Home » Aviation » Navy Squeezing Costs Out of FFG(X) Program as Requirements Solidify


Navy Squeezing Costs Out of FFG(X) Program as Requirements Solidify

Artist’s rendering of the Austal USA FFG(X) bid from SNA 2019. Austal USA Image

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Navy says it may have squeezed out about $150 million per hull in savings as the service closes in on final requirements for a planned class of next-generation frigates (FFG(X)), program officials said last week.

After raising eyebrows in Congress last year with an upper-end cost of about $950 million per hull for the second ship and beyond, the Navy is now saying that figure could be closer to $800 million.

“That $950 (million) was the threshold; $800 million is the objective,” frigate program manager with Program Executive Office Unmanned and Small Combatants Regan Campbell said on Thursday at the Surface Navy Association symposium.
“We started closer to the $950; we are trending to very close to the $800 now. We have taken some very significant costs out of the average follow units. Lead ship? I won’t give you a number, but it is reflected in the president’s budget, which you will see shortly.”

Last year, the Navy awarded five shipyards contracts for conceptual design work, allowing them time to tighten up their designs based on a “mature” parent designs of warships currently in production and to help the program office refine its requirements along the way.

Austal USA, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Fincantieri Marine and Huntington Ingalls Industries were each awarded $15 million contracts for the work, with additional funds being awarded more recently.

The back-and-forth with industry throughout the rapid acquisition for the frigate produced the refinements to the requirements that have, in part, led to the cost savings.

“We’ve had initial design review with each of the contractors. We took those cost capability trades to leadership,” she said.

Based on the work, the Navy recently has approved the Capability Development Document (CDD) solidifying the requirements for FFG(X). The CDD is now awaiting Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) approval, Campbell said.

Italian FREMM. Fincantierei Marine Group Image

With the work from the conceptual design contracts to be completed in June, the Navy is set to issue the final detailed design and construction request for proposals closer to the end of the year and make a final pick for the 20-ship program in 2020.

The Navy is also getting more specific on the weapons and sensors it wants to field aboard the new frigate.

For example, the Navy wants the ships to have a minimum of 32 Mark 41 Vertical Launch System cells aboard the ship for primarily anti-air warfare, to allow for self-defense or for the frigate to escort other ships. The Raytheon Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR) will serve as the main air search sensor for the frigate that will not only link the missiles in the VLS cells aboard but can also tie into the Navy’s emerging tactical data network via the high-bandwidth Cooperative Engagement Capability aboard the ship. The future frigates, with the CEC, could be used as sensor nodes for other allied ships and aircraft in providing targeting information for those other platforms.

Lockheed Martin FFG(X) design. Lockheed Martin Image

That feature, included in the briefing but not highlighted in the presentation, could tie into the service’s current vision of unmanned surface vehicle plan. The future frigate could link to large USVs loaded with missiles as part of a future surface force.

The frigate will also build in additional power, space and cooling for a Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) Block 3 Lite electronic warfare suite and a 150-kilowatt laser weapon.

While the five awardees and the Navy continue to work on the duration of the conceptual contract design, the service is expecting other shipyards with a mature parent design could submit a bid for the next RFP for detail design and construction.

General Dynamics Bath Iron Works FFG(X) design based on the F100 frigate design from BIW’s booth at SNA 2018. USNI News Image

“We’re on track. Our request for proposals will be going out this summer and will be awarded in ‘20,” Campbell said.
“We are doing a full and open competition for DD&C. We expect the five that have been part of this process to continue, but we may get other participants to come into the competition at that point.”

  • 32 VLS + 8-16 AShM + 21 RAM? That’s basically half a Burke worth of missiles. The ASW, radar, and EW suites also look like they’re going to be world-class

    FFG(X) is shaping up to be quite the ship (Burke flight I replacement?), but I’m rather skeptical the Navy is going to be able to get all of that for $800m.

    • DaSaint

      This will be interesting to watch. Ingalls still hasn’t shown their hand. Interesting.

      • Bubblehead

        Fitting 32 VLS cells in an NSC design is quite an addition. Your talking a lot of weight, space & that means more powerful motors which means even more length and space.

        • Bryan

          I think you are correct. There are ways of trading space and weight but I suspect it would have to be changed significantly. Including stretching it. Upgrading the turbine or similar might work and be acceptable to the Navy.

          • DaSaint

            Austal USA lengthened their LCS design. Ingalls could do the same with NSC, and install 2 gas turbines, if that’s the basis of their entrant. But I’m not sure it is.

        • PolicyWonk

          The NSC has a lot of room for growth (unlike either LCS variant), and a versatile, proven sea-frame.

          Whether it has THAT much room for growth is a different question.

          • Duane

            Growth is the opposite of the problem with NSC – it is already too large and too costly. The whole point of a small surface combatant is to be SMALL.

      • Bryan

        It is interesting. So is the 32VLS. One wonders if the two LCS entrants can handle the space and weight?

        For HII the guess was it’s NSC. If so I suspected it would be heavily modified. Now looking at the final requirements I start to see HII’s idea they used as the Hobart entrant. How much would a further evolved level II survivable DDG cost?

        • Duane

          Easily …. both LCS parents stretch the hulls of the LCS designs for FFGX. The LM MMSC stretches the hull of its Freedom LCS in two different lengths for the Saudis, the longer of which accommodates a 32 cell VLS. The Indy variant, being longer and wider already than the Freedom variant, likely has less need to stretch than the Freedom variant. The Freedom variant has already been stretched for the MMSC, which comes in two different stretch lengths to accommodate different weapons configurations.

          • ElmCityAle

            MMSC as shown in a model last year was not stretched; it moved the 57mm mount forward to make room for a single 8-cell Mk 41 VLS. Perhaps the design has changed since then, of course.

          • Duane

            There are two versions of MMCS .. a standard and a stretch. The standard (118.6 m, or 389 ft) had the 8 cell VLS .. the stretch version (150 m, or 492 ft) can easily accommodate 32 cells. The standard version has a displacement of 3,400 tons, while the stretch version of MMCS is closer to 4,000 tons.

            A Freedom LCS is a bit smaller than the standard MMCS – at 378 ft.

            Based upon the evolving NAVSEA requirements for FFGX, it appears that the stretch version of MMCS is where LM’s design is at today … and like the others, is still evolving.

        • DaSaint

          You may be right. It could be a highly modified NSC. A Burke-lite/Hobart entrant. Or a foreign design. I keep pining for the Type-26…One can only dream.

    • Duane

      Not a baby Burke. it won’t be full AEGIS, nor have SPY-6, though what it has is a derivative of both.

      • Bubblehead

        SPY6, EASR, AMDR is one of the same. Call it what you want, its the same freaking radar, different terminologies. Its just Symantecs.

        • Duane

          Why are you arguing? As I wrote, it’s not AEGIS and SPY-6 on FFGX, but derivatives of both (COMBATTS-21 and EASR). Scaled down. Because, for instance, FFGX won’t do ballistic missile defense of CVNs, as DDGs do. But it will provide cruise missile defense of other escorted ships.

          The Navy can barely fit SPY-6 into an enlarged DDG-51 hull, so obviously cannot squeeze it into FFGX. 32 cells of VLS is still just 1/3 of the cells on DDG-51.

          • It is all the same radar: AMDR is SPY-6(V)1 and EASR is SPY-6(V)2 or SPY-6(V)3 depending on whether it is the fixed or rotating variant.

          • Duane

            it is not the same radar .. it is the same technology, but AMDR is vastly larger and vastly more capable than EASR. AMDR is designed to discriminate from long distances BM reentry vehicles (i.e., be able to tell a real warhead reentry vehicle from a decoy), while EASR is basically just a very good air search radar but with nowhere near the discrimination or resolution power of AMDR. Both are based on gallium nitride technology.

            Basically, the AMDR uses 37 standard sized RMA panels while EASR uses only 9 of the same panel. Signal processing on AMDR is also a great deal more robust. Cooling requirements scale accordingly.

            Ditto with combat management system – COMBATTS-21 is not AEGIS, but it is a derivative of AEGIS but without the capabilities for defending against long range ballistic missiles.

  • Duane

    The emphasis on reducing cost is bad news for the non-LCS parent designs. The only way to get the capability the Navy requires is with a smaller hull, something around 4,000 tons give or take.

    • Bubblehead

      No its not, read my post. The USN said almost all the savings were made by changes in govt furnished equipment. Not the hulls.

      In fact with the new requirement of 32 VLS cells, the opposite is true. Only the FREMM & F100 originally and always had capacity for 32 VLS cells built in. Sure you can say Austal & LM can make it fit on their designs. But every action has an equal and opposite reaction. You add all that unplanned weight, you speed drops, your range drops, etc etc. That weight was not designed from the offset into those ships.

      • Duane

        Yes it is. Read my lips.

        Tons of displacement are the primary cost driver with all other capabilities being equal. All FFGX designs will have equal capabilities set by the RFP. A 6,000 ton ship like FREMM or F-100, or even a 5,000 ton ship like the NSC-parent design will be proportionally that much more expensive than a 4,000 ton ship with the same capabilities.

        The bottom line is that the bigger the hull, the higher the total cost.

        It’s called “math”.

        • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

          Displacement is certainly a cost-driver but so is complexity.

          LCS has a fairly unconventional propulsion system, making it more expensive than conventional ships of comparable displacement.

          • And they’ve put conventional propulsion into the FFG(X) variants so that isn’t an issue.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Perhaps. Remains to be seen how easy, inexpensive and effective it will be to completely redesign the power plant on the LCS-1.

            I also note that the FFG(X) competition called for “mature parent designs”. Installing a new engine is kind of a major change. Arguably an entirely new ship.

          • Duane

            No – a different powerplant is not disqualifying at all. Powerplants on modern ships, with the exception of nukes, are basically plug and play modular systems, ever since the advent of gas turbines many decades ago.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            I’m not a naval architect but that seems BS.

          • Duane

            Just do a google image search for “LM2500 gas turbine engine”, which has been the basic standard conventional powerplant for US Navy surface warships for decades. It’s essentially an aircraft engine that is coupled through gears to a propulsion shaft, or to a turbine generator. If you need more power, install more engines. It is about as simple as it can get for powering ships. No big infrastructure, whether steam generators, steam piping systems and valves, seawater condensers and condensate systems, etc.

            Plug’n play.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Yup. Everything is easy in PowerPoint.

          • Duane

            Reality, not computers.

      • Rocco

        Kudos!

  • Bubblehead

    The USN said in the previous article that most of the savings were saved by changes to the govt furnished equipment. To me, that sounds off all sorts of alarms. What are they cutting? Hummm they cut Searam for traditional 21 cell RAM launcher. Wonder reasoning for that? Maybe the EASR is almost impossible to jam?

    On the other hand, minimum 32 mk41 cells is a very positive sign. Only ships I know that was designed from the outset with anything close to that was the FREMM & F100. With upgraded sm2bk3 that ship will not be a pushover.

    • StealthFlyer

      They cut the Hellfire SSMM (surface-to-surface missile module) and all automated secondary guns (25 mm or 30 mm) but seem to have added shipboard torpedo tubes.

      • DaSaint

        I think it a mistake to eliminate secondary remotely-operated guns. There are lots of times when a 25mm is more appropriate than the main gun or a Phalanx CIWS. In my optimum configuration, there would be a 5″ forward (Ok, I’ll accept the 57mm instead), with 2 Phalanx CIWS (P/S) and 2-25mm Mk38 (P/S), and either a RAM or SeaRAM centerline either above the helo deck or aft of the forward main gun. Complement all that with 4 positions for manual .50 cal and 7.62mm mounts.

