and as of now,
The U.S. Navy’s program to buy a new frigate,
The House Appropriations Committee’s defense bill withholds funds from the
The Navy opposes the measure, saying the provision would increase the cost of the program and delay it by at least a year.
“The Navy does not agree with the proposed language in the HAC-D bill,” the Navy said in an information paper dated May 17, referring to the Defense Sumcommittee. “If enacted, it will result in the potential for: redesign, loss of commonality with the rest of the US Fleet, increases in cost, and delay to the FFG(X) Detail Design and Construction (DD&C) contract award.”
Furthermore, the language would undermine almost the entire purpose of the FFG(X) program, which sought to drive down costs and speed up acquisition timelines by adapting parent designs for U.S. Navy purposes, the service said.
“The FFG(X) program utilized a strategy to require parent designs to reduce cost, technical, and schedule risk to get to a competitive DD&C contract award,” the paper said. “As such, many of the referenced components are proven on the parent designs.
“An insertion of change of this magnitude would negate much of the progress achieved during the Conceptual Design phase. This would result in a loss of design maturity and the FFG(X) DD&C award will be delayed a minimum of one year.”
The provision is lumped into larger a spending package on track to be passed in the House on Wednesday but could still be killed in negotiations with the Senate and by the White House.
But if it survives, much of the work the Navy and the four main competitors — Fincantieri, Navantia, Huntington Ingalls Industries and Austal USA — could be undone. The Navy wants to award the final detailed design and constriction contract by the end of fiscal 2020.
“The FFG(X) program is nearing completion of Conceptual, the primary purpose of which is to stabilize requirements and mature the designs in advance of the competition for DD&C,” the Navy information paper said. “The proposed language would delay the Primes readiness to respond to a DD&C Request for Proposal.”
Several of the components that would be covered in the bill, such as auxiliary propulsion units, are not available in the United States and would require redesigns to fit American-made parts, the paper noted. Furthermore, it would put systems in the fleet that are not common with systems that are already in service on other ships, reducing commonality and driving up the cost of spare parts and training for unique systems.
Achieving commonality with systems already in the fleet was one of the key goals spelled out by the Navy at the outset of the program.
The delays would undercut Navy efforts, pushed on by pressure from lawmakers, to cut down the time it takes to develop and acquire major systems, said Thomas Callender, a retired submarine officer and analyst with The Heritage Foundation.
“Congress will tell you: ‘We want you to go faster and cut costs.’ Then they’ll turn around and add requirements that slow the program down and increases costs,” Callender said.
Rising costs and schedule delays introduce the possibility of another dynamic with Congress where programs that get behind and run over budget face funding cuts, which further drives up the overall cost of the program, Callender said.
There is already some pushback on the provision from lawmakers. In the House Armed Services Committee, the National Defense Authorization Act contains a provision pushed by Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., that directly counters the appropriations bill. But it’s unclear if the language in the authorization would allow the services to override the appropriations law.
A panel of senior Navy civilian officials said the planning efforts for the future combat fleet was focused on making the fleet more flexible, interoperable and lethal.
There also is an emphasis on open architecture to make it easier, quicker and cheaper to upgrade combat systems, they said. Those priorities would reduce the cost of sustaining the fleet going forward, the officials said at the American Society of Naval Engineers’ annual Technology, Systems & Ship symposium on June 19.
Michael Stewart, deputy director for integrated warfare systems, said his job was to look at the available capabilities across all the different surface platforms to make the fleet more capable and lethal. He also would ensure that all requirements going forward were clearly tied to the National Defense Strategy, since “we can’t afford to fund everything.”
John Hootman, the deputy director for surface warfare, said he was looking at the architecture for the future surface combatants in the 2030-2040 timeframe, when the Ticonderoga-class cruisers and some of the early Arleigh Burke destroyers would be retiring. But, he said, “we can’t know what we’ll need until we know how we’ll fight.” In response to a question, Hootman praised the
Hootman also emphasized the need to look at capabilities across the fleet, not at specific platforms, to promote commonality across the fleet, including a common combat system that could equip the whole range of surface combatants and even the amphibious ships. But that focus on common systems also could apply to the hull, mechanical and electrical elements of future ships. “The push for commonality is key.”
Another official extended that quest to communications systems, arguing that every different circuit in the fleet reduces capacity, flexibility and the ability to integrate operations in the strike group.
Steven Dries, filling in for Rear Adm. Steven Pardoe, director of integrated warfare, noted that the capabilities that ships would need in the future will change, which makes it all the more important to field systems that can be modernized with software changes, rather than having to tear out hardware. Hootman stressed the same thing as a way to more efficiently modernize ships and gain commonality. He also cited the savings in training sailors to operate and maintain systems that are common across platforms.
Iran shot down brand new MQ-4C in its first ever known deployment. This drone cost over $100 million AFAIK. I think the US will likely respond to this development.UPDATE: 12:50am PDT—
We are now getting
It's important to discuss the MQ-4C's capabilities here in context to the situation. It is not just a standoff radar, imagery, and electronic intelligence gathering platform optimized for the maritime environment. It uses its MTS electro-optical turret to check targets out in detail by dropping down to lower altitudes and approaching them. In other words, it is meant to fly at lower altitudes as well as higher ones, unlike the Global Hawk. It also has a lower operating altitude than the RQ-4 in general. It has anti-icing systems for penetrating bad weather because of these factors. So there is a chance it may have been operating at medium altitude, or even lower momentarily, depending on its mission profile and what its operators were seeing. This puts it into a larger number of SAM systems engagement envelopes.
MQ-4C isn't just a 'blue water' surveillance tool. It can watch areas of interest in the littorals and keep track of an enemy's actions in a high fidelity manner. It is an amazing system. The closer you get to say a port of interest the better the quality of certain types of intel it can gather. So just staying far away means you are not maximizing the aircraft's unique capabilities as a multi-intelligence gathering platform. Fusing radar, electronic, and image intel together—all of which the aircraft can provide—over long periods of time is really why its capabilities are so awesome. To get the best out of all three, closer proximity to a target area may be required. So there are tradeoffs when it comes to risk versus reward.
Also, if this was indeed an MQ-4C on its first deployment, a secret one, remember it would have been totally new to the Iranians too. They could have been seeing a Global Hawk doing stuff a Global Hawk doesn't do. This would draw interest and likely targeting priority.
Bad publication for Americans droneIran's Claim That It Shot Down A U.S. RQ-4 Global Hawk Drone (Updated)
Iran shot down brand new MQ-4C in its first ever known deployment. This drone cost over $100 million AFAIK. I think the US will likely respond to this development.