Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Frigate RFI

The Navy has released its Request for Information (RFI) related to the frigate it apparently wants to acquire in place of the LCS.  Of course, we all recognize that the most likely “frigate” will be a modified LCS just as occurred the last time the Navy evaluated small surface combatants.  Nevertheless, let’s take a look at the RFI and see what bits of interest it holds.  You can read the RFI for yourself through the link below (1).

Of course, the first thing that should have already occurred is the development of a concept of operations (CONOPS) so that the Navy knows exactly what it wants the ship to do.  In fact, if they did that and had a solid idea of what the ship was intended to do, they’d already know what equipment it needs and would not need an RFI.  So, the fact that an RFI is even issued suggests that a CONOPS was not developed.  In fact, I’ve not heard a whisper of a frigate CONOPS.  So, the Navy already has strike one against it for this program.

Having failed the first step, there is an interesting statement in the introduction of the RFI that hints at the role the Navy sees for the ship.

The Navy is interested in the FFG(X) to provide Combatant and Fleet Commanders a uniquely suitable asset to achieve select sea control objectives and perform maritime security operations while facilitating access in all domains in support of strike group and aggregated fleet operations.”

Oops!  My bad.  That was just an incoherent grouping of buzzwords which someone inserted into the RFT to, presumably, try to seem intelligent and thoughtful.  Let’s try again.

“… this FFG(X) small surface combatant will expand blue force sensor and weapon influence to provide increased information to the overall fleet tactical picture while challenging adversary ISR&T efforts.”

Okay, now we have something.  This statement suggests that the Navy sees this ship as an information node and, interestingly, as an anti-information node as opposed to a warship.  This actually falls right in line with the Pentagon’s Third Offset Strategy which envisions beating enemies with uncontested and unhindered information rather than explosives.  It also falls in line with the recent post about the Marine Information Group.

This assessment of the ship as an information node is further supported by this statement.

“The FFG(X) will be capable of establishing a local sensor network using passive onboard sensors, embarked aircraft and elevated/tethered systems and unmanned vehicles to gather information and then act as a gateway to the fleet tactical grid using resilient communications systems and networks.”

So, this ship will be an information node and the mechanism will be via unmanned vehicles. 

Side note:  Is this beginning to sound an awful lot like the original LCS concept which envisioned the LCS as a node in a vast sensor network (yes, that really was the original LCS concept) enabled by modules consisting largely of unmanned vehicles?  But, I digress …

The RFI goes on to note that the ship will “aggregate” into strike groups during the run up to, and initiation of, hostilities.

The meat of the RFI appears in tables of desired characteristics.  Here’s a list of some of the more interesting ones.

Requirements

  • Operational Availability = 72%
  • Service Life 25 yrs
  • Shock hardening of propulsion, critical systems, and combat systems
  • Crew size = 200
  • Range 3000 nm @ 16 kts
  • Reserve power for future energy weapons
  • Max speed 28 kts
  • COMBATSS-21 combat control system
  • Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar
  • 1x full size helo plus 1x Fire Scout UAV
  • 360 degree EO/IR
  • Hellfire
  • SeaRAM
  • 8 cannister launched, over the horizon (OTH), anti-ship missiles;  type unspecified
  • Mk 110 57 mm gun

The RFI also notes that the Navy is very interested in understanding the trade offs required to incorporate ESSM/Standard AAW missile capability.

We see, then, that this ship will have only short range AAW self-defense unless someone can figure out how to include ESSM/Standard without breaking the budget.  This limited AAW excludes the frigate from escort duties, or at least the AAW portion of escort which is a major portion, to say the least!  Is it really a frigate if it can’t escort?

The absence of VLS cells limits the ship’s offensive and defensive flexibility.

We also see that the ship will have only a limited OTH anti-surface capability with only 8 missiles.  Still, a group of, say, 4-6 ships could generate a significant surface strike.

It’s interesting to note that the requirements for shock hardening, reduced speed, operational availability, and increased crew size all seem to spring directly from the failings of the LCS.  Maybe the Navy is capable of learning lessons?

One of the more disappointing characteristics is the very limited range.  A range of 3000 nm is not impressive against the backdrop of operations in a Pacific theater where bases are few and far away from relevant operating areas.  Maybe I spoke too soon.  Maybe the Navy isn’t capable of learning lessons?

The 57 mm gun????  It’s failed miserably on the LCS and the Zumwalt program dropped it.  Despite that, the Navy wants it for this ship?  The Navy is definitely not learning lessons!

I also see no mention of acoustic quieting that would be necessary for truly effective ASW and I see no mention of any on-board anti-submarine weapon for those shallow water, close up, unexpected encounters.  To be fair, this may be a level of detail not really appropriate for an RFI.

My overall assessment is that this is a somewhat beefed up LCS rather than a hard hitting, hard fighting warship.  The lack of even a medium range AAW capability is the most glaring shortcoming.

This ship also betrays a Navy mindset that has strayed from firepower and bought into the misguided belief in the primacy of information – almost for its own sake.

In short, the RFI is disappointing and will not produce a warship.



______________________________

(1) RFI: FFG(X) - US Navy Guided Missile Frigate Replacement Program
Solicitation Number: N0002418R2300, 10-Jul-2017,


84 comments:

  1. "This actually falls right in line with the Pentagon’s Third Offset Strategy which envisions beating enemies with uncontested and unhindered information rather than explosives."

    Putin and Xinping are going to quake in their boots at the potential loss of YouTube likes our new forces can unleash!

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  2. CNOPs,bsed on performance and range how do these requirements stack up against FFG-7? As you correctly point out it must have real, surface combatant ship survivability

    Does this RFI exceed the FFG-7 actuals or are they equivalent? IMO that would be the critical path for any proposal. As you say we certainly don't want an LCS on steroids...

    b2

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    1. I honestly worry this is a hand wave to get us an up-gunned LCS. The only thing that doesn't fit is the crew size.

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    2. The Perrys had a range of around 7000 nm or so at 15 kts, as I recall, and a max speed of right around 30 kts.

      Also, the Perry's had a 40-missile magazine for the single arm launcher. The magazine held a combination of Standards, Harpoons, and ASROC. Quite a potent collection of firepower for a ship that size. The Perry had a 76mm gun versus the RFI that specifies a 57mm. This new RFI falls well short of the Perrys.

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    3. Well, there you go Sir.... This isn't good enough.....

      We want a real ship, or we should just keep on building more Burkes/clones if this is all of the imagination about a new frigate the USN leadership can muster up....

      b2

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    4. given our 'Pacific Pivot' our ignorance of range is perplexing. The OHP's could do 4500 miles at 20 kts. That's a decent range at a decent speed.

      I liked the Perry's. We may not need a Perry. I'd honestly be happy with ESSM but a focus on ASW (range, quieting, appropriate weapons and sensors) because I worry about subs and think we need an ASW attrition unit. But the Perry Hulls sound great: long legged; fast enough, and rugged.