      • Cheech

        I’m somewhat surprised they haven’t made the SSMM be compatible with a quad launch option for the mk41. 32 cells – drop in 8 hellfires to give the ship small boat protection out further than a 25mm or 30mm and still leave 30 cells left and have it be a backup to the 57mm alamo. Seems like it would give burkes and CGs some flexibility too.

        • Al L.

          It would be a waste of VLS cells and money. The MRSSM is just a missiles in a box system, with the box being a roughly 13′ x 15′ void built into the LCS hull. It would take much less to just build boxes for the missiles to add on deck than to go through integrating them in a multi missile canister for MK41. Hellfires are only 6′ tall. The system for LCS has 2 sets of 12 missiles each under a sliding hatch. Split that in half and you have roughly a 8′ by 13′ by perhaps 7-8′ tall box of 12 missiles.
          In 2015 the Navy tested them and shot them litterally out of a box mounted on a test boat. If you google “LCS hellfire missile” there’s a 59 second video from 2015 where at :53 you can see the box. It looks like its 5′ wide 10′ long and the same height as a conex box next to it. The Austal frigate pictured at the start of this article has multiple places such a box could be strapped on deck.

  • I just realized neither of the LCS derivatives we have seen so far have illuminators and the above document specifically notes FFG(X) will have SM-2 IIIC and ESSM II (both active homing missiles). Is this going to be the new standard for US warships? Or is it a cost saving measure? The last concept art for the Burke flight III still showed SPG-62.

    • DaSaint

      EASR takes care of that.

      • No it doesn’t – EASR is an S-band radar while Standard and ESSM need X-band illumination. Also, EASR is basically the same radar as on the Flight III, which was last seen with illuminators.

        • DaSaint

          Either we’re all missing something (on all the designs publicized thus far!), or all the SAMs will be illuminated from offboard sensors/ships, or the SAMs will be tipped with active seekers.

          • Bubblehead

            I would suppose an ESSM with only a 25 mile range can get away without an illuminator. But SM2 IIIC I would think would need an illuminator. I have always wondered when the USN was going to do away with illuminators. I was surprised the AB III’s still have them, when the Chinese and other Navies no longer need them. Their X band radar can handle it. That has always been a handicap of the AB’s.

          • Graeme Rymill

            The SM-6 has three possible guidance modes: inertial guided to target with terminal acquisition using active radar seeker, semi-active radar homing all the way, or an over the horizon shot with Cooperative Engagement Capability.

            The SM- 2 IIIC has the same active seeker as the SM-6. Assuming it also has inertial guidance it can surely operate without a designator.

          • Al L.

            Reports I’ve seen indictate that block 1a added GPS and the missile may now also be land attack capable. Though I have not seen the DOD announce this. Raytheon indicated they were working on GPS integration in 2017 in order to make the missile effective against addition targets. I havent been able to figure out why GPS would be needed other than for land targets (radars?) I do notice Raytheon describes it as “antisurface” capable rather than just “antiship” capable.

          • GPS would make the inertia guidance for the autopilot more accurate, likely increasing effectiveness against air targets.

          • Al L.

            Its a missile that was already proven highly effective against some really tough air targets even at long distances over the horizon without GPS. On the other hand, if you wanted it to hit unmoving things that its seeker had a hard time finding close enough for its small warhead to kill you would need GPS.

          • Illumination, like any radar, actually becomes less effective the farther away the target is, becoming both less precise and more vulnerable to jamming.

            The use of illuminators on a Burke instead of a multifunction X-band radar really isn’t much of a handicap since the Aegis command guidance datalink is been more capable than the competition.

          • Duane

            Yes. it will work … obviously the Navy won’t spec something that simply does not work.

          • DaSaint

            What are your thoughts on why there doesn’t appear to be any illuminators on any of the designs, nor in the list of GFE.

          • Duane

            I am not privy to NAVSEA’s reasoning, like anyone else here. Perhaps it is a reflection of having high quality airborne sensors on the MH-60 and the MQ-8C aircraft, the networked sensors elsewhere on other ships and aircraft, the use of state of the art combat management and on-ship networking suficient for CES, and the advanced sensors on the missiles themselves (like Block II ESSM).

            Also, just because a piece of gear is not illustrated on a published and almost certainly outdated initial conceptual design submission does not mean it will not be on the final design come June. Lots of back and forth going on with all five of these in-development conceptual designs.

          • Rocco

            That’s speculation! What if the Helo gets shot down?? What’s for back up!! Always redundancy!

          • Duane

            All we can do is speculate, which is what DaSaint asked me to do. Until NAVSEA explains their design strategy and evolving requirements, all we can do is speculate.

          • Refguy

            LOL

          • Graeme Rymill

            ARCNA442 got it right when he said “the above document specifically notes FFG(X) will have SM-2 IIIC and ESSM II (both active homing missiles).”

          • DaSaint

            Good catch. Active seekers eliminates the need for illuminators, which in and of themselves become vulnerable to HARM-like weapons. Hence the fire-and-forget self targeting capability.

    • Ken N

      I think its a cost savings measure. It seems like the FFGx will only be equipped with active homing SAM’s like you mentioned. Flight 3 Burkes will still be using the older SM-2, ESSM block1, and the SM-6 which can be guided via active or semi active homing.

    • ElmCityAle

      The design for the Saudi MMSC (up-gunned LCS) displayed last year showed two Saab illuminators for the ESSM carried in a single 8-cell Mk 41 VLS located behind the (pushed forward) 57mm gun mount. The proposal sketches and details given for FFG(X) may not be complete with all details.

  • Adrian Ah

    Anyone else notice that 30mm guns aren’t a requirement anymore?

    • Bubblehead

      They trust the 57mm and instead of the SEARAM with only 11 missiles, they have the 21 cell launcher. Price wise you don’t want to use a million $$$ missile on a fast boat but it gets the job done. Thats ridiculous, a RAM costs almost a million dollars…. Just sayn….

      • Bryan

        Plus the ESSM has a surface function, albeit as you suggest at a very high price.

    • Duane

      The 30 mm guns are primarily a SuW weapon for the littorals, and FFGX is not a littoral warship, as is LCS. It makes sense to drop them from FFGX.

      • Rob

        Not to mention at some point, the mission of the 25/30 mm guns will be taken up by the future directed energy weapon.

      • Rocco

        Not really!! Especially since CIWZ is phasing out, something is better than nothing!

      • Refguy

        Not a littoral warship? So it will never enter the Persian Gulf or the Black Sea, or transit any strait?

        • Duane

          CVNs and CGs and DDGs enter such waters, but are clearly not littoral warships.

          One class (LCS) is designed to fight littoral threats in the littorals .. and FFGX is not optimized for that threat, but rather, is optimized for other threats likely to be encountered in long range bluewater escort.

      • Cheech

        Yup – from when I last looked
        Added/Clarified
        32 Cell VLS
        21 Cell RAM
        8 (16 obj) OTH Missiles
        Torpedo Tubes (obj)
        Future ASROC

        Dropped
        SEARAM
        30mm/25mm guns
        Hellfire launcher

        I’m guessing the Navy isn’t as concerned about a speedboat with an RPG…

        • Duane

          Check the slides above. RAM = SeaRAM (21 cell launcher) is still included in FFGX.

          Also, speed boats carry far heavier weaponry than RPGs. Iran for instance equips many of its small craft with ASCMs capable of disabling virtually any warship. How they guide those weapons, well, likely they’re not very sophisticated in their targeting and networked data sharing just yet …but give’em time and they will have that addressed too.

          • Cheech

            As far as I’ve seen, the SeaRAM has the phalanx CIWS KU band and FLIR mated to an 11 cell launcher. The pics show a standard 21 cell launcher which would get it’s targeting data presumably from the EASR. I’d say this is important as one of the lethality upgrades to the Freedom class SSC mod was inserting a SeaRAM (as on the Independence class) instead of the normal 21 cell launcher. But this would mean that the Navy thinks that either the EASR is more than adequate for RAM and/or 11 cells isn’t enough.

          • Duane

            Probably both factors apply. Same missile with the same on-board targeting system on the missile itself. The shipboard radar (whether in the CIWS mount or EASR) is just to detect the incoming and release the missile .. thereafter the missile does its own targeting.

          • StealthFlyer

            Cheech is correct. SeaRAM only refers to the 11 RAM missiles on a Phalanx mount that can operate independently. The Navy changed the FFG(X) requirement to use the 21 RAM missile launcher that is paired with ship sensors, instead.

          • Duane

            Yes – but the missile remains the same. The only diff is the detection radar used to release the missile.

  • RunningBear

    as a reference:
    – Freedom Class LCS is $362M @ 3,500T @ 378′
    – Independence Class LCS is $360M @ 2,307T @ 418′
    – Oliver Hazard Perry Class was $214M in 1982 or $561,235,489.36 in 2019 @ 4,100T @ 450′

    $800M with lessons learned from ABs and LCS with 32cell VLS, etc.; I hope it is doable.

    Preferably, all of the onboard systems should be installed ASAP into various LCS hulls for shipboard, at sea testing.
    IMHO
    Fly Navy
    🙂

    • Lazarus

      The Perry’s ended up costing $214m by 1982 according to some reports by GAO at that time. Every Navy surface combatant built since 1969 has ended up significantly over budget as well.

      • thebard3

        I was on a Perry that was commissioned in 1979, they did a significant redesign in 1983 to provide for larger crew. Of course, this cost money for the mods and also for the additional crew (around 20% increase, I think). I don’t know if there was any other major mods at that time.

        • Rocco

          We’re you in mayport?

          • thebard3

            Long Beach

        • Lazarus

          Perry costs went from $50m in 1974 when proposed by CNO Zumwalt to $214-$240m by the end of the class. Some of that was 1970’s inflation and the stern redesign/larger crew/changed logistics support you mention.

    • Ziv Bnd

      RB, I believe the numbers you are quoting for the LCS classes don’t include the mission modules, whereas the threshold price for the FFG(X) includes the weapons systems, albeit after they deleted the SSMM from the new lower price for the FFG(X).
      Come to think of it, I thought the last Indy class LCS (LCS-28?) cost $584Mn?

      • baruch_gershom

        How much was saved on the FFG7 when they removed the missile launchers?

        • Ziv Bnd

          I never saw a number, just statements that it was done to save money.

      • The cost of a Perry didn’t include the SM-1 or helicopters, which is basically the same as the cost of LCS not including missiles, drones, and helicopters.

    • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

      I think you’re off on LCS costs. They’re sitting at around $600-650M per seaframe. No mission module.

      • RunningBear

        “On 8 October 2017 Austal announced the order for LCS-30, the fifteenth ship of the class, to be built at a cost under the congressional cost cap of $584 million.”
        Fly Navy
        🙂

        • Secundius

          You might want to “Update” your comment! On 16 December 2018, Austal-USA was awarded a contract for Hulls LCS-36 and LCS-38…

          • RunningBear

            Was there a price cap change?

