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Flight III:Building a Better Burke

March 1, 2010

DDG-51 Arleigh Burke class destroyers, of the most powerful surface combatant class in naval history.

Since 1991, oddly enough just as the enemy the giant warship was meant to contend with faded into the dustbin of history, the US Navy has purchased on average three DDG-51 Arleigh Burke class destroyers per year or about 60 in three Flights. Other than Ballistic Missile Defense, these $1.8 billion greyhounds, averaging from 8300 to 9500 tons, armed with 90 missiles are used for many low tech functions from chasing pirates and smugglers to disaster relief. On our entire planet there are less than 20 warships which even come close to the capability of any one DDG-51, and the majority of these belong to allied navies.

With this in mind, the following is a response to the challenge by Phil Ewing at Scoop Deck who asked:

If you were running Naval Sea Systems Command, what would you change about the old reliable DDG 51 design?

The Navy Proposals

Before the first Arleigh Burke joined the fleet way back in 1991, there were calls for a “Flight III” of the design. Ronald O’Rourke on behalf of the Congressional Research Service, pointed out several from 1997. Within the document titled Navy DDG-51 and DDG-1000 Destroyer  Programs: Background and Issues for  Congress, 4 variants were examined with missile loads of up to 256, and a estimated price tag of $1.62 billion each in today’s dollars (since then Flight IIA Burkes have risen to $1.8 billion). 

O’Rourke detailed the elimination of the main 5 inch gun to save weight on a future DDG. There are already 106 such weapons in service with the 22 Ticonderoga cruisers and 62 destroyers, so the loss seems minimal. Dispensing with the gun would save weight, allowing for an improved radar over the current Aegis Spy-1. In its place, would go the powerful dual band radar meant for the truncated DDG-1000 Zumwalt destroyer program, and perhaps for the CGX cruiser canceled this year by the QDR. Extra power could be taken aboard for directed energy weapons as they are developed.

If history is any guide, the Navy will likely add more size such as a lengthened hull, as has been the practice with each consistent Burke Flight. Up to 56 feet more in length was proposed in the 1997 estimates.  This would also entail an increase in weight from the 9500 tons full for a Flight IIA, perhaps as much as an 11,000 tons. We can expect the price to rise as well, with $2.25 billion each likely just the start.


An Alternative Design

Absent a major war, cost should be the final yardstick for measuring the Navy’s future needs. Instead of building a smaller fleet of warships, I would balanced the design and capabilities with new technology. Advances in war at sea over the past few decades should make it possible to return some sanity to warship construction, without losing capability or seeing future decline in ship numbers.

So instead of increasing the size of the Flight III, which has been the custom so far, I would reduce its size, starting with the missile load. Thanks to increased accuracy, brilliantly displayed by our ballistic missile warships on numerous occasions, it should be possible to carry only 45 such phenomenal weapons on a single end hull, about 4500 tons light. The same Aegis radar that makes the Burke so superior to any existing surface combatant, will keep it at the forefront of destroyer development for many more years.

A single-end Flight III Arleigh Burke? Via Shipbucket. Click for full view.

Another alternative is something New Wars has called for earlier. By taking Aegis out of the hull completely, you could build many more vessels without reducing the missile loads. The bulky radar would then be carried on large off the shelf vessels such as the low priced T-AKE vessels, as an Aegis mothership. With all the room you need the power of your radar could be virtually unlimited, and networked with the smaller ships, you could provide support for a whole squadron of Flight IIIs. Considering the large size and power requirements for the dual band, this seems an ideal solution.

As I mentioned, on the smaller 4500 ton hull, you can load the 90 missiles currently deployed on the 9500 ton, nearly-$2 billion FlightIIA vessel. The cost of the hull would fall dramatically. I estimate $1.2 billion for the first, “evolutionary” proposal, and as low as $500 million each for the radar-less version! Built in foreign yards, the cost would be halved, respectively. This would allow a continued line of new destroyers at far less cost than future Navy plans. Ideally, though, you could divert savings into deploying more small, non-Aegis ships and submarines, to restore the Navy’s falling fortunes since the Cold War.


60 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    December 12, 2018 8:27 am

    What happens when the mother ships is sunk and the dumb ships can’t fire a missile?

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  8. January 26, 2014 12:06 am

    I see that there are A LOT of trash talking on this site, with people having no idea what they are talking about. It really bothers me, because I hate people talking non-sense… Now, this article and some of the comments.
    1. Aegis mother ship? That would work for WW2 style combat, where you group all your ships into this gigantic doomsday battle-group… Modern ships emphasize on modular and flexibility, where individual ships can perform a wide variety of roles, maximizing the number of hulls. Consider this, if you build some sort of Aegis mother ship, how often is that primary function used?

    2. Huge debate on SM-2 as anti-ship missile? I’m speechless… SM-2 is designed as SAM, with minor anti-ship capability going back to the 60s. You cannot assume that SM-2 will be an effective AShM. That’s just BS… Modern surface AShM are sea-skimming at 3-4m above sea level, with high agility and terminal attack mode. Any of that mean anything? Not to mention that SM-2’s accuracy as AShM is almost non-existent? I don’t think many people would call SM-2 as AShM, probably more as SAM. Although some might bring up the incident of sinking an Iranian missile boat, but please… That was a 200 tons boat that was defenseless against aerial threat – it did not have any SAM batteries.

