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Congressman to Mattis: Prepare for ‘a lean future’ as national debt continues to rise
oh does it
The Pentagon’s
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may be as good as it’s going to get for the military, the House Armed Services Committee’s top Democrat warned Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

The comments come amid new
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that the U.S. budget deficit will exceed $1 trillion in two years, as tax cuts and spending increases signed by President Donald Trump do little to boost long-term economic growth.

As Mattis testified on the administration’s
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, HASC Ranking Member
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, D-Wash., pointed to the downward pressure that growing deficits and budget caps could create in 2020 and beyond.

“While 2018 and 2019 are great, I hope you are also planning for a lean future, because we are looking at a trillion-dollar deficit this year,” Smith said, adding that the US national debt is approaching $22 trillion.

CBO pegs the 2019 deficit at $981 billion and at more than $1 trillion each year thereafter, for a total of $12.4 trillion through 2028.

Without “big picture” budget action from Congress, the nation faces an “enormous problem” fueled by its $1 trillion per year deficit spending habits, Smith said.

“We’re going to be right back in the uncertainty a year from now if we don’t come up with some comprehensive way to address our budget challenge,” he said.

Smith’s remarks offer a sense of the direction the committee might take if he were leading. Paul Ryan’s planned retirement from Congress, with more than 40 other GOP departures from the House, fueled further speculation this week Republicans could lose the lower chamber to Democrats in the 2018 midterms.

Though Mattis touted the continuation of Obama-era nuclear modernization plans as a priority, Smith reiterated his longstanding
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about the
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, given the future budget environment. Fewer nuclear weapons means a lower chance of a miscalculation, he said.

“I just want to put it on the record, I don’t think we need to spend $1.2 trillion modernizing our nuclear weapons,” he said. “China has 275 nuclear weapons. We have 15, 20 times as many.”

Smith acknowledged the military’s “readiness crisis,” and hailed the budget deal’s temporary stabilizing effect. One of his top priorities, he said, was to see the budget boost address the problem.

“There will be other needs, there will pressures. I hope we don’t give in to those, I hope we remember the troops come first,” he said.

The two-year budget deal did not ease Budget Control Act caps for 2020 and 2021. When Smith pointedly asked Mattis whether DoD was ready to absorb the equivalent of an $80 billion cut, Mattis affirmed it would be insufficient to defend the nation and that he was not planning for it.

“I’d love to see the budget go down, and the world that we’re looking at out there, I don’t think that’s going to be the case,” Mattis said.

In a separate exchange with HASC Chairman Mac Thornberry, Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford both emphasized procurement and modernization alongside operations and maintenance spending.

“Right now, we cannot repair our way out of the situation we’re in,” Mattis said. “We’re going to have to buy, in some cases, some of the capabilities we have worn out.”

Pentagon Comptroller David Norquist, who is leading the first full audit, appeared at the hearing though he was not on the witness list. Mattis touted the audit and a commitment to budget discipline.

Republican deficit hawk Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., approached the issue from the other side of the ideological spectrum, prompting Mattis and Dunford to affirm the nation’s deficit and debt threaten national security.

Acknowledging the DoD budget request is “an awful lot of money,” Mattis noted that defense spending represented 5.7 percent of GDP in 1985, versus 3.1 percent in the 2019 budget request.

“We believe America can afford survival,” Mattis said. “I recognize the competing and very tough decisions on domestic spending, on healthcare and on defense. I can only tell you we will spend every dollar as wisely as we can.”
source is DefenseNews
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Wednesday at 8:43 PM
Yesterday at 8:21 AMso
Wittman to US Navy: ‘You have to say 355 is the number’
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The Navy is going wobbly on its 355 ship fleet, but Capitol Hill doesn't want to hear it.
After months of quietly backing away from its goal of a
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, the Navy finally ran into some congressional opposition today. Then, just hours after the
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told the Navy to stop making his job harder, the undersecretary of the Navy said the 355 goal probably couldn’t be reached until 2052.