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  3. I'm very, very confused.

    Why is the Navy so scared of VLS cells in small combatants? The Australians were able to put them in refurbished FFG-7's without breaking the bank? Even non tactical length VLS gives the ability to house a fair amount of ESSM.

    I'm also astounded that we don't have a firmly committed ASW attrition unit.

    One thing our peer adversaries seem committed to is the submarine. Even if its not in the numbers we faced against the Soviet Union, it seems the Sub is easily the most lethal blue water threat to our forces. Training in which subs sneak past our CVBG's is disturbing.

    Further, if I was China, I'd use my subs to target out fleet oilers. We don't have many any more and without them our blue water capability is hamstrung.

    It seems our only answer is to use 2bbn AAW focused DDG's to escort the oilers.

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    1. The crazy thing is that even the manufacturers (particularly Austal) are pushing to include VLS in their designs for upgraded LCS class frigates.
      They have basically made it clear that they believe a larger hulled version of an existing LCS can easily support a decent number of VLS cells, as well as all the other requirements the navy has.
      The navy is just deadset against including VLS.
      It's not for engineering reasons.

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  4. The crew complement reads like a >6000 ton frigate along the lines of FREMM or Australia's new Hobart-class destroyers. Everything else suggests an up-gunned LCS. I can only assume that 200 crew is a "do not exceed" value.

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    1. All the RFI numbers are box constraints. The 200 crew is a not to exceed number. The SeaRAM is the minimal acceptable. etc. There is an interview with the guy in charge of the program, and the intention I got from it is that what they want is the following:

      ~150 full complement crew
      >57mm gun
      ESSM in Mk47 or 41 with the possibility of Std
      SPY-6 based radar (3x3 not full size)
      AEGIS based combat management system
      Price <1 billion

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  5. So basically, what the US Navy wants, is a fully functional frigate such as the FREMM Frigate in the French version, Valour class Frigate, Fridtjof Nansen-class frigate or even an upgunned USCG's NSC Cutter as a Patrol Frigate. I basically think the USCG's NSC design that's upgunned to Frigate standards would fit the bill.

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    1. The NSC patrol frigate would have better range than than what is proposed in this RFI.
      http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/huntington-ingalls-has-new-frigate-could-give-the-us-navy-19020
      Also one would think that any frigate design would be optimized for ASW.

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    2. This information about fuel consumption is from a USNI article.
      https://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/2014-04/its-time-sea-control-frigate

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    3. I also think the Fridtjof Nansen-class frigate would keep the Aegis Mafia happy as well because the Fridtjof Nansen-class frigate is already Aegis equipped.

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    4. Then there is the matter of how many ASW helicopters would be needed. The NSC frigate proposal can only house one. A CONOPS should have been worked out for the design this frigate.

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    5. I'll keep saying it - we don't need Aegis ships. We already have all the Aegis ships we need. We need a simple, BASIC, CHEAP, ASW focused ship and if we insist on getting a "frigate" we don't need a mini-Burke.

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    6. What about APAR and CEAFAR. They are smaller versions of Aegis

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    7. Almost like a discount Spruance. *sigh*.

      Another problem with going high end on a frigate is we aren't maintaining the high end ships we have now. I think in our environment there is a valid argument for keeping something simple and supportable because the Navy likely isn't going to spend a ton of money on it once they get the hull in the water.

      Delete
    8. "What about APAR and CEAFAR. They are smaller versions of Aegis"

      I don't know anything about them. What do they cost?

      Delete
    9. "there is a valid argument for keeping something simple and supportable because the Navy likely isn't going to spend a ton of money on it once they get the hull in the water."

      Excellent observation!

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    10. I agree, start with a CONOPS where ASW is the primary function of this warship. ( optimize for silencing and make it a ASW ship). We should add a ASW helo or two, and perhaps ESSM with a less expensive fire control system than Aegis.
      One would think that better range should be a consideration than what was mentioned in the RFI. We could talk about a better gun system for this frigate design than what was proposed

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    11. There is an interview with the rear adm in charge of this program, and the impression I got from it wrt radar, is a scaled down SPY-6 radar. 3x3 segments instead of, IIRC, ~6x6 on Burkes.

      The interview is at: http://www.defensenews.com/articles/exclusive-interview-the-navys-surface-warfare-director-talks-frigate-requirements

      It is a good read to get more at what the intention of the RFI is and what they actually want.

      Delete
  6. I was so excited to read the articles now coming out everywhere on the new FFG(X).

    Initially it sounded great, but once you get into the detail it’s a very strange set of requirements, hinting at quite a new and unique set of concepts of operation.

    Some requirements are vague to the point of virtual non-existence. (ASW hull design and arrays)

    Some weirdly specific (electrical power surplus?)

    You HAVE to conclude, they have something very specific in mind, and with a huge internal sinking feeling ( no pun intended ) I seeing the stretched LCS MK3

    Its going to have to be a redesign though, the “SSC” wont take some of the things they have specified in the form it is.

    Beno

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    1. "hinting at quite a new and unique set of concepts of operation."

      That would be the positive view of it - that there's some underlying, entirely new set of operating methodology for which this ship is exquisitely optimized but which no one has ever heard of and there has not been a single whisper about in any news or naval discussion.

      The negative view would be that it's a disjointed set of requirements that have no connection to any CONOPS and are just random and will have little usefulness in combat.

      Given the Navy's history of ship design of late, which do you think is more likely?

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    2. :(

      Im not answering that.

      I was happier in my fantasy world !

      Your always spoiling my fun.

      ;)

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  7. Ok, is it just me that thinks that in a alternate universe the most time and cost saving pragmatical decision would be to just adopt some Euro frigate design no matter british/french/german or whatever

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    1. You're absolutely right. There are a couple of significant issues, however.

      1. Every enemy country would have the complete specs on whatever vessel we bought.

      2. Companies and foreign companies, in particular, have been very reluctant to transfer proprietary data and property rights to the buyer. The Navy would not stand for not having complete data.

      3. Integration of the unique US components is not a trivial task and could drastically increase the time and cost well beyond what we would think.

      4. There is a strong Congressional desire to avoid buying a foreign design. It's a voter/jobs issue and it's very real in their minds.

      5. A foreign design that we purchase means that we can't sell it to other countries which is something we generally try to do. Witness how hard we've been trying to sell the LCS to someone else!

      So, yes, while it makes perfect sense to buy an already developed design, there are legitimate issues that make it more difficult than we might otherwise think.

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    2. ok, now lets compare with similar issues only in the aviation arena :
      "1. Every enemy country would have the complete specs on whatever vessel we bought."

