Latest updates[?]: Rolls Royce Marine North America won a $66.7 million deal in support of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for the global engineering and technical support of the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) Freedom Variant MT30 gas turbine engines. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would not increase the cumulative value of this contract above $66,679,116. Work will be performed globally and will be defined in each delivery order. Fiscal 2023 operations and maintenance (Navy) funds, which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, will be used for the base year delivery orders. No funding will be obligated at time of award.
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[?]: Lockheed Martin won a $26.4 million modification to exercise options for Machinery Control System production shipsets in support of both the DDG 51 modernization program and DDG 51 new construction. Work will be performed in Orlando, Florida, and is expected to be completed by November 2026. Fiscal 2023 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funds in the amount of $9,136,084 (35%); and fiscal 2023 other procurement (Navy) funds in the amount of $17,237,038 (65%) will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.
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[?]: Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems won an $8 million modification under Aegis BMD Weapon Systems contract HQ085121C0002. This modification establishes new Contract Line Item Numbers 0063 and 0066 to support Digital Receive Upgrade urgent material efforts. Obligation in the amount of $8,243,462 using fiscal 2023 research, development, test and evaluation funds will occur at the time of award. The work will be performed in Moorestown, New Jersey, with period of performance from time of award through February 29, 2024.
The AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense System seamlessly integrates the SPY-1 radar, the MK 41 Vertical Launching System for missiles, the SM-3 Standard missile, and the ship’s command and control system, in order to give ships the ability to defend against enemy ballistic missiles. Like its less-capable AEGIS counterpart, AEGIS BMD can also work with other radars on land and sea via Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC). That lets it receive cues from other platforms and provide information to them, in order to create a more detailed battle picture than any one radar could produce alone.
AEGIS has become a widely-deployed top-tier air defense system, with customers in the USA, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Norway, and Spain. In a dawning age of rogue states and proliferation of mass-destruction weapons, the US Navy is being pushed toward a “shield of the nation” role as the USA’s most flexible and most numerous option for missile defense. AEGIS BMD modifications are the keystone of that effort – in the USA, and beyond.
Latest updates[?]: The Royal Australian Navy has awarded Rheinmetall a $138 million contract to deliver anti-ship missile defense systems. The service will deploy the Multi Ammunition Softkill System (MASS) on its Hobart-class destroyers and ANZAC-class frigates with an option to equip its entire fleet for $678 million. The first systems will arrive by the end of 2023 and achieve full operational capability by 2027.
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…
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.
Latest updates[?]: The US Navy awarded Gibbs & Cox a $39.6 million future surface combatant force (LSCF) design and engineering contract. The contract, through February 2024, supports the next-generation guided-missile destroyer (DDG(X))and other emerging ship concepts. It also includes feasibility studies in support of the broader navy fleet.
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.
The US Navy’s Dual-Band Radar that equips its forthcoming Gerald R. Ford class super-carriers replaces several different radars with a single back-end. Merging Raytheon’s X-band SPY-3 with Lockheed Martin’s S-band VSR allows fewer radar antennas, faster response time, faster adaptation to new situations, one-step upgrades to the radar suite as a whole, and better utilization of the ship’s power, electronics, and bandwidth.
Rather than using that existing Dual-Band Radar design in new surface combatant ships, however, the “Air and Missile Defense Radar” (AMDR) aims to fulfill DG-51 Flight III destroyer needs through a new competition for a similar dual-band radar. It could end up being a big deal for the winning radar manufacturer, and for the fleet. If, and only if, the technical, power, and weight challenges can be mastered at an affordable price.
Latest updates[?]: The Israeli Navy has received the 76/62 Super Rapid Multi-Feeding naval gun for two Sa’ar 6-class corvettes at its Haifa Naval base. The 76/62 enables air, anti-surface, and anti-missile defense for INS Oz and INS Magen ships. The Israel Navy is one of the first international forces to procure the gunnery, according to Leonardo. Since 1973, the navy’s Sa’ar 4.5 fast attack craft have operated with six integrated 76/62 systems.
Saar 5: INS Hanit
The 1,227t/ 1,350 ton Sa’ar 5 Eilat Class corvettes were built by Northrop Grumman in the 1990s for about $260 million each. It’s a decent performer in a number of roles, from air defense to anti-submarine work, to coastal patrol and special forces support. In 2006, the Israelis went looking for a next-generation vessel with better high-end capabilities. Six years later, Israel had nothing to show for its search. In the meantime, massive natural gas deposits have been discovered within Israel’s coastal waters, adding considerable urgency to their search.
The USA is Israel’s logical supplier, but given Israel’s size and cost requirements, the only American option was the Littoral Combat Ship. Israel pursued that option for several years, conducting studies and trying to get a better sense of feasibility and costs. Their approach would have been very different from the American Freedom Class LCS, removing the swappable “mission modules” and replacing them with a fixed and fully capable set of air defense, anti-ship, and anti-submarine weapons. In the end, however, the project was deemed to be unaffordable. Instead, Israel began negotiating with Germany, and reports now include discussions involving both South Korea, and a local shipyard.
Latest updates[?]: The US Navy has carried out a demonstration of the MQ-8C Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) concept during Exercise Resolute Hunter. The exercise took place at San Clemente Island from June 21 to July 1. HSC-23 flew the unmanned rotorcraft for 23 hours during this period. It had taken off from Point Mugu and flown to San Clemente before control was handed over to a Portable Mission Control Station (MCS-P) deployed there. “Fire Scout is the Navy’s only unmanned helicopter with the ability to deploy from a ship or land with ISR&T at the extended range required for future warfighting,” said Capt. Dennis Monagle, Fire Scout program manager.
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[?]: Lockheed Martin won a $23.4 million contract modification to exercise options for the engineering, design, and technical services in support of the MK 41 Vertical Launching System electronic systems and computer programs. The deal combines purchases by the US and the governments of Japan, Spain, Canada, and Chile under the Foreign Military Sales program. Work will take place in Maryland, New Jersey, Washington and California. Estimated completion will be by July 2023.
MK 41s in action
The naval MK 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) hides missiles below decks in vertical slots, with key electronics and venting systems built in. A deck and hatch assembly at the top of the module protects the missile canisters from the elements, and from other hazards during storage. Once the firing sequence begins, the hatches open to permit missile launches of various types. It is also being adapted for land use, as part of the USA’s plan to forward-deploy ballistic missile defense in allied countries.
The Mk.41 is the most widely-used naval VLS in the world, in service with the US Navy and with many countries outside the United States. Lockheed Martin is the system’s prime contractor, with components and canisters provided by BAE Systems Land & Armaments. In September 2011, however, the US Navy assumed the final integrator role.