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March 11, 2010
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Couldn’t wait until next week to post this with the regular LCS article. Please note that yours truly has insisted all along the littoral combat ship is nothing new, saving a glorified frigate with a patrol boat armament. We haven’t been alone, for here is CDR Salamander and some others:

This is why so many people owe me beer. When LCS becomes what it was sold as not being – then I win.

“We see it as a replacement for the FFG class (frigates),” Roughead told the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee.

The LCS cannot do what a Frigate is supposed to do. Not even close. It is a large, expensive, low endurance, under-armed Corvette. -1 for the CNO ….

Then there’s the following breaking news from Phil Ewing at Scoop Deck:

Mayport will be the Navy’s LCS hub for the East Coast, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead told lawmakers on Wednesday, and he said something else — LCS is seen as a “replacement” for the Navy’s current fleet of frigates. You can imagine how Iron Mike Burleson and the web’s Hardest-Working Amphibian probably feel about that.

The CDR spoke for himself above. My thinking is, the Navy is the gift which keeps on giving for those of us crying for reform. More proof of these gold-plated programs, which come in under-armed and over-budget, then aren’t used in the manner they were planned. Whether it’s frigates chasing smugglers in speed boats, missile battleships capturing pirates, carriers dropping bombs on terrorists in caves, and giant amphibs for disaster relief, this is a fleet with a bizarre sense of building priorities. They get the missions, but not the procurement for a new era of low tech warfare at sea.

For $600-$700 million each, the LCS frigates should be based off Guam, ready to take the war to the Chinese, which was the purpose meant for the original Streetfighter design, except at one-tenth the cost! Only they are too poorly armed to tackle even a Chinese missile boat! When will we start building warships for modern threats, instead of something Admiral Burke or Halsey would be quite familiar in?

29 Comments leave one →
  1. CBD permalink
    March 13, 2010 8:25 pm

    Scott,
    There might be some options for refurbished 5″ guns in the USN: a 2007 contract with BAE provided for the removal of old 5″/54 guns with 5″/62 guns on the Cruisers…maybe we can put those guns into storage until the program is off the ground?

  2. CBD permalink
    March 13, 2010 8:00 pm

    It’s not clear what sort of mix you’re proposing. It’d be better if you could clarify the force structure you’re aiming at in terms of surface combatants, together with the unit cost you’re considering for each class, i.e. :

    1) How many Burke Flight III + cost per unit ?
    2) How many americanized F100 + cost per unit ?
    3) How many americanized Absalons + cost per unit ?
    4) Others…

    Good question!
    I’d see them getting up to DDG-118 produced as Block IIa (@$1.8B FY10) before we start building a partial upgrade Block III in FY16, the first being launched in late FY17. That gives us 69 Burkes (FltI-IIa) in service then, or 41 Flt IIa. The Flt Is are set to retire from FY26 to FY32, assuming a 35 year lifespan.

    Accordingly, since Flight III (@$2.4B FY10 dollars) will replace the 22 Tico’s, I’d figure on a total production of 20 from FY16 through FY26. Flight IV will likely arrive by then (a full cruiser) and be produced in similar numbers…but that is hazy as I can see warfare at sea changing somewhat in 20+years.

    I’d see them producing at least 30 Americanized F100s to fill in for the FFGs, starting FY14 (@$900M FY14 dollars), likely up to 50.

    The Americanized Absalons are unlikely to get such numbers. As they’d be an adjunct to the LXD series, but not a replacement, there would likely be less than a dozen purchased, perhaps as few as 6. They’d be bastardized as being like-an-amphib and they’re barely holding onto 33 ships total in that fleet (~11 per class). The Absalons will be nice, but will not be seen as necessary in large numbers.

    I’d also forsee some 16, $380M corvettes (Qahir-like) and 10 $140M PC replacements (somewhere between PC and the Haminas, for SOF support, ELINT, anti-swarm escorts and warm-zone patrol).

    These are not optimistic numbers, but are, I believe, achievable.

    $350 million per unit is not just feasible, it’s entirely realistic !!!

    Not a matter of that…I’m just not optimistic. Different from feasibility or realism…gut feeling.