The irony is that last fall, the acting undersecretary of the Navy, a career civil servant named Thomas Dee, got publicly and unceremoniously rebuked by his boss, Secretary Richard Spencer, for suggesting that it could take the Navy
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to build a 355 ship fleet. But today, the Trump administration’s permanent appointee for the Navy’s No. 2 civilian job,
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, told the Sea Air Space conference here that the date is 2052, given current spending projections and
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Modly’s comments come at a time when the Navy appears to be backing away from the 355 ship goal, revising its 30-year plan down to 342 ships by 2039. Even that plan, Modly told a lunch time crowd, “is constrained by topline funding” and an already stained industrial capacity. With the help of industry, however, “an acceleration of this plan to achieve this number sooner is certainly possible, but it will require a much more aggressive funding approach” above what has been
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, he said.

The Navy is clearly worried about the ability of a handful of shipyards to handle the work that it wants to send their way in the coming years. “We’re not going to get to 355 ships without the help of the
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,” said Adm. Thomas Moore, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command, during a panel discussion at the conference on Tuesday. Moore and other Navy officials said that the fault lies with the uneven budgets of recent years, and the uncertainty of the shipbuilding bottom line, year to year.

“We have seen boom and bust over the years,” said Allison Stiller from the office of Navy Research, Development and Acquisition. “And we understand that stability is absolutely vital.”

Adm. William Merz, the Navy’s deputy chief for warfare systems,
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when sketching out a vision for the future this week. “We caution everybody that 355 is a target,” told the conference. It’s much more important “to focus on the sum of the parts,” he added, suggesting that getting the most capable ships and aircraft — both new construction and upgrades — is more important than the number of hulls in the water.

But Modly’s 2052 timeline stands out, especially considering the public dressing down that his predecessor, Dee, received in October for suggesting a “mid-century” goal for hitting 355 hulls. Even with more funding, Dee claimed, “we don’t know if it’s realistic.”

His comments drew a swift response form his boss, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, who took to the Hugh Hewitt show on MSNBC
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“Mr. Dee, unfortunately, being an acting placeholder, I don’t know whether he was speaking for his own accord, but this is one more reason we need to get our politically-appointed people in the Pentagon and working for us. I need to get my team there who are aligned with our vision,” Spencer said.

But if you listen closely to Spencer’s own statements during
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last July, he too was soft-pedaling the 355 figure. As we wrote at the time:

While “it is a great goal to have” and “a good number for people to focus on,” Spencer told the Senate Armed Services Committee, he also described the number in conditional terms such as “if in fact we grow to a 355-ship Navy…” and “whether it’s a 355-ship (fleet) or not….” He even said, albeit in tortured language, that the US might achieve the power envisioned for a 355-ship fleet with fewer but more advanced vessels: “Whether it’s a 355-ship (fleet) or not, what we also ought to get our head around is, can we have a capacity number but have a capability that’s even greater than that?” Spencer said. “(I.e.) have the capability of a 355 (ship fleet) that might be a 300-ship Navy.”

Wittman Says Whoa

So Modly’s statement is the latest in a long line of high-level equivocations of the 355 figure — and at least one key Congressman is getting sick of it.

“I think if you get ambivalent about the number, it becomes difficult to communicate” to the public,
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, R-Va., chair of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee told a breakfast meeting here Wednesday. “You have to say 355 is the number.”

Wittman said that being squishy about the 355 ship fleet makes his job of
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more difficult, because it gives critics ammunition. “This wasn’t just a number that was pulled out of the air, this was an objectively reached number (from an official
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), and we think that ought to be the central part of the discussion,” Wittman said. The Congressman
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he wants the 2019 shipbuilding budget to reach $26 billion, up form the $23 billion in the fiscal 2018 bill.

In the end, Modly said, “the right number is probably something like 355-plus” — but not all of those ships may be manned. The Navy is going to have to budget not only for more ships and thousands of additional sailors to operate them, but also fleets of air and undersea drones that can network with those ships to give them greater range of vision when confronting peer adversaries who are also investing in long-range systems.

