Latest updates[?]: Northrop Grumman Systems won a $10.7 million modification to procure two additional Surface-to-Surface Missile Modules (SSMM) for integration into the Littoral Combat Ship framework. The SSMM fires a Longbow Hellfire missile that will be added to the surface warfare mission module aboard the Littoral Combat Ship. In July 2019 the US Navy successfully completed structural testing of the Longbow Hellfire missile for the Littoral Combat Ship Surface-to-Surface Missile Module. LCS is a modular, reconfigurable ship, with three types of mission packages including surface warfare, mine countermeasures, and anti-submarine warfare. The Program Executive Office Littoral Combat Ships (PEO LCS) is responsible for delivering and sustaining littoral mission capabilities to the fleet. Work will take place in Huntsville, Alabama; Bethpage, New York and Hollywood, Maryland. Estimated completion will be by November 2022.
Trimaran LCS Design
(click to enlarge)
Exploit simplicity, numbers, the pace of technology development in electronics and robotics, and fast reconfiguration. That was the US Navy’s idea for the low-end backbone of its future surface combatant fleet. Inspired by successful experiments like Denmark’s Standard Flex ships, the US Navy’s $35+ billion “Littoral Combat Ship” program was intended to create a new generation of affordable surface combatants that could operate in dangerous shallow and near-shore environments, while remaining affordable and capable throughout their lifetimes.
It hasn’t worked that way. In practice, the Navy hasn’t been able to reconcile what they wanted with the capabilities needed to perform primary naval missions, or with what could be delivered for the sums available. The LCS program has changed its fundamental acquisition plan 4 times since 2005, and canceled contracts with both competing teams during this period, without escaping any of its fundamental issues. Now, the program looks set to end early. This public-access FOCUS article offer a wealth of research material, alongside looks at the LCS program’s designs, industry teams procurement plans, military controversies, budgets and contracts.
Latest updates[?]: Raytheon won a $94 million deal to exercise options and realign funding for DDG 1000 ship class integrated logistics support and engineering services. The Zumwalt Class is a class of three guided missile destroyers. The multi-role class was designed for secondary roles of surface warfare and anti-aircraft warfare. DDG 1000 Zumwalt was the first vessel built under the US Department of Defense’s DD(X) programme. The US Navy received the vessel in May 2016. The ship was commissioned for service in October 2016. According to Raytheon, Zumwalt Class ships are designed to incorporate computing, undersea warfare, vertical launcher and electronic modular enclosure systems from Raytheon Technologies’ missiles and defense business. Work will take place in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, California, Indiana, Maine and New Hampshire. Work is expected to be finished by October 2021.
67% of the fleet
DID’s FOCUS Article for the DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class “destroyer” program covers the new ships’ capabilities and technologies, key controversies, associated contracts and costs, and related background resources.
The ship’s prime missions are to provide naval gunfire support, and next-generation air defense, in near-shore areas where other large ships hesitate to tread. There has even been talk of using it as an anchor for action groups of stealthy Littoral Combat Ships and submarines, owing to its design for very low radar, infrared, and acoustic signatures. The estimated 14,500t (battlecruiser size) Zumwalt Class will be fully multi-role, however, with undersea warfare, anti-ship, and long-range attack roles. That makes the DDG-1000 suitable for another role – as a “hidden ace card,” using its overall stealth to create uncertainty for enemy forces.
True, or False?
At over $3 billion per ship for construction alone, however, the program faced significant obstacles if it wanted to avoid fulfilling former Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter’s fears for the fleet. From the outset, DID has noted that the Zumwalt Class might face the same fate as the ultra-sophisticated, ultra-expensive SSN-21 Seawolf Class submarines. That appears to have come true, with news of the program’s truncation to just 3 ships. Meanwhile, production continues.
