PLAN Future FFG design

Discussion in 'Navy' started by Bltizo, Apr 20, 2014.

  1. Bltizo
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    I wasn't thinking along the lines of a smaller ship needing a larger launch and recovery apparatus, but possibly being closer to the waterline.

    Conversely, it might not only have to do with size, but also the geometry of the 056s aft. 052D and 054A have afts whose tops are fully flared outwards, whereas 056's aft flares out for the bottom half but then angles inwards again for the top half. That may result in a reduction of "minimum safe distance" from the aft hull (or something like that) for the VDS launch and recovery apparatus (given it seems to be located on the upper half of the aft hull), so the only way to solve this problem would be to either slightly extend the telescoping gantry crane or to reduce a few meters (or maybe centimeters in this case) of hull "length" by literally cutting out an opening from the aft portion where the VDS will be launched and recovered.

    I don't think the bigger opening is indicative of larger or more complex geometry btw – I suspect that if it is the same VDS as 052D and 054A, that the equipment is the same. The only difference is the bigger opening. Once this 056 is more completed we can get a better sense of what that opening is for. If it has the same door geometry as 052D sans the bottom half opening, then it be confident it is for a VDS, but they may decide not to install a door, who knows.


    There are definitely opportunities for UUVs in a variety of roles, and the idea of 056 deploying such technology for mine hunting is also interesting, but at present I think it is not the prime contender for 056s opening.

    ---

    I would like to see the next generation frigate leverage UUV and UAV technology, personally, along with having a greater emphasis on ASW. Have two modular davits for UUVs, two large Z-18 sized hangars that can accommodate Z-18s, Z-20s, or UAVs, and give them a top of the line ASW suite the same as 055s, with a modest 32 + 8 cell VLS and the rice lamp integrated mast we've seen, to provide medium end multirole capability.
    On a blue water hull that is smaller than 055 and 052D, they will have a more affordable ship that can individually persist in dangerous waters to do mine clearing or ASW missions, or operate in a task group as well.
    An LHA or LHD could act as a mother ship for UAVs and UUVs, but such vehicles have limited range and would place your mothership possibly near an enemy threat should you wish to launch and recover them. Makes more sense to disperse such assets among smaller, more survivable, and more low profile ships like frigates imo
     
    #1 Bltizo, Apr 20, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2014
  2. Solaris
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    Solaris Banned Idiot

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    Re: PLAN Type 056 Class OPV/Corvette

    I think an ASW variant would be a strong reason to have a 054B variant. 2 hangars for ASW helos, VDS, VLS launchers with CY-series missiles, a better bow sonar. Or possibly an LCS-type variant with multi-mission packages, improved stealth, and maybe a small well deck. But just as a more powerful 054A-type generalist, I agree there is no good use for such a ship, especially if the Type 055 comes on line. Unless it's built for export or something.


    That would almost be a whole new ship. If you want a trimaran it doesn't make sense to me to try and adapt a non-trimaran hull to a trimaran configuration. Might as well just start from scratch.
     
  3. Jeff Head
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    Re: PLAN Type 056 Class OPV/Corvette

    Depends entirely on what the PLAN naval planners view as the overall force level needs for the PLAN, both in the three "seas," as well as international commitments that are growing for the PRC.

    If they feel that 22 FFGs is sufficient, they will not build more in the near future, but will cycle a new design in when those initial vessels begin to age.

    But, if they decide they need more (and I personally believe they are), say 40 frigates, then they may well build a new design now and begin commissioning those new vessels until they get up to the force level they feel they need within the time frame they expect to need it.

    Same will be true of the DDGs and the ultimate CGs or whatever they classify the Type 055s as.

    If the PLAN decideds it needs 24-30 modern DDGs, I would expect to see the Type 052D build continue for some time.

    If they decide they need 18 Type 055s, they will build them according to the timeline of that projected need.

    The PLAN is clearly working to a schedule and a plan that takes all of this into consideration and we are left to speculate as to what those projections and schedules are.
     
  4. Bltizo
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    Re: PLAN Type 056 Class OPV/Corvette

    I think 056 is meant for SCS rather than ECS. If 056s are meant to operate alongside DDGs and FFGs against potentiall JMSDF or USN then something is very, very wrong.

    I think 055s and 052Ds will both be counted as DDGs despite the large discrepancy in displacement -- however that depends how many 055s are produced.
    I do think however there is a need for a successor to 054A, specifically to act as a lower tier escort ship, as well as having a good ASW suite to hunt submarines. You can afford to send a smaller, less expensive FFG against a submarine, and you might even equip said FFG with the same ASW suite as that of a DDG or CG.
    But you don't want expensive DDGs like 052D (or god forbid 055) having a primary role in playing tag with subs -- their high tier ASW systems are more for a last ditch role, and I suspect their crews won't be as good as an FFG sized ship that is able to allocate more time perfecting their ASW.
    That said, I believe an 054A successor will displace about 5,000 tons compared to 054As 4,000 tons.