    1) You really want to take a look at the labor costs in Germany, Denmark and Singapore, which are at least as high as in the US.

    And yet, these countries somehow manage to be able to offer naval vessels at a reasonable cost

    That’s the matter of what I call ‘hunger’.

    The USN has more first-rate ships than any other navy could hope to have in the modern era. We’re not ‘hungry’ enough to bother producing good ships at lowest possible cost. We let things slide, let schedules slip, let costs grow. Lobbyists hold more sway than national interest.

    We don’t use resources effectively and let manufacturers buy competitors at a large cost to the taxpayer…the Israelis have been very good at this but had clearly begun to let it slip in the late 90s/early00s…Lebanon in 2006 seems to have turned them back a bit to the former attitude. Singapore, another small and threatened country, has shown similar zeal for quality products at prices the government can afford.

    2) Overhead costs (and their under-absorption) certainly is a much more valid concern, but it’s merely the sign that a major restructuring and rationalizing effort is needed in the US shipbuilding sector.

    Systematically assuming that such a rationalization of the industrial base is never going to happen (which is what you do when you apply your 25% cost premium) is the best way to keep things the way they are, i.e. :

    If I were in charge of a dictatorship over the country, it could be achieved. I don’t see Congress getting more wise over the years…nor the DOD, quite the reverse. Gates has been slowly pushing through an entanglement of conflicting and unnecessary (or overly costly) projects, bravo to him. There’s still an institutional attitude that needs to be significantly altered. There are some positive signs, but many negative signs to match.

    a) no incentive to modernize on the supply side, which is one of the reasons why, as Tim Colton noted not too long ago, one of the world’s most incompetent shipbuilder like Northrop Grumman can also be one of the world’s most profitable shipbuilders.

    b) strong incentive to come up with exquisite requirements on the demand side, where it’s perceived as the only way to somehow justify the extravagant costs of even low-end naval solutions. And then you end up with yet another LCS, or NSC.

    Agreed. See ‘hunger’ and ‘dictatorship’ above.

    You might find the following papers quite interesting :
    https://www.ida.org/upload/research%20notes/rn_fall2008_shipyards.pdf
    http://www.acq.osd.mil/ip/docs/ida_paper_p-4393.pdf

    Thanks! Those will have to wait a week or so, but I will definitely look into them then.

    3) And finally, you assume that an Americanized F100 could be had for a $750 million price tag, which is $200 million less than what the Spaniards are paying for the F105. You might argue that this is due to economies of scale, but then, somehow, the scale effect doesn’t seem to exist at all for the Americanized Absalon which end up costing more than twice the price paid by the Danes. That simply doesn’t make any sense.

    See above (estimates about numbers of ships).

    I’m not sure how they had such growth of ship costs (especially since they’ve sunk much of their development and infrastructure costs by now, between their 4 ships and the 5 for Norway).

    The first four F-100s were had for about 1,682,000,000 Euros (420,500,000 Euros per vessel) in FY2002, or about $578.5M. Inflated to 2010, that’s about 513,900,000 euros per ship, or $707M (FY10).

    Simultaneously, they’re producing the Nansens, which is to provide 5 Frigates on a $3Bn budget (+$100M in surcharges?).
    That’s about $600M per ship…reasonable as the contract was signed in ~FY00. Inflated, that’s $770M (FY10). About the same…

    So the latest ship is described as costing (FY10), 700M EUROS, or about $960M.

    That would be a 35% rise in costs ON TOP OF inflation! Is that a real rise? Or are they charging them ~$700M (509M Euros)? Or are they really going to tack on a couple hundred million dollars for the 5th in class? I could understand a FY10 price of 550M Euros ($760M), but 700M Euros? I’m unconvinced.

    The NYTimes sometimes gets details wrong, El Pais isn’t immune to faults.

  3. CBD permalink
    March 13, 2010 6:59 pm

    “The Mk-41 VLS (32 cells) is without the shadow of a doubt included in the overall program cost of DKK 4.7 billion for the Ivar Huitfeldts, and it certainly was impossible for the Danes to recycle Mk-41 VLS since they had none.”