      The US has been selling sophisticated aviation equipment through decades, saying that anyone will know the specs of a potentially US build euro frigate is like saying that everyone knows the specifics of , say AWACS aircraft the US has sold vital allies for decades ;)

      "2. Companies and foreign companies, in particular, have been very reluctant to transfer proprietary data and property rights to the buyer. The Navy would not stand for not having complete data."
      Not, a solid argument.
      Say, the US likes the new British type 26 frigate, i bet the brits will give them 110% of all the technical data on the ship.
      "3. Integration of the unique US components is not a trivial task and could drastically increase the time and cost well beyond what we would think."
      And how many euro ships use US unique equipment, first i think of the Spanish Aegis frigate the F-100, nowdays integrating equipment between euro-US ships its like lego :)

      "4. There is a strong Congressional desire to avoid buying a foreign design. It's a voter/jobs issue and it's very real in their minds."
      You just buy the blueprints and manufacture everything state side, a pragmatic example is the UH-72 Lacota utility helicopter.
      "5. A foreign design that we purchase means that we can't sell it to other countries which is something we generally try to do. Witness how hard we've been trying to sell the LCS to someone else!"
      Yes, i realize selling LCS is HARD because its a shitty ship,same with say, the Stryker armored vechicle,no export sales.
      Point being , when the US manufactures some good military equipment that is cheap and reliable for example : F-5 fighter, M-60 tank, M-113 APC, Perry Frigates, HAWK sams e.t.c everyone seems to buying
      make a good frigate and people will buy, even if it a modified foreign design, and the US is able to produce small hardhitting ships just look at the Ambassador mark III missile boats.. for Egypt ;) man an ambassador would be able to take out a few LCS under ideal conditions :D

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    3. Are you looking for an argument for argument's sake? If so, I have no interest in that. I mentioned some factors that militate against foreign frigate acquisitions. You may not like the factors and they may not all be reasonable or logical but they exist.

      I'm not going to waste time arguing about this.

      Delete
    4. Well, here's another proposal

      https://blog.usni.org/posts/2017/07/12/ffgx-quo-vadis

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  8. They sound like specifications drawn up by the same people that came up with the LCS. Because, well they are the same people. And the are playing the same political game. They can say they are listening to the critics and coming up with a new idea, but it is using the radar meant for upgraded LCS--the SCS, as well as the armament, helo, and everything else as the SCS variant but able to suddenly withstand shock tests. Lockheed thinks their steel hulled LCS can do better on shock tests with tweaking. This FFG is simply yet another LCS. Only now they will start a development program which will balloon out of control quickly and then Congress will have to settle for the LCS because a 500 million is cheaper than an FFG that costs the same as a Burke. Oh, and the navy expects the per ship cost to be somewhere in the 700 million to 1 billion range. So much for this blog's hope for a simple ASW focused FF for under 300 million.

    The lack of VLS is astounding--Not only is it to be placed on the Saudi LCS, but there is the Mk56 lightweight installation for ESSM which can be placed above deck in small 4 cell launchers wherever there's room. No excuse for not having ESSM---except one. This will be an excuse for more Burkes to protect them.

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  9. Ok guys I suggest y'all read No calls interview in USNI just more confused jiboresh if ya as me the only I could pick up on though and may mean nothing was the Type 26 mentioned by name this doesnt compute though as it's range comes in at 6000-8000 miles the prices they quoted were 700 million to 1.2 billion again right at the T26 price and remember all those F35 fighters the brits are buying and now another billion dollars worth on the hummer replacement coincidence maybe but the T26 would certainly satisfy me

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    1. No! The Type 26 is a poor man's Burke that tries (and fails) to do everything. It wants to be AAW, strike, ASW, ASuW, etc. The ship is 3/4 the size of a Burke with half the capability or less.

      We already have Burkes. Lots of them. We don't need a mini-Burke. We need a dedicated, CHEAP, ASW vessel that we can acquire in numbers and not cry about when it's sunk (playing tag with subs is inherently dangerous).

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    2. Perhaps the Japanese Asahi Class minus all the VLS? It's configuration still retains a hangar, harpoon and sensors and space for adding VLS should your Navy require in future

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    3. Is the Type 26 really trying to do anything? Royal Navy frigates focus on ASW and just have short range AAW missiles to defend themselves (e.g. Sea Wolf and Sea Ceptor). The destroyers focus on AAW and have longer range missiles (e.g. Sea Dart and Sea Viper).

      However, I will admit the ASW package for the Type 26 does not look as promising as that on the previous T22 and T23 frigates.

      I've always found the destroyer/frigate split interesting, as the USN differs from the RN and other countries.

      Royal Navy:
      Destroyer = air warfare
      Frigate = anti-submarine

      US Navy:
      Destroyer = AAW and ASW for battle groups.
      Frigate = the same but for merchant convoys.

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    4. Sorry meant "everything" not "anything" d'oh

      And I wholeheartedly agree that the USN needs cheap ASW and Mine Warfare vessels. Don't get hung up on what country designed them. Just get building fast.

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    5. Actually NICK the T26 ASW fit will be identical to a Type 23. But with an increase in aviation.

      As you say it is primarily a ASW asset. Type 31 will now be the General purpose frigate.

      But at 7000 tonnes, and armed as it is, it doesn't fit US CONOPS on frigates. ASW or Otherwise.

      Its not "a Burke" but it would step on the Burkes toes in termes of capability. It offers a lot but 60-70% of it you have already.

      Its a lot of money for just 30%.

      Having said that it will likely represent the worlds premier surface bourn Anti - submarine asset, designed for and fully capable of defending a carrier groups. What's that worth to you ?

      Silent hull design and running gear alone has taken billions in R&D !

      Beno

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    6. At a quick glance, the Type 26 appears to be an adequate but not great ASW vessel. It has a bow sonar, towed array, two ASW helos, and some form of unspecified hull acoustic quieting.

      A great ASW vessel would also have a variable depth sonar, dipping sonar, Hedgehog/RBU, Prairie/Masker, ASW torpedoes, multiple advanced Nixie tows, active torpedo defense (anti-torpedo torpedo), and would not cost over a billion dollars.

      Type 26 looks to be just a decent general frigate. I'm not an RN expert so maybe someone can better describe the ASW capabilities?

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    7. Beno - not quite identical to the T23. The T26 is lacking torpedo tubes, so will be entirely dependant on it's helicopter to attack subs.

      Yes I agree with you about the silent design etc. And as for the money.. I get the point that paying big bucks for top class ASW might be a poor move, when numerous cheap and expendable ASW ships would be better.

      ComNavOps - thanks for the reply.

      Afraid I'm stretching the limits of my amateur knowledge of the RN.

      I would love to see RN warships move back to having ASROC (Australian IKARA missile) or even the old limbo mortars, to help attack subs.

