US Combat Ship Decision Coming in 'Very Near Future'

Gestart door jurrien visser (JuVi op Twitter), 09/11/2014 | 10:32 uur


Eigenlijk is de ontwikkeling naar SSC (small surface combatant) of ook wel Sea Controle Frigate, te vergelijken met onze ontwikkeling van de vervanger M-fregat en de MKS180 bij de Oosterburen (Duitsland).

Kernpunten :
Langer in zetbaar, grote range, Multi-functioneel, grote heliplaats/deck/hangaar, gebruik UAV of mini-heli's, Multi-Mission bay, Slipway (gebruik van RHIB's, 10 a 16 meter), Wapensystemen voor alle doeleinden, dus ASW, Anti-Air, Anti-Surface Nieuwe radar (active-phased array radar). maar ook goede EW systemen en CIWS. Ook een boardkanon 76 mm of groter.

ASW met zowel vaste sonar, als sleep sonar. Als ook dipping sonar vanaf helicopters.   

En dit alles met een zo klein mogelijke bemanning van rond de 100 - 130 koppen.

Maar als ik kijk naar de kosten, welke de Amerikanen denken dat hun SSC schepen zullen gaan kosten, dan schrik ik heel erg als ik dit vergelijk met de kosten van onze LCF fregatten en/of Karel Doorman Klasse of de Iver Huitfeldt klasse fregatten (Denemarken) en ook het budget van de M-vervanger (volgens mij) ca, € 450 miljoen euro per stuk.

De Amerikanen denken aan zo´n $ 800 miljoen USD ( € 624 miljoen) per schip.


Citaat van: jurrien visser (JuVi op Twitter) op 09/11/2014 | 11:12 uur
Wishfull thinking: het zou geweldig zijn als  een Damen ontwerp (LCF of M opvolger) gekozen zou worden als SSC (als ze überhaubt aan de RFI hebben mee gedaan), niet dat ze er veel aan zouden verdienen, immers alle nieuwe SSC zullen in de VS gebouwd worden maar het zou vast een export hoofdprijs kunnen beteken voor een dergelijk model naar andere landen.


Besides, law requires them to be produced in American shipyards, which means the Navy would need to acquire the rights of the license to build the prospective ships. This has not been explored, and there is no guarantee that foreign companies would agree within reasonable terms. Moreover, our shipyards are unsubsidized when compared to foreign competitors, which likely erodes some cost advantage.


Citaat van: Ace1 op 09/11/2014 | 13:37 uur
Het concept van de Huntington Ingalls Industries Patrol Frigate design, doet mij erg denken aan de Oliver Hazard Perry klasse denken.
Maar waarschijnlijk is Huntington Ingalls Industries Patrol Frigate design gebasseerd op de US Coast Guard  Legend-class cutter?

Misschien eens proberen de eerste zin van de betreffende paragraaf te lezen, zal verhelderend zijn.


Het concept van de Huntington Ingalls Industries Patrol Frigate design, doet mij erg denken aan de Oliver Hazard Perry klasse denken.
Maar waarschijnlijk is Huntington Ingalls Industries Patrol Frigate design gebasseerd op de US Coast Guard  Legend-class cutter?


What's Next After LCS?

An artist's concept of the Multi-Mission Combatant offering based on the Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship design

On Monday the Pentagon capped the Littoral Combat Ship program at 32 ships and the Navy has been tasked with finding a more lethal surface combatant to follow on to the two LCS hulls that have been mired in controversy for the better part of a decade. Announced Monday by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the Pentagon is directing the service to, "submit alternative proposals to procure a capable and lethal small surface combatant, consistent with the capabilities of a frigate," he said in remarks to reporters at the Pentagon.

Hagel's direction will kick off the search for the Navy's first new surface combatant design in more than a decade. The search for the LCS follow on will run in tandem with early work for the service to replace its high end cruisers and destroyers which will expect to start construction in 2028, Rear Adm. Thomas Rowden, director of surface warfare (N96) for the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) told USNI News in an interview in the Pentagon on Jan. 9.