Latest updates[?]: According to a statement by the US Pacific Fleet, the US participant in the Malabar exercise this year hosted by Indian Navy is the Arleigh Burke Class guided missile destroyer USS John S. MacCain. The Malabar exercise is a quadrilateral naval exercise involving the United States, Japan , Australia, and India as permanent partners. The exercise began in 1992 to advance planning, integration and employment of advanced warfare tactics between participating nations and this year will feature the return of the Royal Australian Navy, according to Navy officials. According to officials, the exercise will include a variety of tactical training, including specific interactions designed to strengthen interoperability between Royal Australian Navy, Indian Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and US maritime forces.
In April 2009 Bath and Ingalls agreed to the Navy’s surface combatant plans, thus heralding a significant restructuring within the American naval shipbuilding community. Under the agreements, the USA would end production at 3 Graf Spee sized DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class “destroyers,” but shift all production from the Congressionally-mandated joint arrangements to General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Maine, which had already made program-related investments in advanced shipbuilding technologies.
Northrop Grumman (now Huntington Ingalls Industries) would retain its DDG-1000 deckhouse work, but their main exchange was additional orders for DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class destroyers. Their Ingalls yard in Pascagoula, Mississippi would continue building the DDG-51 destroyers, beginning with 2 ordered in FY 2010-2011.
Latest updates[?]: Huntington-Ingalls Industries won a $284.3 million contract modification for the accomplishment of CVN 79 single phase delivery and Joint Strike Fighter (F-35C) capabilities. The contract actions shifts the delivery strategy for the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) from a two-phase delivery to a single phase. It reportedly comes as a result of extensive collaboration with the Navy to support legislative requirements for Kennedy to be delivered with its complete warfare system, including F-35 Joint Strike Fighter capabilities, before the ship is commissioned into the fleet. Kennedy is approximately 76% complete. The ship was launched in December 2019, and currently is undergoing additional outfitting and testing at the company’s Newport News Shipbuilding division. The ship is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in 2024. Work will take place in Virginia. Estimated completion will be in June 2024.
USA’s Nimitz Class &
UK’s Invincible Class
Some nations have aircraft carriers. The USA has super-carriers. The French Charles De Gaulle Class nuclear carriers displace about 43,000t. India’s new Vikramaditya/ Admiral Gorshkov Class will have a similar displacement. The future British CVF Queen Elizabeth Class and related French PA2 Project are expected to displace about 65,000t, while the British Invincible Class carriers that participated in the Falklands War weigh in at just 22,000t. Invincible actually compares well to Italy’s excellent new Cavour Class (27,000t), and Spain’s Principe de Asturias Class (17,000t). The USA’s Nimitz Class and CVN-21 Gerald R. Ford Class, in contrast, fall in the 90,000+ tonne range. Hence their unofficial designation: “super-carriers”. Just one of these ships packs a more potent air force than many nations.
Nimitz Class cutaway
As the successor to the 102,000 ton Nimitz Class super-carriers, the CVN-21 program aimed to increase aircraft sortie generation rates by 20%, increase survivability to better handle future threats, require fewer sailors, and have depot maintenance requirements that could support an increase of up to 25% in operational availability. The combination of a new design nuclear propulsion plant and an improved electric plant are expected to provide 2-3 times the electrical generation capacity of previous carriers, which in turn enables systems like an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launching System (EMALS, replacing steam-driven catapults), Advanced Arresting Gear, and integrated combat electronics that will leverage advances in open systems architecture. Other CVN-21 features include an enhanced flight deck, improved weapons handling and aircraft servicing efficiency, and a flexible island arrangement allowing for future technology insertion. This graphic points out many of the key improvements.
DID’s CVN-21 FOCUS Article offers a detailed look at a number of the program’s key innovations, as well as a list of relevant contract awards and events.
As the U.S. decides who will be president for the next four years a review of procurement spending indicates that the Trump Administration has shown little difference in appropriations versus previous administrations, despite claims to have radically increased spending.
The upshot is that the last four years saw about $2.9 in spending appropriated in inflation-adjusted dollars, which was larger than Barak Obama’s second term, but less than the Obama Administration’s first term.