    Well aware, that’s why those ships cost more. I believe I included that point. I also, it seems, left out the cost of 2 Phalanx systems and 2 RAM systems and other defensive armaments (decoys, etc.) …overall, it may be more like +$30M than +$60M, but it’s still a cost. I also didn’t specifically enumerate the back-end systems, which are comparatively expensive for US vessels.

    “b) Likewise, the Mk-45 Mod. 4 gun is included in the overall program cost of DKK 2.5 billion for the Absalons, and it certainly was impossible for the Danes to recycle Mk-45 guns since they had none.”
    Upon review, absolutely correct. I conflated that point with the stand-in units placed on the Absalons, while the Huitfeldts are reportedly to be equipped with 127mm guns from the start.

    “Therefore, adding both of these to come up with an cost estimate for an Americanized Huitfeldt is incorrect.”
    Duly revised to $480M. We’re still not getting them for $350. I should note that I’d envision an American Absalon up-armed like the Huitfeldt but with the flex space retained.

    “$2 million per VLS cell is largely overestimated. Current cost for the US Navy is probably around $1 million per cell. Back in the good ol’ days of Arsenal Ship, participants were told to assume a cost of $0.5 million per VLS cell BTW.”

    I usually consider the Mk 41 VLS as an 8-cell unit, in accord its normal installation multiple. I’d estimated the cost of an 8-cell units to be about $4M (scrounged from available foreign sales data, which was mixed with other info), so $12M for 3 blocks.

    Based on a RAND report (specifically This Section on the Arsenal ship bid, my estimate comes in low.

    Available information cited in report:
    64 cells: $26.4M (FY94), 1 cell = $412,500; 8 cell = $3.3M

    LM quote for arsenal ship:
    512 cells: $138M (FY96), 1 cell = $269,531; 8 cell = $2.16M

    RAND estimate based on inflation-adjusted estimate for the same:
    64 cells: $29M (FY98), 1 cell = $453,125; 8 cell = $3.63M
    512 cells: $232M (FY98), 1 cell = $453,125; 8 cell = $3.63M

    My own adjusted cost: 64 cells: $38.95M (FY2010), 1 cell = $608,600; 8 cell = $4.87M

    Thus, for 3, 8 cell units…
    FY10 price would be about $4.87M per 8 cell unit, total for 3 (24 canisters) being $14.61M

    “c) the Mk-48/56 GMVLS (as fitted to the Absalons) is much less expensive in terms of acquisition and cycle costs. The Canadian Navy which uses both completed a fairly detailed study on the subject not so long ago.”
    Yes, but the USN will prefer to use the Mk41, cost be damned, for the sake of commonality (plus it’s simpler in terms of cross-training techs).

  4. Chuck Hill permalink
    March 13, 2010 6:49 pm

    Nobody likes a SMART-S.

  5. Scott B. permalink
    March 13, 2010 6:36 pm

    “The SMART-S Mk2 radar on Absalon is sitting at the same height as the Type 996 radar on the Type 23 frigates or the Type 967/968 on the Type 22 Batch III frigates, i.e. about 30 meters above WL.”

    Just had a close look at the booklet of plans for the Absalons, and it seems that the SMART-Ss Mk2 radar is actually sitting about 26 meters above WL at FLD.

  6. Scott B. permalink
    March 13, 2010 6:29 pm

    CBD said : “I’d like to see an Absalon-like vessel for $350M produced in the US, but I’m not optimistic.”

    $350 million per unit is not just feasible, it’s entirely realistic !!!

  7. Scott B. permalink
    March 13, 2010 6:12 pm

    CBD said : “Assuming minimal modifications to the Absalon design and American management/labor costs, the cost could very well rise to $500M.”

    Some quick comments here :

    1) You really want to take a look at the labor costs in Germany, Denmark and Singapore, which are at least as high as in the US.

    And yet, these countries somehow manage to be able to offer naval vessels at a reasonable cost, e.g. :

    MEKO A-200 SAN frigates : $327 million per unit
    ABSALON : $231 million per unit
    ENDURANCE : $142 million per unit

    2) Overhead costs (and their under-absorption) certainly is a much more valid concern, but it’s merely the sign that a major restructuring and rationalizing effort is needed in the US shipbuilding sector.