      The new T26 doesn't even have torpedoes. I guess the thinking is "keep the sub away from the ship!" and use the merlin helicopter (and drone) to attack. I believe the RN views its submarines as the primary anti-ship and anti-sub platform... frigates and destroyers are merely there to protect the carriers/transports... which are there to affect matters on land.... or provide air cover.

      The RN has so few ships it can't afford any sinkings. I'm not sure how this will work in practice.

      The T26 will also be moving from the traditional RN 4.5 inch gun to the 5in.

      Having CIWIS will be good. The T23 was sorely lacking a last ditch defence if it's missiles failed. Down to lack of funds more than anything else.

      Basically - yes t26 is a poor man's burke... BUT the hull is optimised for ASW... so that's something right?

      After the expensive T22 frigate, the T23 was originally designed to be a very cheap ASW platform. Basically just towed array; guarding convoys; directing helicopters based on a Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ship. But the Falklands war taught the RN that they needed all their ships to have short range AAW missiles and guns (to avoid the fate of the T21 Amazons). So the design expanded to include gun, sea wolf, harpoon and helicopter.

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    8. "I guess the thinking is "keep the sub away from the ship!" and use the merlin helicopter (and drone) to attack."

      That thinking is great IF YOU CAN DETECT THE SUB FAR AWAY FROM THE SHIP. However, with shallow water ASW, which is where non-nuclear subs tend to operate, detection ranges are drastically shortened due to the very high ambient noise levels, as we've discussed in previous posts/comments. Thus, while you may WANT to keep the ship away from the sub, you may find that unexpected, close range encounters are all too frequent and you'll desperately want a quick reaction, short range ASW weapon on the ship - hence my previous post on Hedgehog/RBU. So, wishing for a particular tactical scenario is fine but designing ships around wishes is a recipe for disaster.

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    9. "Falklands war taught the RN"

      The Falklands War should have also taught the RN about the shortcomings of their ship board ASW. Argentina operated a Type 209 diesel-electric sub that claimed 3 attacks and was never detected. Apparently, one of the attacking torpedoes hit a destroyer's towed decoy and the destroyer didn't find out about it until they retrieved the decoy and saw that it was damaged. Only the Argentine sub's poor equipment and poorer training prevented significant RN losses.

      So, if the Type 26 is only a half-adequate ASW vessel, the RN failed to learn its lessons just as the US Navy has failed to learn its lessons.

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    10. "wishing for a particular tactical scenario is fine but designing ships around wishes is a recipe for disaster"
      Agreed.

      Also agreed about the short range ASW - mortars, depth charges etc.

      Ah that's interesting - I hadn't heard that about the Argentine sub.

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    11. Nick, here's a link to a report describing submarine operations (both sides) during the Falklands war:

      Falklands Submarine Operations

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  10. Can't say I was disappointed since I wasn't expecting much from USN. I really don't see much difference from a plain LCS, it will be just another target for any sub out there and the only usefulness as a picket frigate will be when it is a sunk by an ASM, I guess the rest of the fleet will know they are under attack. At any rate, as a ship capable of targeting the enemy, it's chances of success seem limited and it's survival: minimal.

    http://breakingdefense.com/2017/07/navy-steers-well-away-from-an-lcs-frigate/

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  11. Basically it's the LCS, but done better- bit more robust, a few missiles, hopefully more reliable engines. Remember the aim is for a lower cost warship to hunt subs, mines and show the flag. If they can get the engines reliable, it can do two of the 3 functions. I came across an article from an Aussie site showing how using a helo to hunt subs plays a major role in killing subs. Hopefully the new LCS can handle more weight, so put x 2 heloes with torpedoes out there.

    The article also mentions upfront one of the shortcomings of current ship based torpedoes mentioned by CNO before- the short range- another reason helicopters are important.

    https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/simulating-anti-submarine-warfare/

    I guess what I'm saying is- if the LCS (Let's call it what it really is, not a frigate)is done better, it can be reliable, be cheaper, and perform some tasks.

    Personally I'd like it to have the Italian anti air system: 2 x 76mm OTO guns with Strales. Not gonna happen though

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  12. Every time I see the navy putting out requirements like this I can't help but doing a little thought experiment of what we would have if the ww2 mindset had continued and modernized. I'm not saying we should build this but look at what a modernized ww2 Gearing-class destroyer could look like for example compared to this RFI, taking from Wikipedia some... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gearing-class_destroyer

    Displacement: ~3,460 tons full load
    Length: 390.5 ft (119.0 m)
    Beam: 40.9 ft (12.5 m)
    Armor: .5 in steel
    Max Speed: 36.8 knots
    Range: 4,500 nmi at 20 knots
    Complement: 350 as designed(you could get that to ~200 if you wanted)
    Hull mounted Sonar: (Thales Bluewatcher for example)
    Variable Depth Sonar: (Thales Captas 2 or Captas 4 light weight)
    Radar: (Sea Giraffe 4A AESA)

    Armament:

    3 × twin 5”/38 cal guns --> 2 × twin 5"/62 cal guns or down gunned to OTO Melara 76mm Super Rapid and replace the second twin mount with 16-32 self-defense length VLS packed with ESSM

    12 × 40 mm Bofors AA guns (2 × 4 & 2 × 2) --> 4 CIWS mounts (seaRam or phalanx or a mix)

    10 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes --> 2 x ASROC 8-cell launchers or 16 fixed cell launchers loaded with a mix of ASROC and Harpoons (or naval strike missile) and 2 × triple Mark 32 torpedo tubes


    I dare saying something along those lines could be a far sight more useful than what they are calling for.

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    1. You sold me Ile take 50 of them but seriously could or better yet would they simply install 2 mk 29 launchers for ESSM/ ASROC along with say 4-8 NSM seeing as the navy is so damn reluctant to even mention VLS in the same sentence something like this we have already had withe the Garcia and Spurance classes

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  13. As I have re-read the info and specs. on the mk29 I have found that apparently it can be reloaded at sea something the VLS can't do so easy also it lightweight now I'm not even suggesting the navy is looking at it for the new frigate but I did see the interview mention launch rails for missiles the mk 29 is bout the only only that's in use right now unless they are eyeing something that we don't know about also the mk29 is relatively light in weight

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  14. Perhaps we should look at procuring Type 054A frigates? They seem like a bargain at only 350 million dollars.

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    1. HAHAHAHA, brilliant!

      Just buy 1 tho.

      Then copy it 100 times and don't pay the leicense fees.

      Change the deck gun, and paint it a different colour, then totally claim its a USN design.

      Delete
    2. 054B will be in service by the time this program gets anywhere. 054B project began in 2012 with first unit anticipated to enter service in early 2020s, after 054A production wraps around 2020.

      Major improvements over 054A are expected to include integrated mast for reduced RCS, new generation of sensors, integrated electric propulsion (as with Zumwalt and Type 45).

      Delete
  15. The 3000 mile range seems on the low side for the "Pacific Pivot".

