy by FY2020. There might be some movement of a matter of months – just sayin’ – but everything is on track to order in FY-2020 as planned back in 2016.

    The issue of keeping production lines hot at the two LCS yards was resolved with Congressional approval of three more LCS, for a total of 34 ships.

    • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

      If the guy who writes the checks says there is a delay… there is a delay!

  • Curtis Conway

    ꭉꭊ Here we sit like birds in the wilderness, birds in the wilderness, birds in the wilderness, here we sit like birds in the wilderness . . . waiting for the FFG(X) ꭉꭊ

  • Eyes open

    The 31st was awarded. And I think we have built 16 or 17 but haven’t deployed any yet. I read they are having trouble manning the ships. Maybe it is time to bring back the draft, or do as Israel does and make basic education 14 years with the last two in the service of your choice.

    • Duane

      34 authorized, 14 delivered to date, six in deployable status, and 8 are 2 years old or less and therefore still in the pre-deployment workup status (shakedown cruise, post-shakedown availability, basic crew training, and pre-deployment training).

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    I’m pretty sure I read here during the last year that the Navy said they were “fast tracking” this project.

    Obviously not.

    • Curtis Conway

      Someone looked at the SWaP-C for growth, considered the proposition that the DDG-51s will start timing out right about the time unit #20 FFG(X) is completed . . . or sooner, and are considering the possibility of replacing those old destroyers with a new FFG(X) platform that has been enhanced. It actually makes a lot of sense . . . planning for the future.

      • DaSaint

        I figured that would be the plan. Probably a comparable Flight I Burke replacement. Remember, the Flight Is have no aviation element, so right there the FFG(X) has a leg up.

        • Curtis Conway

          I wonder from WHERE they got that idea?

  • I would say go with the Italian FREMM Design or upgun the USCG’s NSC cutter

    • Rocco

      We only use American war ships for many reasons!

      • The FREMM would be built in America. We would only import the Blueprints but the ship would be built in America.

      • DaSaint

        The USCG FRC is a Dutch parent-craft design.
        The USCG Island class FPB was also a foreign parent-class design.
        The OPC is a Vard design. Vard is a Fincantieri company.

      • Andy Ferguson

        What reasons?

        Seems plenty of “foreign” designs have been used successfully in the past.

        Harriers, Canberras, Lakotas, LAV’s, FN MAG’s, Carl Gustav’s…

  • Michael Travis

    Yeah, let’s rush another design into production that will sit pier-side like the LCS or USS Gerald Ford.

  • Ed L

    Whatever FFGX design picked it needs to be built by at least 4 different ship building companies Each company builds one a year the best ship built each year. the workers foreman on down (only) in that yard each get a 5,000 dollar bonus for building the best Frigate each year. So in five years we will have built twenty Frigates

    • Curtis Conway

      Less efficient (MYP contracting impossible), and quality is crap with that production model.

      • Ed L

        Worked up untill the 70’s when the Spruance DDG’s were built by one. The. The OPH’s were built by 2 companies. Now the Burke’s are built at 2 different yards. By gong with 4 different shipbuilding companies it promotes the common good. If one or more of the shipyards fails to meet its commitments due to management incompetence then the Navy takes over that shipyard and DHS arrest the management and executive’s of that Company for fraud and Misappropriation of government funds. Time to take the defense industrial complex and the fat cats to task. That they cannot line their pockets with taxpayers money. In fact these shipbuilding companies want to build the next Frigate then they can build the vessel “less Armaments and sensors system They can mount a commercial navigation radar for sea trails. What bothers me is what group of armchair uniformed politicians had it in for the OPH FFG’s it would have been a job but could not have the missile magazine and launcher been removed and a VLSi stalled

        • publius_maximus_III

          One design, two yards — better than two designs, two yards.

          • Andy Ferguson

            All the effort being spent on trying to figure out how to build ships in multiple yards, and everyone seems to have forgotten how it was done during WW2…

        • publius_maximus_III

          With two different yards involved with one design, plenty of opportunities for lessons learned and best practices to cross pollinate. Doubtless some things would become trade secrets or proprietary info, but others the USN could insist on becoming SOP for both. And should one stumble, I’m sure the other would be more than happy to pick up the slack.

        • lol. Why not just go full Soviet and execute all the executives right off the bat and give the yards to the workers?