“A larger force is necessary,” he said, but just as important as size is the ability of those ships to communicate with allies, and be able to quickly adopt new software and weapons systems as they come online in the the coming years. “A larger, more agile force will be the key to success of our maritime strategy. How we measure that ‘plus’ is far more important than how we end up counting the number of ships that make up the 355 mix.”
it's BreakingDefense
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Tyrant King
Israel considers packaging V-22 with heavy-lift helicopter purchase

  • 11 APRIL, 2018

Israel has revived discussions with the US government over a potential acquisition of Bell Boeing V-22 Ospreys as the programme looks abroad to fill vacant production capacity.

The Israeli government last year froze a plan to buy six V-22s, three years after the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of a potential sale of the tiltrotor aircraft to Tel Aviv.

But the freeze was apparently short-lived, as Israeli officials re-opened discussions with US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) late last year.

“Over the last six months we’ve had some increasing discussions and interest from Israel,” says Col Matthew Kelly, manager of the V-22 joint programme office. “There’s nothing imminent. But we’re pleased that Israel is considering the V-22 again.”

MV-22s operating from the USS Iwo Jima also participated in Israel’s Kia Green exercise in mid-March, giving more Israeli officials an opportunity to evaluate the tilrotor’s capabilities, Kelly says.

Meanwhile, CV-22s operated by the US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) have been used heavily in combat operations in neighbouring Syria, Kelly says, although he offers no details.

According to NAVAIR officials, any sale of V-22s would be part of a package with heavy-lift helicopters: Israel is evaluating the Sikorsky CH-53K and the Boeing CH-47F Chinook to replace its fleet of aged CH-53 Yasurs.

NAVAIR plans to finalise the third multi-year production contract for V-22s by June or July, Kelly says. The next five-year production plan calls for introducing CMV-22s with the US Navy, and delivering 17 V-22s ordered by Japan, along with additional shipments to the USMC and AFSOC.

But the five-year production plan falls short of the Bell-Boeing joint venture’s production capacity. The third multi-year contract, when finalised, allows for about 10 additional deliveries to foreign buyers each year over the five-year period, Kelly says.

In addition to Israel, NAVAIR is targeting several European countries, including Italy, Norway, Spain and the UK.
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Personal Opinion CH47 and V22. use the V22 for special ops and the Ch47 for heavy lift. I feel the Marines made a mistake with the CH53K
Boeing gets $24m for extra Air Force One design work

  • 11 APRIL, 2018

The US Air Force awarded Boeing a contract worth $24.1 million for additional design work on Air Force One.

The design work was not specified in the contract notice the Air Force posted online 10 April. Work will be performed in Seattle, Washington, and is expected to be complete by December 2018.

The design work is “to advance the maturity of the air vehicle design beyond the preliminary design level on the VC-25B,” the Air Force wrote in its notice, using the aircraft type name. “This modification supplements work already taking place under the PAR contract, including the acquisition of two commercial Boeing 747-8 aircraft and VC-25B preliminary design activity.”

The USAF awarded Boeing a $600 million contract to begin preliminary design work for Air Force One in September 2017. The aircraft modifications include adding a mission communication system, electrical power upgrades, a medical facility, executive interior, self-defense system and autonomous ground operations capabilities onto two Boeing 747-8s.

The USAF plans to replace its two 747-200-based Air Force One aircraft delivered in 1991 with two 747-8s originally built for Russian carrier Transaero, which filed for bankruptcy in 2015 before it could take delivery.

President Trump has been critical of Air Force One’s cost and personally pushed Boeing for cost reductions in 2017. After negotiations, he claimed repurposing commercial airliners, as well as other cost-savings measures promised by Boeing, would save the government $1.4 billion.

The new presidential aircraft are scheduled to begin flying in 2024. The total cost of the programme is $3.9 billion, according to the White House.
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Tyrant King

AAS-equipped P-8A could replace E-8C

  • 10 APRIL, 2018

The US Navy's P-8A Poseidon could pick up a new mission if the US Air Force is allowed to follow through on plans to cancel a replacement for the Northrop Grumman E-8C JSTARS.