Hagel offered a few hints what the Pentagon is looking for in the follow on to the Lockheed Martin Freedom-class and Austal USA Independence-class LCS hulls.

"We need to closely examine whether the LCS has the independent protection and firepower to operate and survive against a more advanced military adversary and emerging new technologies, especially in the Asia Pacific," he said.
"If we were to build out the LCS program to 52 ships, as previously planned, it would represent one-sixth of our future 300-ship Navy. Given continued fiscal restraints, we must direct future shipbuilding resources toward platforms that can operate in every region and along the full spectrum of conflict."

Criticisms from internal Pentagon reports from the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) have called into question the survivability of the Freedom and Independence class hulls, "because its design requirements do not require the inclusion of survivability features necessary to conduct sustained combat operations in a major conflict as expected for the Navy's other surface combatants," according to DOT&E's most recent 2013 annual report.

Sources familiar with program shift told USNI News DOT&E will have a hand in the next study moving forward with new design.

The LCS is currently designed to be manned a crew of about 90 sailors for surface warfare (SuW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and mine countermeasure (MCM) operations. Each operation is executed by a series of mission packages that can be swapped out of the ship depending on the circumstances.

The Navy had planned to field 52 of the ships, split evenly between each variant. The service committed to buy 20 of the ships as part of a 2010 $8.9 billion block buy between Lockheed Martin and Austal.

The new ships would likely be built with a more permanent capability for ASW and SuW missions built into the hull with less of an emphasis placed on the modular aspect of the ships.

Whether or not the new ships will have a MCM capability remains to be seen. The U.S. Navy tested an organic capability for MCM on the guided missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG-96) but cancelled the program.

USNI News reached out to several naval experts on potential follow-ons to the LCS and came back with four ships that could fit the bill under Hagel's mandates.

Internationally, several frigate designs have proven successful but under U.S. law, those manufactures would have to partner with a U.S. company to move forward.

Though it's still early in the process for the Navy, there are at least four contenders for the small surface combatant that have emerged over the last several years as so-called international variants for existing U.S. ships — or in one case — a foreign frigate built with extensive U.S. cooperation.

Patrol Frigate

Shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) has long pitched a gray hull variant of the Legend-class National Security Cutter (NSC) it's currently building for the U.S. Coast Guard at its Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss.

An artist's conception of Huntington Ingalls Industries Patrol Frigate design.

Dubbed the Patrol Frigate 4921 by HII, the 5,070 ton combatant would be built around a twelve missile cell vertical launch system (VLS) paired with an active phased array air search radar and X and S band surface search radars, according to information provided to USNI News by HII.

The ship concept includes torpedo tubes and hull mounted and towed array sonars for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations. The ship would have a combined diesel and gas turbine propulsion system, a top speed of 28 knots, an 8,000 nautical mile range and a 60-day endurance.

Freedom International Variant

Lockheed Martin has pitched a variant of its Freedom class LCS for international customers that — in its largest offering — includes VLS and AN/SPY-1F variant of the company's Aegis radar. A version of the Multi-Mission Combatant is thought to be in the running as an offering for the Saudi Naval Expansion Plan II (SNEP II).

A Lockheed Martin concept for variations of the Freedom-class LCS design from corvette to Frigate sized hulls.

In late 2012, the company presented three variants of its Multi-Mission Combatant that range from a 1,650-ton corvette up to a 3,500-ton frigate sized ship, according to information provided to USNI News by Lockheed Martin. The largest variant would field the AN/SPY-1F with smaller versions built with a CEAFAR active phased array air search radar, according to an Oct. 2012 report in Jane's Navy International.

The variants would preserve some measure of the modular mission space found on the Freedom-class LCS, according to the Lockheed material.

Independence International Variant

Before Austal USA split with General Dynamics to build the production variant of the Independence-class LCS, General Dynamics touted an Aegis capable international version of the trimaran with an air search radar capability.