            “Austal USA, Mobile, Alabama, is being awarded a not-to-exceed the congressional cost cap of $584,200,000 fixed-price-incentive firm target modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-17-C-2301) to exercise the option for the construction of a littoral combat ship (LCS).” Oct. 6, 2017

            “The Navy may release a competitive solicitation(s) for additional LCS class ships in fiscal year 2019, and therefore the specific contract award amount for these ships is considered source selection sensitive information … and will not be made public at this time.” Sept. 18, 2018

            “Austal USA, Mobile, Alabama, has been issued a fixed-price-incentive firm target modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-17-C-2301) to exercise options for the construction of two fiscal 2019 littoral combat ships (LCS).” (same statement from 18Sep18) Dec. 14, 2018

            Same contract language for Lockheed.
            IMHO
            Fly Navy
            🙂

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            See Table 2 of CRS Report “Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background and Issues for Congress” (Oct. 22, 2018).

            Look at the “Procurement of LCSs” line. Three hulls appropriated in FY19 total $1.67B. Divide that be three hulls and you get $556 million.

            This doesn’t include the line “Cost-to-Complete Funding for Prior Years LCS”. That adds $103 million each year, which essentially adds another $30-50 million to the cost of each LCS depending if two or three procured.

            Bottom line: LCS seaframes are costing around $600 million apiece with no mission modules. The unit cost goes up when you buy less.

          • Duane

            You are confusing budgetary line items with actual contracted costs. Not the same – apples and oranges. Ships are built over multiple years and each year money is spent for multiple ships in varying stages of completion. Budgetary line items also include DOD costs – effectively, military overhead – that is not part of the purchase price of ships. Those same overhead costs apply to all military procurements.

            You cannot read a military budget as an equipment price list.

      • Duane

        Nope – Indys order price today is $548M but the Freedoms deliver at $362M. Mission modules for SuW and ASW come in at around $40M. MCM – a very highly specialized module not restricted to LCS and containing a large amount of cutting edge unmanned systems, is at about $100M.

  • Secundius

    Lead ship is expected to cost ~1.2882-Billion USD in 2017 prices. Numbera 2 through 20, a low of ~800-Million to a high of ~950-Million USD also in 2017 prices…

    • Bubblehead

      2017 prices is the key word.

    • NavySubNuke

      Yes — and well worth the cost when compared to the ~$900M we are paying for an LCS and mission module (based on average mission module cost). These should be able to handle 2 – 3 LCS in a stand up fight.

      • Secundius

        But the Price quoted was based on the “Littorals” Design Plan and not the Other Hopeful FFG(X)s up for review…

      • Duane

        You keep repeating your lie about the cost of LCS which are both less than $550M (Indy, or 360M (Freedom).

        Repeating a lie over and over does not make it not a lie.

        • NavySubNuke

          Sorry but you have to include the costs of GFE and mission modules if you want to talk about the actual costs.
          Check out USN’s own budget documents to see why your numbers are so far off from the truth.

          • Duane

            Including costs of GFE, which covers the whole 9 yards.

            You are lying, as usual.

          • NavySubNuke

            As anyone who reviews the USNs actual budget documents will see I am not lying.
            The numbers you are quoting are from the multi year procurement contracts which dont cover GFE. Per those same contracts a flight iii burke costs only $850M.
            But go ahead and keep calling me a liar sweetie.

          • Duane

            You’re an idiot. Budget documents are not line item purchase documents. They include many things across multiple procurement years and include internal DOD overheads and such.

            You cannot read a budget doc and figure out directly what anything costs to buy, or to maintain.

            Only contract documents define actual purchase costs.

  • Al L.

    Pretty impressive. It could be carrying 90+ missiles. More than twice what a Perry carried.

    Hope the Navy can afford all those missiles.

    • Bubblehead

      What the US military is paying as a whole for missiles is ridiculous. SM6 close to 3 million. A freaking RAM is almost a million. As comparison, a tamir missile cost in neighborhood $100k. And the hypersonic 100+ mile stunner a couple hundred thousand. A PAC3 is somewhere between 2-3 million with its long reach of around 22km. Tomahawk, I think is around 2.5 million and the newer version will be around 3.

      The Israeli’s don’t buy near the number of missiles the US does so you can’t blame the lack of production. US defense companies are shafting the military & taxpayers.

      • Duane

        You’re comparing apples to oranges on costs.

        The cheapie anti-ship missiles are easy to shoot down or jam. The difference is in the electronic warfare capabilities.

        Anti-missile missiles like SM-6 or SM-2 have much harder jobs to perform than do basic anti-ship missiles – the targets for AMMs are small and fast and relatively maneuverable, while the targets for ASCMs are large and slow and effectively stationary in the terminal phase of engagement. And the SM-6 and SM-3 are ballistic missile killers, where a single nuke BM can take out an entire CSG worth tens of billions and with 6,000-8,000 sailors aboard.

        Besides, other missiles we use now are not so expensive. NSM is going for under $900K, LRASM is around $1M a pop. They are fantastic bargains for what they do. Ditto with RIM-116 (SeaRAM) .. who wouldn’t spend a million bucks to save a billion dollar ship and a couple hundred sailors?

        • Bubblehead

          Its an exact and fair apples to apples comparison. Stunner & tamir are replacing Patriot missiles in Israel. They cost 1/10th what Patriot missiles cost and with significantly superior performance.

          And comparing RAM to having a ship taken out is a straw argument. There are other missiles that can protect as good or better for a 1/10th the price. Again the Tamir or Stunner.

          SM3 is understandable being that it is the only exo-atmosphere interceptor in the world. Well except the land based missile defense missiles which have a 1 out of 5 success rate.

          • Duane

            Stunner is no way a $100K missile. It is a highly sophisticated long range 2-stage missile with multi-mode targeting. The cost is not published, but it is almost certainly in the multi-million dollar range like every other two-stage, long range anti-BM missile. Tamir is a very short range missile part of Iron Dome, designed to counter cheap short range unguided rockets .. it is in no way even marginally comparable to any US missile defense interceptor used on ships.

            You are comparing apples to planets, not just oranges.

      • Al L.

        “As comparison, a tamir missile cost in neighborhood $100k”

        A Hellfire costs about $100k a Stinger $38k. You cant compare a missile used for a relatively simple close in target set to ones designed to counter the most sophisticated targets on the planet.

    • Rocco

      Yeah but they will never have the blue water capability or structural integrity the Perry’s had! All these new designs are gonna need tanker support all day long!

  • DaSaint

    While the five awardees and the Navy continue to work on the duration of the conceptual contract design, the service is expecting other shipyards with a mature parent design could submit a bid for the next RFP for detail design and construction.

  • StealthFlyer

    The Austal design pictured shows a new layout, with the SeaRAM removed from the hangar roof and replaced by a 21-cell RAM launcher up front behind the 57 mm. Now there are no weapons on the hangar roof (previous designs included 30 mm cannons). All 32 VLS are just aft of the helo deck (previous designs had 0 or 8 VLS there). While the 2 x 4 anti-ship missiles were shown on the fantail before, that lower deck level continued across the entire stern of the ship in previous designs. Now there’s a taller section flush with the top of the VLS centered aft. I wonder if that’s for towed sonars, RHIBs, or something else?

    • Secundius

      Aft view of Austal-USA’s FFG(X) entry. Note no RAMs, but SeaRAMs and VLS behind Mk.110, not on stern. Artists Conceptual of the FFG(X)…

      ( https : // breakingdefense . com / wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2017/04/Austal-Frigate-Rendering-Sea-Air-Space-2017-1024×666.jpg )

      • StealthFlyer

        The 2017 SNA design is not current. Navy requirements have changed since then and so has the Austal design.

        • Secundius

          That wasn’t my point! I could spend all night finding different variations of Weaponry Placements depending on who the Conceptual Artist might be. Or when the Artist Conception was made. I suspect that next month the Conceptional Photo will be different again…

    • Bubblehead

      Did you read the article or just look at the pictures? Just playn with ya…

    • NR

      The hangar roof was left open to make room for a future laser weapon.

    • Duane

      Interesting concept design … but it may be one or two versions behind where Austal is now, given the give and take between designers and NAVSEA that is still underway until June.

      The Indy variant, being substantially longer and wider than the Freedom variant, has less need to lengthen the hull to accommodate the VLS and fuel tankage that the Freedom needed to do for FFGX.

      • DaSaint

        They lengthened the hull, removed the waterjets and gas turbines, and are using just 2 cp propellers and diesels.

        • StealthFlyer

          That’s true of the modified L-M Freedom design, but I’ve not seen any article that indicates the Independence trimaran has been changed to propellers.

          • DaSaint

            If you go to this years SNA videos on YouTube, specifically Navy News , you’ll find the interview. It was very interesting, and gives a much clearer view of the config using a model.

            GN

  • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

    Lets see:
    – Clearly articulated requirements. Check.
    – Practical speed requirement. Check.
    – Overall mission that fits into larger Fleet architecture. Check.
    – Reliance on fielded and/or high TRL mission systems. Check.
    – Clear should-cost threshold and objective. Check.
    – Early examination of tradeoffs in capabilities vs. cost. Check.

    We will see how this all turns out, but nice that FFG(X) is not repeating the many mistakes of LCS!

    • thebard3

      Not yet, anyway.

    • NavySubNuke

      My thoughts exactly. Mistakes are part of life – the important thing is to learn from them and do better the next time around.
      Oh and don’t forget down selecting to a single vendor design- keeps the logistics and training pipeline to a manageable and appropriate size!

      • Yea agree but why repeat those mistakes 34 times,

        • NavySubNuke

          Only Congress knows – they are the ones who keep forcing the Navy to buy more – even when the administration begged them not to!

          • Duane

            Provide your direct quote of any US Navy or DOD official “begging” the Congress to not fund new LCS construction.

            C’mon – put up or shut up.

            Here’s a hint – you are full of bullsh*t and lying as usual

            Contrast the DOD request for ships to the DOD request for aircraft, which Congress also increased.

            So by your illogic and lying propaganda, the Navy “begged” Congress not to fund any more Super Hornet purchases, or F-35C purchases.

          • Duane

            C’mon NSN .. prove your statement or get the heck outa here!

          • NavySubNuke

            It really is funny how ashamed you are of your own stupidity. Duaney everyone knows you are an ignorant fool. Repeatedly deleting this comment isnt going to change that.
            Lol. Proven.
            Just like how I proved OTH-Radar existed, that INF applied to cruise and ballistic missiles, that Virginia and Seawolf classes both have propulsers not propellers.
            Still waiting on you to prove every super sonic missile has to perform a popup maneuver in terminal by the way.
            But we both know I will be waiting forever for that won’t I duaney?

          • Doug

            There is a OTH Radar about 5 miles from my house. Monitors the Caribbean.

          • NavySubNuke

            Shhhh! don’t tell diane – he doesn’t believe they exist!!!

          • NavySubNuke

            I specifically said the administration – not DoD or DoN. Learn to read.
            I cant post the link but google “the littoral combat ship program again draws White House ire” Defense News, dated 18 Aug 2018 which features thebOMB statement begging for only 1 LCS in 2019.

          • Duane

            DOD IS the administration. Good grief, are you really THAT dense?

            SMH

          • NavySubNuke

            LOL – it really is amazing the lengths you will go to in order to avoid admitting you are wrong. You really need to learn to man up little Duaney.

          • old guy

            OPNAV 03, SPECIFICALLY requested a revierw of the RFP, to NAVSEA 05, for inconsistencies (which is why we now have TWO different LCS’s), neither capable of the ORIGINAL prime design basis, of MODULARITY. It got so bad that they had to make the un-modular “modules” a seperate program. But, pretty soon, you will be unique; the ONLY die hard supporter

          • Duane

            Me … and the entire US Navy. You LCS trolls keep committing the same mental conceit of thinking that your tiny tribe are representative of the Navy or of reality.