    Australian Tier one warships are built for a 5,000 and 6,000 range. Perth to Singapore is around 3,000 miles for example. The Royal and US Navies built destroyers and frigates during WW2 for Pacific operations in the 6,000+ mile range. The Brits felt range as so important, they designed new classes of destroyers with extended range for the pacific.



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    1. Why we refuse to remember the lessons of WWII, range in this case, is beyond me. It's just stupidity on the part of the Navy.

      Every short ranged ship we build is another oiler we have to build (not literally, but conceptually).

      Delete
    2. Exactly. Either replenish at sea, or take on fuel and stores in a friendly foreign port.

      Oilers/ replen ships don't come cheap, say $200 million plus ongoing sustainment and on-shore training and infrastructure costs, etc. And multiple ships are needed due to availability and maintenance cycles

      There are times when friendly ports are hard to come by for political reasons - say the Brits in south America thanks to the Falklands, or the Russians in the Mediterranean. And "friendly ports" can take some diplomacy to maintain. France maintains relations in Djibouti so warships can re-fuel on their way to and from Mayotte and Reunion. That cost's them upwards of $100 million a year.

      Range is indeed handy

      Delete
    3. "It's just stupidity on the part of the Navy."

      The more I hear about this, the more it seems it *can't* be stupidity.

      Yes, technology has changed. The size of the Pacific hasn't. The importance of the Pacific has also arguably massively increased since the end of the Cold War with the rise of China and the increase in Pacific Rim trade.

      So.... why all the short legged stuff? The SuperHornet I get. I disagree with the idea, but I can at least accept they were trying to make a decision based on sortie rate and maintenance costs in an era of declining budgets.

      But the LCS? The lack of desire to get a new air wing with long range strike and/or at least mission tanking?

      This can't just be stupidity. It seems more by design. And that suggests corruption or an institution seeking goals *other* than what we think. The more we read, the more its about budget slice. And the more its about that and being socially conscious the more it seems about field grade officers who want sweet jobs or great retirement from Congress with that last round of promotions.

      If that's the case, I'd almost rather its just stupidity.

      Delete
  16. My one last forlorn hope is that the new USCG OPC actually works and is under budget. While the top speed could be better, the CG is paying $110 mill for the first one---right around where this blog has placed a new ASW ship---and has a 10,000 nm range. Replace the useless 57mm with a VLS, add sonar and a modest torpedo loadout (already has a helo) and it could be a decent frigate. Assuming it works and stays in budget.

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    1. Uhh ...... From a USNI News website article,

      "The [Coast Guard] has estimated the ships would cost about $421 million a hull for a total buy of 25 cutters."

      Delete
    2. Doh! Well, another hope down the drain.

      Delete
  17. Hi CNO,

    I think if you look at the RFI like a Chinese Menu, it is possible to draw circles around what might become a hot, satisfying meal.

    On the other hand, its also possible to draw circles around a set of requirements that would reduce the existing LCS KPPs (i.e. mark them down to reality: speed, range, no mine warfare) and add $10-20b billion in development funds to (maybe) remediate the open deficiencies that can't be normalized away (disastrous shock trials, missing missiles).

    In other words, higher cost per unit, less capability and a 5th and 6th design iteration of both beasts.

    With no remedy for the short logistics tether, unworkable manning, or unmoored-to-reality CONOPS.

    I think, in light of the history of the program and its principals, its more likely the wholesome menu items were placed to distract from the thin and unsatisfying gruel that's about to be delivered from the kitchen.

    And on that metaphor, good night.

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  18. I am actually less skeptical of the outcome than some others. There are a few features of the RFI that give me hope.

    First, it calls for a ship capable of "independent operations in a contested environment," one that can "robustly defend itself during conduct of independent operations." They are also interested in a ship that can serve an an independently operating AAW escort for logistics ships, though this is not a requirement. To this end, the weapons fit out must include a "Self Defense Launcher Capability" that is in addition to a required SeaRAM. This launcher must be a "common Navy system." As I read all of that, the ship must carry a MK 56 armed with ESSM at minimum, and other language in the RFI makes it clear they are looking for designs that can carry a Mk 41.

    Second, the ship must be able to "withstand initial damage effects and to continue to perform primary missions" (Defined as "to retain full Air Defense and Propulsion Capabilities") after taking a hit. That sounds like level II survivability to me.

    Obviously the vagueness of the AAW weapons requirement and the absurdly low range threshold are of concern, and look like attempts to keep the door open to LCS derived designs. But I don't think the door is open very far at all. I simply do not think that those designs can be sufficiently modified to make them survivable enough to fit the criteria outlined.

    To be honest, the criteria really look to me like they were written with an NSC variant in mind. It will also be interesting to see what foreign designs get pitched.

    In short, this RFI is better news than I had hoped for. I think that any conventional hull ship is going to be a far better candidate than any LCS derived design on just about all applicable metrics, and, I suspect, competitive on price as well.

    Haz

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    Replies
    1. "the weapons fit out must include a "Self Defense Launcher Capability"

      I'm afraid you've misinterpreted this. The launcher phrase appears in a paragraph that discusses the POSSIBILITY of trade offs to include such a launcher. It is NOT a requirment. Here is the paragraph.

      "Self Defense Launcher Capability - To increase the FFG(X) self-defense, the Navy is particularly interested in understanding the trade space surrounding the addition of Launcher Capability (to support Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile Block 2 and/or Standard Missile-2 Active missiles)."

      Read it carefully. The launcher is not a requirement and ESSM is NOT part of the specs. The Navy is asking industry whether it could be included without breaking the bank.

      Delete
    2. "it calls for a ship capable of "independent operations in a contested environment,"

      The description can call for anything. It's what capabilities the ship actually has that matter. The "specs" describe a very mediocre ship (I'm being generous).

      The document can call for a ship capable of winning a war single-handed but if it only provides a handgun in the way of weapons, it won't win any wars. You have to read the specs and resultant capabilities, not the marketing buzz. Recall that the LCS was described as "dominating the littorals" among other fantasies but the actual, equipped capabilities fell far short of the marketing.

      Still see a good outcome from this?

      Delete
  19. I have to disagree with you on the self defense launcher. Though you leave it out of the lists in your original post, it is listed as a tier one weapons system in the RFI.

    So they are leaving it vague as to how designers fulfill the requirement, but it has to be in addition to SeaRAM and it has to be a system already in use. The MK 56 is the minimum that meets those criteria. (unless someone decided to go back to the MK 29, which just seems absurd).

    Haz

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    1. I don't think you're reading it right. All the other items list a specific item (for example, MH-60R x1). The launcher "item" says "Self Defense Launcher CAPABILITY" (my emphasis). I read this as including the ability to have a launcher but not having an actual, physical launcher. This is the "equipped for but not with" syndrome. Thus, I assume it means that the combat system software should include launcher capability but will not have a launcher. This interpretation is supported by the paragraph I quoted which says, "the Navy is particularly interested in understanding the trade space surrounding the ADDITION of Launcher Capability" (my emphasis). If the launcher were a hard requirement, there would be no further discussion nor reference to the ADDITION of a launcher.