Little else is known about the then proposed offering from General Dynamics.

That version of the Independence hull, "features an innovative trimaran hull form that provides outstanding stability, volume and sea keeping; a flight deck that is nearly three times the size of any other surface combatant; and a mission system that is built upon an open architecture computing environment," according to a years-old release from General Dynamics. Austal USA — the current builder of the Independence ships — did not immediately return calls for comment.


The Spanish-built Álvaro de Bazán class frigates (F-100) are the most proven platform of the four ships experts told USNI News that were ready candidates for follow on to the LCS hulls.

Spanish Navy Ship Álvaro de Bazán (F-101) in 2005.

The 4,555 ton ships field the U.S. Aegis weapon system, pairing an AN/SPY-1D air search radar with a 48 VLS cells armed with 32 SM 2 Block IIIA/B air defense missiles and Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM). The ship can also conduct the ASW mission with both a hull mounted sonar and a towed array, according to Naval Institute's Guide to Combat Fleets of the World.

The Royal Australian Navy is basing its Hobart-class surface combatant on the F-100 design.

A previous relationship with General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW) between the F-100 shipbuilder Navantia's predecessor (Izar) could make it easier to bridge international defense trade restrictions.

Izar had teamed with BIW and Lockheed Martin in 2000 to form the Advanced Frigate Consortium (AFCON) that jointly developed a smaller Aegis combatant for international export.

AFCON counted the F-100 ships and the Fridtjof Nansen-class frigates for the Royal Norwegian Navy as successes for the consortium, according to an archive of AFCON's website.


Littoral Combat Ship Mission Packages Safe From Budget Axe For Now

USS Independence (LCS 2) deploys a remote multi-mission vehicle (RMMV) on Aug. 22, 2013. The Navy plans to buy 18 RMMVs over the next five years.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's mandate capping of the first variants of the Littoral Combat Ship at 32 hulls will do little to limit the acquisition of the mission packages for the Flight 0 LCS over the next five years, navy officials told USNI News last week.

Though the service is currently working on a study to asses a follow on to the Lockheed Martin Freedom-class and Austal USA Independence-class of ships, any changes to the mission package elements won't manifest themselves over the so-called future years defense plan (FYDP), Vice Adm. Joseph Mulloy, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Integration of Capabilities and Resources (OPNAV N8), told USNI News following a hearing of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces on March, 26.

"We still have a plan throughout this FYDP to continue build most of these mission packages and none of the money has been taken [out of the budget]," Mulloy said.

The Navy is on track to assemble 45 mission packages over the next five years at a total cost of $1.6 million, which includes $316 million for the Lockheed Martin Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle (RMMV) used with the Mine Countermeasure (MCM) mission package as a separate line item, according to Fiscal Year 2015 (FY2015) budget information provided to USNI News by the service.

LCS Mission Package Spending

Een grafiek over de ission packages program kan ik helaas niet in Url kopieren is te zien op onderstaande link.

The packages MCM, surface warfare (SuW) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) are designed to be swapped out of LCS to tailor the ship to a particular mission set with a specialized set of crew to be brought on board as needed.

The Navy had planned for 64 mission packages for the 52 planned LCS hulls — 16 ASW, 24 MCM and 24 SuW. Over the FYDP, the service plans to buy 10 MCM, 18 RMMVs, 10 SuW and 7 ASW packages.

However with a reduction of 20 hulls, it's unclear how the mission package numbers will be reduced past FY 2019.

"Sixty four is the operational requirement until we're done with the study. If you're looking at a ship that didn't need packages, then you might come down to 48 or something, but that's not decided," Mulloy said.
"You have to do the study on the hull first and deiced if [the next small surface combatant] has mission packages or not. Or does it have a different mission package?"

Hagel's directive told the service, "submit alternative proposals to procure a capable and lethal small surface combatant, consistent with the capabilities of a frigate," in February.

The options for review by the Navy include a new design, a modified variant of LCS or an existing ship design.

The evaluation process — when completed later this year — will determine how modular the next small surface combatant will be.