    • Lazarus

      Requirements for FFGX remain fuzzy other than “more lethal than LCS.” Fleet mission not set and fleet architecture still uncertain and at the whim of OPNAV N9 staff changes. The systems aboard FFGX are no better/worse integrated than those of LCS at this point. Did not see that there was a land-based facility to integrate them as was done with AEGIS.

      FFGX will be a $1.2b or more ship
      When finally produced.

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        See slide 2. Requirements seem pretty clear. Clearer than LCS at least.

      • Duane

        The requirements keep changing. Of course, that is expected given that the purpose of letting the five conceptual design development contracts was to obtain, actively, direct and explicit design feedback from the multiple shipbuilders as the designs are developed. That is not a bad thing – it is actually a good thing.

        The notion that ship requirements can be perfectly established up front, absent any actual design feedback, and thus set in stone forever is an error the Navy has made over and over again. It is good that there seems to be some organizational learning going on for a change.

        • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

          Wow Duane. That actually makes sense.

      • sferrin

        We should just quit now. Building ships is for suckers.

      • Duane

        If the Navy sticks to its objective of $800 M, either of the two LCS parent designs can get there. Because they will both be around 4,000 tons give or take, with all of the required GFE. But none of the other destroyer-sized entrants can get down below $1.0-1.2B as you suggest. They are all in the 5,000-6,000 ton range. They’d have to take massive haircuts in hull volume to get to under $800M delivered with GFE.

        People don’t realize that tons = dollars, everything else (capability) being equal.

      • I was basically about to post exactly this – we have yet to see a clear explanation for what exactly FFG(X) is supposed to do and the constant changes in armament seems to imply that the Navy doesn’t have a clear idea either.

        The $1.2b final cost is also my estimate as well.

        • Curtis Conway

          Consider this:

          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 . . . in the long term anyway.
          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.

      • NavySubNuke

        Im not really sure why Diane flagged this but I will post it again in case you wanted to comment on it and have an actual ocnversation.
        As outlined on slide 2 above an FFG(x) could easily take out 2 – 3 LCS. Each LCS costs >$900M each with mission module.
        Based on that math a $1.2B FFG(x) is still well worth it.
        Especially if it is built using a proven design like FREMM and F100

    • Duane

      LCS checks of the boxes you cite and many more. You’re just repeating your longstanding propaganda.

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        Nope. LCS did very few of the good things I cited. None actually.

        I’d attempt to point this out to you, but I don’t think you understand concepts like TRL or should-cost.

        Re: 45 kts being a practical top speed for a 3,500 ton vessel. I imagine few folks would support you on that.

        • Duane

          45 knots is proven entirely practical. LCS go that fast, and faster, actually, period. And they need to go that fast to chase down swarms of littoral small surface craft. It’s what LCS does. It is their mission.

          In addition to raw speed, LCS throw up huge tall wakes at high speeds. When the USS Freedom participated in its initial testing of the two Mk 46 30mm gun mounts back in 2013 off the coast of Southern California, against a pack of 5 high speed small drone water craft, the CO elected to crank up the speed to around 40 knots (well below top speed) as he maneuvered his ship to engage the targets with the 30mms. The wake was so tall (higher than the flight deck on the LCS) that the boats lost half their velocity crossing the LCS’s wake, making them way too easy targets for the guns. The civilians running the gun test cancelled the run and told the CO to stop making so many turns as they could not get a true test of how the guns perform. In effect, the CO created a tactic not available to any other ship, sorta making the guns superfluous for taking out the swarms. Every other LCS CO, of course, knows that is part of his or her selection of tactics.

          And as for your blithe statement “few would agree” – the ones who agree are the only ones that count. That would be US Navy leadership, and the sailors who sail and will fight on LCS. Everybody else is just the armchair admirals like you, a tiny handful of loud and incessant internet commenters, the proverbial 400 pound guy pounding away on a keyboard in his mother’s basement, as Trump put it.

          • David Oldham

            Well then at least the LCS has one offensive weapon that will work in a limited arena against a limited enemy host. Reminds one of the nonsense with the Great White Fleet of Theodore Roosevelt.

          • Duane

            Far from the only capabilities .. but he wanted to hang his poor hat on that one, and I showed the error of his thinking through facts, not argument.

          • Bubblehead

            LOL good one!

            Its the best weapon the LCS has.

          • Secundius

            I’d say quite a few more than just ONE! “Freedom” also has 2 x 30mm Autocannons, 1 x 21-cell RAM Launcher and 24 Hellfire Missiles. While “Independence” also includes 2 x 30mm Autocannons, 1 x 11-cell SeaRAM Launcher and 24 Hellfire Missiles. Not to mention that both support a MH-60R Helicopter as well…

          • Duane

            You forgot to include the 8 cells of long range OTH missiles (NSM) better than anything any of our CGs or DDG-51s currently deploy. Plus MQ-8B and C aircraft come with guided 2.75 in attack rockets or Hellfire missiles, as does the MH-60, plus Mk 54 torpedoes. Plus COMBATTS-21 combat management system, and the best surface ship ASW sonars in the world.

          • MerryPrankster

            You do realize that the Navy is also developing a little thing known as the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile that is designed to be fired from Mk.41 VLS? While it is currently first slated for strike aircraft, do you really think it will be long before it replaces the Harpoons?

          • Duane

            LRASM is a great weapon, but not yet deployed on our surface ships. The Navy is working on it, developed and tested a new up-sized canister deck launcher for LRASM, which won’t fit in the old Mk 141 tubes. As for use in the Mk 41 VLS, that has also been demonstrated too, but not yet deployed. LRASM will almost certainly go on both LCS and FFGX eventually.

          • MerryPrankster

            Except that the Arleigh Burkes will be able to carry more missiles than a LCS ever could and is more survivable in combat. The LCS suffers from many of the same problems that Missile Patrol Boats faced during the last fifty years and PT-Boats before that. They are vulnerable to air threats and lack the damage control capability of earlier ships. I have a feeling that unlike the USS Stark, the LCS will not be able to handle one exocet strike, much less two.

          • Secundius

            DDG-67, USS “Cole” was nearly SUNK by a Slow Moving Fiber-Glass Boat packed with ~500-pounds of explosives in October 2000…

          • MerryPrankster

            Don’t forget the 400-700lb explosive used on the USS Cole was assembled as a shaped charge and placed against the hull. On the other hand, the two Exocets that hit the USS Stark only had a 364lb warhead in comparison and penetrated the hull for their strike. Considering that the Cole had 17 killed and 34 wounded in the attack, a similar attack on a LCS would have sent it to the bottom and taken out most of the crew.

            In case you didn’t know, the crew saved the Cole thanks to great damage control on their part and kept it afloat. The USS Cole was repaired and was fully operational in 2001. An LCS in a similar situation is still an expensive one hit wonder One hit and you wonder where it went).

          • Secundius

            An EPF designed by Austal-USA M/V “Swift” in UAE livery was hit by a Chinese-made C-802 ASM with an ~363-pound High Explosive Thermobaric Fragmentation warhead missile off the Yemenese coast in 2015 and survived. It killed only 2 of it’s 36 crew and was ALL Aluminum construction…

          • Duane

            Nope – ASCMs virtually never sink ships. Heck, the Silkworm that made a direct hit on a small aluminum cat hulled auxiliary off Yemen a few years ago didn’t even sink that lightweight, unarmed, uncompartmented, undefended boat. It was towed to port and was or is being repaired to return to service.

            LCS on the other hand are heavily defended with multilayered defenses, and is a warship with damage control capabiliiies unlike civilian boat.

            Torpedoes sink ships .. ASCMs damage them, and take them out of the fight, and can kill a lot of sailors too … as demonstrated on Stark.

          • Duane

            The role of the Arleigh Burke is to protect CVNs – that is why it exists at all. It NEEDs a lot of missiles of varying types just to protect the CVNs .. and even then, their magazine depth is totally inadequate to protect a CVN from a 500 or 1,000 missile long range ASCM salvo that China is prepared to launch at any CVN.

            LCS are not in the CVN air defense escort business – that is not their role. LCS performs its several roles in the littorals and does it extremely well.

          • MerryPrankster

            Actually the Burke is a multipurpose destroyer that has anti-air, anti-surface, anti-ship, land-attack, and now ABM missions. As for defending a CVN from 500 to 1000 Chinese ASCMs, first the Chinese has to actually find the battle group. You see, carriers are a moving target, unlike a land base. Furthermore, most CVNs are not protected by only one Arleigh Burke but 2-3 DDGs and Ticonderoga. Then, there are E-2 controlled fighters that will engage any spotting aircraft or missile carriers. The LCS on the other hand, has been operated with carrier groups and they could probably be outfitted with a updated inverse of the Slick V that allowed the old Knox class frigates to mimc a larger ship and get the missiles to come after them instead.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            No. There was never a practical reason for 45 knots – other than CNO Vern Clark apparently watching too many episodes of “Miami Vice”.

            “The CNO at the time, (Chief of Naval Operations Adm.) Vernon Clark, wanted a fast ship,” naval historian Norman Polmar told [Sydney Freedberg in 2016]. “So far as I know there was no analysis done to determine if 45 knots was better than 35 or 50 knots.”

            Ref: Breaking Defense, Sep ’16

          • Duane

            Read my response above – yes, there always was and remains today the need for littoral warships to be capable of 45+ knot speeds.

            You simply don’t get littoral warfare. Therefore you don’t “get” the LCS … same with all the others in the LCS trolling community here.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            If you can embark helo(s) that can fly 120+ knots, there is very little need for a ship to go 45 knots.

            Not unless your CONOPS is predicated on running away. Given how underarmed and fragile LCS is, that might not be a bad idea…

          • Duane

            Aircraft can not always be deployed. Not uncommon at all for weather (fog, high seas, high winds) to ground the aircraft, or mechanical issues too.

            Like any good combat system, LCS has many layered capabilities and does not depend exclusively on any one of those layers to carry out its mission.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            But why 45 knots? Why not 40 knots? Or 35 knots? No one seems to know, yet the Navy paid a premium for LCS to be capable of very high speed.

            IMHO, the Navy didn’t give much thought into the missions in which very high speed was useful/usable. If they had, they would’ve seen it is a niche capability that is unnecessary for most missions.

            Example: why would an LCS-ASW ever need to go >30 kts? The ships it is supposedly escorting cannot go that fast. The LCS towed sonar will not work effectively at that speed – and in fact will probably break.

            Same goes for MCM. You’re not doing effective mine clearance at very high speed. There isn’t a need. Minefields don’t move and the MCM gear and tactics do not support it.

          • William Sager

            Sure a ship can go 45 knots, but is it worth the extra money and hull space for larger engines. What is really needed is a hybrid drive system which can provide the extra power needed for rapid shots from a 150 KW Laser not to mention electric drones. It would also be nice if the Frigate had enough batteries to go into silent search mode while looking for these new ultra quit submarines

          • Secundius

            The “Independence” FFG(X) variant still supports a Retractable Electric Motor mounted just forward of amidships on the Hull Bottom for that very purpose. And for making “Bootleg Turns” at High Speed…

          • Duane

            The ships are not expensive, cheapest surface warships in the fleet by far. And as I described above, there is a strong tactical need for high speed in the littorals. Not out in the deep blue, but in the littorals, which is the environment tasked to the LCS, it is an essential capability.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Hmmm. Such an essential capability that the Navy recently deployed a Littoral Combat Group with an LPD and DDG. And zero LCS.