      For the time being, I'll stick with my interpretation and we'll wait to see the actual specs turn out to be.

      Delete
    2. So the US want a simple but effective frigate,wich can do ASW,AAW,and surface-combat,bassicly these the, but upgraded.Or the US can "hook-on" with the Dutch and Belgians for the replacements(new-class)
      First the old ones(M-class):

      Type: Karel Doorman class multi-purpose frigate
      Displacement: 2,800 tons standard; 3,320 tons full load
      Length: 401ft (122.3m)
      Beam: 47ft (14.4m)
      Draught: 20ft (6.1m)
      Propulsion:

      CODOG
      2 × Rolls Royce (Spey 1A) 16700 hp (12.45 MW) gas turbines
      2 × Stork-Werkspoor 4895 hp (3.650 MW) diesel engines

      Speed: 30 knots (54 km/h)
      Complement: 154
      Sensors and
      processing systems:

      Thales Smart-S Mk.1 long-range 3D survaillance and tracking radar
      Thales LW08 long-range surveillance radar
      Thales SeaWatcher 100 active phased array surface detection and tracking radar (NLD and BE ships only)
      Thales GateKeeper Electro-optical 360° survaillance system (NLD and BE ships only)
      Thales STIR 1.8 Tracking and Illumination Radar system
      Thales Scout surface surveillance and tactical navigation radar
      Thales PHS-36 Hull-mounted sonar
      Thales Anaconda DSBV 61 VLF passive tactical towed array sonar
      Ultra Electronics Multi-static Low Frequency Active Passive Sonar (NLD ships only)

      Electronic warfare
      & decoys:

      Thales Vigile APX Radar Electronic Support Measures
      Sippican Hycor Mk36 SRBOC Chaff and Decoy Launching System

      Armament:

      Guns:
      1 x Oto Melara 76mm (3 inch) gun
      1 x Goalkeeper CIWS
      2-4 x Browning M2 12.7mm machine gun
      2-6 x FN MAG 7.62mm machine gun
      Missiles & Torpedoes:
      16 x VLS firing RIM-7 Sea Sparrow Anti-air Missile
      8 x Launcher firing Boeing Harpoon Anti-Ship missile
      2 x Twin torpedo tubes firing Mk.46 Torpedoes

      Aircraft carried: Chilean Navy: AS 532 Cougar, Portuguese Navy: Westland Super Lynx, Dutch & Belgian Navy: NH-90
      Aviation facilities: helicopter hangar and flightdeck

      The new ones will be bigger around the 4500 tonns mark.and will be able to do all that the M-class does/did and a bit more.

      Delete
    3. I will concede that it is possible that the navy could in the end say that "Fitted for but not with" was sufficient to meet the spec, but the RFI clearly says that proposals must identify the launcher, along with space, weight, and volume requirements. So just including code in the combat system is not going to cut it--they have to show that the ship can physically carry and operate a specified laucher. Trade offs against other specifications are allowed, but a design that depends on that will clearly be at a disadvantage.

      Again, the specs seem written to allow the LCS derivatives to keep a foot in the door, but just barely. They are going to be at a huge disadvantage in terms of cost, survivability, payload, and range to any conventional hull design. Every domestic and foreign design that has been mentioned so far is going to have an easier time meeting the RFI specs than the semi-planning hulls will, and if they so modify either LCS to to bring it into parity, they are going to blow out the cost.

      Haz

      Delete
  20. Trying to look at it a little more positively, the lack of ESSM means there is no exscuse for an expensive spy-1/aegis variant onboard, which means a more ASW-centric sip by default. And it is the ASW mission that is what needs addressed. The RFI can be interpreted to mean a carrier group ASW ship that will focus on subs-hunting while a Burke provides an AAW umbrella. If approved, it might also mean future Burkes (and there will be future ones, needed or not) can officially drop the ASW mission and shave a few million off the priceby leaving off the big ASW choppers, and other Barely used ASW equipment.
    Trying to be positive here, that would leave a fleet with an ASW-Centric frigate and an AA-centric destroyer and start to end the era of jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none era we are in now.
    If we try to look at it positively. Even though it is probably just a way to repackage the LCS.

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    1. The problem with your more positive view is that the "specs" don't support the supposition that the ship will be ASW effective. The specs make no mention of some equipment that a truly effective ASW ship would need such as:

      -hull mounted sonar
      -two ASW helos (spec only calls for one)
      -acoustic isolation of internal machinery
      -Prairie/Masker
      -lightweight, on-board, ASW torpedoes
      -quick reaction, short range, Hedgehog/RBU

      The final aspect of a good ASW vessel that is not addressed is expendability. If you're going to play tag with submarines, you're going to lose ships. Therefore, your ASW vessel had better be cheap enough to build in numbers and be expendable.

      It may be that the ship will have all these things in the final specs but I doubt it. I think that what we see in the RFI is what the ship will have and it's quite likely that even some of the listed items will be dropped as the costs inevitably balloon out of control.

      I'd like to be positive about this RFI but I just can't because the listed specs don't describe a useful ship.

      Delete
  21. This is clearly a place where they are trying to cut costs, especially as the quieting is so expensive. I'm willing to bet that any proposal for a conventional hull warship will include a hull sonar of the relatively cheap, Thales, variety. Torpedo tubes also are not hard or expensive to add on.

    The one SH-60 + 2 UAV v. 2 SH-60 does look like they are more focused on a GP design than an ASW specialized design. Again, though, this looks like it was written with the NSC in mind rather than the LCS derivatives, both of which, I believe, can take 2 SH-60s.

    I don't know how good of an ASW frigate an NSC derivative will be, but it will be a hell of a lot better than the LCS.

    Haz

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  22. Well to be honest to "beat" the LCS isn't a big problem(in a frigate way i mean,come on be serious.)I mean every(or almost every "Euro" design is better then that 1,or i might be missing something.)

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  23. ComNavOps. You seem to be very dismissive of the Type 26 design despite clearly having very little knowledge of he programme or the ships capabilities. Your attitude in general towards the Royal Navy bothers me. Especially as it seems to come with little understanding of the subject. If you like I will happily explain the merits of the Type 26 and how it fits perfectly within the structure of the RN and the reasons it is better suited to our concept of operations than a Burke. your conclusions regarding the Falklands are also deeply flawed. Lessons where indeed learned and implemented. The Type 26 will be only one part of that. Again I could explain if you are genuinely willing to listen but I fear you have some axe to grind with the RN. Perhaps I am wrong and you simply don't know as much about the RN as you do about the US navy

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    1. Whoa there! Put the engines in reverse! I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for the RN. I preface every one of my RN comments with the disclaimer that I'm not an RN expert and any RN comments I make may be wrong.

