The US Navy’s DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class destroyers are the backbone of their present and future fleet. Unfortunately, they have a problem. Two problems, actually.
One problem involves keeping the fleet’s operating costs low, especially fuel use. These ships aren’t as efficient as more modern designs, especially at the low cruising speeds that make up so much of a ship’s operating life. The other problem is that DDG-51 destroyers are having trouble generating enough power, especially if they want to receive new radars like the proposed AMDR. Since this destroyer class includes the majority of American ballistic missile-defense ships, their ability to remain relevant, and to field an upgraded “Flight III” variant, is critical to maintaining US sea power.
A Northrop Grumman team, which includes Curtiss-Wright and L-3, believes that they may have the answer to both problems. Nor are they the only firm looking into this.
In his April 6/09 discussion of the FY 2010 budget, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates said that the US military wanted to charter another 2 “JHSV-like” fast catamaran ships from 2009-2011, until the JHSV ships begin arriving. That meant JHSV-winner Austal would find its products competing once more with Incat, which has had 4 of its wave-piercing catamarans chartered by various American services. Their Swift wave-piercing catamaran is currently chartered by the Navy as HSV-2, just as the Austal-built Westpac Express is chartered by US Military Sealift Command for the Marines.
One obvious stopgap option is the Hawaiian Superferry catamarans, a larger pair of Austal-built ships that resemble the Westpac Express. They were even pressed into service when Haiti’s disaster struck, and now the US Navy has bought them outright.
The US House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee quickly approved – behind closed doors – its markup for the FY13 funding bill. Today the Armed Services Committee is starting longer, more difficult discussions, but they will happen in the open [video]. More details in our ongoing coverage of the 2013 NDAA.
With the release of its 2013 budget, Australia confirmed its delaying of the acquisition of 12 F-35s and other programs as well as some cancellations and early C-130H aircraft retirements. Major capital investments are reduced by AUS $664M. More materiel acquisition details in this PDF.
According to The Telegraph the UK Ministry of Defence is about to announce that they will revert their decision to buy F-35Cs to choose instead F-35Bs STOVL, which would confirm earlier press reports.