    3. Lots and lots of assumption on radar cost. If anyone actually bothers to do any research, the phased array radar (SPY-1) cost about $150M USD, so too bad to those who just want to trash the radar system yet too lazy to do some research… The cost of warship is never about the expense of a single system, but rather when you combine a bunch of systems together, the cost goes up. Best example – the Nansen class cost $3.42B for 5 ships, including R&D, construction, equipment, etc.

    4. Less armament – that is so invalid. Best example: S.K.’s KDX-III Sejong the Great Class, which is designed to carry 128 cells VLS, with an estimated cost of less than $1B for the first 3, and $1.3B for ships 4-6. Although some might say SK can produce these ships cheaper, but by most accounts, SK can produce them at roughly 8-20% cheaper, depending on source. So again, assumption after assumption.

    5. The worst assumption – Anti-air is so accurate and so brilliant that they guarantee 1 hit 1 kill. If you think that is correct, think again. During the Gulf War, the Patriot system scored from less than 10% to 50% successful interception rate. Put that into perspective, most missiles will be getting through. Except, on ships, one missile is enough to seriously cripple a modern warship or outright destroy the ship. USS Stark or T22 during Falklands. Everything will work perfectly in simulation/test fire, with high success rate, but outside of that?

    6. Build more frigates. I would say it might, might be a good idea, although there are several unresolved issues for that. a) The Navy issued requirements, so it might be at least ten years before we actually see something. Don’t assume the USN is going to burrow the F-100 hull, as that is never going to happen. Politics will overrule that possibility. The USN will try to use its expertise to design better ships, which believe it or not, the USN have more experience with ship design and operation. b) We are in an age of reduced hull number, so the idea of more ships doesn’t really go with the trend. More ships means more running cost. Ever thought about that? I don’t think so… The cost of building more bases and support structure, personnel, operation and maintenance cost, etc.

    7. As with DDG-1000, I say the program itself was fair, except the Navy sacrificed lots of valuable space for the AGS, based on an out-of-dated doctrine – “navy on land” – to strike land based target. Take out both AGS could easily save room for few dozens VLS cells. Data link without S-band is just wrong… (Especially with an excuse of trying to save $3M) What are you going to do with SM-2s and ESSM? Just not going to use them? Dafuq?

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  10. Alex T. permalink
    September 12, 2013 4:02 pm


    Of course, SAMs can engage other SAMs, it only depends on the software of the missile and radar. And no, they aren’t only limited to lock on to aircrafts that are bigger than a missile, some modern SAMs nowadays are pretty much capable of intercepting anything that has a physical body of the size of a golf ball, including precision guided munition like mortar and artillery shells. The Russian SA-N-12 Gadfly for example, can intercept a SM-2. And of course, CIWS hard kill systems like the Russian CADS-1 Kashtan, which has two gatling cannons with a fire rate of 9,000 rounds/min and 8 AA missiles that could also lock on and destroy a SM-2.

    Nonetheless, the SM-2 is still the best and most effective anti-ship missile in the world. It is also the fastest anti-ship missile in the world, and that’s what makes it so dangerous and effective for saturation attacks, because the enemy has only a few seconds to respond! Also it isn’t that much weaker than a Harpoon, only 50% less explosive power. But 112 kg TNT is still enough to do some serious damage to the enemy ship’s super structur! It isn’t impossible to sink large vessels with only SM-2’s either. For example, if only one SM-2 would hit the ammunition storage on the enemy ship, it would blow up immediatel. Or as you said it yourself, you don’t have to immediately sink the enemy ship, it is enough to only destroy a few important key points on the superstructur (like radar and command bridge) and then finish it off with Harpoons later. That’s why SM-2’s in large quantity are much more effective than just a few big and over-expensive ATM’s that are useless anyway because they will never reach the target before getting shot down. Plus the SM-2 can be carried by any vessels that have a VLS!

    The Ticonderoga cruiser carries 98 SM-2’s, wich is the biggest amount of SM-2’s carried by any naval ship in the world! This is why the Ticonderoga is still the most powerful military naval ship in the world today! It’s amazing how this ship was designed 30 years ago, yet she is still the best! Simply amazing!

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  12. Marcel permalink
    September 2, 2013 7:15 am

    At first I found it to be very strange to have no Harpoons at newer Burkes. Especially since the TASM has been removed from service. Appearing they are sitting duck against enemy ships.

    Although I knew the SM2 can attack ships I have recently read that it is quite more capable in this role then I thought at first.
    It has a smaller warhead then Harpoon but the greater kinetic energy apparently compensates for this.

    A SAM is way faster and manouverable then a ASM so would be more difficult to intercept.

    Is it actually possible to shoot down a SAM with another SAM? Because SAMs are build to intecept aircraft and missiles that are bigger then a SAM.
    Would the CIWS be the only way to stop a SAM used in the anti-ship role?

    As more SAMs are carried you could fire a barrage of them, making the attack more difficult to stop then a single anti-ship missile (easier to stop 1 missile then multiple).

    SM2s have been succesfully in sinking an Iranian Kaman missile boat.
    I have read that a Turkish warship was crippled when accidently hit by 2 Sea Sparrow missiles. The missiles destroyed the bridge and information center.