          • Ed L

            Why not I bet that if we scratch deep enough corruption abounds in the offices high above the drydocks

        • Curtis Conway

          “If one or more of the shipyards fails to meet its commitments due to management incompetence…” If they didn’t participate in building a prototype, or qualifying unit, then . . . how much treasure are you willing to give up (how many units will never be built for the money spent) trying to get units out that work, can pass CSSQT (Combat Systems Ships Qualification Trials). Your method employs a lot of folks, but shipyard that can perform at this level do not grow on trees.

        • Curtis Conway

          The OHPs have been built by many shipyards, even overseas. That was the beauty of the design.

        • Duane

          The politicians didn’t “have it in” for the OHPs … the calendar did … they were a 1960s design in a 21st century world.

    • Duane

      Four is pushing it .. two is quite likely though. The Navy already specified that it reserves the right to build the selected design at more than one yard. The Navy will own the design, not the yard.

  • Bubblehead

    Even though I’m hoping for FREMM, the NSC design will be the winner.
    And we don’t even know what the NSC proposal was but it will win. It is
    the safest bet, is American designed (and don’t underestimate that
    importance) and could be put into production quickly. No matter what
    side of the isle you sit on, it is hard to qualm about the NSC. After
    having dealt with the LSC fiasco for the last 5 years, the USN wants a
    safe bet and that is what the NSC does.

    There was an
    article lately about the USN has not ruled out choosing 2 designs and
    building both. Like the LCS. This would be another disaster for the USN.
    At some point they have to learn from their mistakes.

    • Duane

      You gotta mouse in your pocket? “We” certainly do not know the winner. We do know the most likely winner, which is the MMSC built by LM, which is virtually the same design that LM will submit for FFGX and which will cost hundreds of millions less than NSC or FREMM to build and will be delivered years earlier from hot production lines.

      • The Austal design which was just revealed looks pretty nice as well.

        • Duane

          It’s competitive, certainly. Both of the LCS parent designs certainly have big legs up on both cost and quickness of delivery, as well as familiarity to NAVSEA and the Navy at large.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Re LCS. Three deployments in a decade since LCS-1 commissioned. Multiple CONOPS reboots. Unending delays and issues.

            There is a saying that familiarity breeds contempt. I think that may be true in the case of LCS.

        • Bubblehead

          I would give the Austal design the least chance of winning. Maybe it sneaks above the F100 because of the recent sinking issues. It can’t come close to meeting USN survivability standards, and the USN has already been beaten down about that the last 8 years with the LCS. To top it off, fitting 16 Mk41 cells, the bare minimum threshold requirement, is going to be very challenging. The only thing going for it is its American and we want the shipyard open.

          • You haven’t seen the latest version have you?

            They lengthened the hull 30′ and added a full 32 VLS while keeping both hangars and the large flight deck.

            Search the following in YouTube: SNA 2019 Day 1 – Austal Frigate, Raytheon DART VDS, NSM and Lockheed Martin LRASM

          • ShermansWar

            That is the most useful info i’ve seen in a good long time. Thank you.

            Not a fan, BUT,it DOES have 32 VLS, AND the 3 faced EASR, as opposed to the single rotator HII is expected to trot out. it has changed the engines and propulsion to diesel and VP props, which is big.It has both reserve space and energy. It can clearly fit extra OTH launchers in that area they are located in if required.

            The switch from SEARAM to RAM is huge, IMHO. Twice as many missiles. Hooked up to the ships COMBATTSS 21 system and EASR radar it’s a much better asset than the dinky SEARAM with it’s millimeter wave radar,it’s a BIG improvement in self defence capability. Not to mention RAM is designed to operate against surface targets as well, due to an agreement with Germany with whom we co-developed the system in the first place. I don’t think anyone ever had any intention to use SEARAM in an ASuW mode. The RAM launcher setup already has it, it’s a simple software update ( and yes i’m aware they are the same missile from either SEARAM or RAM launchers).From wiki:

            “HAS mode
            In 1998, a memorandum of understanding was signed by the defense departments of Germany and the United States to improve the system, so that it could also engage so-called “HAS”, Helicopter, Aircraft, and Surface targets. As developed, the HAS upgrade just required software modifications that can be applied to all Block 1 RAM missiles.” It’s deployed as such on German warships, possibly US as well.

