Oct 21, 2014 18:12 UTC
Latest updates[?]: LPD-17 Flight II picked as the next LX(R) amphibious ships. But can the US Navy afford the price tag for "affordable" ships that cost 2-4x what other countries are paying for this capability?
LPD-17 San Antonio class amphibious assault support vessels are just entering service with the US Navy, and 11 ships of this class are eventually slated to replace up to 41 previous ships. Much like their smaller predecessors, their mission is to embark, transport, land, and support elements of a US Marine Corps Landing Force. The difference is found in these ships’ size, their cost, and the capabilities and technologies used to perform those missions. Among other additions, this new ship is designed to operate the Marines’ new MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, alongside the standard well decks for hovercraft and amphibious armored personnel carriers.
While its design incorporates notable advances, the number of serious issues encountered in this ship class have been much higher than usual, and more extensive. The New Orleans shipyard to which most of this contract was assigned appears to be part of the problem. Initial ships have been criticized, often, for sub-standard workmanship, and it took 2 1/2 years after the initial ship of class was delivered before any of them could be sent on an operational cruise. Whereupon the USS San Antonio promptly found itself laid up Bahrain, due to oil leaks. It hasn’t been the only ship of its class hurt by serious mechanical issues. Meanwhile, costs are almost twice the originally promised amounts, reaching over $1.6 billion per ship – 2 to 3 times as much as many foreign LPDs like the Rotterdam Class, and more than 10 times as much as Singapore’s 6,600 ton Endurance Class LPD. This article covers the LPD-17 San Antonio Class program, including its technologies, its problems, and ongoing contracts and events.
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Oct 02, 2014 15:40 UTC
Latest updates[?]: Annual design contract.
(click to enlarge)
Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) is the US Navy’s secret weapon. Actually, it’s not so secret. It’s just that its relatively low price means often leads people to overlook the revolutionary change it creates for wide-area fleet air and ballistic missile defense.
CEC is far more than a mere data-sharing program, or even a sensor fusion effort. The concept behind CEC is a sensor netting system that allows ships, aircraft, and even land radars to pool their radar and sensor information together, creating a very powerful and detailed picture that’s much finer, more wide-ranging, and more consistent than any one of them could generate on its own. The data is then shared among all ships and participating systems, using secure frequencies. It’s a simple premise, but a difficult technical feat. With huge implications.
This DID FOCUS Article explains those mechanics and implications. It will also track ongoing research, updates, and contracts related to CEC capabilities from 2000 forward.
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Sep 16, 2014 16:00 UTC
RAFO F-16Cs w. CFTs
Oman is located on the eastern Arabian peninsula next to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and across from Persia. It remains a very strategic country, controlling the Strait of Hormuz’ western bank, and providing an overwatch position for both the entrance to the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean near Africa. The Royal Air Force of Oman (al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Sultanat Oman) currently flies F-16 Block 50 fighters, which complement the RAFO’s 18 Jaguar strike aircraft.
Sultan Qaboos’ air force was looking to replace its aging Jaguars, and made inquiries about buying 4+ generation fighters like Eurofighters or even JAS-39 Gripens for this purpose. A formal August 2010 export request for 18 more F-16s raised the possibility of a different approach, but it was actually a both-and strategy. After an F-16 contract was inked, BAE received an RFP for its Eurofighter, which also turned into a contract. With these buys, plus a handful of new jet trainers, the RAFO’s fighter modernization looks to be complete.
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