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Thread: New Navy FFG(X) RFI released

  1. #16
    Regular thebard's Avatar
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  2. #17
    Regular thebard's Avatar
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    Now we have 5 conceptual designs. None is very much like the other, it seems.

    https://news.usni.org/2018/02/16/nav...te-ffgxprogram

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    Some of those designs are big, for an escort frigate... 6000-7000 tons?...

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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jlvfr View Post
    Some of those designs are big, for an escort frigate... 6000-7000 tons?...
    Of the designs listed, I think the Euro submissions based on the FREMM and F100 are going to be too large to procure in sufficient numbers affordably. They are a good fit for navies that don't have destroyer fleets, but the US has enough Burkes that we shouldn't need frigates to pinch hit in that role.

    I think that if the Navy is looking for an OHP replacement, the variant based on the Legend class cutter is going to fit the bill the best. It's already built to about 90% of military standards, and the design isn't dominated by a 50 knot speed requirement. At 4500 tons it's a bit bigger than the OHP and the design already incorporates signature reduction.

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    How do the two LCS v2 designs address shortcomings of the current LCS?

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    Quote Originally Posted by citanon View Post
    How do the two LCS v2 designs address shortcomings of the current LCS?
    Likely they don't at all. They just cost a shit-ton more money.
    Far better it is to dare mighty things, than to take rank with those poor, timid spirits who know neither victory nor defeat ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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    Quote Originally Posted by TopHatter View Post
    Likely they don't at all. They just cost a shit-ton more money.
    Specially if they stick to the "I'm a torpedo boat!" speed of 40+ knots...

  8. #23
    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by citanon View Post
    How do the two LCS v2 designs address shortcomings of the current LCS?
    Removal of modular mission modules in favor of a permanent Surface Warfare and Anti-Submarine focus as well as an over the horizon capability via a new radar and VLS cells. As far as I know it doesn't address the fact that the LCS was really designed for high speed littoral patrols and counter-piracy missions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by citanon View Post
    How do the two LCS v2 designs address shortcomings of the current LCS?
    They would need to improve survivability, which I don't think you can consider as an achievable characteristic with the aluminum hull.

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    Senior Contributor Monash's Avatar
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    I may have commented on this subject before but can someone explain why, given the obvious shortcomings of both LCS designs the US Navy doesn't just admit defeat and build a proper frigate i.e. one capable of conducting advanced level ASW warfare combined with a reasonable AA and AS capability.

    Wouldn't it make more sense to modify the Spearhead Class transports currently in production so that they can perform brown water anti-piracy/narcotics patrols, mine clearing and humanitarian missions. This would free up your frigates for war fighting duties and give the US a genuine workhorse for all the other duties the navy has to perform.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Monash View Post
    I may have commented on this subject before but can someone explain why, given the obvious shortcomings of both LCS designs the US Navy doesn't just admit defeat and build a proper frigate i.e. one capable of conducting advanced level ASW warfare combined with a reasonable AA and AS capability.

    Wouldn't it make more sense to modify the Spearhead Class transports currently in production so that they can perform brown water anti-piracy/narcotics patrols, mine clearing and humanitarian missions. This would free up your frigates for war fighting duties and give the US a genuine workhorse for all the other duties the navy has to perform.
    I was a detractor of the LCS program in the past, but the Navy has made great strides recently to improve both classes. They do have inherent design weaknesses, but much of that is due to the limited missions associated with littoral areas where they were designed to operate rather than blue water. The list of operational failures that have been experienced during testing and initial deployments has shrunk significantly. I expect them to eventually (sooner, rather than later) become the reliable workhorse that they were intended to be.
    Since the new FFG(X) is expected to be based on mature technologies and systems, whichever design is chosen shouldn't suffer from the teething pains attributed to the LCS (or the FORD class carriers or the Zumwalt class destroyers).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Monash View Post
    I may have commented on this subject before but can someone explain why, given the obvious shortcomings of both LCS designs the US Navy doesn't just admit defeat and build a proper frigate i.e. one capable of conducting advanced level ASW warfare combined with a reasonable AA and AS capability.

    Wouldn't it make more sense to modify the Spearhead Class transports currently in production so that they can perform brown water anti-piracy/narcotics patrols, mine clearing and humanitarian missions. This would free up your frigates for war fighting duties and give the US a genuine workhorse for all the other duties the navy has to perform.
    The original idea was to scale up and improve one of the classes and this would be the new FFG. The RFI is a clean sheet start.

  13. #28
    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebard View Post
    They would need to improve survivability, which I don't think you can consider as an achievable characteristic with the aluminum hull.
    I think this is a debatable point.

    An LCS that eats an AShM is undoubtedly out of the war if not sunk outright, but I'd argue that's effectively true for a tougher frigate as well. The OHPs were certainly tough little customers and the attack on the USS Stark was an illustrative example. The ship took two hits from Exocet missiles (one failed to detonate) and while the ship survived and limped home, it was immediately out of the fight, and wouldn't have been repaired in time to put back into service before a potential war was already decided. That being the case, the LCS and it's heavy focus on large aviation facilities and high speed actually confers a much greater ability to evade AShM attacks all together and stay in the fight.