    Systematically assuming that such a rationalization of the industrial base is never going to happen (which is what you do when you apply your 25% cost premium) is the best way to keep things the way they are, i.e. :

    a) no incentive to modernize on the supply side, which is one of the reasons why, as Tim Colton noted not too long ago, one of the world’s most incompetent shipbuilder like Northrop Grumman can also be one of the world’s most profitable shipbuilders.

    b) strong incentive to come up with exquisite requirements on the demand side, where it’s perceived as the only way to somehow justify the extravagant costs of even low-end naval solutions. And then you end up with yet another LCS, or NSC.

    You might find the following papers quite interesting :
    https://www.ida.org/upload/research%20notes/rn_fall2008_shipyards.pdf
    http://www.acq.osd.mil/ip/docs/ida_paper_p-4393.pdf

    3) And finally, you assume that an Americanized F100 could be had for a $750 million price tag, which is $200 million less than what the Spaniards are paying for the F105. You might argue that this is due to economies of scale, but then, somehow, the scale effect doesn’t seem to exist at all for the Americanized Absalon which end up costing more than twice the price paid by the Danes. That simply doesn’t make any sense.

  8. Scott B. permalink
    March 13, 2010 5:46 pm

    CBD said : “Given that the $250M and $350M figures for the Absalon and Huitfeldt also include lots of recycled systems”

    A couple of quick comments :

    1) *Recycling*

    a) The Mk-41 VLS (32 cells) is without the shadow of a doubt included in the overall program cost of DKK 4.7 billion for the Ivar Huitfeldts, and it certainly was impossible for the Danes to recycle Mk-41 VLS since they had none.

    b) Likewise, the Mk-45 Mod. 4 gun is included in the overall program cost of DKK 2.5 billion for the Absalons, and it certainly was impossible for the Danes to recycle Mk-45 guns since they had none.

    Therefore, adding both of these to come up with an cost estimate for an Americanized Huitfeldt is incorrect.

    2) Costs

    a) $15-20 million per unit for the Mk-45 Mod.4 sounds about right.

    b) however, $2 million per VLS cell is largely overestimated. Current cost for the US Navy is probably around $1 million per cell. Back in the good ol’ days of Arsenal Ship, participants were told to assume a cost of $0.5 million per VLS cell BTW.

    c) the Mk-48/56 GMVLS (as fitted to the Absalons) is much less expensive in terms of acquisition and cycle costs. The Canadian Navy which uses both completed a fairly detailed study on the subject not so long ago.

  9. Scott B. permalink
    March 13, 2010 5:28 pm

    CBD said : “I don’t view a future frigate as part of the ‘LO’ of a hi-lo mix. I view it as a ‘medium’.”

    It’s not clear what sort of mix you’re proposing. It’d be better if you could clarify the force structure you’re aiming at in terms of surface combatants, together with the unit cost you’re considering for each class, i.e. :

    1) How many Burke Flight III + cost per unit ?
    2) How many americanized F100 + cost per unit ?
    3) How many americanized Absalons + cost per unit ?
    4) Others…

  10. CBD permalink
    March 13, 2010 11:27 am

    Scott,
    I don’t view a future frigate as part of the ‘LO’ of a hi-lo mix. I view it as a ‘medium’. The fleet doesn’t just need to be high or low. It needs to be rebalanced entirely. The only way the USN will properly re-orient is to have a relatively smooth transition of force.

    The Burkes will overtake the Ticos with the Block III upgrade, likely topping out at over 10,000t displacement and a fairly revised topside. The Flt IIa Burkes will be around for a while yet, mostly as BMD and AAW ships. We need surface and subsurface warfare ships in this high end fleet, so I’d propose building some 6,000t class vessels. These vessels could both augment the Burkes in CSGs and ARGs and form the nucleus of partnership stations, patrols and influence squadrons.

    Tack onto that an Absalon-based mothership and you have an influence squadron with a highly capable core and matched to the low-to-medium threat. Tack on some smaller craft and you’re golden. The Absalon is a good alternative, in many cases, to the LSDs and LPDs sent on such missions. They have some air and some water assets and also have a weapons load…a veritable ‘stationwagon.’