President Trump’s campaign speech claims of spending during his term relative to previous terms are incorrect. President Trump claimed this year that military spending in the 90s “used to be ‘million.’ And then, about 10 years ago, you started hearing ‘billion.’ And now you’re starting to hear ‘trillion,’ right?” Of course, U.S. defense spending hit the billions in the late 1940s, and recent spending has been on pace with spending from the decade previous.
The Trump Administration has done little to change the often-criticized Pentagon trend of investing more money in fewer pieces of equipment, such as fighter jets that cost a quarter billion dollars each when fully kitted out. The navy is running fewer ships that each cost more. Previous administrations did no better in reversing this trend, of course.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stated multiple times that he has no plans to reduce military spending, but indicated a desire to refocus military budgets and planning on “near-peer” powers Russia and China, while attempting to recover some of the goodwill of allies tested by the Trump Administration’s active skepticism in cooperation with allies, especially the NATO alliance.
Latest updates[?]: HSC-22 received their first MQ-8C Firescout on September 15 aboard Naval Station Norfolk, the US Navy said. It is now the first East Coast squadron to operate the MH-60S, MQ-8B and MQ-8C. The Firescout is the US Navy’s latest combat drone to hit the skies and provide aerial surveillance, reconnaissance, situational awareness, aerial fire support, and precision targeting support to ground, air, and sea units. The MQ-8C Fire Scout’s main purpose is to provide radar surveillance with its multi-spectrum targeting system. The multi-spectrum targeting system is a camera that is capable of reading light, heat, and electrical signatures to find anything that might be of interest.
MQ-8B Fire Scout
A helicopter UAV is very handy for naval ships, and for armies who can’t always depend on runways. The USA’s RQ/MQ-8 Fire Scout Unmanned Aerial Vehicle has blazed a trail of firsts in this area, but its history is best described as “colorful.” The program was begun by the US Navy, canceled, adopted by the US Army, revived by the Navy, then canceled by the Army. Leaving it back in the hands of the US Navy. Though the Army is thinking about joining again, and the base platform is changing.
The question is, can the MQ-8 leverage its size, first-mover contract opportunity, and “good enough” performance into a secure future with the US Navy – and beyond? DID describes these new VTUAV platforms, clarifies the program’s structure and colorful history, lists all related contracts and events, and offers related research materials.
Latest updates[?]: Raytheon announced Tuesday that it has delivered the first AN/SPY-6(V)1 radar array to Huntington Ingalls for installation on the Navy's future USS Jack H. Lucas guided-missile destroyer. "SPY-6 will change how the Navy conducts surface fleet operations," said Capt. Jason Hall, program manager for Above-Water Sensors for the US Navy's Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems in a press release. The first 14-foot-by-14-foor modular array was transported from Raytheon's Radar Development Facility in Andover, Mass., to the Huntington Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., company officials said. In November 2019, Raytheon received a $97.3 million contract modification for integration and maintenance of the AN/SPY-6(V) air and missile defense radar system on Navy vessels.
The DBR concept involves a significant change from current naval design approaches, and that change is not without risk. The USA’s GAO audit office remains concerned that key tests may not happen before the radar is installed on new ships, and any more development or testing snags could put much larger programs at risk. In April 2009, a successful full-power “lightoff” of both DBR radars was encouraging, but 2010 saw a major program shift. Sharp drops in the planned number of DDG-1000 destroyer created a per-ship cost crisis. Part of the response involved a shift to a single X-band SPY-3 radar for the Zumwalt Class, leaving DBR as a dual-band SPY-3/ SPY-4 solution only on America’s new carriers.