    In my opinion, survivability for a frigate depends mostly on not being successfully attacked, not on the ability to soak up damage. While a missile can certainly run down any ship, an LCS variant with VLS cells packing a few SM-6 rounds could play keep-away with other missile armed surface combatants while knocking down any aviation assets that get close enough to send targeting data back.

    The LCS's generous aviation facilities also allow them to deploy 3 helicopters of their own, which is more than destroyers generally boast. This should provide a huge advantage in ensuring an LCS based frigate has accurate targeting data for it's missiles while denying the same to the enemy.

    To use an example, a Harpoon missile fired at a target 70 miles away takes ~8 minutes to arrive. An OHP evading at 30 knots will be somewhere within a 4.6 mile radius of it's last known position, leaving a circle with an area of 66.5 miles to search for the target. An LCS evading at 50 knots in the same scenario can travel up to 7.8 miles, which leaves a circle with an area of 191 miles that needs to be searched for a target. Those odds are significantly in more in favor of the faster ship when it comes to lobbing missiles at each other.

    Helicopters really are a great and flexible workhorse as well. If you're hunting subs, having 3 dipping sonars is better than 1. If you're fending off boghammars, helos with APKWS rockets will make quick work of them long before they are within gun range. It also allows one to be tasked to a defensive AEW role while others take the fight to the enemy.
    Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 20 Feb 18, at 16:12.

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    To use an example, a Harpoon missile fired at a target 70 miles away takes ~8 minutes to arrive. An OHP evading at 30 knots will be somewhere within a 4.6 mile radius of it's last known position, leaving a circle with an area of 66.5 miles to search for the target. An LCS evading at 50 knots in the same scenario can travel up to 7.8 miles, which leaves a circle with an area of 191 miles that needs to be searched for a target. Those odds are significantly in more in favor of the faster ship when it comes to lobbing missiles at each other.
    Note that Harpoon, Exocet, etc, are 40 year old missiles. While their current eletronics are top-notch, their speed has remained the same: very much subsonic. The current & future crop of missiles are, or will be, supersonic; there's no running away from that.

    And your cenario assumes the ASM is fired at max range. Since the current LCS is virtually defenceless at anything other than point-blank (carrying only SeaRAM) why would an opponent waste a shot at that range?

    Get a light SAM with a decent max range (CAMM, Sea Sparrow, Crotale, Aster 15/20) and 30kn (for decent speed and to be able to sail with the rest of the fleet), backed by the SeaRAM for close in. Add a 57mm or 3" gun and some ASMs. Then you have a light frigate with a decent defence, that won't rip a hole in the navy's budget just by existing...

    And no, such a ship will not survive high intensity large scale combat on it's own. But it's not meant to. It's a frigate, not a cruiser or even a heavy DDG. It's meant to patrol and or escort, on it's own or with a friend, and scream for help with things get tough. In this last case, any NATO frigate has far more chances of surviving than an LCS...

  15. #30
    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jlvfr View Post
    The current & future crop of missiles are, or will be, supersonic; there's no running away from that.
    The LRASM which is due to replace the Harpoon is a subsonic missile based on the JASSM-ER. I don't honestly think we'll really see Western navies embrace supersonic AShMs and even opponents won't use them widely.

    Supersonic AShMs have a number of disadvantages that I believe will undercut their widespread adoption.

    • They have to be huge to get the same range and warhead weight as a subsonic cruise missile which complicates or eliminates the ability to carry them aboard tactical aircraft or helicopters.
    • They are forced to rely on jammable radar for targeting since an IR sensor window would be too hot from flying supersonic at low altitudes.
    • They much are easier to see coming and engage with ESSM, RAM, etc. due to being huge, hot, and higher flying.
    • They can't abuse sea skimming to sneak in close prior to discovery.
    • They aren't well suited to stealthy designs that are difficult to track due to their high speed operation and heat buildup.
    • They are significantly more expensive and less space efficient aboard naval vessels where that's at a premium.
    • They can't easily re-attack targets that are missed due to countermeasures or loiter to provide ISR.


    Supersonic AShMs make sense to have in your portfolio if you are a country like Russia that can salvo fire them from land based Backfire bombers, but they are going to be far easier for AEGIS ships to see coming than small, stealthy, cold, sea skimmers. Particularly in the small numbers you'd see in the kind of engagement an FFG would find itself in.

    Quote Originally Posted by jlvfr View Post
    And your cenario assumes the ASM is fired at max range. Since the current LCS is virtually defenceless at anything other than point-blank (carrying only SeaRAM) why would an opponent waste a shot at that range?
    I believe we were discussing an LCS based FFG that incorporates VLS cells. (16 or so) So presumably a few SM-6 and quad packed ESSMs would be on hand.
    Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 20 Feb 18, at 17:15.

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