Several naval analysts told USNI News in late February that the ASW and SuW packages would be the most likely candidate for reduction as most of the Navy's surface ships are equipped with fixed anti-surface and anti-submarine components — like hull mounted sonars and anti-ship missiles.

The MCM package, however, is the least likely to be trimmed as the service is set to retire the 1980s era Avenger-class mine hunters in the next several years.

MCM is by far the most complex of the mission packages and represents the Navy's largest looming capability gap that LCS was created to fill.

Alone, the MCM and RMMV line items account for almost $1 billion of the $1.6 billion total for the mission package program over the next five years.

Other components of mission packages have not fared as well in ongoing Pentagon budget trimming.

The Navy zeroed out a planned buy for 17 Northrop Grumman MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned aircraft from its FY 2015 budget submission.

The Fire Scouts were planned for the LCS SuW mission package.


New LCS Sonar and Missile to be Competed Next Year

The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam for a scheduled port visit.

In the next year the Navy will begin competition for the follow on sonar and surface-to-surface missile system for the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Surface Warfare (SuW) mission packages of the Littoral Combat Ship, Capt. John Ailes, head of the LCS mission module program for Naval Sea Systems Command said at a briefing at the Navy League Sea Air Space Exposition 2013 at National Harbor, Md.

Currently, the ASW mission package is testing the Thales 2087 sonar. The sonar was a swift replacement following the cancellation of Lockheed Martin's Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle – (RMMV) for use in the LCS package. The Navy wanted an "in-stride," capability to allow the ship to scan for submarines at speed. The RMS would have required an LCS to remain on station while the RMMV patrolled for subs.

Ailes said that testing with the Thales 2087, combined with a towed-array, was positive and that the ship could effectively detect and track subs

"We also have a system that is particularly immune to noise," Ailes said. "That gives us a big advantage so we can go fast. Much faster than the in service fleet is able to and we can still find and prosecute submarines."

The Navy will also begin competition for the surface-to-surface missile for the SuW package in a year.

"The focus will be on systems that are in production. We don't have a lot of research and development [money] to develop a new system. Our money is focused on integrating a new system," Ailes said.
"We took the same launcher that is being used for the patrol craft, modularized it and dropped it into the [LCS] weapon zone."

The SuW package was originally designed to accommodate the Non-Line-of-Sight missile system (N-LOS) to provide a standoff capability for the LCS at a range of 25 miles. N-LOS was cancelled in 2010. In 2011, the Navy announced it would examine Raytheon's Griffin missile to test in as part of the package.

In the last month, the Navy has conducted tests with the Griffin on Cyclone-class patrol craft ahead of a competition for a new missile.

Both the ASW sonar and the SuW surface-to-surface missiles have suffered major delays in development over the life of the LCS program

jurrien visser (JuVi op Twitter)

Citaat van: Vandaag om 11:02
Given tightening Pentagon budgets, an entirely new ship design is unlikely, however North speculated that several European yards have likely submitted information for the RFIs.

"I can imagine every shipyard across Europe — which is very stagnant and a lot of them have designs — [submitted a packet]," North said.

Wishfull thinking: het zou geweldig zijn als  een Damen ontwerp (LCF of M opvolger) gekozen zou worden als SSC (als ze überhaubt aan de RFI hebben mee gedaan), niet dat ze er veel aan zouden verdienen, immers alle nieuwe SSC zullen in de VS gebouwd worden maar het zou vast een export hoofdprijs kunnen beteken voor een dergelijk model naar andere landen.


LCS Mission Packages: The Basics

USS Freedom (LCS-1) and USS Independence (LCS-2)

The beating heart of both variants of the littoral combat ship (LCS) is the series of three mission packages the Navy is developing to handle some of the service's most dire needs in the littorals.

The modular ship is a marked departure from the past in the way the Navy develops capability for its surface fleet. Sailors often liken the LCS to a video game system—with the mission packages being the actual games. But instead of "Halo" or "Call of Duty," sailors will try their hands at mine countermeasures (MCM), surface warfare (SuW) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW).