The navy is buying 117 P-8As to perform anti-submarine warfare and maritime patrol missions, but a subset of the fleet is being equipped with Raytheon's Advanced Airborne Sensor (AAS) radar.

Raytheon also offered a version of the AAS to the USAF for the JSTARS recapitalisation competition, but it was rejected in favour of a Northrop system.

But the sensor performs the same mission as the Northrop APY-7 on the E-8C: offering wide-area ground surveillance with a ground moving target indicator mode.

"If [the air force] were to get out [of the E-8C JSTARS mission area], could a similar radar on a P-8 be a possibility? Potentially," says Capt Tony Rossi, P-8A programme manager for Naval Air Systems Command.

But Rossi casts doubt on whether the USAF would be allowed to simply drop plans for recapitalising the E-8C fleet, noting that the US Department of Defense or Congress could step in to prevent such a move.

The USAF launched the "JSTARS Recap" programme three years ago to replace the 17-strong E-8C fleet, with aircraft options ranging from the Bombardier G6000 to the Gulfstream G550 and the Boeing Business Jet version of the 737-800.

By mid-2017, however, the USAF began expressing concerns about the JSTARS Recap platform options. Two months ago, the USAF released a budget request for Fiscal 2019 to Congress with the JSTARS Recap line item deleted. The proposed platforms would not survive in combat after 2025 as air defence technology advances, the USAF says.

Although the navy's P-8A is also based on the Boeing 737, Rossi believes the Poseidon does not share the same vulnerabilities as the USAF's E-8C fleet. The P-8As mainly hunt for submarines in the deep ocean, far from land-based integrated air defence systems. As a weaponised surveillance platform, the navy's concept of operations for the P-8As also differs significantly from the air force's unarmed E-8Cs.

But the USN has been slowly developing an expertise in overland, wide area surveillance. By 2006, the USN had deployed Lockheed Martin P-3s with the Raytheon Littoral Surveillance Radar System. As the P-3s are replaced by the P-8A, the USN selected Raytheon's AAS to provide a similar capability, using an active electronically scanned array radar.
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Friday at 8:22 AM
Navy Will Extend All DDGs to a 45-Year Service Life; ‘No Destroyer Left Behind’ Officials Say
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... and Merz: Life of All Arleigh Burke DDGs to Be Extended to 45 Years
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Extending the service life of the Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class (DDG 51) guided-missile destroyers will enable the Navy to reach its goal of a 355-ship battle force sooner than the 2050s, a senior Navy admiral said.

“We saw a path to achieve this 355 [-ship fleet] achievement as quickly as the 2030s,” Vice Adm. William R. Merz, deputy chief of naval operations for Warfare Systems, testified April 12 before the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee. “NAVSEA [Naval Sea Systems Command] completed the analysis of the class, so we will in fact be extending the entire class out to 45 years.

“There are a couple of types of service-life extensions,” Merz said. “Individual hull platforms; a little laborious, ship by ship … The much more productive and helpful extension is when we extend the entire class. Through the terrific work of the NAVSEA engineers we’ve come through that [analysis] pretty quickly. Unfortunately, it was not completed in time for the current shipbuilding plan, but it will certainly be completed in subsequent plans.

“With that, now we know the life expectancy of the entire class,” he said. “We can roll in the right maintenance, the modernizations much more efficiently, much more affordably, for the entire duration of the class.

“The good news is, there’s no destroyer left behind [as] under the old plan,” he said. “Every destroyer will be modernized. … All will provide a ballistic-missile defense capability.”

Merz said that this will enable the 355-ship battle force level to “arrive in the mid-30s.”

He said that “with the extension of that class, with the modernization efforts, we don’t get the correct mix in the 2030s, but it is not a bad mix. If you have extra ships, destroyers are good ones to have.

“We’ll work with Congress with how we manage that inventory because we don’t want [the life extensions] to come at the expense of new construction, especially the overall driver of the correct mix, the SSNs [nuclear-powered attack submarines],” he said.