    So even the smaller ESSM can cripple a ship but could they actually sink a large surface combatant?
    SM2 probably, but could ESSM? Because its a lot smaller.
    What would be the effect of SM2 and ESSM on larger ships such as amphibious warfare ships and aircraft carriers?

    I also read of newer Tomahawks having an anti-ship mode. As if they are a combination of the TLAM and TASM. Is this true?

    I think having a big anti-ship capable missile will still be usefull. Using barrage of SM2 and/or ESSM to cripple the enemy ship (knocking out bridge, sensors etc.), then fire a Harpoon/SLAM-ER or Tomahawk to finish the job (because a crippled ship can be repaired, becoming a treath again another day, a sunk ship is never a treath again).

    Or would the SAMs by themselves be effective enough to sink any enemy ship?

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  19. Robot permalink
    August 9, 2012 9:47 pm

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    July 29, 2012 2:50 pm

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  21. Anonymous permalink
    May 27, 2012 6:49 am

    Based on the burkes. would be the next step up

  22. Anonymous permalink
    December 7, 2011 11:33 pm

    Having an “Aegis Mothership” spells for certain disaster. Destroyers were designed to be split off from the main group by means of patrol, scouting, missions, etc. People forget the Arleigh concept was designed at the beginning of the Cold War. The US to this day still has the most advanced navy in terms of power, technology and flexibility. However, with the constant downward spiral the country is falling into and being involved in yet another pointless war thats making some rich cat all the more richer, why dont we put our technology to use to do some real good, IE: exploration of our solar system, manned flights to Mars etc. Developing new means of renewable energy is one, the list goes on. It almost feels like the world has forgotten how to be inventors, only thing they care about is money and the greed that comes with it.

    My grandfather once told me..
    “Man I fear will never be able to go to the stars as he dreamed once before because his dreams have become filled with flashing lights, television shows and corporate greed. We no longer care to explore, we only care about the money in our pocket and the television at the end of the day.”

  23. October 24, 2011 5:33 pm

    I still believe a larger, multi-role Flight III would be the most advantagous. The S. Koreans have shown that they can be built and that they can be effective (they have three of them now). I believe we should build 12 of the following (improved upon their Se Jong class design) as a bridge class to future technologies:



  24. Anonymous permalink
    August 3, 2011 6:51 pm

    Hello, a flight III of the Burke without radar you know what you call that ship a Forrest Sherman Class Destroyer. And out on the sea what job would they do besides be floating hulls with not as many weapons on them. Now you look at the FFG-X ship, the littoral ships would be better than this piece of crap being proposed by the government. The USN, the RN of 2000 could beat it if this is the case. I suggest going back to the drawing board or start building the Zumwalt’s of the quays. With this you might as well tell the navy that they are going to be like the Russian’s are now small and antiquated. A ship must have two guns between five to six inch gun, a SSM and SAM. And a CIWS now think on this one what would you design.

  25. Rexford permalink
    June 7, 2011 12:16 am

    For someone to say that the Flight IIa Burkes can’t do ASW work or ASUW work, or defend themselves is completely wrong.. what your forgetting is that the newer ASCM’s from Russia defeat the capability of CIWS making it nothing more than a fancy weapon to take out boats. That’s why the Navy developed ESSM, which can take out the Sizzler (SS-N-27) etc..

    as for the Harpoon, it’s completely outclassed again by Russian ASCM’s, what we need (and its being developed) is a supersonic long range stealty ASMC.. (look up LRASM-B) a 300+ mile range mach 3 cruise mach 5 sprint ASCM that launches from a VLS.. with those, your inferior flight IIa becomes an incredibly potent warship, able to take out any enemy foreign combatant..

    as for ASUW work, embarked helicopters are much better platforms than using VLA or OST to attack an enemy submarine..

  26. Marcel permalink
    March 8, 2011 2:27 pm

    The Flight IIA is an inferior warship.

    These are ASW/AA destroyers or maybe patrol destroyers.

    Without Harpoon anti-ship missiles and CIWS the ships are no longer multi-role.
    Definetly inferior to the Ticonderoga class and the flight I Burke which can engage other ships. Even the modified Spruance had VLS (with SAMs, ASROC and Tomahawk), Harpoons, CIWS and a helicopter.
    So the modified Spruance is superior to the Burke Flight IIA as a multi-role warship!

    They also lack close in weapon systems.
    Without anti-ship missiles and close in weapon systems they are unsuitable for combat missions. Little more then large patrol vessels. To vulnerable because they lack a CIWS and can not defend themselves against enemy ships.
    Useless in a naval conflict with for instance China (when it invades Taiwan for instance).

    Every self respecting warship has anti-ship missiles and a CIWS. Why were these removed? There appears to be plenty of room for them.
    Or do they still carry anti-ship Tomahawks?

    I know the SM2 can be used against ships but it has a small warhead.
    They have a gun but naval combat takes place at ranges you can’t reach with a gun.

    The Flight IIA is a castrated Arleigh Burke.

    A Flight III should have both the hangar for helicopters and Harpoons + CIWS.

    Other nations can build multi-role destroyers which have a helicopter, ASMs, Torpedoes and SAMs. Why can’t the US?

    I am Dutch and when I look at our De Zeven Provinciën class they appear to be superior to the Burke flight IIA. Except for not having Tomahawks (but they could be modified to carry them).