As Asia-Pacific nations invest in submarines, serious regional players also need to invest in anti-submarine capabilities. Aircraft like the P-8A Poseidon are great, but nothing really replaces dedicated and capable ASW ships. Their opponents’ anti-ship missiles are also experiencing a jump in capability, so a secondary air defense role isn’t optional. Australia’s 2 remaining FFG-7 Adelaide-class frigates have finished an expensive and somewhat rickety systems upgrade, but they fall short of what’s needed, and won’t last all that much longer. The Adelaide-class will soon be succeeded by 3 new Hobart-class AWD. The RAN’s 8 ANZAC-class frigates are receiving much smoother ASMD air defense upgrades that will make them quite useful, but their service life will begin ebbing around 2024. Hence Australia’s SEA 5000 Future Frigate program, which may receive an early push from issues with Australia’s naval industrial base…
Latest updates[?]: South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) has launched the fourth of eight Daegu (FFX-II) Class guided-missile frigates on order for the Republic of Korea Navy. Named Donghae, the 122.1 m-long warship entered the water during a ceremony held on April 29 at HHI's facilities in the southeastern coastal city of Ulsan, and is expected to be handed over to the service in late 2021. The Daegu class is a larger variant of South Korea's six Incheon (FFX-I) Class ships, the first of which entered service in 2013. The class has an overall beam of 14 m, a standard displacement of 2,800 tonnes, and a full-loaded displacement of 3,650 tonnes. Each FFX-II ship is powered by one Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbine engine and two Leonardo DRS permanent magnet motors driven by MTU 12 V 4000 diesel-generator sets in a combined diesel-electric or gas (CODLOG) configuration. Each of the ships can attain a maximum speed of 30 kt.
FFX: Jeonbuk launch
South Korea currently owns some of the world’s best and most advanced shipyards. That civilian strength is beginning to create military leverage, and recent years have seen the ROK take several steps toward fielding a true open-ocean, blue water navy. Their new KDX-II destroyers, KDX-III AEGIS destroyers, LPX amphibious assault ships, and KSS-I/KSS-II (U209/U214) submarines will give the nation more clout on the international stage, but what about the home front? North Korea’s gunboats have launched surprise attacks on the ROK Navy twice in the last decade, while its submarines continue to insert commandos in South Korean territory, and committed acts of war by sinking ROKN ships. To the west, Chinese fishing rights are a contentious issue that has led to the murder of a Korean Coast Guard official on the high seas.
Hence the Future Frigate Experimental (FFX) program. It aims to build upon lessons learned from ROK naval shipbuilding programs in the 1980s and 1990s, and replace 37 existing ships with a modern class of upgunned inshore patrol frigates. A contract to build the lead FFX frigate Incheon was issued in December 2008, and South Korea continues to work to define the program, including the forthcoming Batch II design.
Latest updates[?]: General Atomics won a $25.2 million delivery order, which procures Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) Depot Planning Phase II efforts, including depot level logistics support analysis, engineering support for logistics, supportability analysis, maintenance planning, reliability maintenance, technical manual development and engineering support as it directly correlates to depot planning for the USS Gerald Ford (CVN 78) and USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79). More than 99 percent of the work on this contract will be performed in San Diego, with one-tenth of one percent of work on the contract taking place in Tupelo, Mississippi. Expected completion date is February 2022.
As the US Navy continues to build its new CVN-21 Gerald R. Ford Class carriers, few technologies are as important to their success as the next-generation EMALS (Electro-MAgnetic Launch System) catapult. The question is whether that technology will be ready in time, in order to avoid either costly delays to the program – or an even more costly redesign of the first ship of class.
Current steam catapult technology is very entertaining when it launches cars more than 100 feet off of a ship, or gives naval fighters the extra boost they need to achieve flight speed within a launch footprint of a few hundred feet. It’s also stressful for the aircraft involved, very maintenance intensive, and not really compatible with modern gas turbine propulsion systems. At present, however, steam is the only option for launching supersonic jet fighters from carrier decks. EMALS aims to leap beyond steam’s limitations, delivering significant efficiency savings, a more survivable system, and improved effectiveness. This free-to-view spotlight article covers the technology, the program, and its progress to date.