          • Duane

            And zero LHDs too went on that particular test cruise .. so by your extremely twisted logic LHDs are useless.

            Ditto with every other ship type the Navy has in service, like CGs, CVNs, SSNs, auxiliaries, patrols, and aircraft too – if they weren’t on that two-ship cruise, then they must be worthless, according to the Great BS Artist.

            The grotesque illogic of the silly ship haters is beyond parody.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            None of the ships you listed have ‘littoral combat’ in their name.

          • Secundius

            What’s the Maximum Water Depth where LHAs and LHDs are Home Ported? If the depth is less the ~685_feet, the their “Littorals”…

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Duane: LCS is far more expensive than every ship type it was meant to replace.

          • Ziv Bnd

            Duane, how is an LCS going to chase down “swarms of littoral small surface craft”? The minute the LCS starts following the swarm it will split up and head in as many directions as there are small craft. The top speed was a nice feature that would be great to have if it didn’t cost a lot, indirectly reduce total range and require a less reliable power plant.

            Nice touch on the wake effect, but that only works if the LCS gets in front of the small boats…. I can imagine an LCS captain sailing right past the targets, refusing to engage with guns or missiles until the small boats were inconvenienced by the LCS wake…

            The 45+ knot max speed was a great talking point but it simply proved to too problematic for the real world.

            That having been said, with the NSM and the soon to be improved ALaMO rounds for the Mk110, the LCS is going to be a much better, more effective ship next year.

          • Secundius

            The Mk.110 has a Traverse rate of ~57* per second or a 180* traverse in ~3.16-seconds. How far can a Threat G0-Fast travel in 3.16-seconds…

          • Ziv Bnd

            As I said to Duane, if the gun can quickly and accurately reach out and destroy or disable the small surface craft that effectively, great! That means the LCS and FFG(X) really don’t need a 45+ knot sprint speed. Pick a FFG(X) design that can operate with a CSG but don’t bend over backwards for a super fast spring speed.

          • Duane

            You’re confusing LCS with FFGX. They are not the same.

          • Secundius

            The original Frigate replacement competition date was 2018, but the US Navy pushed back the date to 2019. Because of renewed interest in the “Independence” class design. More specifically, the “Indy’s” ability in being able to make a “Bootleg Turn” (i.e. a 180 within it’s own boats length) at 40kts. Which none of the “other” four competitor’s have…

          • Duane

            That is not an issue. The two LCS builders are entirely cognizant of the requirements for FFGX which differ significantly from the requirements for LCS, including top end speed.

          • Duane

            At 220 spm (that is nearly 4 shots per second) from the 57mm it will take but a few seconds to wipe out an entire pack of the little buggers before they can travel but a few dozens of yards. Each imaging IR guided round has a picture of the target in it and it zooms right to the target. Or it uses laser designation, which itself is extremely precise and rapid target acquisition.

            Each shot is precision guided to within 1.0 meters of the target, with a blast frag warhead that effectively turns the entire upper works of any small craft, and the crew manning it, to soup.

          • Ziv Bnd

            You said, ” 45 knots is proven entirely practical. LCS go that fast, and faster, actually, period. And they need to go that fast to chase down swarms of littoral small surface craft. It’s what LCS does. It is their
            mission. ”
            Why does the LCS “need to go that fast” if they will just destroy small surface craft at long range? The short answer is, they don’t need that sprint speed. 33 knots or so would allow them to work with a CSG and not get in the way, while allowing for a more robust and reliable power plant/drive system.
            The Navy paid a huge price in reliability and took a huge hit on the
            expense of the system, for what? They will use speeds over 33 knots once in a blue moon. The Navy needs to find an in production system that can power the FFG(X) reliably and at speeds up to 33 knots with a range of at least 5,000 nm.

            I am kind of hoping that the Indy Class upgrade works, but I just want the FFG(X) money to be spend on getting a more robust platform than the current LCS. And then go back and improve the LCS’s so that they can perform as a corvette, not as a sitting duck as they do now.

          • Duane

            Go fast is to chase down and kill the enemy. The range of the 57mm gun is not OTH …

            Also, LCS are the opposite of “sitting ducks”. Very lethal defenses against the threats they are tasked with destroying.

            By the way, throughout naval history in the USN and other navies, the best littoral warships were always the small, fast, shallow draft vessels capable of running down enemies and boarding or sinking them, and going where no deep draft, slow and ponderous blue water ships could venture. The enemies being mostly made up of either merchant ships or similar light, fast, maneuverable “blockade runners” or pirates.

            Most pirate “ships” were not even ship sized vessels at all, but small coastal vessels as described. Even the most famous pirate of all, Blackbeard, operated as his “flagship” a small, 200 ton ship but a mere 103 feet long, but packed with guns .. and the rest of his flotilla consisted of much smaller vessels like sloops and coastal luggers. When he was finally caught in his small coastal sloop and defeated by Capt. Maynard with two even smaller coastal sloops, it was in the shallow littorals inshore of Ocracoke Island, North Carolina.

          • Doug

            The wake is like that because the ship is powered by big jet ski motors. However, it doesn’t matter how fast a ship can go when it can only carry enough food for 6 days.

    • RTColorado

      We’ve never met and we don’t know each other from Adam…but are you serious ? You believe this ? Given the proportionality of projects planned and projects completed on time and on budget what makes you think this is anything other than utter nonsense ?

      • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

        Hello, I guess.

        Look at where we are with FFG(X) now versus where we were at the same point in LCS development. It’s practically night and day.

        Clear requirements. Clear focus on keeping cost down. They’re already begun looking at tradeoffs.

        Most everything listed on those slides is a real system. Not PowerPoint fantasy.

        I am guardedly optimistic that we won’t repeat LCS mistakes. Certainly not 100% confident but these are all good signs.

        • Ziv Bnd

          I have to agree. There is no requirement for a useful but hugely problematic 45 knot top speed. 30 knots is sufficient, though I dont know what top speed would be most useful if the FFG is going to be operating with a CSG. There is no reliance on a not yet developed NLOS program for OTH weapons. It seems like the FFG(X) has learned a bit from the miscues of the LCS program. Here is hoping that they don’t find new ways to bungle the development of the new frigates! Past history is not very positive, but you never know.

          • Duane

            Nothing “problematic” in the least with 45 knot top speed. It was easily achieved with both hull design and powerplant design. Indeed the Freedoms significantly exceed that speed, upwards of 50+ knots in speed tests. Besides, that is irrelevant – the LCS parent design FFGXs will have the powerplant necessary to meet the requirements for FFGX, which actually reduces the cost of the powerplant giving an even larger cost advantage for the two LCS parent design FFGXs.

            But FFGX is not a littoral warship – we have LCS to fulfill that role. In escorting other ships, the primary role of FFGX, there is no need to do 45+ knots.

          • Ziv Bnd

            Maybe, maybe not. Increasing the displacement of the LCS by approximately 20-25% for their FFG(X) variants, while reducing the max speed requirement, won’t be a simple task. There is a good chance that that both builders will bungle it as badly as they bungled the early development of their respective LCS types. The CODAG powerplants that GD and Lockheed are using are getting better but they are still a weak point for both ship types.
            But I have to admit, if the LCS’s deploy with 8 or more NSM’s and if the ALaMO rounds pan out, they won’t be the toothless money pit that they were a few years ago. I really want to see the LCS develop into decent corvette type warships and I think that they are close to getting there. The heavier ships of the FFG(X) type will be a pleasure to see when they arrive, whether they are LCS upgrades or FREMM type. Not sure how the others would pan out.

          • Duane

            Modern gas turbine engines used in most warships today are basically plug ‘n play inserts. Easy and cheap to install. They occupy very little volume and involve no big engineering systems installations as involved in steam plants.

        • Lazarus

          No US surface combatant has been successfully been constructed at such early cost estimates since before the FF 1052 class. The FFG7 went from $50m to $214m in less than 10 years. There is as yet no “FFGX in a cornfield” (as was the case with AEGIS) where the proposed systems will be integrated and tested. I thought you were the trained skeptic? Perhaps you are pushing the “I believe” button too soon?

          • Duane

            He does not want to believe the obvious answer that it is one or both of the two LCS parent design based FFGX will meet the Navy’s cost target, or very close to it. Given that we’ve already built 14 LCS, with another 20 under construction or on order over the next 5 years, an LCS-based FFGX is already 85% a reality. Just stretch the LCS hulls a bit, add in the VLS and EASR, and voila! You have FFGX for something close to $800M average ship cost (the first will of course cost more).

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Cost? LM is redesigning its entire drive train for its FFG(X) bid. That won’t be cheap.

            Seems unlikely either LCS variants will win out. The designs are too buggered up. Optimized for high-speed that is unwanted in FFG(X).

            My money is on the NSC variant winning the competition. US built. Sturdy. Excellent cruising range. Plenty of SWAP.

          • Duane

            Gee, tell me which it is .. the LCS trolls complain the big powerplant for the 45+ knot LCS costs too much .. and now you’re saying putting a less powerful powerplant to only do the 30+ knots of FFGX will cost even more?

            That does not compute.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            If I buy a Ferrari and later decide I need a station wagon – how cheap or efficient is it to convert the Ferrari?

          • Duane

            Wrong comparison. If you replace a Ferrari F136F near 600 horsepower engine (near new selling on EBay for $800 thousand) with a Suburu Outback wagon 175 hp engine (selling on EBay for about 3,200 bucks), I guarantee it will drop the cost of the vehicle way back … by around $796 thousand or so.

            Next silly point of argument?

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Good lord. That’s not the point. Why not just buy the car you need?

          • Duane

            Good lord, that’s exactly what the LCS-parent design based FFGX are.

            It is you complaining that LM downsized the powerplant as some sort of shifty move .. instead of simply responding to the RFP requirements.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Nope. Didn’t say it was shifty. It is certainly incongruent with the FFG(X) RFP, which calls for “mature designs”.

            You’re going to have a hard time convincing me that redesigning the main propulsion is indicative of a mature design. It is a major rework – with associated cost and risk.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Nope. Not pushing the “I believe” button wrt FFG(X).

            I am saying that they are not repeating the many simply idiotic mistakes that LCS made. And that’s a good sign.

          • Lazarus

            The Navy system for designing and buying ships has not changed since LCS too much. We’ll see, but history is against meeting the claims being circulated.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            What’s the saying? “Life’s hard, it’s even harder when you’re stupid.” Substitute the word ‘life’ with ‘acquisition’.

            Yes, the Defense Acquisition System is mostly broken. However, the problems that LCS experienced were largely self-inflicted and cannot be conveniently blamed on JCIDS, PPBES, DOT&E or others.

            In designing and acquiring LCS, the US Navy has made decisions that quite simply defy logic and common sense. Heck, they did things that even a freshman engineer would tell you would lead to problems.

            Here’s a partial list:
            – Poorly defined mission need statement.
            – Immature concept of operations (CONOPS).
            – Minimal requirements analysis prior to design.
            – No central management (i.e. PEO) until program well under way.
            – Lack of sensitivity analysis on key design parameter (high speed)
            – Concurrency in design and construction.
            – Reliance on low TRL mission systems.
            – Procuring two separate ships to do the exact same job.