  27. CBD permalink
    March 4, 2010 2:43 pm

    The Burkes are for AD (now BMD with the latest upgrades) with an included land-attack capability. The Flight IIA lack the ability to effectively engage other ships at sea or to hunt subs. The next-gen Burkes will continue to be AD/BMD and strike oriented with the same minimal ASW and ASuW capability, taking on the role of the Tico’s and acting as the major system for ballistic missile intercept. That’s not much of a question. The real questions are about fleet numbers and the many other missions of the USN.

    Why not make some more ships to free the Burke’s for their BMD patrols? Some ships half the cost and capable of independent patrol? Ships that can be produced in numbers to boost CVBGs, give ARGs a dedicated escort and to deploy on patrol? Ships to hunt subs and show the flag?

    I think that the Nansen (F100 family) is a good base vessel because it is a lighter weight, lower cost ship that has a greater focus on hunting subs and bears an updated ASuW punch with its NSMs, there are also existing corporate agreements that would ease their construction through BIW. The USN has neglected surface and subsurface warfare on its surface vessels…even as small ships with AShMs and subs proliferate. Few new sub-hunting technologies since the end of the Cold War and even fewer new methods of eliminating the threat.

    AShMs are in an even worse state, with the US constantly producing one concept after the next since the early 1990s and having yet to produce a meaningful system. The integration of the Harpoon into the Mk41 VLS system (which would significantly ease installation of the rounds onto any of many US and allied vessels) has stalled as each of these concepts promises to take on the burden…and as each has died early in its development.

    The Harpoon has been upgraded, but faster, stealthier AShMs are now the norm for many nations. The NSM was tested in the US and is in the running for integration on the JSF, why not complete a Foreign Comparative Testing series?

    To properly rebalance the fleet, the ASuW and ASW capabilities need to be seriously considered…as does the availability of ships for patrol. Yes, these ships will mean more crew on some ship with less capability than a Burke…but they will still have AEGIS capability (and thus be able to contribute to the AAW mission) but they will be available at half the price of a Burke and can fill in for the old and worn-down OHP in the numbers department. LCS won’t replace the OHP frigates.

    Built on the Burke hull or built on the F100 hull design, it doesn’t matter as long as the ships are affordable, available and armed.

  28. leesea permalink
    March 3, 2010 12:20 am

    Bsmitty asks the right question: “Do we want to replace the Burkes with area AAW-capable, multi-mission combatants? Should there be any change in mission emphasis? Should we split functions into separate vessels? What existing and future threats should they counter?”

    Or in my lingo – pick the right ship. Going to a newer designed OHP or as some say an Expeditionary Frigate makes a lot more sense then trying to re-engineer older designs and older warships. But again the real question is what would be the objective of any warship modernization or replacement program.

    Personally I see more value in a more flexible designed warship to follow Bob Work’s concept of buy a big platform and plan on changeing out its weapons and sensors. Something more than an Absalon maybe a Iver Huitfeldt class AAW frigate?

  29. Graham Strouse permalink
    March 2, 2010 7:34 pm

    I’m more leary about over-reliance on networked systems then Mike, I think. My own experience in seemingly unrelated but surprisingly similar areas (large newsrooms, old hot rods) leads to believe that modular systems are generally more reliable, easier to protect, easier to upgrade quickly & cheaply & less vulnerable to major FUBAR situations then delicately balanced networks.

    Also, I do know a little about EMP weapons, their ease of deployment & the havoc they can wreak on complex networks. I can ask my buddy at GD (he does network installation) a little about this subject and get back to y’all.

    My feeling is that large units should be largely self-sufficient, capable of loitering in harms way & capable of absorbing real damage from a variety of sources. Smaller units can afford to be more specialized.

    This is a half-considered post, I admit. Mostly I’m throwing out concerns about an overly network-centric capital ship fleet. I’ll get back when I’ve got better data.

  30. Chuck Hill permalink
    March 2, 2010 3:33 pm

    In the old days these “flights” would have been different classes, each evolving from the previous iteration. The Fletchers were not Farragut flight IX.

    Why the change?

  31. CBD permalink
    March 2, 2010 12:05 pm

    As for the Flt III Burkes, a ground-up reorganization for modern technology (and future upgrades) might be sufficient. Implementation of minor modern power management, ship systems and capability upgrades (including return of the Harpoons or other AShM) would be sufficient. We don’t need the program to turn into another DDG1000, with fantasy capabilities delaying the schedule and making the ship more expensive. We need Burkes and the goal is to make an upgraded version that improves upon what we have. An enclosed mast to further reduce signatures and improve maintenance, modern power management, more powerful computers (taking up less space) and dozens of other minor fixes.

    It should be noted, however, that Undersecretary Work has already established a vision for the Flt IIIs and has made several public statements to that effect. He sees it as bearing a 14′ aperture AMDR, possibly with SPY-3 (Ref), ready for FY16. In addition to the more conventional outlets, Work also put in some appearances at the ID blog, where he mentioned that the Flt III would replace the Tico’s (Ref) and to start the ball rolling to integrate other DDG1000 systems into a Flight IV (Ref).