            Point is it can be made to deal with a swarm of small boats. Expensive, true, but how often will they actually be used in that manner? I’m willing to bet a 21 rd RAM system is a better bargain than, say, having an 11 rd SEARAM and Lockheeds’ 12 round hellfire launcher and associated installation, training, and maintenance costs. After all, in an ASuW role, RAM has a longer range than hellfire, and saves installation space. Comes down to a 2 rd total warhead difference in favor of SEARAM and Hellfire, warhead weights between hellfire and RM-116 are about the same. RAM has longer range than hellfire, and takes up less space than the combined SEARAM and Hellfire systems would. I like it.

            If it checks all the boxes ( seems to) and can get close to a ~ 5500 NM range I can accept it, even with an aluminum hull and survivability issues. It is, after all, built in an american shipyard, and while i never thought keeping those yards open should be a defining consideration, it shouldn’t be discounted either. it appears Austal has done just enough to keep themselves a viable contender, for now.

          • DaSaint

            I saw it just today too on YouTube. Nice job. Just missing triple torps. Seems to have room for up to 16 SSM and maybe even VL for Hellfire or more VLS.

          • DaSaint

            It’s not bad. Switched to RAM instead of SeaRAM. Only missing triple torps.

  • publius_maximus_III

    Going CW from the upper left: yes, NO, yes, yes.

  • Ser Arthur Dayne

    “Rep. Courtney Frustrated With Pace of Frigate Program” …. me too…

  • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

    Didn’t say that. But if the guy who authorizes funding expresses impatience, that’s kind of important.

  • Lazarus

    So Congress says hurry up with the FFGX, but its own Congressional Research Service perhaps rightly suggests that there has not been enough analysis to determine what an FFGX might do in both peace and wartime environments? FFGX seems at best just “more lethal than LCS” and it remains uncertain if a ship that costs 2/3 that of the DDG 51 yet on paper possess less than 1/2 the capability of the Burke class is a valued defense investment? The USN seems headed toward being an expensive, risk-adverse, all high end fleet; exactly where it was going in 2000 with the CGX and DDG 1000 in the SC-21 family of ships (until LCS was added.)

    • Duane

      That would be the mindset of many, both within NAVSEA and the commenting ranks here at USNI. But the realities of funding still bite … NAVSEA stated unequivocally that the selected ship must cost less than $900M per hull, and preferably less than $800M per hull. I believe that both of the LCS parent designs will meet the $800M number easily, and that none of the other three designs will get anywhere less than a billion per without lying and sandbagging the Navy.

      The Navy would like up to 32 cells of VLS – I expect that the expected “stretch” versions of either LCS design should be able to get there and still stay within budget. Again, no way with the others.

      • Bubblehead

        Duane is just making cr-p up again. Both LCS versions of FFGX have 16 MK41 cells which are the threshold/minimum requirement stated by USN. The Saudi version of LCS, which closely resembles the LCS FFGX, has only 8. Down from the expected 16. There is only so much you can stretch a ship before you need a completely new design. The LM LCS is almost a completely new ship. The USN #1 requirement was hulls in the water to minimize risk. And LM isn’t exactly known for under-budget or meeting timeframes, ie F35. If the USN wanted to give a little flex to their #1 requirement of hulls in the water, they would have allowed the British Type 26; which is a superior design in every facet to any of the FFGX designs. Its a crying shame the Type 26 was excluded. But the USN stuck to their guns and you can’t really blame them for that. Time is very important.

        • Duane

          No way, Jose.

          Nobody has seen any of the design submittals yet by any of the competitors – they are not yet submitted. Also, the Navy specifically invited the contracted design companies to submit suggestions for augmenting their own designs and the Navy’s mininum specs. So a contractor can say, “OK, here’s what meets your spec … for an additional X dollars more, we can add another 16 VLS cells”. That way they get their base price down as low as they can get it for the apples to apples comparison with the other competitors’ designs, but make it clear that the Navy can order some optional improvements for additional bucks.Count on it.

          The submissions won’t be made until the required due date later this year. Until then we only have at most conceptual drawings made years ago. All of the contractors are playing their design submissions close to the vest, as they do not want to let a competitor one up them or trash their designs before the Navy gets the submittal.

          • DaSaint

            The RFP hasn’t been issued as yet.