    • PolicyWonk

      At least with the specs you outlined, this would seemingly be the case.

      But PEO USC (formerly LCS) has repeatedly demonstrated they are more than willing to double and triple-down on tragic error.

      For this reason, I give the inside track to Austal and LockMart, who have been the recipients of the mighty LCS corporate welfare program.

  • nickdanger

    Jesus, can we get a decent gun on these damn things? Missiles and PGM are nice, but as a Marine, can we please get the Navy to send a little help our way? I got the playbook with distributed battle force, landing where not expected, etc., I just hope the enemy gets read in.

    • Rocco

      Even a 5″ gun is over kill on this class! The best thing is the 57mm or a 75 would be better! But Duane will argue this!! Lol

      • Duane

        If the two Mk 46 30 mm mounts are eliminated per this update, then it is even more important that the Mk 110 57mm gun be retained to fight off swarms of small watercraft as well as aircraft.

        • Bubblehead

          G-d forgive me but I agree with Duane on this one. The USN elimination of the 30mm or 25mm’s means they are very confident in the 57mm and its new rounds. Which is a good thing.

          But with hyper rounds coming, you would think the USN would have some forethought on how deadly a 5in will be. Especially on a smallish, stealthy boat.

          I think the FREMM could have both if the USN chooses. It has quite a few guns. And the Type 26 prob could also.

          • DaSaint

            I’d prefer to add Phalanx CIWS P/S instead of 25mm or 30mm cannons. That’s a better complement to the 57mm and gives more versatility.

          • Phalanx actually isn’t that great at countering boats. It has to be used with the same manual fire control as the 25mm and 30mm guns, but has less range, 12mm solid bullets instead of 25 or 30mm explosive shells, and its high rate of fire gives it only 31 seconds worth of ammo vs the 57 or 96 seconds of the other guns. Finally, Phalanx is far heavier, vastly more expensive, and requires significantly more maintenance.

          • Duane

            Correct. Phalanx is a very short range anti-cruise missile weapon, way overkill for taking out swarming small boats and low flying aircraft, which is what the Mk 46 30mm is designed to do. You don’t need a vast number of shell hits to take out the latter, but you may for the former. The 30mm is not a “machine gun” – it is rapid firing, generally fired either as single shots or very short bursts (4 shots).

          • Al L.

            “The USN elimination of the 30mm or 25mm’s means they are very confident in the 57mm and its new rounds. ”

            What it probably means is that the Navy is having to value engineer the ships to try to keep at least a couple of the offers under the budgetary limit and still build in the systems for which space and weight are critical (like a 32 cell VLS) Space weight and budget aren’t at all critcal for the MK38 mod 2. Its easily added after the ships are in service under a different budget, as has been done for most every other Navy ship that carries it.

            Ditto the MRSSM. Its just a box of missiles sitting in a hole in the hull on LCS. It could just as easily be a box of missiles sitting on the deck. They’re only 6 feet tall.

        • Andy Ferguson

          Yeah, since CIWS can’t do that, right?

          • Duane

            Not from beyond 2 nm range they can’t. Nor does CIWS have any precision guided, “one hit/one kill” rounds as does the 57mm, which has two commercially available rounds that do just that.

          • Andy Ferguson

            SO adorable!

            What EXACTLY would your “swarm boats” be doing from 2km’s away, Duaney?

            BTW, I’d LOVE to see where you got your “2 km” range from.

            Cite your source, for once.

            Oh, yeah, one more thing…30mm Goalkeeper.

          • Secundius

            US Navy doesn’t use “Goalkeeper”…

          • Andy Ferguson

            Well done, Capt.Obvious………………

            Who said we were discussing the USN specifically?

            CIWS is a GENERIC term.

          • Secundius

            Then why didn’t you write that way, instead of writing it like a Wise A__…

      • Curtis Conway

        The ‘5″ gun is over kill’ based upon where you send the platform, and what you ask the platform to do. In our current environment we have the Marines looking for more throw-weight via naval artillery, and we are doing the opposite (going the other) direction on this platform. The argument will be made that the FFG(X) will not be assigned this job, then a deployment will happen where Operational dollars are slim, and the FFG(X) will be asked to do exactly that (NGFS). ‘Plan for the worse, and hope for the best’ is NOT a platitude to those dying on the beach . . . calling for a Fire Mission!

      • Andy Ferguson

        Not a fan of NGS, I see…

    • Secundius

      The US Congress and the US Navy have already decided on Gun Caliber for the FFG(X). The Mk.110 57x438mm/70-caliber Bofors Gun…

      • nickdanger

        Damn!….Too late to refloat the BB?

  • johnbull

    Specifying that other designs could come in with proposals is interesting. This would leave a door open for a Type 26 based design?

    • Bubblehead

      Ahhh I didn’t think of this. That would be nice. No doubt and without a doubt it is the best design out there. But they better hurry up and get the 1st hull in the water to meet USN requirements. If the 1st hull isn’t completed yet, the USN would prob rule it too risky.

      I like the way you think though!

      • DaSaint

        Been saying this for some time. It’s ASW focused. Adaptable regarding sensors, weapons, and systems. Has a hybrid drive and a 28 knot speed. Long legs.

        And has been selected by the UK, Australia, and Canada.

        Has always been my preference. Cost would be the mitigating factor, but a run of 20 lowers the per-vessel cost considerably.

        And Ingalls hasn’t shown their entrant…why?

        • Ser Arthur Dayne

          I have no knowledge whatsoever — but my personal belief is that HII hasn’t shown their entrant because they believe they have a real, legitimate chance to win , due to the fact that their entrant will be the best. “The Best” is a relative term… I have said before, I think that HII might be able to present the best “Value 4 Dollar” FFG(X) … it might not be the sexiest like the FREMM or the most VLS like the F-100, but an Ingalls Patrol/Sea Control FFG with 32 VLS, great range & speed, very familiar equipment and design and the best price …. that could be very attractive to the Navy. I am not saying that’s going to happen, just my opinion. I think HII makes awesome stuff– I have absolutely no dog in the fight, but as an outsider, their stuff seems to be great … Great ships, great designs, great philosophy etc. The video on their frigate designs is great… and that was before the FFG(X) program started… now, I can only assume they said “There is the bar, and we need to raise it …”

    • Duane

      The door has been open, but the Type 26 is so large (7,000+ tons), even much larger than the F-100 and FREMMs (around 6,000 tons) which are already much larger than the LCS parents even when stretched to FFGX standards (about 4,000 tons) that is impossible for it to meet the cost objective (under $800M with all required GFE).

    • PolicyWonk

      Probably not.

      The design of FFG(X) is supposed to be based on existing/proven sea-frames.

  • Curtis Conway

    If the first depicted Austal USA FFG(X) is selected, we will know that the metrics driving this equation are not rooted in reality. We should not build Surface Combatants out of aluminum. A waterjet sucking in huge quantities of water will operate at great risk to its functionality if in the presence of ice. The ‘Trimaran Hull’ is proving to be a problem in maintenance cycles with its drydock requirements, and the list AGAINST goes on….

    An Ice-hardened/Arctic Ready Italian FREMM is looking better to me each day, particularly if it were powered with a COGLAG version of the French FREMM propulsion system having an LM2500/shaft, and EMs on shaft, then it has the reserve power it needs to operate in the austere Arctic in the presence of ice, or efficiently cruise in a 4W Grid box, and not burn a lot of fuel. The needed SWaP-C is present for future things (eventual DDG-51 Flt I replacement). This selection’s technical data delivery would feed the second shipyard where competition can begin keeping cost low via competition and MYP buy of all parts, and quality high via awards to the competitor that provides the HIGHEST quality performance. Employs a lot, and builds a lot of units faster on fewer dollars. That’s the ticket.

    • DaSaint

      Agree: a hybrid system is a must to extend range and offer excellent ASW capabilities at lower speeds.

      The Austal USA Indy-variant has removed the waterjets and gas turbines. Now just 2 cp props and diesels for extra range and a 26 knot capability.

      Agree: Capability in Arctic conditions has got to be nil.

    • Ser Arthur Dayne

      I knew I would win you over to the FREMM side eventually…. I love it when you talk dirty to me baby.

      • Curtis Conway

        Now get Austal to start making their change over to Heavy Metal (Steel)!

    • PolicyWonk

      I like the FREMM, but I could easily live with the F100-based design favored by BIW.

      It’ll be no minor miracle if anything other than one of the pathetic LCS variants is ultimately selected. But lets face it: if either the HII, FREMM, or F100 is selected, the taxpayers will get a decent, useful FFG(X).

  • Paladin

    With the recent test of hyper velocity projectiles at RIMPAC and the USN’s “distributed lethality” initiative, it seems ludicrous to arm the FFG with a small caliber cannon that has run out of growth potential. It looks like the Brits have figured this out with their Type 26.

    • You can’t really compare the 57mm and 5″ guns. Honestly, every ship should have both – the 57mm as a CIWS/counter swarm weapon and the 5″ for land bombardment and finishing off ships.

      • ElmCityAle

        “5” for land bombardment” – you want to be close enough for someone to fire a missile at your ship from shore? Because that’s happening more frequently these days, as the USA, Israel, and other navies have experienced.

        • Sure there’s some risk, but guns can put out sustained firepower that missiles can’t hope to match and modern rounds like HVP and Vulcano can hit targets from well over the horizon. Plus, it’s nice to have a cheaper and less destructive option than a $1m Tomahawk with a 1000# warhead when dealing with stuff like pirates and terrorists, and guns can do other stuff like fire smoke and illumination rounds.

          • ElmCityAle

            UAV with APKWS 2.75″ rockets, Griffin and Hellfire missiles, and the like are your future tools for smaller punch from a stand-off distance. The Israelis have a great stand-off medium range land attack missile (Tammuz) that also sends a video feed; they have several other nations as customers already, perhaps the US Navy should “get onboard”.

          • Tomahawk already has a video feed.

        • Duane

          Land bombardment with a single 5 in gun is a ridiculous role. As you state, the stand off range is very short, and the firepower of a single 5 in gun is nil.

          At least in World War Two with the DDs spouting 5, 5-inchers could do a moderate amount of damage, and there were relatively few longer range shore guns to have to worry about, and no cruise missiles.

  • Ed L

    if the 57mm mark 110 is so good how come they are not mounted on the Burke DDG’s in place of the 25mm chain guns

    • Ser Arthur Dayne

      You and I have talked about this a million times, and I agree completely. On the one hand , the Navy completely and totally bashed the 57mm Mk110 guns when they were cancelled from the DDG-1000 program, and then on the other hand, they completely and totally portray it as the best gun ever with the LCS and now FFG(X) program. Ridiculous. Especially since I’ve read numerous articles stating how the weight differences of gun emplacements in smaller calibers is negligible when you upgrade (for example, it would not be hard to go from 57mm to 76mm to 127mm etc.) … They cancelled the 57mms on the DDG-1000s in favor of 30mms and said how awesome the 30mms were and how terrible the 57mms were… but now, they’re the next best thing ever!

      • Bubblehead

        You are 100% correct on USN changing their stance repeatedly on 57mm. FFGX will have Alamo however, so it will significantly greater capability. Also the USN didnt admit it but I am sure price had alot to do with it. At the time, because of the Obama sequester, they were cutting everything off the Zums to save $$$.

