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.
Latest updates[?]: MBDA announced it will for the first time pair a CAMM (Common Anti-Air Modular Missile) missile with an upgraded Sea Viper command and control (C2) system on board the Royal Nay’s Type 45 destroyers. CAMM offers both close-in and local-area air defence, and will complement Aster 30, strengthening the anti-air defence capability of the Royal Navy.
The 5,200t Type 42 Sheffield Class destroyers were designed in the late 1960s to provide fleet area air-defense for Britain’s Royal Navy, after the proposed Type 82 air defense cruisers were canceled by the Labour Government in 1966. Britain built 14 of the Type 42s, but these old ships are reaching the limits of their operational lives and effectiveness.
To replace them, the Royal Navy planned to induct 12 Type 45 Daring Class destroyers. The Daring class would be built to deal with a new age of threats. Saturation attacks with supersonic ship-killing missiles, that fly from the ship’s radar horizon to ship impact in under 45 seconds. The reality of future threats from ballistic missiles, and WMD proliferation. Plus a proliferation of possible threats involving smaller, hard to detect enemies like UAVs. Overall, the Type 45s promise to be one of the world’s most capable air defense ships – but design choices have left the cost-to-value ratio uncertain, and limited the Type 45s in other key roles. A reduced 6-ship program moved forward.
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[?]: 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.
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[?]: Saab has signed an agreement with Australia to provide combat management systems for Navy's surface ships. According to the agreement, Saab will deliver its Next Generation’ Combat Management System (CMS) to Australia’s new Arafura Class offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) and the Supply class auxiliary oiler replenishment (AOR) ships. Saab will also modernize the 9LV CMS currently in use in the Anzac Class frigates and will provide the software for the future tactical interface for the Hobart class air warfare destroyer (AWDs) when their current CMS is modernized.
The FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigates make for a fascinating defense procurement case study. To this day, the ships are widely touted as a successful example of cost containment and avoidance of requirements creep – both of which have been major weaknesses in US Navy acquisition. On the other hand, compromises made to meet short-term cost targets resulted in short service lives and decisions to retire, sell, or downgrade the ships instead of upgrading them.
Australia’s 6 ships of this class have served alongside the RAN’s more modern ANZAC Class frigates, which are undergoing upgrades of their own to help them handle the reality of modern anti-ship missiles. With the SEA 4000 Hobart Class air warfare frigates still just a gleam in an admiral’s eye, the government looked for a way to upgrade their FFG-7 “Adelaide Class” to keep them in service until 2020 or so. The SEA 1390 project wasn’t what you’d call a success… but Australia accepted their last frigate in 2010, and the 4 remaining ships will serve until 2020.
Latest updates[?]: The indigenously designed and developed Light Combat Aircraft (N) Mk1 has made a successful arrested landing on the India's biggest warship INS Vikramaditya on January 11. "With this feat, the indigenously developed niche technologies specific to deck based fighter operations have been proven," Indian Navy Spokesperson Vivek Madhwal told IANS. This will now pave the way to develop and manufacture the twin engine deck based fighter for the Indian Navy, he said. The Navy has created an aircraft carrier setting on the ground at its air base in Goa to operate these deck-based fighters, which use ski jump to take off and are recovered by arrestor wires on a carrier or STOBAR (short takeoff but arrested recovery) in Navy parlance.
Adm. Gorshkov: Before.
This free-to-view DID Spotlight article offers an in-depth look at India’s troubled attempt to convert and field a full-size aircraft carrier, before time and wear force it to retire its existing naval aviation and ships.
India faced 2 major challenges. One was slipping timelines, which risked leaving them with no aircraft carriers at all. The other challenge involved Vikramaditya’s 3-fold cost increase, as Russia demanded a re-negotiated contract once India was deeper into the commitment trap. The carrier purchase has now become the subject of high level diplomacy, involving a shipyard that can’t even execute on commercial contracts. A revised deal was finally signed in March 2010, even as deliveries of India’s new MiG-29K naval fighters got underway – but now Russia still has to make good. This article tracks the changes India is making to its new aircraft carrier, key characteristics, and a full history of contracts and events affecting this carrier and its planned aircraft contingent.