      Regarding the Type 26, I am dismissive of the Type 26 FOR US NAVY SERVICE. My comments are not about the ship as it may or may not fit into the RN scheme but, rather how it would fit into the US Navy scheme since that's what some people have called for.

      Feel free to expound on the Type 26! I'll read anything you have to say with interest.

      By the way, to be fair to me, here's the relevant quote, "Type 26 looks to be just a decent general frigate. I'm not an RN expert so maybe someone can better describe the ASW capabilities?"

      You'll note that I call it a decent frigate - that's hardly dismissive. You'll also note both my disclaimer and a suggestion that someone might be able to better describe it.

      So, I'll look forward to seeing what you have to say!

      Delete
  24. Part One
    Hi, that's not the only comment you made ComNavOps. The one which rubbed me the wrong way was "No, the type 26 is a poor mans Burke which tries to do everything AAW, ASW, ASuW, Strike (but fails)". I am happy to accept though that you did not mean to be as you sounded. In that spirit I will attempt to explain why the Type 26 is not only a good addition to the RN but also perfectly fits our (admittedly reduced) aspirations. Going forward it must be remembered that the RN and US navy are of a very different size and structure. The smaller size and reduc d resources of the RN dictate a somewhat unique approach to many problems. The Type 26 will be a high end ASW specialist platform which can also cover the full spectrum of other war fighting tasks, although to a lesser extent. ASW can be divided between deep water and littorial tasks, the type 26 is designed to perform the former. The RN will also be getting six Type 31 frigates which are cheaper and will perform ASW in the littorial zone. To perform her primary task of deep water ASW the Type 26 will have a Thales type 2050 hull mounted active sonar array (as currently fitted to the Type 23 frigates) and also a type 2087 Variable Depth TAS. The Type 2087 is a world leading sonar system and the USN is in fact looking to buy the system for use on the LCS (you may know the system as CAPTAS). These two sonar systems are complimented further by the ships ability to carry a Merlin ASW helicopter with a Thales flash dipping sonar. The Merlin itself also carries Stinray torpedoes for attacking any submarine contacts and is similar to your NH-60. The type 26 can also carry a second helicopter of a smaller type. The RN operates the Widcat medium helicopter in both the ASW and Surface Strike roles and the Type 26 can carry one of each helicopter Type. The Wildcat does not posses a dipping sonar but does carry the Stingray torpedo system, targeting though must come from the ships sonar or that of the Merlin. Previous RN frigates like the Type 23 have had surface launched torpedoes as well to supplement the ASW helicopter but they have been omitted this time due to the increase from one to two helicopters and the inclusion of the 24 cell MK41 VLS, which allows the use of ASROC. I imagine that there is a long term aim to integrate our own Stingray torpedo just like on the new P-8s but in the short term it will be off the shelf US weapons. All of these ASW systems come in a super quite hull with a large mission bay capable of accommodating 10 ISO containers or future unmanned ASW or MCM equipment. I think we can all agree that together this represents an excellent ASW capability. They will also carry the Surface Ship Torpedo Defence System which replaced the US supplied Nixie system. It is a decoy system with 16 rounds. The only possible item of equipment you mentioned which is not included is some form of hard kill (which I would like) but everything is a compromise.
    Moving on from the Type 26s primary ASW mission and looking at the other systems we see that in the AAW realm the ship is not designed to provide wide area defence like a Burke. In the RN that job is done by the Type 45 destroyers. The Type 26 does not posses the long ranged SAMs or advanced radar to support them. The ship is however required to provide local area air defence for herself and a close companion like an RFA or merchant ship. To this end she is armed with 48 Sea Ceptor SAMs. The Sea Ceptor or CAMM has a range of 25 miles, is radar agnostic and comparable to ESSM. These 48 missiles are in two separate bespoke cold launch silos. Coupled to the Artisan 3D radar the missiles are a decent short ranged AAW capability. As a further defence they will have two Phalanx CIWS and the usual ECM and trainable launchers for Seagnat and other decoy types.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Part two
    The MK 41 VLS is not strictly needed (if you are willing to forgo ASROC or equivalent) but is there because it enhances the capabilities of the ship in its primary role by enabling carriage of ASROC and allows them to carry ASMs for self defence or offensive ASuW if required. The ability to carry cruise missiles is another benefit but not an attempt to do too much. If you are installing MK41 then you may as well clear Type 26 for use of all weapons available including Tomahawk. You might not load any but in a fleet with only 20 escorts you need them all to be shooters in a pinch. Hopefully by the time Type 26 hits the water the USN will have decided between Tomahawk and LRASM and we can put 8 ASROC and 16 Tomahawk/LRASMs in the MK41 and use them for either anti ship or land attack. In the land attack role the ships will also carry a 5 inch gun (same as the latest USN version) for NGFS. It is highly unlikely that a type 26 will be sent that close to shore but the RN tried escorts with no gun and won't make the same mistake again. The ships will carry two DS30mm automatic cannons and several mini guns and GPMGs for dealing with small boats. On the subject of boats the Type 26 can carry at least two 11m RHIBs for boarding operations, which are launched and recovered by the gantry in the mission bay.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Part three
    Hopefully I have shown that the Type 26 is a very good ASW ship which can also defend itself from the air or surface if needed. It's only modest feature really is the speed of about 26/27 knots but this is In Line with the carriers which they will protect. The ships also posses a range in excess of 7000 nm and 60 days endurance with of course the ability to be replenished if required.
    In regards to the Falklands ASW we learned that littorial ASW was best left to helicopters or smaller ships with active sonar, to that end Type 26 carries two helicopters instead of one and Type 31 will be smaller, cheaper and better suited to that task. We also learned that torpedo decoys worked and so still use them.The reason I think Type 26 does not fit US needs is because you have 75 Burkes. If we had that many escorts we wouldn't need a world beating ASW platform because we could send 3/4 Burkes but when you only have 20 escorts the one you send after a sub better be able to prosecute it own its own. 20 escorts is wY to few for the RN and has forced us to go for specialist ships. We are going for six Type 45 destroyers (AAW specialist), 8 Type 26 (ASW specialist) and 6 Type 31 (general purpose, littorial ASW, NGFS). It's not a lot but enough to ensure 4 AAW, 6 ASW, 4 GP escorts available. We have 2 LPDs and soon 2 carriers and can look to deploy a battle group at all times. We can't manage the US model of separate ARG and CBG but will deploy what is known the Response Force Task Group centred on a carrier with 24 F-35B and 9 ASW helicopters and 5 AEW helicopters and the LPD carrying a small land element. This will be supported by a couple of RFA ships for sustainment and supply and guarded by 3/4 of the available escorts. It's not nearly as potent as a comparable US formation but well in excess of what almost anyone else can muster.
    PS I do enjoy your blog, thank you

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    1. Well, that was a nice informative writing. I don't disagree with anything you said and, as near as I can tell, you didn't contradict anything I said - which leaves me a bit puzzled about what you're so worked up about?