    I think there will be a sighlty larger version of 056, but not substantially.


    If they want a trimaran it's better to go with a clean sheet hull design imo
     
  5. Solaris
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    Re: PLAN Type 056 Class OPV/Corvette

    I think we need to think in terms of what role each ship would fill in the PLAN. The bottom end is obviously going to be filled by the 056 for coastal patrol, dealing with low intensity situations, etc. As part of a blue water carrier battle group, the 055's place is obvious, primarily air defense, with some land attack and ASW capability thrown in, just like the Ticonderogas in the USN. The 052C/D will fill a role similar to the Burkes, also air defense but more ASW than the Ticos. A 055 and 052C/D in the outer defense zone, one doing ASW, the other protecting the ASW ship and providing early air defense. A 055 and 052C/D in the inner defense zone doing the same things. Where does this leave the 054A series? Presumably, a layer of medium range air defense in possibly either or both of the defense zones, and some backup ASW as needed. But either the 052C/D or the 055 could also easily provide medium range air defense for each other and for the carrier. The USN accomplishes this role with the Burkes and Ticos no problem. I would think the PLAN with ships of similar capability could also do this. As I mentioned earlier, I think the 054B could find niche roles in ASW or littoral combat, just as the Perry and LCS have, leaving the bigger ships to do more air defense and land attack. But simply as a smaller and less capable version of the 052C/D and 055 seems to me to be increasingly more irrelevant as the PLAN builds more and bigger ships. I can understand the PLAN needed the capability of this ship at a time when they still had mostly Ludas and Jianghus running around, but now this ship's usefulness is becoming less and less obvious to me.
     
  6. Bltizo
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    Re: PLAN Type 056 Class OPV/Corvette


    I think there is still a role for frigates in PLAN, due to two main reasons.

    ASW -- while 055 and 052D are expected to mount the best ASW suites the PLAN can offer, I doubt they will have a primary role in ASW in non-taskgroup ASW operations, when it may be only a single, duo, or trio of ships sent to an area where a suspected submarine may lie, and where a large number of ships cannot rely on each other for mutual ASW support.
    Lower intensity roles/presence -- the USN has found that having a top heavy fleet of burkes and ticos is not as good as it sounds when you're sending burkes chasing after pirates on skiffs. PLAN should learn this lesson and maintain a class of warship with enough warfighting capability to survive in a low to medium intensity environment, for convoy escort, and to retain the capability to operate in a larger taskgroup in a support role. Being smaller means more can be built and operated, meaning greater presence in lower intensity environments as well.

    054A's successor may end up just being a smaller sized ship with some of 055 and 052D's capabilties and whatever new tech arrives when it arrives, however being smaller and less capable, means they are cheaper, able to be built in greater numbers and operated in less demanding roles, which are all missions and needs that won't be going away any time soon.

    054A currently fulfills the above missions, balancing cost, size/range, capability at the right amounts for the threats the PLAN were expecting to face and for the level of technology available to the PLAN at the time.
    The question now, is what kind of successor will be designed and built with new technologies developed since the first 054A was put to sea over ten years ago, and whether the missions and threats the PLAN will face has changed.
     
  7. Solaris
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    Re: PLAN Type 056 Class OPV/Corvette

    In such a role, a 054B ASW variant would be the ideal asset for this job, while something like a 'better 054A' would be a much poorer choice.


    I think the PLAN has already thought up the perfect solution for these roles: the 056. It seems pretty obvious that this ship has a greater ability to survive any given conflict compared to any of the PLAN's older (and bigger) ships like the 051 and 053H3.


    Any 054A successor will still have some of 055 and 052C/D's capabilities, the question is how much. My vision of the PLAN involves a 054B that is specialized to mostly ASW or littoral combat, while retaining 8 land attack/antiship missiles and maybe half or even most of its VLS still filled with air defense missiles, but its aft section housing 2 ASW helos and a VDS while its bow sonar gets upgraded.
     
  8. Bltizo
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    Re: PLAN Type 056 Class OPV/Corvette

    I agree with you, if you mean that a "better 054A" would simply be using the 054A hull and using newer subsystems, while an "054B" would be a new hull tailored to revised missions with an emphasis on ASW.