Latest updates[?]: The US Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $24.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to develop the first production unit fabrication and qualification of the TB-37X Multi-Function Towed Array (MFTA) System. The legacy TB-37/U MFTA is an integral part of the AN/SQQ-89A(V)15 Undersea Warfare Combat System Improvement Program for the Arleigh Burke Class guided missile destroyers (DDG-51), Ticonderoga Class missile cruisers (CG-47) and Zumwalt Class destroyers. The TB-37X MFTA shall incorporate next-generation telemetry to mitigate reliability and obsolescence issues experienced with the legacy TB-37/U MFTA. The TB-37X will be deployed on additional platforms, including Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and Next Generation Guided Missile Frigates (FFG(X)). Lockheed will perform work in Liverpool, New York; Millersville, Maryland; Marion, Massachusetts; Cleveland, Ohio; and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and is expected to be completed by October 2026.
Naval technologies have advanced on many fronts, but one of the most significant is the growing roster of diesel-electric submarines that boast exceptional quietness. Some of the newer AIP (Air-Independent Propulsion) models even have the ability to operate without surfacing for a week or two at a time. In exercises against the US Navy, diesel-electric submarines have successfully ‘killed’ their nuclear counterparts, and in 2006, a Chinese submarine reportedly surprised a US carrier battlegroup by surfacing within it.
The US Navy is slowly moving to beef up anti-submarine capabilities that had been neglected since the end of the Cold War, and other navies are also beginning to adjust. One of the first areas that requires attention is improved detection. That means wider coverage areas, longer baselines, better sonar and other detection systems, and greater use of small unmanned platforms on the surface and underwater. With UUV/USV platforms still maturing, and almost every advanced navy except the Chinese getting smaller due to the cost of new warships, towed systems are a natural place to start.
Latest updates[?]: BAE Systems Norfolk won a $11.9 million contract modification for additional growth requirements, including actions taken during Hurricane Florence, identified during the execution of the USS Tortuga Fiscal 2018 Modernization Period Chief of Naval Operations availability. USS Tortuga was originally commissioned in November 1990 and has been part of the US Navy’s LSD / CG-class modernization program since 2016. The keel on the vessel was initially laid on 23 March 1987. At the start of the Tortuga modernization process in May 2016, BAE Systems’ Norfolk shipyard was awarded a $17.7 million contract. The Tortuga or LSD 46 is a Whidbey Island Class dock landing ship. Work will take place in Norfolk, Virginia and estimated completion will be in November this year.
LSD 43 off Haiti
The LSD MSMO was developed to provide extended dry docking, modernization, upgrades, and repairs to the LSD-41 Whidbey Island and related LSD-49 Harpers Ferry Classes of amphibious landing ships, which were commissioned between 1985-1998. The classes are highly similar, but the slightly larger Harpers Ferry Class reduces the number of onboard LCAC hovercraft from 4 to 2, in exchange for more cargo capacity. Two ships of these classes are being upgraded each year through 2013, and the last ship will be modernized in 2014. LSD MSMO aims to keep all 12 remaining ships of these classes in service and mission-capable to 2038.
These 186-190m, 14,460-14,850 tonne US Navy LSD ships are designed to carry Marines and equipment close to shore, then land them by launching onboard craft from their well decks. They’re similar in size to the earlier Austin/Cleveland Class LPDs, but are much smaller than either the new LPD-17 San Antonio Class, or the carrier-size LHA-1 Tarawa and LHD-1 Wasp Classes. Despite these characteristics, or perhaps because of them, their flexibility and numbers have made them among the US Navy’s most-used ships for several years running.
Latest updates[?]: Lockheed Martin won a $56 million deal for combat system engineering support on the Ship Self-Defense System (SSDS). Under the contract, the SSDS combat system engineering agent and software design agent primary deliverables will be SSDS tactical computer programs, program updates and associated engineering, development and logistics products. The contract will manage the in-service SSDS configurations as well as adapt and integrate new or upgraded war-fighting capabilities. Lockheed will perform work in Moorestown, New Jersey and San Diego, California. Estimated completion date is in December.
Right now, in many American ships beyond its Navy’s top-tier AEGIS destroyers and cruisers, the detect-to-engage sequence against anti-ship missiles requires a lot of manual steps, involving different ship systems that use different displays. When a Mach 3 missile gives you 45 seconds from appearance on ship’s radar to impact, seconds of delay can be fatal. Seconds of unnecessary delay are unacceptable.
Hence Raytheon’s Ship Self Defense System (SSDS), which is currently funded under the US Navy’s Quick Reaction Combat Capability program. It’s widely used as a combat system in America’s carrier and amphibious fleets. That can be challenging for its developers, given the wide array of hardware and systems it needs to work with. Consistent testing reports indicate that this is indeed the case, and SSDS has its share of gaps and issues. It also has a series of upgrade programs underway, in order to add new capabilities. Managing these demands effectively will have a big impact on the survivability of the US Navy’s most important power projection assets.