    In the latter postings, he also described a shift meant to rebalance the fleet among a variety of warship classes. This is reasonable as the Flt IIA, III and IV Burkes will be entirely AAW oriented. But other threats exist. The F100 could be converted into a ASW and ASuW ship with AEGIS AAW capabilities. Not every USN ship needs to be able to shoot down ICBMs, some can just be damn good at controlling local air, sea and undersea spaces. The OHPs are going and the Flt IIAs lost their ASW systems. Let the OHP replacement do this duty.

  32. CBD permalink
    March 2, 2010 11:20 am

    It’s already been mentioned twice now, but with little response, the USN OHP frigate replacement is a ship from the F100 family. The F100 family of ships are now or will soon be serving the Spanish, Norwegian and Australian navies (F100/Bazan, F310/Nansen and Hobart, respectively).

    They are much more heavily armed (at a much larger size) than the OHP and can fill in for the ASW and independent patrol gap at something under half the cost of the Burkes. Burkes could be focused on BMD and CVBG roles. Given that the F100s have an AEGIS system, they could be swapped into the CVBG escort role every once in a while (say, for SOUTHCOM patrols) and could be more easily assigned to escort amphibious forces. It may not be a corvette or mothership, but it is needed to fill the gap.

    The US has a source for these ships through the very successful Bath Iron Works, which is in the (rarely heard of) Advanced Frigate Consortium. This industrial group includes Navantia, BIW and Lockheed Martin’s Mission Ships and Sensors division. The modifications made to adjust these vessels from a Spanish design to designs more appropriate to the needs of the Norwegians and Aussies demonstrates the flexibility of the core design.

    Best of all, the systems are almost entirely aligned with the systems used on the Burke or other US ships. The BIW teams have proven themselves. The same cannot be said for the NG Gulf Yard. As long as they’re developing the DDG1000 hulls, why not expand that high-performing yard with a OHP-replacment frigate program? Goal would be 3 hulls per year. Instead of producing more Burkes post-DDG1000, have BIW produce 3-4 F100s a year(perhaps a Mahan class, were it not for DDG72?). If they can do this at the cost of 1-2 Burkes per year in the budget, then fleet numbers of surface combatants can be stabilzied (even with the Loss of OHP and Ticos).

  33. Mike Burleson permalink*
    March 2, 2010 5:20 am

    Arkady-As we pointed out alternatives like the STSS satellite radar would make huge radar arrays redundant on ships, making it possible to build your missile ships smaller. As for cruise and ballistic missile defense, I am often reminded by everyone here that the AEW is superior to any type shipborne radar, which makes some sense since instead of just looking up or blocked by the horizon, you are looking down at any missile launch (satellites would be looking down at a ballistic missile launch).

    The AEW and tracking is superior. The satellites and UAVs will take up much slack of smaller ship-based systems.

  34. ArkadyRenko permalink
    March 1, 2010 11:33 pm

    The fundamental problem here is that you need a big radar to spot low observable cruise missiles and ballistic missile re-entry vehicles.

    Note, the SPY-1D is becoming old hat, the SPY-3D and the new AMDR (Air and Missile Defense Radar) will be the package of the future.

    Couple points about the SPY-3, it will have no fire directors, as the radar itself will provide terminal protection. This technology, scaled down, may become the minimum for medium sized > 4,000 tons, warships. With advanced ASMs, the engagement will really have to be almost completely automated. So the AEGIS system, computer controlled weapon delivery, will need to be standard.

    Finally, there is a great potential for highly upgraded airborne radars, but that will be incredibly expensive, and will demand a big deck carrier to get the best radars airborne. In practice, the battle group will probably operate under radar silence until a launch is detected or a missile spotted. Only when the group is under threat will the radars come on. Then the powerful fast computers are needed.

  35. Mike Burleson permalink*
    March 1, 2010 7:39 pm

    More from Aviation Week on using UAVs, manned aircraft for missile targeting. Admittedly, this is not ready for prime time, but could be the huge ship-based radar might become redundant in the near future.

  36. B.Smitty permalink
    March 1, 2010 5:04 pm

    tangosix said, “For a moment there I thought you were trying to suggest that Americans are fat.

    We’re not fat, we’re just big-boned.

  37. March 1, 2010 4:47 pm


    X said:

    “It follows then a bigger more seaworthy hull would be better plus allowing for bigger bunks.”

    For a moment there I thought you were trying to suggest that Americans are fat.


  38. March 1, 2010 4:36 pm

    I meant to say “bunkers” not “bunks” but I suppose the latter works too!

  39. March 1, 2010 4:25 pm

    I thought the design driver for USN ships was range; they have to cross either the Atlantic or Pacific to fight anybody.

    It follows then a bigger more seaworthy hull would be better plus allowing for bigger bunks. And therefore there would be more deck space for sensors weapons.

    From my reading of the NI’s Electronic Greyhounds it seems the bods on Capital Hill like to see their ships with lots of weapons. So….

    As has already been mentioned the Spanish F100 seems to fit Mike B’s needs.

  40. Scott B. permalink
    March 1, 2010 4:05 pm

    (please delete previous post)

    Mike Burleson said : “Flight III:Building a Better Burke”

    At a more fundamental level, I don’t think your proposals for a *better* Flight III make any sense at all, for a variety of reasons, including :

    1) I don’t understand how any of the Flight III variants you’re suggesting can be labelled as *better* than what’s currently envisioned for the Flight III (which won’t be called Flight III BTW).