    I think going high OR low leaves you without a middle ground and enhances the demands on the high end ships (if there is doubt about capability of the 2-3,000t vessels you’re stuck automatically bringing in a 10,000t cruiser to get the job done. I’d like to see a more balanced force. Good numbers of high end capital ships, but also many frigate-like patrol ships. 10kt DDG/CG, the 6kt FFG & CSS and (if we’re stuck with it) 3kt LCS(-2). If we don’t get stuck with the LCS, then a <2kt Corvette or <1kt patrol ship would do nicely. This is a hi-lo mix that makes sense to me.

    Now, for prices…

    The problem is that the Absalon, at that price ($250M), made the manufacturer almost no money. They've said as such in public statements. The Huitfeldts make up for that at $350M, a cost slightly higher for the hull and otherwise boosted by the weapons and sensor systems involved. I estimated that they might cost as much as $500M in USN service because I think they will make it cost that much.

    Given that the $250M and $350M figures for the Absalon and Huitfeldt also include lots of recycled systems (bravo for the Danes) reduces the cost below what the USN (new guns, missile launchers every time) would pay by at least $40-60M (The Mk 45 Mod4 mount, alone, costs somewhere between $15M and $22M. Add a couple million per Mk 41 VLS and you’ve boosted costs per ship by at least $40-60M…hence the brilliance of the StanFlex system and reusing older guns). An Americanized Huitfeldt already costs $400M.

    As far as American manufacturing of commercial-like vessel hulls goes, the rather basic T-AKE support ship costs about $440M and the relatively bare-bones JHSV costs somewhere between $160M and $200M. Assuming minimal modifications to the Absalon design and American management/labor costs, the cost could very well rise to $500M. Sad but, IMHO, true.

    I’d like to see an Absalon-like vessel for $350M produced in the US, but I’m not optimistic.

  11. Scott B. permalink
    March 13, 2010 9:18 am

    CBD said : “The Spaniards are doing this already. The F100 is now also the Nansen and soon to be the Hobart.”

    If you want to build a real HI/LO mix in the current budget environment, the F100 is certainly not the way to go.

    At the risk of repeating myself again :

    *********************************************************************************

    At the end of day, I believe there are two options in this affair :

    1) Build a *mothership* with a price tag of $300M per unit :

    * With this price-tag, you don’t drain an excessive amount of funding resources away from the high-end surface fleet.

    * If you don’t drain resources away from the high-end surface fleet, you might be able to build high-end surface combatants in sufficient numbers to deal with high-threat environments.

    * If you have enough high-end surface combatants, you don’t have to expose your $300M *mothership* in high-threat environments they aren’t made to cope with.

    2) Build a GP combatant that incorporates some mission modularity (e.g. for MIW), that offers Level 2 survivability and has significant offensive / defensive capabilities, with a price tag of $600M per unit :

    * With this price-tag, you’ll inevitably drain ressources away from the high-end surface fleet.

    * If you drain resources away from the high-end surface fleet, you won’t be able to build enough high-end surface combatants to deal with high-threat environments.

    * If you don’t have enough high-end surface combatants, you’ll inevitably committ your $600M GP combatant in high-threat environments.

    * Which is why the GP combatant needs improved survivability (Level 2) and increased defensive / offensive capabilities.

    There could be more options on the continuum between these two options, but the risk is that you may get *stuck in the middle* and end up with an LCS-like solution, i.e. a solution that has the capabilities of option 1 and the cost of option 2.

    *********************************************************************************

    Building something like Spain’s F100 would in effect mean that these would become the de facto replacement for the DDGs, which is not the way to go, for a variety of reasons.

  12. Scott B. permalink
    March 13, 2010 9:04 am

    CBD said : “Acceptance is a different matter there, but if they’re build for $500M they’ll be worth that much more than the LCS at matched prices.”

    The Ivar Huitfledts cost less than $350 million a copy, whereas the Absalons cost less than $250 million a copy, so there is NO reason why they should cost $500 million a copy as you suggest.

    Unless a fair chunk of modular equipment (e.g. Mission Packages) is included in your $500 million figure.

  13. Scott B. permalink
    March 13, 2010 8:41 am

    tangosix said : “the direct drive diesel engines give noise levels and speeds which are not ideal for anti submarine operations.”