        • Ziv Bnd

          If the ALaMO works as planned, it could be a huge improvement for the relatively anemic 57mm. It supposedly had an effective range of 8.5 km, though I have to imagine it would have taken several rounds to hit a fast small boat at anything over 3 km. With ALaMO it may be able to engage targets effectively out to 15 km, maybe a bit more. That is a very nice improvement.

        • Secundius

          Not Obama but John Boehner and Patrick Leahy on 1 March 2013 and not One Sequestration, but Two. The Budget Control Act of 2011 and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. Passed the “House” by a 256 to 171 Vote and the “Senate” by a 89 to 8 Vote (i.e. Super Majority). Super Majority Vote is Presidential Veto Proof, and the Sequestrations don’t end until Mid 2020…

      • Duane

        The “Navy” (as in NAVSEA, or CNO or VCNO or Commander Surface Forces, etc. etc. etc.) did not ever “bash” the Mk 110 57mm guns – else NAVSEA would not have selected it for both LCS and FFGX. A single program manager for DDG-1000 several years ago made dumb excuses for his ship development program being way above budget, and claiming that the Mk46s were a better gun than the 57mm was just bullsh*t excusemaking. The reason for substituting the 30mm was to reduce cost and to reduce topside weight.

      • Ed L

        if I was to build arm the FFGX it would have a 127mm forward of the VLS and a pair of 57mm MK 110 mounted on port and starboard. Plus no Helicopter hanger just a flight deck and a space for storing Drones and ammunition reloads (torpedos, etc) for the helicopters. Helicopters are nice but even though there are not enough helicopters in service to provide 2 for each warship. torpedo tubes to be mounted below the waterline. Yes below the waterline. It has been done. A hundred years ago battleships were equipt with torpedo tubes mounted below the waterline.

        • Ser Arthur Dayne

          One of the reasons I like the Italian FREMM so much is because of the guns … They have two versions of the same ship – a General Purpose (GP) and an Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) variant… the ship was designed to have 2 ‘main guns’ like our Cruisers — the GP variant has a 127/5″ up front and a 76mm aft over the hangar, and the ASW variant has 76mms fore & aft … (in addition to 25mm remote autocannons on the sides) — I’m familiar with submerged torpedo tubes, I believe the Bismarck herself was sunk by a submerged 21″ torpedo from a Cruiser. … However I have to disagree on the helicopter hangar, I would definitely have one. I have heard about the lack of helicopters — someone on here who served on FFG-7s pointed out that there was never enough for each FFG to have ONE, let alone TWO… which is one of my overall points I make on here regularly. We should buy “everything” when we buy a ship… if it costs $850 million for the ship, but it will cost $150 million for the helicopter, drones, and full load of VLS missiles/RAMs/precision ammo/etc. — they we should budget the ship @ $1 billion, and when it comes in, it’s fully loaded and ready to go with *everything* … I mean I just watched a video of a guy from Raytheon explaining how they just finalized a 5 yr deal for a maximum of 204 SM-3s… at <50 missiles a year, that's not even enough to load up HALF of ONE of our BMD Cruisers! Anyway rant over… I'm fired up today lol.

        • And all the nations that put submerged torpedo tubes on their ships quickly realized they were a dumb idea and got rid of them. They introduce a huge number of problems for absolutely no benefit.

      • The “analysis” that concluded 57mm was inferior to 30mm on Zumwalt was yet another example of the Navy trying to kill the DDG-1000 program through outright lies – remember “it can’t use SM-2” or “its sonar doesn’t work in deep water” or “LRLAP will cost over $1m”?

    • ElmCityAle

      There are significant size and weight differences as well as deck-through mounting for the 57mm system. There really is no reasonable comparison possible between the two systems and their best uses.

    • Duane

      Different guns for different threats. The Mk 110 57mm gun is an antiaircraft gun adapted also to fighting off small surface craft swarms from medium range (up to 10 nm). The 25mm chain guns are very short range guns (within 1.5 nm) for use in close in defense.

    • Bubblehead

      Weight, price

      • Ed L

        really or is it politics?

        • The Burke is bursting at the seams. There is no way you are putting a 57mm on it unless you take off the 5″ (which might not actually be that bad an idea).

  • Ser Arthur Dayne

    A couple things — very happy to see the 32 VLS ‘set in stone’ … Very nice to see 32 VLS, a RAM launcher, and 8 NSMs , nice to see. I am a little bit disheartened at the strict adherence to 57mm gun… I also noticed a few things other posters picked up… The SeaRAM was swapped for a “standard” RAM launcher — on the one hand, it’s 21 vs 11, so good, right? On the other hand, it’s not an “all-up-round” system then, right? … I am starting to think that a certain Grand Admiral who claimed a year ago that LM already knew they “won” might be right, because these specs look an awful lot like a Freedom-class Frigate … However, I still hold out hope for my beloved FREMM, and possibly the HII Patroling Sea Control Frigate that has yet to be revealed. — I notice they also swapped out the remote-firing auto-cannons, which ticks me off. I am trying to get some FREMMS up in here.

    • DaSaint

      I’m OK with the swap to the larger RAM-configuration if the other sensor/control systems hold up. Not sure I agree with eliminating the 25mm or 30mm remotely-operated cannons, that could come back to bite us. Happy with the 32-cell VLS.

      The Indy class is shaping up nicely. Not sure if I can see any torps though, triple or twin systems.

      I’m holding out for Ingalls to reveal their entrant…as the Type 26.

      • Bubblehead

        If the 57mm jams, the FREMM, I mean FFGX, will have a major issue with small craft that is for sure. Wonder what the minimal range is for the RAMS on small craft? And minimal range for the 57mm on fast craft?

        • Duane

          You’re forgetting the deployed aircraft, which includes MH-60 and MQ-8C, both of which fire Hellfires which are excellent small craft killers.

          Would it be better to include the two Mk 46s – in my opinion, yes. It’s a great weapon, and does not take up much deck space, and is relatively inexpensive.

          The good news is that the Mk 46 guns are modular, plug and play mounts, can easily be bolted on in hours. Once the Navy orders FFGX, they can be retrofitted easily at any time thereafter.

  • RTColorado

    Are you kidding me or do I look that stupid ? It has to be one or the other because when anyone in the government, especially the military, tells me they just found a way to “squeeze” money out of a project that hasn’t begun to take shape except on a computer or drawing board…I know they’re either pulling my leg or lying to me. I offer as proof the innumerable projects that start out at “X” costs and wind up at “X + infinity”. Given the Navy’s past record of bringing anything in “on time and on budget” the idea that anyone in the Navy could have the temerity to say they have found a way to “squeeze” any money out of a project is astounding to say the least. Of course, if the FFG(X) turns out to be anything like the LCS…or the Zumwalt…or the Bush…or the (insert any project in the past twenty years here) the Admiral who said this will be retired and buried long before anyone can call him on it.

  • sferrin

    Hmmm. No Tomahawk, LRASM, Harpoon, or even NSM. Lame.

    • StealthFlyer

      Tomahawks can be included in the 32 VLS, and 8 NSMs “OTH 2×4” are the minimum required on all designs with a goal of 16 NSMs, as the NSM won the LCS/frigate anti-ship missile competition (the LRASM and Harpoon decided not to bid).

      • ElmCityAle

        Tomahawks require full length VLS cells, it’s unclear which designs will have that length, if any.

        • StealthFlyer

          I’ve seen in other articles that full, strike length VLS are the requirement.

        • As fall as I cant tell, every ship that has the Mk 41 has the full length cells. They just don’t add very much weight or volume.

          • ElmCityAle

            The Aussie’s added a self defense length Mk 41 for ESSM-only to their FFG-7 class ships.

          • Have any evidence for that? I turned up some sites that suggested they have the Tactical Length, but nothing I would consider definitive.

          • Secundius

            You have to “Read Between the Lines”. The Australian “Perry’s” are ESSMs capable, but not yet installed. And aren’t likely to be installed. Because of the Last THREE remaining “Perry’s”, Darwin was Decommissioned in December 2017. And Melbourne and Newcastle are planned to be sold to the Polish Navy…

          • Graeme Rymill

            The Mk 41s were installed in the Australian Perrys around 10 years ago and these upgraded ships have been equipped with ESSM ever since.

          • DJ

            The sole reason for the Mk41 was ESSM. Other upgrades done at the same time allowed the SM1 to be replaced with SM2 in the existing launcher. This allowed a max config of 8 harpoon, 32 SM2 & 32 ESSM. Not bad & the reason for international interest in the remaining 2 ships. These 2 were Australian built ships & much newer, with one commissioned in early 1992 & the other late 1993, so both less than 30 years old (Darwin in 1984 in comparison).

            Poland it appears has dropped out, to be replaced by Greece. Others appear to be also interested.

            I would also point out that Australian Anzac frigates (8) also carry ESSM (32 per ship). The RAN does not have a shortage of ESSM to outfit it’s ships. As Graeme indicated, these upgrades were 10 years ago to ships which at the time, the RANs primary AAW warships.

          • Graeme Rymill

            The June 14 1999 issue of Navy News (“the official newspaper of the Royal Australian Navy” has the following on its front page:

            “The upgraded engagement capability will be supported by the installation of a tactical length MK41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) capable of firing the Evolved Seasparrow Missile (ESSM).”

          • Secundius

            You overlooked the qualifier in the stated comment made by the “Navy News”, [“capable”] of firing the Evolved Seasparrow Missile (ESSM)! “Capable” and “Having” are not the same thing…

          • Graeme Rymill

            Online you can find documentation that definitively shows the Australian government paid for ESSM for the FFG upgrade in 2003. You can also find evidence of testing of ESSM on an Australian FFG in 2011 when upgrades were completed on some of the class. Finally you can find videos of HMAS Melbourne firing ESSM IN 2016. Feel free to join the dots.

          • Secundius

            US Navy tried to fire the Volcano 155 through the 155 AGS. The AGS’s IS STILL none functional even after trying to fire Volcano. How many Weapon Systems were upgraded to fire New Systems, and then Never used them…

          • Secundius

            Follow Up: The only “Perry’s” in the Australian Navy using the ESSM’s are “Melbourne” and “Newcastle”. Probably because their the ONLY “Perry’s” still in RAAN service. And the Polish Government is looking too buy them…

          • Graeme Rymill

            12 hours ago you were maintaining that ESSM was not deployed on these Australian ships. I am glad that the strength of my arguments has won you over!

          • Secundius

            My Bad to you sir. A friend of mine from “Motley Fool” sent me the info…

          • ElmCityAle

            Empirically, they had to extend the mounting a few feet above the deck for that 8-cell launcher. I recall reading an article about the upgrade program that mentioned it was very tricky to find the space to fit it in.

          • Ed L

            That’s because they kept the Mk41 missile launcher utilizing the SM-1 and harpoon missiles and mounted the essm just forward

      • Ed L

        The old Perry Frigates had 8 OTH (Harpoon) missiles In the 41 round rotary magazine.

        • Lazarus

          Or just 4 depending on what source one reads

          • Ed L

            The one I Road for two weeks had 8 harpoons

    • Duane

      LRASM fires from canister deck launchers. Easily accommodated, and illustrated on the conceptual designs. Ditto with Harpoon and NSM.

    • Ser Arthur Dayne

      The NSMs are the “OTH” weapon — OTH for Over-the-Horizon missile — the Naval Strike Missile was selected as the OTH weapon for both the LCS and the FFG(X) classes …. the Tomahawks will be included as they specifically have specified the “Strike Length” VLS — the longest size, which enables usage of Tomahawks or anything else currently available. And while I agree, I was looking forward to the LRASM in the fleet, someone here just a few days ago told me and everyone else that the LRASM is apparently only going to be used from B-1 bombers for the Air Force and F/A-18s for the Navy… the VLS version is , to quote him, “not even a program of record” … so there’s that, apparently.