    2) The single-ended variant might be an feasible option (as it almost already exists), but it won’t come close to the existing Flight IIA when it comes to providing an escort for the CVNs.

    3) The radarless variant is probably the most problematic, because it’s going to be disproportionally expensive for the capabilities it might offer.

    4) If what you’re looking for is a cheap platform with organic area AAW capabilities (and some organic BMD capabilities with the SMART-L radar), then you might as well go for something like the Danish Ivar Huitfeldt-class frigates.

    5) If what you’re looking for is a cheap platform with a very limited sensor suite and plenty of VLS cells, then you might as well revisit the Arsenal Ship concept, which would give you much more Bang for the Buck in terms of missile slots.

    Either way (#4 or #5), as B. Smitty objected earlier, you’d have to anwer the following question : how does such a ship fit in to the overall force structure ?

  41. Scott B. permalink
    March 1, 2010 3:41 pm

    Mike Burleson said : ” By taking Aegis out of the hull completely, you could build many more vessels without reducing the missile loads.”

    *Low-end* Burke derivatives were considered in the so-called Destroyer Variant (DDV) Study of April 1991. Since there’s adequate coverage of the study in Friedman’s US Destroyers (pp. 403-406 and 426), there’s probably no need to get into the very details of each variant.

    Suffice to say that the cost of the most austere variant considered, i.e. DDV-1 (frigate capabilities on a Burke hull, with 2GTs instead of 4, RAM only for self-defense, 8 VLS cells for Tomahawk / ASROC only, SQS-56 sonar, no helo hangar) was about 70% of the cost of DDV-9 (which later morphed into Flight IIA) and about 50% of the high-end ship, i.e. the original Flight III.

    Therefore, I don’t think your cost estimate of $500 million for the radarless variant you’re suggesting is a valid one.

    Furthermore, I seriously doubt that the 4,500 tons FLD variant that you’re suggesting could accommodate 96 VLS cells as you suppose, except perhaps if that’s the only thing you put in there. Even with basic AAW / ASW capabilities, a 96-cell VLS would require a ship at least as big as the Spanish F100, i.e. at least 4,500 tons lightship and 6,000 tons fully loaded.

  42. B.Smitty permalink
    March 1, 2010 2:41 pm

    papa legba said, “I don’t know if gutting a Burke is the best way to provide low-cost ships

    The big question is what do we want these ships to do?

    Area AAW is currently a primary mission for Burkes; however, they are also well-rounded combatants.

    Do we want to replace the Burkes with area AAW-capable, multi-mission combatants? Should there be any change in mission emphasis? Should we split functions into separate vessels? What existing and future threats should they counter?

    These questions are what should drive the future design, along with the ever present problem of price.

  43. papa legba permalink
    March 1, 2010 2:12 pm

    I don’t know if gutting a Burke is the best way to provide low-cost ships. I agree with Mike’s view that the Navy needs more hulls, but the Burke was largely designed around the Aegis system. Removal of the system would leave us with a ship that’s oversized relative to its capabilities. In the long term, it would probably be more cost-effective to build a low-cost frigate from the ground up rather than operating a ship carrying an Aegis-sized hole in its systems and hull.

  44. Scott B. permalink
    March 1, 2010 2:10 pm

    Mike Burleson said : ” Thanks to increased accuracy, brilliantly displayed by our ballistic missile warships on numerous occasions, it should be possible to carry only 45 such phenomenal weapons on a single end hull, about 4500 tons light. The same Aegis radar that makes the Burke so superior to any existing surface combatant, will keep it at the forefront of destroyer development for many more years.”

    What you’re suggesting here already exists : it’s called Alvaro de Bazan.

    1) At $1.2 billion per unit, your cost estimate isn’t far from the actual figure for Cristobal Colon, i.e. about $950 million (see the entry in Warship Costs).

    2) However, the displacement you estimate is significantly underestimated. Lightship displacement for the Alvaro de Bazan is 4,500 tons, with a full load displacement around 6,000 tons (maximum permissible displacement is 6,250 tons IIRC).

  45. Mrs. Davis permalink
    March 1, 2010 12:57 pm

    Once they’re off the Aegis mothership, why not put the missiles on submersibles?

  46. Tom M. permalink
    March 1, 2010 11:28 am

    Here are some quick questions I have regarding the design:

    • AEGIS system – including: 2 illuminators – What version of AEGIS is appropriate – perhaps Aegis SPY-1F(V), (proposed for export-version of LCS) or (even) the SPY-5 proposed for lighter warships?
    • 3” Gun – Would a 5” Gun be preferable?
    • 2 x 4 Harpoon ASM – Should these be confined to MK-41 to save weight and perhaps open deck space for alternate uses – i.e. CB-90’s, UAV or USV’s, etc? Yes, this would reduce the SAM missile loadout. But what is the cost/benefit analysis to the desired mission(s) for the vessel? Please note: VLS Missile tubes can be “Quad-Packed” with ESSM.
    • 2 x MK-32 ASW Torpedo Launchers (3 tubes each) – Could this be simplified & weight saved by installing 2 x 2 fixed MK-32 tubes – Starboard & Port?
    • 2 x Phalanx CIWS – Could 2 SeaRAM Launchers be installed – in lieu of Phalanx? Costs, benefits, weight constraints, etc?
    • 2 x Seahawk Helicopters – Should the ship be extended to allow additional hangar space for UAV’s – i.e. RQ-8 FireScouts? Note: Coul a UAV carry a airborne radar system – thereby extending the radar horizon considerably?
    • 2 x RGIB’s – Should any extension of the ship permit carriage of 2 additional CB-90 type craft in individual davits?
    • What capabilities are built into the design to defend against swarming attacks? Should provision be made for 20, 25 or 30MM remotely-operated weapons?
    • Would any design benefit from a deeper analysis of the complete design to debate broader issues surrounding a wider range of missions and capabilities or will the US Navy be constructing the same basic ship design in 2040? Would an alternate design incorporate a “flex deck” enabling the execution of a wider range of missions?