    1) Regarding speed, the Ivar Huitfeldt-class frigates are expected to be capable of 28+ knots, which is quite comparable to what the ANZACs, Halifax or Perry frigates can achieve.

    2) Regarding quietness :

    a) the Absalon / Ivar Huitfeldt don’t use direct drive.

    b) the Absalons have a very reasonable acoustic signature, which is due to a variety of factors, among which the installation of the machinery on vibration isolation elastomeric mounts.

    c) MTU of Germany has been offering Active Engine Mountings since March 2008 which will further improve the quietness of CODAD warships, at a very affordable cost.

    This won’t quite make CODAD plants comparable to CODLAG plants in terms of quietness, but then it’s not like the name of the game is Sub Hunting in the North Atlantic, is it ?

  14. Scott B. permalink
    March 13, 2010 7:37 am

    tangosix said : “All of that internal space results in low mast heights which limit sensor coverage”

    The SMART-S Mk2 radar on Absalon is sitting at the same height as the Type 996 radar on the Type 23 frigates or the Type 967/968 on the Type 22 Batch III frigates, i.e. about 30 meters above WL.

  15. Jed permalink
    March 12, 2010 9:28 am

    WTH, Leesea et al

    Absalon based “Standard NATO Frigate” using LCS modules – OK, OK already, I was just fantasizing out loud…. :-)

    But seriously, politicians and ‘captains of industry’ are those which normally wreck cooperative defence development projects, when you start arguing about local jobs and work share etc.

    I was purely fantasizing from a Naval point of view – so would that be ‘Naval gazing’ ???

    Bottom line you (USN) are stuck with the LCS because no one in the Navy has the guts to diss it, and your politics are generally so pork barrel laden that if anyone tried to cancel the Senators would start the whole whining about jobs in a recession thing….. ;-(

  16. CBD permalink
    March 12, 2010 8:27 am

    Leesea,
    Certainly fair. I think the main question is what causes a flaw in a class of ships?

    The critical flaws (poor functionality, poor quality work and engineering problems) we’ve received from many of the Gulf Coast yards already. That’s partially why I favored BIW for the proposed frigate class — it will give them lots of good work to do. Extensive testing would not hurt. The LPD-17 class has basically been dumped on the USN and they’ve gone about slapping people on the wrist, but it hasn’t forced the manufacturer to pause and figure out what they did wrong before building the next several copies. That’s a flaw in our system that we can’t seem to overcome.

    If the flaw is in the systems employed, that’s another thing entirely.

    We don’t want a ship that turns out to be underpowered, too noisy or non-compliant with damage control procedures. I think that the best thing to do there is to work closely alongside the Spanish fleet, evaluate the functions of the F100 class vessels and look for flaws. Offer to run the next ship through the same qualifications we do the Burkes. Cross-deck USN officers to the Spanish ships and let them see the qualities of the vessels. We already have technical experts from BIW and LM who know a great deal about the vessels, query them for their input on the quality of the ships. Basically, put them through the paces that we put our ships through and then, when we’ve seen what we like and don’t like, buy the design and modify it to our needs.

    In 2005, F-101 deployed as a part of the Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group. Image. It also just completed Combat System Ship Qualifications off of Point Mugu, alongside the DDG105 Dewey and DDG108 Meyer. Link. These exercises must have told our officers and technical specialists a lot about how the F-101 functions as part of a task group and as an individual AEGIS system. The USN just needs to gather the information from these people in order to begin a serious evaluation.

    The USN has, for too long now, accepted sub-par and prolonged development programs, often due to root problems having to do with the ship design. It’s a lot harder for any officer who comes along to put in a design change on a finished design. The basic form of the ship is set and what remains is topside integration of systems…something that we know we can do well!

  17. leesea permalink
    March 12, 2010 12:54 am

    CBD I like your thinking! The only thing that might be quesionable is IF many countries were using same design any flow or defect or weakness would be amplified and our enemies could use such against such ships.