On paper, the new capabilities and updates of existing functions will greatly increase the Navy's ability to rapidly undertake some of its most dangerous jobs.

However, the mission packages have experienced delays of up to four years in fielding because of design problems, cost overruns, and manufacturing delays, according to the Government Accountability Office.

A July report from the GAO said, "a pause is needed" in the acquisition of the mission packages pending further review of the total LCS program.

"Navy has a great deal of learning to do about the ships, the integrated capability that they are intended to provide when equipped with the mission modules, and how the overall LCS concept will be implemented," the report concluded.

On Aug. 8, USNI News interviewed Capt. John Ailes, program manager for LCS Mission Modules (PMS 420), Program Executive Office LCS with Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), for an update on the embattled mission package program.

Ailes acknowledged past failures in the program but painted an optimistic picture of the way forward for the mission packages.

"It's a wondrous time to be the mission package guy today compared to three years ago because you can point to the successes," he said.

Starting next year, the Navy will test the packages in a series of operational evaluations (OPEVAL) as a final examination before moving the new capabilities into the fleet.

Mine Countermeasures Package

Mine Countermeasures Package Government Accountability Office Graphic

The most important mission for the LCS is mine hunting and minesweeping.

The backbone of the Navy's mine countermeasures mission is a fleet of small, aging wooden warships—the Avenger class (MCM-1). Those 13 ships— commissioned in the 1980s — are among the oldest in the fleet and have remained long past their anticipated retirement date.

Starting with an operational evaluation in 2015, the LCS is slated to replace the Avengers with a requirement to sweep a mined area in half the time it takes legacy systems in a series of four increments, Ailes said.

In the 2015 OPEVAL the Navy plans to test the fundamental components of the MCM package: the helicopter-deployed airborne laser mine detection system (ALMDS); the mine-killing airborne mine neutralization system (AMNS); the remote minehunting system (RMS), composed of the remote multi-mission vehicle and the AQS-20A sonar.

"We search the top part of the water column with the airborne laser mine detection systems, the ALMDS," Ailes said. "In the rest of the water column we use the remote mine hunting system." ALMDS and RMS will combine to search for surface mines and mines that lie well below the waterline."

Remote Minehunting System (RMS) during developmental testing of the Littoral Combat Ship's mine warfare mission module package.

Problems with the RMMV have delayed the MCM package more than any other component of the mission package. "It's had a storied past," Ailes said. "Mostly for reliability."

The Lockheed Martin system operates just below the surface of the water paired with the AQS-20A sonar. The 14,500-pound, 23-foot long behemoth is deployed from the boat launch of an LCS and is controlled by an operator on board the ship.

Early iterations of the RMMV failed on average every eight hours. The Navy had improved the average to 45 hours before NAVSEA undertook a reliability program to improve the performance.

"It was very frustrating with the early tests that we had on the ships because the vehicles we had were not beneficiaries of reliability growth," Ailes said.

The focus was on improvements in the hydraulic systems of the RMMV, integral to operating the craft, NAVSEA's Steve Lose told USNI News.

In June, NAVSEA completed its reliability work and now states that reliability numbers for RMMV has grown to more than 200 hours.

"That was highly successful, the reliability issues are really behind us," Lose said.

AQS-20A is the primary sensor of the mine-hunting systems on LCS. The Navy has largely corrected detection problems found in early developmental testing with training and software and hardware upgrades, Ailes said. A plan to field the sonar from the package's MH-60S was canceled for safety reasons.

"We took the Q20 and flew it from a 60S for a long time but the problem was, if an engine failed you could lose the aircraft," Ailes said. "It hardly ever happens but once you lose an engine it would be catastrophic."

NAVSEA instead decided to field the sonar only on the RMMV.

"That's the centerpiece of increment," Ailes said.
"If RMS works you're going to be able to find mines and do it in a rapid fashion."

The ALMDS was another program the GAO chided in its July report.