    056 is good for local/regional lower intensity missions, but it is not enough for blue water lower intensity missions, where both long range/endurance and a potential need to stave off potentially higher threats is necessary.
    In waters closer to home, 056s will have FFGs, CGs, and land based air power to call on for support. In blue water lower intensity missions, PLAN ships may not be available to come in for the cavalry if a lone frigate or two come under attack, so they will need to be able to survive against low numbers of potentially medium to high technology opponents.



    I have a similar vision for the future frigate (which some places cautiously call 057).
    I'm thinking a 5000+ ton hull, with an X band APAR atop the rice lamp integrated mast design we see at wuhan, 32 + 8 cell universal VLS, and two Z-20s (optimally 2 Z-18s, but that might be asking for too much), with the same type of top tier sonar suite as 055: hull sonar, TAS, VDS, the works (or a downsized one, if the ship is not big enough to house it).
    VLS count can obviously be skimped on a little, however I would prefer to see the overall missile "cell count" not decrease from 054A (even if the new unviersal VLS is much more flexible and potentially capable of housing better missiles than 054A's VLS) -- the main improvement in capability compared to 054A would be ASW, but there will also be an expected generational improvement in medium range PAR and other sensors and electronics, armament.
     
    #8 Bltizo, Apr 30, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2014
  9. Solaris
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    Re: PLAN Type 056 Class OPV/Corvette

    I think that whatever situation a 056 cannot handle by itself will be at the level some kind of international state vs state crisis where pretty much any ship will not be trying to handle things by itself. IMO that's why a 056 type ship was built in the first place. If you need anything more than what the 056 brings to the table, you've got something on your hands that will or has already escalated into a major diplomatic and military SNAFU. At that point we're talking about something at the level of heads of state either talking to each other or yelling at each other. And if you're talking about open warfare scenarios, no PLAN ship should be caught by itself out in the open ocean, whether a corvette, frigate, or cruiser. Such a ship would be a deservedly dead ship.


    My own guess is that a 5,000 ton ship will still not be able to handle a single 32-cell block of the larger VLS in the front of the ship and would have to split 16 and 16 or house the entire block in the midsection and either eliminate the slant launchers entire or displace them to the front of the deckhouse.
     
  10. Bltizo
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    Re: PLAN Type 056 Class OPV/Corvette

    Again, 056 lacks the range and endurance for blue water missions (whether they are against a lower intensity environment or a medium one).
    I believe 056 was built deliberately with green water and SCS patrols in mind. It provides a naval presence in contested territory that shows PRC commitment to various territorial disputes, without having to bring in a potentially more inflammatory FFG or DDG, while keeping enough armament to keep other opposing ships out of its way (and to act as a "next step up" to protect Chinese Coast guard ships as well). Of course, another deterrence for other navies being more aggressive against 056s is the presence of PLAN and PLAAF in the background. 056 also serves the role as a more general green water OPV for guarding territorial waters and patrolling EEZs, and can act as a relevant defensive asset in home water littoral warfare (if combat ever reaches that range) by being a modern ship with datalinks and communications systems.

    For blue water missions, where PLAN and PLAAF support are less assured, any ship operating alone or in a small group will need to be able to fend for themselves against an expected level of threat, either to win such an engagement and leave, or to survive such an engagement and limp back under friendly cover. I think that includes low to medium intensity air and surface threats, such as small scale air strike packages, small numbers of opposing medium weight warships as well as FACs.

    Certainly, the USN has had a fair few of its lone ships attacked by nations that could be considered rogue states, and in some of those scenarios I would not be comfortable onboard a ship with only 056's armament. Optimally we would be able to deploy assets according to accurate threat assessments, however more often than not that isn't the case, and as China gets a higher profile, there are going to be more groups (including potentially unfriendly rogue states with some level of capable weaponry) that might think having a go at a few Chinese naval ships escorting a shipping lane a few hundred miles off its coast is a good idea -- especially if they know China may not have the retaliatory capbaility of the USN.

    (submarines will also be a threat, of course -- however any future frigate should have an emphasis on ASW anyway).

    I think most new frigates being developed by navies around the world have capabilities akin to what I've described, i.e.: average/small numbers of AShMs, MR SAMs, and a competent sensor suite -- the only real exception would be the USN's LCS, and we all know how controversial its lack of credible armament is. It currently has only slightly greater firepower than that of a coast guard cutter.


    Well, 054A as it is can house the older hot launch 32 cell VLS, and it displaces about 4000 tons. With an extra 5000 tons worth of increase in beam and length, I think a 32 cell forward VLS should be doable.
    The 8 cell VLS module would sit at the rear, in front of the helicopter hangar.

    Obviously such a ship won't house its structures in the same way as 054A, but probably resemble FREMM more, and may have the same integrated smoke stack/forward superstructure like 055 to allow more aft space for whatever (an 8 cell VLS in this case)
     
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