    Jed that idea about using LCS mission modules aka package would be a good one IF the USN could produce modules which worked right, were reasonably priced and in quantity – non of which is in evidence

  18. WTH permalink
    March 11, 2010 9:33 pm

    The NFR90 program was an unqualified disaster, lots of money and effort yet nobody got anything. It was a ship that tried to be all things to all people and failed. LCS, JSF, the list goes on of programs that haven’t learned. The subsequent ships are pretty darn good though. I know I’m preaching to the choir here but look at what countries involved in that failed project came up with:
    F-100s, De Zeven Provinciens, F124s, and the Horizon Class at around 6-7000 tons. What else has come in at around 6000 tons? The much touted Absalon and her Frigate sisters.

    F-100 derivatives have been chosen by a couple of countries looking for modern surface combatants and optimized, some for AAW and some for ASW. I’ve heard numbers as low as 600m thrown around for F-100 types. Using very fuzzy math, 1/3 to 1/2 the price of a Burke for the same radar system, but otherwise slightly reduced capabilities. I’d take them by the truckload.

    France, to separate requirements came up with La Fayette, designed for “low intensity” operations. Derivatives have been chosen by several countries and are capable combatants.

    Dare to dream… what would that break out to in a fleet?
    – 3000 ton Frigates with good point defense capabilities that aren’t terribly expensive (and don’t draw too much…) for presence operations
    -6000 ton Destroyers with good area defense capabilities, or Absalon style trucks for the mixed missions

    add those to the USN 9000 ton DDGs (which are going to get bigger as flight IIIs) which are really cruisers and the USN could have built a semblance of a balanced fleet and had plenty of hulls.

    Obviously not what happened, but history is already written. USN is now very top heavy and is looking to get heavier.

  19. CBD permalink
    March 11, 2010 8:39 pm

    Re: The Make-your-own-and-let-them-buy-it plan.
    The Spaniards are doing this already. The F100 is now also the Nansen and soon to be the Hobart. The F100 itself had some general cooperation at a early point (I’ve read) with the De Zeven Provincien and F125. The F100 also had a lot of input from American firms (BIW, LM N&ESS). I know the US likes being the one to sell the designs, but maybe we should take a good look at the F100 as a true OHP replacement (patrol frigate and fleet adjunct). BIW already knows a lot about the design, let them build 3-4 frigates a year once the DDG-1000s are through (plenty of time there to put together a first-in-class). If we can make them for $900M (which is high considering the going rate for most of the other ships in the family), we’ll at least get a true fleet vessel. A $750M price tag should be achievable, lower if we’re actually building 3-4 a year. It could, helpfully, be sold as a basically American design given all of the US equipment and design elements thrown into it.

    As far as the issue of mothership/frigate, I think that the Absalon could fill in for this role (assuming an American design midway between the Absalon and the Huitfeldts). NASSCO would be familiar with the construction style and even has the benefit of previous experience with USN shipbuilding standards. Acceptance is a different matter there, but if they’re build for $500M they’ll be worth that much more than the LCS at matched prices.

    Both of these leave a gap in the littorals. But while I’d like to see a Qahir-like corvette (not too heavy, well enough armed to defend self, long legged and powerful enough to stay on station and small enough to get in close) or a Hamina-like PCII, (affordable, small, stealthy but able to carry a payload), I’d fear a repeat of the LCS program story.

  20. March 11, 2010 6:01 pm

    Hello WTH,

    in my reply to Jed I said:

    “the idea of a common frigate has a great deal of merit (if it is done the right way)”

    You cited the N.A.T.O. frigate programme,which is a fine example of doing things the wrong way.
    Attempting to reconcile conflicting requirements and industrial factors in a single ship design is a recipie for friction,delay and cost overruns.
    That is not the only way to design a common frigate,the key words are “open source”.

    tangosix.

  21. Mike Burleson permalink*
    March 11, 2010 5:30 pm

    WTH has a good point. International ship programs, at least the one starting out that way, are rarely successful, thinking of Horizon (please never start a program with the French as partner!). Best thing is to build a good enough platform for your own navy, and you might luck up and get some international sales. Way to go Leanders! The Perry’s are also well-respected and copied overseas.

    Which brings me to another point. Were the Perry’s “dumbed down” so as not to make the LCS frigate look bad? I get it that the SM-1 is obsolete, but now both are over-bloated patrol boats, too weak to tackle any major threat, and really too expensive for the OPV role fostered on them.