      Minor note - Wiki does not list Type 26 as having a VDS. Are you sure that it does?

      Your conclusion (well, one of them) was identical to mine: "The reason I think Type 26 does not fit US needs is because you have 75 Burkes." That's exactly why I dismiss the Type 26 FOR US NAVAL SERVICE.

      Type 26 appears to be a competent ASW platform that falls just a bit short of being outstanding, as I stated in an earlier comment where I noted the following shortcomings:

      -lacks VDS (is that true?)
      -Hedgehog/RBU for close in, quick reaction
      -Prairie/Masker
      -ASW torpedoes
      -active torpedo defense (anti-torpedo torpedo)
      -lacks second full capability ASW helo

      The biggest failing of the Type 26 in the ASW role is that it costs around $1.5B(USD) or so which makes it too expensive and too few to risk playing tag with submarines. This is the same problem the US Navy has with the Burkes. They're far too valuable and expensive to perform the ASW task that they're nominally charged with.

      The US Navy desperately needs a small, dedicated, cheap, expendable ASW "corvette" that can be built in numbers and be considered expendable.

      So, we appear to be in complete agreement. If you think we aren't, you'll have to tell me where/how because I'm not seeing it!

      To summarize, the Type 26 is a poor man's Burke - significantly less capable in all areas except ASW and in that area is good but falls short of great and likely has a small edge over the Burke.

      I'm going to guess that you're still not happy with me so you'll have to tell me why.

      Delete
    2. By the way, if you consider yourself a RN expert, perhaps you'd be willing to author a guest post on RN naval topics as they impact the US? If you feel you're qualified and have an interest, let me know. I've got specific topics and I'm open to general thoughts.

      Delete
  27. Thank you. The only conclusion of yours that I don't agree with is " a poor mans Burke", that is what I would say some of the other euro frigates are, like the German Saschen class. They clearly try to emulate the Burkes AAW performance whilst also cramming in everything else. I just don't think that description applies to the Type 26.
    The Type 2087 TAS is defiantly variable depth and is known as CAPTAS 4 out with the UK. Prairie Masker is absent but the Surface Ship Torpedo Defence System is fitted instead. Note I do not say it's better or worse, just a different system. There is also a hard kill version in development (but probably not ready for first ship). The 2nd helicopter is a Wildcat which though not as capable as a Merlin can carry a dipping sonar and is used by other navies for ASW. You are right to point out no RBU type weapon, which I would also like fitted but as you pointed out £1.5 billion is already very expensive and the RN (rightly or wrongly) believes that it's better to keep the sub at distance using the helicopters to prosecute.
    Incidentally the £1.5 billion per ship is due to the huge r&d costs being spread over only 8 hulls. If the US navy bought the design we would probably eat the r&d costs meaning you could probably knock them out for less than a billion dollars a piece. Still, it probably isn't the right ship for your needs.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Incidentally the £1.5 billion per ship is due to the huge r&d costs being spread over only 8 hulls. If the US navy bought the design we would probably eat the r&d costs meaning you could probably knock them out for less than a billion dollars a piece. Still, it probably isn't the right ship for your needs. In that regard we are building 6 Type 31 frigates which may be closer to the cheap attrition unit you envisage. Around 4500 tonnes, hull mounted sonar, 1 ASW helicopter, 16 cell MK41 vls and capable of taking the sonar 2087 (RN will not install due to cost) and could replace the Phalanx with SeaRam. Cost per unit is expected to be around £400 million each. Adding the TAS and SeaRam you would still be under $500 million.
    Thank you also for the kind offer of a guest post. Where there any particular RN topics you think would fit? Perhaps something on the new carriers and how the RN plans to use them. Current ambition is not exactly conventional due mainly to budget and manpower issues.

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    1. Many possible topics.

      -Should the RN try to build a balanced fleet or aim more at filling a capability gap in the US Navy (like ASW) under the assumption that the USN and RN will always fight together?

      -Should UK and US build a single, common ballistic missile sub (I know many of the components will be common)?

      -Can a small (in terms of the size of the air wing) carrier perform credible combat missions? Will a RN carrier have enough aircraft to perform significant strike while retaining sufficient aircraft for carrier defense (CAP - combat air patrol)?

      -Can a RN carrier that routinely operates a limited air wing of a dozen or so aircraft successfully and instantaneously convert to operating an air wing of 30-40 aircraft without having trained for high tempo combat ops? The US trains relentlessly for high tempo ops and still has issues when it occurs.

      -Does the RN have enough ships/aircraft to conduct high end, high intensity, peer combat ops or have they reached a point where they can't do so on their own (relating back to operations with the US)?

      -Analysis of Type 31 ASW frigate capabilities and the cost versus the risk of ASW.

      -Does the RN envision being able to conduct long range land attack (strike; the US uses Tomahawk) and, if so, how and with what capacity?

      -Does the F-35B offer sufficient weapons carry (take off weight from a ski ramp) and range to conduct useful long range strike?

      -How does the RN accomplish the long range surveillance mission (US uses E-2D Hawkeye, P-8, and MQ-4 Triton along with satellites, and signal intercept (COBLU)) without dedicated assets?

      -Does a lack of carrier tanking aircraft limit carrier aircraft ops?

      -What role does RN envision for a carrier in high end, high intensity, peer warfare?

      -Does the RN have a credible forced entry (amphibious assault) capability from the sea? If not, what role is envisioned for RN amphibious forces? Would amphibious assaults only be conducted in conjuction with US forces?

      -How do the current RN carriers compare in armor, firepower, air wings, etc. to WWII RN carriers (on a relative basis, obviously)? RN carriers were the first to have armored flight decks, if I recall correctly, and those were of benefit in the Pacific in dealing with the Kamikazee threat.

      I can go one but you get a feel for the kinds of topics that are of interest. I'm also open to any topic that is of particular interest to you that I may not have mentioned.

      Delete
  29. Many topics indeed and all interesting. I think a piece regarding the new carriers design, capabilities and ConOps might be suitable and would also by it's nature cover a couple of the topics you mentioned. I would be happy to submit such a piece and delighted if you posted it. As for topics I would like to see you cover, well you are on point with this blog already. I would like to read your thoughts about the impact of unmanned systems like UUVs, USVs and UAVs on ASW though, especially in the littoral zone. Do you think the technology could represent a leap forward and if so do you have any thoughts as to the various systems possible employment. You may already have written something on this previously but I confess to not yet having read every single article in the archives. If that is the case then maybe just an update and appraisal of any USN systems in development.

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  30. Great. I will contact you in the next couple of days. Thank you.

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