        • ShermansWar

          Perhaps you didn’t read, the final RFP will be an open competition, so anyone can submit a design. they just didn’t get paid a developmental award like 5 contractors did. That in no way means entrants are restricted to those 5 companies or designs. Just sayin’…

    • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

      CRS comments on FFG(X)’s lack of analytical foundation are essentially a “copy and paste” of what O’Rourke’s been saying for years about LCS.

      It is very odd to me that you can overlook this fault for one ship (LCS) but not the other (FFG(X)). I think you’ve got a bit of a bias towards LCS.

  • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

    He’s on the Armed Services Committee and the Seapower Subcommittee.

    So one of the 535 and a bit more influentual than most.

  • DaSaint

    First, no one is advocating closing two shipyards, and putting skilled workers out of work.

    Second, no good business, industrial or otherwise, restricts itself to a single product, as that creates a significant risk in and of itself of going out of business.

    Third, shipyards around the world, on a commercial and even on a defense basis, build multiple ship classes or types. Each of these yards should have the capability and clearly the capacity to build other products, or components of other products. For example, should a design that is not one of the LCS be selected, it is possible that either or both of these yards could produce modules for the winning yard. This happens all the time, all over the world. Both yards produce aluminum stuperstructures, and in the case of the Marinette yard, they also produce vessels in steel, so they could produce steel hull modules as well.

    Finally, one can’t keep a yard going indefinitely, producing a single product, just for the sake of keeping good folks employed. It would be the continuation of a mistake to keep two separate classes of LCS/FFG(X) in production, just for the sake of employment. There has to be a solid operational reason to do so, and it’s pretty clear that that will not be the case here.

  • DaSaint

    Is that the best you’ve got?
    You don’t speak for the US Navy, nor do you speak for the Congress, who understandably represent their constituents as best they can.
    And you don’t have the right to decide who does or does not care about these United States and it’s military.

    You’re one lonely dude though, who likes lashing out when subjected to reasoned thought. Keep at it. I’ll continue to share my opinions, as I don’t pretend to speak for anyone other than myself.

  • TheEvilBlight

    a shorter Burke with a smaller VLS cell might do the trick as a heavy frigate/light destroyer? So long as we don’t have crazy littoral delusions. Not getting that close to contested shoreline to begin with.

  • ShermansWar

    if they aren’t making warships (which the LCS definitively is not), and are incapable of coming up with an appropriate design (in the 15 years that they’ve had, mind you) then we dont need them. If we need jobs programs in those states, then let their congressmen either find an alternative program, or come up with a worthwhile offering from those yards. They have done neither. The lives of US sailors and national security, and the ability to actually wage war, with warships,is more important than any jobs programs.

    One risks a declining standard of living for a few thousand, the other risks Our Republic. The choice is simple.

  • Bubblehead

    Navy doesnt even want the Little Crappy Ship. Hence the birth of the FFGX. They arent manning them, they are barely developing weapons for them, they arent doing deployments, and the USN specifically told Congress they did NOT want 3 more last year. Hard to get more plainly obvious than that.

  • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

    RE: LCS operating cost being about 1/4 that of high-end ships.

    According to GAO (2014): “…the best available data indicates that the annual per ship costs for LCS are nearing or may exceed those of other ships, including those with greater size and larger crews…”

    Do you have any data source(s) for your assertion on LCS operating costs – which is wildly inconsistent with GAO? Note: I suspect you are just making that up.

  • old guy

    What makes anyone believe that this new outgrowth of the LCS will be superior to the FFG-7. A SLEP, an equipment and a combat system upgrade of the newer FFG-7s,will save billions and reduce lead time. Our latest “NEW” shnps, have not been assets to the Navy.

  • Andy Ferguson

    And keeping inefficient, uncompetitive unionized pork-barrel sites open is good for taxpayers, how?

  • Andy Ferguson

    And keeping inefficient, uncompetitive unionized pork-barrel sites open is good for taxpayers, how?

    Remind me.

  • Rob C.

    I just hope they pick the right ship design, not do political decision vs what fleet needs.
    Many of the European designs have interesting features, frankly they put our LCS to shame as far what is expected for the FFGX design.

    I’m not LSC basher, it the design wasn’t intended what navy decided it needed. Thing was suppose to be working with other combatants as a team, not normal sense.

    Anyways, personally i think the Spanish design seems to be more workable with the systems US Navy operates,. Fremme has it’s good points, but i don’t think its right fit, but i don’t know details that make these design stand a part.