    We do need frigates without an area SAM, but also those that can do many other things such as a command vessel for a littoral squadron, a fast troop transport, mini-mothership and so on. You also need patrol boats to fight other armed craft in these waters, because every ship can’t be a sloop and vice versa.

    I love the idea that this has come out in the open, because I consider the traditional frigate obsolete or transforming into something else. Bring on the multi-role vessel, the Sloop!

  22. WTH permalink
    March 11, 2010 4:53 pm

    You guys complain about LCS procurement and advocate for a new NATO Frigate? Remind me how the last attempt at a NATO Frigate worked out.

  23. Scott B. permalink
    March 11, 2010 4:36 pm

    Obviously, thee CNO didn’t read Mr. Raymond Pritchett’s memos, e.g. this masterpiece of Naval Newspeak :

    “By every strategic and maritime definition used for the last several centuries the LCS is an unrated ship of the flotilla, any insistence otherwise is a demonstration in ones own ignorance.”

    ;-p

  24. Jed permalink
    March 11, 2010 4:21 pm

    TangoSix – old chap maybe I should be more clear “based on” the Absalon. Just like the Iver Hut-whatsit air defence ship is ‘based on’ the Absalon class. Swap direct drive for diesel electric, and as this is not going to be your primary AAW vessel does mast height become such a big deal ? As long as the radar horizon gives enough seconds of warning to setup a solution for your selected weapon system to shoot at the incoming supersonic anti-ship missile…. :-)

    Solomon – call it what you like, I dont care ! In the RN it could replace the T23 as the C2 element of FSC and much of the ‘mission bay’ would be used for the T2087 towed array sonar, in British parlance, any ship with a role focused on ASW is a Frigate. Mike thinks it could be called a “Sloop” !! You can call it the “Well armed mini-LPD” (or WAML !) but the Danes are using it to chase pirates in far off waters, which is what the original frigates did hundreds of years ago :-)

    Why would it need so much storage area ? – so that it could carry the LCS ” mission modules” which was the point I was trying to make.

  25. March 11, 2010 3:38 pm

    Hello,

    “Iron Mike Burleson” has quite a ring to it.

    Jed,the idea of a common frigate has a great deal of merit (if it is done the right way) and it is something I have long supported.

    All of these nations have similar requirements and have industrial capabilities which are complimentary rather than conflicting.

    However,although it is a fine vessel for the Danes,Absalon would be of little use as an Anglospheric frigate.
    All of that internal space results in low mast heights which limit sensor coverage while the direct drive diesel engines give noise levels and speeds which are not ideal for anti submarine operations.

    When I get the time I plan to write down my ideas for a “Falkland class” “open source frigate” design.
    Which is what I think Future Surface Combatant C1 and C2 should be.

    tangosix.

  26. xbradtc permalink
    March 11, 2010 3:25 pm

    When the program was announced at 57 hulls, and there was no FF(X) program, everyone knew it was the OHP replacement, but no one dared say it.

  27. Chuck Hill permalink
    March 11, 2010 2:40 pm

    This is not entirely new. When the number 55 was first presented it was as replacements and that included some (remember it was over 20) neutered FFGs.

  28. March 11, 2010 2:36 pm

    Why does everyone want the Absalon to be a Frigate? It wasn’t designed as such! Why would a Frigate need that much storage area?

    Scrap the LCS program, rename it the Multi-role Ship program, acknowledge its weaknesses, its strengths and lets get this done! Oh and get those MRV’s from Austal instead of the two floating hot rods that we have now.

  29. Jed permalink
    March 11, 2010 12:21 pm

    But now that he has come right out and said it, surely somebody on the hill (or even within the Navy) can call him out on it ?

    How about a “NATO Frigate Program” – based on the Absalon tweaked to take LCS modules:
    USN – need around 50 to replace Perry FFG’s
    RN – needs 12 to 14 to replace T23’s
    Canada – needs up to 12 to replace Halifax class
    Australia – up to 12 to replace Anzacs ?
    NZ – 2 to replace Anzacs ?

    Wow – up to 88 common vessels (OK we know there would be minor differences in kit) – but just think of the savings from buying in scale !

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