  47. B.Smitty permalink
    March 1, 2010 10:57 am

    Mike said: “Disagree, since they will only be unable to use their Aegis capability. The ships themselves will not be incapable, such as their point defenses, Harpoon or Tomahawk missiles, Seahawk helos, Sonar, ect.

    I specifically said “To use CEC..”. Of course these ships can perform their other roles outside the Aegis/CEC umbrella.

    Also, if offboard sensors are going to supplant Aegis, then their purchase, upgrade and operating costs have to be factored in to your proposal. TANSTAAFL.

  48. B.Smitty permalink
    March 1, 2010 10:22 am

    Jed said, “ith over 20 Tico’s and 60 Burke’s carrying Aegis if they are all fitted with CEC, a cheaper non-Aegis Burke III as espoused by Mike could still carry Standards, and could carry a much higher mast mounted radar with a better aspect / radar horizon against sea skimmers, and lots of ESSM quad-packs in its enlarged forward MK41 VLS (because of no 5 inch gun).

    Perhaps with a larger forward VLS, the after one between the hangers could be removed, providing a larger hanger for 2 x SH60 PLUS some UAV’s ? Add two midships davit mounted Combat Boat 90’s and you could have a good pirate hunter which would still provide ‘full on’ warfiighting capability as part of an integrated task group.

    I’m not against adding a non-Aegis warship. I just wanted to point out that CEC doesn’t magically turn every warship into an Aegis-equivalent. Certainly there are other, less expensive options besides SPY-1D/Aegis that can provide local and even some area air defense capability. (e.g. SPY-1F, APAR, perhaps one of the other Euro-radars, CEAFAR, SPY-3 or SPY-5 with a suitable combat system).

    My question is, how does such a ship fit in to the overall force structure? It clearly can’t replace Aegis ships. Can it effectively and economically do the Perry/LCS job? Perhaps. Or maybe newer design like Scott B’s Absalon would be a more cost effective fit.

    There have been many variants of the Burke hull studied over the years. Maybe we should go back and dust off some of those concepts.

  49. Distiller permalink
    March 1, 2010 9:43 am

    The last thing I would take out of a Burke III is the sensors! If the CVNs could better take care of their bubble themselves then maybe four surface escorts could suffice against all but the most hardcore opposition. So I’d rather cut the number of escorts for each carrier than cutting sensors.

    What a Burke III could use is more range and probably more and better distributable electrical power. Maybe four WR-21 from the Darings (instead of the LM2500), incl the heat exchangers and IR signature management. Coupled with an electric drive (superconducting an option, if already developed far enough) this should be more economical than the current installation.

    I’m actually still a fan of single-ended single-task escorts for operational reasons, but this requires 50% more hulls in the water, even if those hulls might be 2000/2500ts lighter (monohull) than a current Burke (which would of course also produce a hull that could take over the frigate mission). In any case I don’t see 4500ts as an option for a vessel that has to keep up with a 100.000ts CVN in all kind of weathers. And I don’t think the Navy can afford a 50% increase in escorts.

    A Burke III should probably be around 30ft longer since they would at some point take over the Ticonderoga staff job. Optimize what is to optimize, modernize what needs modernizing, &c. Then I would enlarge the forward VLS hive somewhat, but delete the aft VLS hive and dedicate the aft weapons system area purely to the aviation complex and the sonar tail (plus maybe a fast slip for RHIBs or CB90). I’d keep the forward 5″ mount – for close-in anti-ship work. And talking about guns: two Millennium and two RAM/Blk2 instead of Phalanx or ESSM (aka absurd surrogate-CIWS).

    Question is also what to do with Burke I and II. The younger/better ones should be brought to Burke III standard, whereas the older ones (presumably mostly Burke I) could be re-modeled as amphib fire support ships. There you could delete the AEGIS, replace the forward VLS hive and the 5″ mount with a single AGS mount, and enlarge the aft VLS hive into the flight deck (as far as depth allows). In addition two of the four LM2500 could be removed.

  50. Mike Burleson permalink*
    March 1, 2010 9:11 am

    Jed said “Standard shooters without Aegis.’

    No one said that. Just Aegis not present in every ship. But that is just one idea.

    “single end hull”-The current crop of Burkes have VLS banks forward and behind the mast. If you cut out one of these banks, you can reduce the length of the hull, then displacement and naturally cost.

    Ken-I’m still dreaming, trusting in the budget numbers. Lockmart and GD are doing my work for me by continuing to build horribly flawed warships at equally horrible prices.