An early version of the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System.

Mounted on a MH-60S helicopter as part of the mine package, the ALMDS uses lasers to search for mines floating near the surface or just under the water line.

"One of the challenges airborne laser has is that it was originally designed to be a single pass system," Ailes said. "What we discovered was false alarms and what we did was create a tactic in which we revisit an area multiple times, looking for persistence in the water column."

The new tactic combined with an improved computer system will still meet the goal of covering an area twice as fast with legacy systems.

The fourth capability for the first part of the MCM package is the airborne mine neutralization system (AMNS).

AMNS is lowered by a helicopter in the water after the crew has detected mines and is guided by an operator on board the helicopter to neutralize the mine. The system struggled with breaks in the fiber-optic cord that tied it to the sled; operators also had difficulty engaging the mines.

Ailes said that improvements to the arrangement of the neutralizers and skilled operators have blunted some of the impact of earlier problems with the system.

MCM Future

Following the 2015 test of the first LCS MCM iteration of the MCM package, the Navy will expand the package.

Increment two will include the coastal battlefield reconnaissance and analysis system (COBRA). Mounted on a Fire Scout helicopter unmanned aerial vehicle, COBRA searches beach zones looking for lines of mines, and looks into the surf zone.

Increment three will add the ability for the mission package to look for magnetic and influence mines. Unlike conventional mines that detonate when coming into contact with a ship's hull, magnetic and influence mines detonate when it detects the signature of a war ship.

Unmanned surface vehicle (USV) with unmanned surface sweep system (USSS) began development with the Office of Naval Research (ONR) for more than a decade.

"It's a cable that you tow behind the USV," Ailes said.

"It provided both acoustic, making noise like a ship, and the magnetic signature of a ship." Ailes said. It tells the mines, "I'm a ship, you should blow up."
The program was successful but the amount of power required to function overwhelmed the cable. "The challenge that we had was, once it was towed behind [for] eight hours it melted," Ailes said.

Since early tests the Navy has improved the reliability of the cable and currently is soliciting bids to develop the system for an expected 2017 introduction.

The final capability, due for a 2019 introduction, is the Knifefish unmanned underwater vehicle. Ailes said the tests for the system to find and detect buried mines have gone well but introduction could be delayed due to budgetary concerns.

"It was the biggest victim of sequestration," he said. "That will have some schedule impact for them."

Surface Warfare

Surface Warfare Mission Package Concept. Government Accountability Office Graphic

The surface warfare (SuW) package for littoral combat ship (LCS) is the simplest and most-tested mission package the Navy plans to field.

It is designed to convert the ships into close-in fighters, with a primary mission of fending off attacking swarms of small boats close to shore.

In addition to the 57mm main deck gun, the SuW package includes twin 30mm Bushmaster cannons, a planned surface-to-surface missile, and an MH-60R helicopter.

The most difficult part of the package has been developing the missile system.
The Navy had planned to use the non-line-of-sight launch system (N-LOS) in partnership with the Army. The almost 25-mile range of the missile was thought to be ideal for the LCS and for placement in forward operating bases. The Army, however, canceled its part in the program, leading to skyrocketing development costs. The Navy then announced in 2011 that it would use the shorter-range (about 5 miles) Griffin IIB missile for initial testing on LCS in 2015, ahead of a longer-range replacement missile in 2019.

"It's a very short range and you'd like to be able to reach out farther than that," Ailes said.

When USS Freedom (LCS-1) deployed in 2010 to the Caribbean and the Eastern Pacific, it replaced the missile with extra berthing for Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments and Navy Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) teams to assist in intercepting illegal traffickers. The Navy redefined the VBSS capability as the first increment of the SuW package that will be tested in 2014.

"We'll be heading to OPEVAL next year and we feel highly confident," Ailes said.

Anti-Submarine Warfare

Anti-Submarine Warfare Package. Government Accountability Office Graphic

The Navy canceled a version of the ASW package that would have used the RMMV to patrol for submarines in favor of a so-called "in stride" capability that would allow the ship to move at speed to detect submarine threats.