      • Tomahawk needs a special weapons system to work, you can’t just drop it into any strike length VLS.

        • Ser Arthur Dayne

          That was true many years ago, but it’s been integrated into Aegis for a long time now. There were discrete fire controls for the Tomahawk but anything built in the last 15-20 years has had Tomahawk capability built into the “system”.

          • Al L.

            Only if the government pays for it. The frigate isn’t getting Aegis weapons management its getting FWS, which is built around the specific needs of the frigate, not a cruiser or destroyer. Its probably derived from Aegis, but not Aegis because Aegis is overkill and too costly. If the Navy wants to hold to their proposed budget, they will not buy anything that can be modularly or easily added later and for which there is not immediate need except for allowances.

          • Ser Arthur Dayne

            COMBATSS-21 or whatever it’s going to be called for the FFG(X) was specifically designed as a “mini-Aegis” , to use a crude but applicable analogy, it’s like an iOS vs your Mac laptop/computer — it’s not Aegis but it’s designed very similar and certainly they will be giving the FFG(X) the capability to use Tomahawks as an organic component … “Tactical Tomahawk/Block IV” was originally one of the main requests for FFG(X) … I believe it was specified last year that COMBATSS-21 was *definitely* going to be the FFG(X) “operating system” — it just may have a different name now.

          • Duane

            COMBATTS-21 is AEGIS-derivative .. main difference with AEGIS it is not set up to do ballistic missile defense.

          • Al L.

            “certainly they will be giving the FFG(X) the capability to use Tomahawks as an organic component .”

            Nope. Look at the PPT presentation linked in this artricle. Lots of weapons mentioned , initial and future. Not a peep about TACTOM. With something along the lines of 10000 VLS cells in the Navy already prepared for Tomahawk what would be the immediate need to add it to a sea control focused frigate?

          • Then why is the USN still paying over $12m per DDG for a separate Mk 37 Tomahawk Weapons Control System?

          • Ser Arthur Dayne

            You know I couldn’t tell you, I’m not actually involved in the Navy check-signing process, sorry, I know that’s a shock. I know you regularly pull out “facts and figures” that you claim are “publicly available” and the three times I actually spent the time checking them, they were wrong… So we’re clear, the first two things that come up for “MK 37 Tomahawk Weapons Control System” are articles from the 1990s… Just like I said… the original Aegis Combat System in the Ticonderoga-classes and first decade or two of DDG-51 class ships had discrete fire control systems for Tomahawk (and Harpoons) — just like the Spruances and even the Iowa-class battleships. Watch some of the Youtube video tours of the Iowa, you can see the Tomahawk computer & stations. That was a long time ago. Computers have come a long way in the last 20 years broseph … Aegis, and everything else. We started with your looking for attention at: “Tomahawk needs a special weapons system to work, you can’t just drop it into any strike length VLS” — Let’s be clear for all the world to see– The FFG(X) is being built with strike-length VLS *specifically* for the ability to fire Tomahawk and other “full-size” missiles. I am sure after they have plans on how to shoot them after dropping them in. Thank you and have nice day.

          • Look here: www . secnav . navy . mil/fmc/fmb/Documents/19pres/SCN_Book.pdf
            Search “MK 37”

            You claim that FFG(X) is being built *specifically* for the ability to fire Tomahawk, but I have not seen a single mention of Tomahawk in any FFG(X) document that has been released to date.

          • Duane

            Yup.

            Land attack is not a specified mission of the FFGX. TLAM is strictly a land attack missile. FFGX uses other missiles for ASCMs – starting with NSM, likely to add LRASM later which is superior to any Tomahawk even when upgraded for hitting moving targets.

  • Jim Denton

    Looking at the presentation, this will be a mini-Burke, not a traditional FF with an emphasis on ASW.

    In a High/Low mix, this isn’t on the low end, IMO.
    The illustrations lead one to believe that instead of the ESSR-V1 (single rotating face) this FFG will have a full fixed radar set … more $$

    So we will, once again, build a very expensive multi-mission ship that will end up being all sensor and very limited weaponry. At $800M each, we might be better of just building more (but not 20) DDG-51s

  • old guy

    The BEST squeeze is to SLEP and upgrade the FFG7 program. Nothing, currently conceived for the FF(X) could nat be installed on an FFG7.

    • Wrong. The Perry’s had basically no growth margins and couldn’t accomodate a fraction of the systems slated for FFG(X).

      • old guy

        Let me clear the air a bit. In 1975 I was the head of the Preliminary Design group tasked with tje P,D, of DDG(x), which would become the DD963. We put togther a very good design, but the powers that be decibed to hold a “Captain’s council to determine the prper systems for the ship, Before they were through, the DDG(X) dispnaced 21,000 tons. After much wrangling, it was decided (VADM DOYLE) to scrap the whole project and start over as DDG(M)..All dystems added had to be personally approved by the admiral. Even so, because of excess cost, the first flight came out without aircraft handling, one of the initial requirements.The Perry (FFG7) has sufficient margine for any frigate system. Some of these upgrades have been installed on the Spanish Please don’t fall into the trap of desire changes class,

        • Lazarus

          Then you of all people know how challenging it is to work with 30+ year old ships.

    • Bubblehead

      Your joking right? Tell me you are joking?

      • old guy

        Please read my response to ARCNA442.

  • old guy

    SOOO, what is so different that we couldn’t just upgtade our very successful FFG7 CLASS?

    • Why not just upgrade the even more successful Fletcher-class?

      We haven’t built a Perry in 30 years and none of its primary combat systems are still in the fleet so you would basically have to redesign the entire ship. So why not take advantage of 30 decades of engineering and build something new instead?

    • Lazarus

      Because the HM&E on the FFG’s was badly aged and many of the original suppliers no longer in business. The Australians spent $1b to get about 8 more years out of four aging ships and had to cannibalize two more to support that effort.

  • John MacKechnie

    This new Frigate better be at least one foot longer than the longest French Frigate.

    It seems like This new frigate is gonna work nicely. It looks well rounded as indicated by the submitted for public release document. I saw one drawback. To act as an independent ship alone on the open seas. This new Frigate should have MK57 VLS cells. The new Frigate should have missiles which exceed a 1,000 mile range. Isn’t the MK57 VLS the future of American VLS? Even if the MK 57 VLS isn’t mature yet. Room should be planned for in the new Frigate, Behind the tower or even on the sides or all three sides.
    Once the Frigates begin to be built. The LCS ships should all be dry dock and engineered for MK 41 VLS cells and the MK 57 VLS cells.

    Just like in WWI and WWII you had to have lots of guns and lots of really big guns. Today in modern warfare. You gotta have lots of VLS cells for a variety of planned mission purposes. Yes, and they all should be nuke capable. Since any aspect of NBC is classified. The only people who knows will be those in command of the ships. Then when a ship comes into sight of any perspective enemy. Let them question of their own free will, Does it have? or not?

  • Secundius

    @ Bubblehead.

    The same can be said about the “Arleigh Burkes” being “Great Pier Fighters”! As I recall, DDG-67, USS “Cole” was nearly “Blown Out of the Water” on 12 October 2000. By a Slow Moving Fiber-Glass Go-Fast while taking on fuel in a Yemenese Harbor…

  • NavySubNuke

    I am glad to see the Navy is learning from at least some of the mistakes that has made LCS such a disaster such as down selecting to a single vendor, including a full range of self defense capabilities, including offensive missiles from the start rather than bolting them on as an after thought, etc.
    I’m still holding out hope for FREMM given it’s proven track record of success but God only knows if the Navy will be able to overcome the congressional pressure that keeps forcing them to buy unwanted and unneeded LCS hulls and choose a non-LCS frigate

  • Curtis Conway

    This vessel will be the only opportunity to build an Arctic/Antarctic capable Surface Combatant for the next decade. The Low Band Hull Array will not facilitate, but exclude the capability to operate in the presence of ice regardless of, or agnostic to, platform choice.

  • Curtis Conway

    Is the US Navy and Congress saying ‘We will never go to the Arctic for Surface Combat’ for that is the result of the decision not Ice-hardened the FFG(X). This vessel will be the only opportunity to build an Arctic/Antarctic capable Surface Combatant for the next decade, or longer. The Low Band Hull Array will not facilitate, but exclude the capability to operate in the presence of ice.

    Combat system elements can be retrofitted/upgraded if not included in the initial build. However, once you select that hull and build it, the operational nature of the vessel is determined for its entire career. Can’t change that. So is the US Navy and Congress saying ‘We will never go to the Arctic for Surface Combat’ for that is the result of this decision if the FFG(X) is not Ice-hardened.

    • Secundius

      @ Curtis.

      Found THIS that you’d might be interested in for Future Comments/References. Thinking of all the possibilities of IT’s usages…

      ( https : // www . militaryaerospace . com / articles/2019/01/mobile-nuclear-reactor-deployable-atomic-power-semiautonomous-operation.html )

      • Curtis Conway

        Thanks. Looks great. I think a PBR would work, but I don’t know if you can get that kind of power density (1-10 Megawatts) at that size and weight requirement.

        • Secundius

          Additional Information!

          ( http : // www . thedrive . com / the-war-zone/26152/the-u-s-military-wants-tiny-road-mobile-nuclear-reactors-that-can-fit-in-a-c-17?xid=emailshare )

          ( https : // www . u-battery . com / what-us-u-battery )

          • Curtis Conway

            Thanks. The HOLOS closed loop technology really looked interesting, as did the U-Battery. I have often thought that the US affinity to scare the public about nuclear energy, instead of educating the public, particularly starting in school, could bring on nuclear power more rapidly. Nuclear power, even for smaller surface combatants, would train the workforce needed for operations and maintenance of the civilian ones that would exist prolifically in the interior of the country. Folks have no idea where Depleted Uranium things come from. Heck, we should have Thorium PBRs by now. They fail safe, and you can’t make bombs out of the by products.

  • Curtis Conway

    Both LCS hull-forms should be eliminated from the FFG(X) competition for neither of them are by definition a Parent Hull of an existing and functioning platform. The parent hull-forms for both are ‘Planing’ hulls with water-jet propulsion. The new hull-forms are ‘Displacement’ hulls by their own description/admission with wholly new propulsion systems, neither of which have been to AUTEC and been evaluated for combat effectiveness.

    Evidently said AUTEC evaluations have been misleading, or inaccurate in LCS evaluation as to combat effectiveness with respect to speed.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    I’m sorry, but this sounds really suspicious to me. It sounds like the typical double-speak we encounter quite often when it comes to government spending. This ship will have advanced radars and communications and networking capabilities and “at least” 32 VLS cells. It’s going to have “additional power” that will be able to facilitate a 150 kw laser. A lot of the equipment mentioned is still in development. The Navy’s fiscal track record when it comes to new ships, even if that new ship is based on an existing design, is not a good one.

    “After raising eyebrows in Congress last year with an upper-end cost of about $950 million per hull for the second ship and beyond, the Navy is now saying that figure could be closer to $800 million.”

    Uh-huh! It sounds like this will be the proverbial “what everyone wants to hear” as this program is developed, then if (and I say WHEN!) those costs go up, there will be too much money invested in it to stop. Sound familiar?