  51. Jed permalink
    March 1, 2010 9:05 am

    MIke this line confused the hell out of me: “Thanks to increased accuracy, brilliantly displayed by our ballistic missile warships on numerous occasions, it should be possible to carry only 45 such phenomenal weapons on a single end hull, about 4500 tons light”

    So you “anti-ballistic missile” ships yes ? Standard shooters without Aegis.

    I have no idea what is meant by “single end hull” but the graphic looks like the bastard child of a Perry and a Spanish Aegis frigate.

    B.Smitty – with over 20 Tico’s and 60 Burke’s carrying Aegis if they are all fitted with CEC, a cheaper non-Aegis Burke III as espoused by Mike could still carry Standards, and could carry a much higher mast mounted radar with a better aspect / radar horizon against sea skimmers, and lots of ESSM quad-packs in its enlarged forward MK41 VLS (because of no 5 inch gun).

    Perhaps with a larger forward VLS, the after one between the hangers could be removed, providing a larger hanger for 2 x SH60 PLUS some UAV’s ? Add two midships davit mounted Combat Boat 90’s and you could have a good pirate hunter which would still provide ‘full on’ warfiighting capability as part of an integrated task group.

  52. Mike Burleson permalink*
    March 1, 2010 9:04 am

    Smitty said “To use CEC, ships have to stay within range of the AEGIS radar.”

    Disagree, since they will only be unable to use their Aegis capability. The ships themselves will not be incapable, such as their point defenses, Harpoon or Tomahawk missiles, Seahawk helos, Sonar, ect.

    They may can operate Aegis even without a radar ship present. According to the O’Rourke post above, who wrote:

    Improved confidence in the performance of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) new
    midcourse tracking anti-ballistic missile satellites is allowing Navy officials to curtail
    ambitious requirements for their next-generation cruiser program.
    This will allow for development of a less expensive system, which is more likely to garner
    support as the Pentagon is stretched to continue funding wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In
    September, MDA launched the first two Northrop Grumman Space Tracking and
    Surveillance Satellites (STSS), designed to plug the persistent gap in tracking ballistic
    missiles in their midcourse of flight. This is when warheads separate from their hot boosters,
    which are easier to track with infrared sensors. The warheads, which are far cooler, arc
    through space and begin to re-enter the atmosphere, and this phase of flight has been a
    challenge for U.S. defenses.
    STSS originally began as the Space-Based Infrared System Low and was renamed when it
    shifted from the Air Force to MDA. Parts for the satellites had been in storage as the
    program shifted hands, but MDA later threw its support behind the effort. Officials are still
    checking the performance of the satellites in orbit, but expectations are high.
    “MDA picked up the bucket of bolts, they put it together and they launched it,” said Vice
    Adm. Barry McCullough, the Navy’s new cyber command chief, speaking last week at an
    Aviation Week/Credit Suisse Aerospace & Defense Finance conference here. “I have a lot
    more faith in the ability of that program to mature and produce than I did three-and-a-half
    years ago.” At the time he conducted his interview with Aviation Week at the conference,
    McCullough was the chief of naval operations for integration of capabilities and resources.
    “When we started the [analysis of alternatives] for CG(X), we laid out as an initial condition
    or assumption that it would have to operate autonomously because the STSS was in total
    disarray,” McCullough said, noting the technology was “immature” for a radar sophisticated
    enough to identify and track high-end targets by itself. “For us to assume we could put it into
    a ship and get a radar system delivered to a ship in 2014 or 2015—it just wasn’t going to
    happen,” he says. During his presentation to Wall Street analysts, McCullough noted that the
    objective radar would be massive—at least 2 feet larger than the Aegis SPY-1 radar at
    roughly 22 ft. in diameter. The cost for this system was estimated at $5 billion per unit.

    “Given [STSS] and given what happened with other parts of the sensor architecture, we think
    we could go with a lesser sensitivity radar,” he adds.

    This will call for a less costly approach and the program will be more likely to deliver ships
    when needed. McCullough says Navy officials are now looking at a ship radar roughly 12-14
    feet in diameter.

    As you see, the satellite radar system was one reason for the cancellation of the large CGX. It’s huge radar just wasn’t needed. There is much potential here for networking to save costs. Other options might include AWACs aircraft and in the future UAVs.

  53. March 1, 2010 8:59 am

    So Mike, how goes your campaign to get Congress to change the law and allow foreign construction of USN ships?

  54. B.Smitty permalink
    March 1, 2010 8:44 am

    William said, “The Non-Aegis equipped ships can operate alongside the Aegis eqipped Burkes.

    Therein lies the problem. To use CEC, ships have to stay within range of the AEGIS radar. Against sea-skimmers, that range is limited by radar horizon.

    Also, one benefit to increasing hull numbers is to improve overall resiliency in the face of an attack; however, the AEGIS mothership becomes a single point of failure. If you lose it, you lose your air defense capability.

    So it’s not just the number of hulls that matter, it’s also the number of complete combat systems.

  55. Mike Burleson permalink*
    March 1, 2010 7:42 am

    William, thats exactly what I mean. By networking the enhanced abilities of Aegis, you could build more ships at lower cost, without giving up your capability.

  56. William permalink
    March 1, 2010 6:59 am

    With Co-operative Engagement Capability, not every ship needs to have Aegis. The Non-Aegis equipped ships can operate alongside the Aegis eqipped Burkes.


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