"It is, in some ways, the most mature because it uses systems that have been out for quite a while," Ailes said.

The current center of the system is a Thales 2087-towed sonar in wide use by the Britain's Royal Navy.

"Submarines very closely track the temperature, salinity and pressure of the water column. They know the depth they can go to and basically hide because sound is refracted based on the temperature salinity and pressure profile. They call that the layer and they like to hide there," Ailes said. "If you have a hull-mounted sonar, like on our cruiser/destroyer fleet, there are places there that you just can't see with your active source because the sound is refracted."

A variable depth sonar can pierce the layer and allow LCS to detect quiet diesel and electric submarines, he said.

The sonar is paired with a towed lightweight tow torpedo decoy the Navy has had under development. "It's a very effective torpedo decoy," Ailes said.

The offensive component of the ASW package is on the MH-60S helicopter, which fields Mk-54 airdropped lightweight torpedoes. The GAO was the least critical of the ASW package in its July report.

"The planned technologies—consisting of a variable depth sonar, multi-function towed sonar array, and towed torpedo defense capability—are considered mature, and some are already operational in other navies," read the report. "The Navy highlights this ability to implement a shift in requirements as an example of the benefits of LCS's modular design, in that it allowed for an easy interchange of systems and modification of planned capabilities."


Lockheed Contouren Bericht Littoral Combat Ship Pitch

An artist's conception for variants of the Freedom-class LCS design provided to USNI News.

Lockheed Martin outlined the range of options they presented to the Navy as part of the Pentagon mandated study into a follow-on ship to the Flight 0 Littoral Combat Ships in a media briefing on Monday.

Lockheed — as part two April requests for information (RFI) from the Small Surface Combatant Task Force — submitted a variety of options based on their current Freedom-class (LCS-1) design.

Joe North, vice president of Littoral Ship Systems for Lockheed, emphasized the sea frame ability to accommodate increasingly sophisticated radars and weapons systems within the constraints of the basic design.

"We have a lot of flexibility in the hull. If you remember, we're carrying around 180 metric tons of capability, empty space right now, for the mission packages, so depending on what they're looking at we have a lot of capability in the hull from a naval architecture standpoint," North told reporters on Monday.
"From a performance standpoint, we can add to the ship and make [systems] permanent or if you want to look at separate packages."

Part of those options include a much more robust anti-air warfare (AAW) capability with permanent vertical launch system (VLS) cells capable of holding anti-air missiles and much more capable radar.

"[Increased] radar capability is everything from solid-state more capable rotators to a high end capability —the hull allows that," North said.

As part of its international offering for ships based on the Freedom hull, Lockheed has offered a SPY-1F air defense radar — an 8 foot diameter version of the radar on U.S. destroyers sized for frigates.

An upgunned Freedom — at its current length of 118 meters — could also include 4 to 32 VLS cells. Each cell would be capable of fielding four Raytheon RIM-162D Evolved SeaSparrow Missiles (ESSM), North said.

"[VLS] is a modular package in itself because it gives [the ship] the capability to launch several types of missiles including ESSM, which is one of the things they'll absolutely come back and look for to give the ship some more self protection... as a permanent installation," he said.

Critics of the current Freedom and Austal USA's Independence classes of ships have zeroed in on a perceived lack of offensive capability for the two ships.

Austal and Lockheed have developed preliminary designs of their ships with VLS for international sale.

In remarks earlier this year, then acting deputy defense Christine Fox implied the current LCS variants were "niche" platforms and the Navy needed tougher ship.

"We need more ships with the protection and firepower to survive against a more advanced military adversary," Fox said in February, just ahead of a Pentagon announcement forcing the Navy to take a second look at the LCS program.

As part of the coversheet for its response to the Navy's RFI, Lockheed included a Freedom variant with a quad cell VLS firing what appear to be Raytheon Standard Missile (SM) 2.

In the surface-to-surface realm, North said the ship could accommodate either the current BAE Systems Mk 110 57 mm gun or a larger Mark 45 five-inch gun. The range of offerings did also factor in Naval Sea Systems Command decision to integrate the Longbow Hellfire AGM-114L for the fast attack craft/ fast inshore attack (FAC/FIAC) threat.

The Flight 0 Freedom and Independence LCS will be manned by 90 sailors for surface warfare (SuW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and mine countermeasure (MCM) missions by a series of mission packages that can be swapped out of the ship depending on the circumstances.

The Navy's original plan was to build 52 LCS but cut the Flight 0 program at 32 — a reduction of 20 ships as part of the current reexamination of the LCS begun in February under mandate from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

The RFIs were part of the work of the Small Surface Combatant Task Force tasked to evaluate other options beyond Flight 0 LCS. The group was mandated to examine: A modified design of an existing LCS, existing ship designs and a new ship design.

"The RFI will ask for pretty specific information that will give us insight to the ship integration requirement, the performance, what are the primary, second and third order costs associated with [concepts]," John Burrow, executive director of the Marine Corps Systems Command and current head of the Small Surface Combatant Task Force told reporters in April.
"It's a fairly detailed list of information that we're looking for."

The task force is due to submit their findings by the end of July.

Given tightening Pentagon budgets, an entirely new ship design is unlikely, however North speculated that several European yards have likely submitted information for the RFIs.

"I can imagine every shipyard across Europe — which is very stagnant and a lot of them have designs — [submitted a packet]," North said.
"I bet you woke up the entire planet."


The SSC could be similar to this Lockheed Martin concept for a small combat ship.

Als ik het goed begrijp is een Small Surface Combatant (SSC) een gemodificeerde Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)?

jurrien visser (JuVi op Twitter)

US Combat Ship Decision Coming in 'Very Near Future'

Nov. 8, 2014

WASHINGTON — Senior US Navy leaders have made their final presentations to the Pentagon's top leadership on their choice for a small surface combatant (SSC), and a decision by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on what sort of ship to build after the littoral combat ship (LCS) could come soon.

"The secretary took another meeting by Navy leaders during the last week of October," Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said Friday. "The purpose of the meeting was to review the Navy's recommendation for the way forward. The secretary expressed his gratitude for the hard work and analysis that went into forming that recommendation and assured Navy leadership that he would be rendering a decision in the very near future."

Asked to confirm if Hagel now had all the information he needed to render a decision, Kirby added, "we do not anticipate that he requires more at this point."

The future course of the LCS program has been in doubt since February, when Hagel directed the Navy to develop a more heavily armed warship — the SSC — to succeed the politically troubled LCS. A decision on the form of the SSC is to be made, Hagel directed, in time "to inform" the 2016 budget submission, due to be sent to Congress in February 2015.

The Navy presented its initial findings to Hagel on Oct. 6 in a meeting attended by Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work; Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics; and Jamie Morin, the director of cost assessment and program evaluation.

Unusually, Director of Operational Test and Evaluation Michael Gilmore also was in attendance. Gilmore has long been a critic of the LCS program, particularly regarding survivability issues, and has heavily influenced Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., expected to chair the Senate Armed Services Committee when the new Congress is seated.

Meanwhile, the LCS program itself is moving forward. The Fort Worth is to leave San Diego later this month to begin a 16-month Western Pacific deployment — the second such LCS cruise. The Freedom-class LCS Detroit, of the Lockheed Martin variant, was launched Oct. 18, and another ship, the Independence-class Montgomery, will be christened Saturday at Austal USA.

The Navy expects to double the number of ships in service during 2015 when four more ships are delivered, bringing the active total to eight.

Twenty-four LCSs are either in service, under construction or on contract. Another eight ships are expected to be ordered based on existing designs. The switchover to the SSC, Hagel has directed, is to begin no later than the 33rd ship to be ordered.

It's expected the Navy will call the ships something other than LCSs or SSCs — perhaps light frigates or corvettes.|nextstory