The Navy’s inventory includes 64 Arleigh Burke DDGs and more are being built.


Tyrant King
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The Navy seems to be working in the background to look into what it wants for it's Hospital ship capacity.
Right now the Navy has 2 Hospital ships the Mercy class Mercy and Comfort. The largest Hospital ships in the world. The problem is they are over 30 years old and as the largest Hospital ships in the world they also have the largest medical expenses in the world the cost of treatment would make a insurance company foam at the mouth.
The bill is footed by the DOD, and the ships cost alot to maintain and are fairly slow to spin up for a Sortie or move at a lumbering 17knots they don't move much faster than a Hospital on land really.
There are also only 2 of them and Congress is about as likely to buy more as pay for me to take a vacation on Mars.
The Navy is also seeming to aim at moving to a more distributed model of medical assets. Meaning they want there hospital ship of the future closer to the actions and more of them.

It seems that there are 4 options on the table.
  1. Maintain the Comfort and Mercy. Comfort is in need of a overhaul and Mercy is seemingly a sacrifical lamb to the budget to keep them both.
  2. San Antonio class BlockIIa
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    Huntington Ingalls has offered a verity of options for the potential of there LPD IIa including a version that is modified into a dedicated Hospital ship. Smaller than the Mercy class. They would have a third the capacity if. But being built from a military hull and faster on station. They may sacrifice the well deck either partially or totally to add more space for care.
  3. ESB modules, using the ESB type the Navy could build hospital models for that class. Or use the ESB to build new hospital ships although both would likely have limited capacity or fall into the same issues as the Mercy class which is also built from a Tanker class ship.
  4. Spearhead class Hospital ship.
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    in 2014 the Navy modified and trialed one of the Spearhead with a medical module. Austal the maker of these ships has offered this package as an option. The Spearhead would be far smaller Mercy has 1000 beds where a spearhead has about 18 and they offer far less than a full hospital ship. Where Mercy is in essence a floating major metropolitan hospital, I like to think of it as a Clinic boat. What it does offer though is a faster speed mercy makes 17 knots speed where a Spearhead is a virtual Ferrari at 40 knots. Meaning that these clinic boats would be at a disaster or conflict far faster than the Mercy and they are far far cheaper meaning more could be procured and service the same disaster or conflict in greater numbers.
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not sure what to say about Major bill aims to slash Pentagon bureaucracy
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The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee has targeted most Pentagon support agencies for a 25 percent cut, proposing seven be shuttered entirely.

If adopted, it could lead to thousands of defense civilian job cuts and massive changes for defense contractors.

Texas Republican Rep.
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announced the proposal Tuesday, aimed at eliminating bureaucratic waste to reap more than $25 billion to reinvest in war fighting. The moves come after he and other pro-defense lawmakers won a two-year
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deal that boosts defense to $700 billion in fiscal 2018 and $716 in fiscal 2019.

The proposal netted swift condemnation as “foolish and shortsighted” from the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 700,000 workers in the federal government.

“Proposing across-the-board budget cuts and eliminating agencies that support the war fighter is counterproductive to our national security mission and disruptive to the lives of civilian employees, many of whom are veterans, whose jobs could be eliminated if Congress approves these cuts,” said AFGE National President David Cox.

On Tuesday, Thornberry unveiled at a news conference legislative language aimed at taming what he sees as uncontrolled growth within the Defense Department’s “fourth estate” agencies, which are supported by 200,000 civilian personnel and 600,000 contractors, at a cost of more than $100 billion per year.

“All of the savings and efficiency have to stay within DoD to get more capability into the war fighter faster,” Thornberry said. “To summarize the whole thing from my perspective, it is reduce the overhead to put more resources at the tip of the spear.”

Thornberry proposed eliminating these agencies, “whose functions are more efficiently replicated elsewhere” in DoD:
  • Defense Information Systems Agency, whose information technology support mission would be folded into U.S. Cyber Command.
  • Defense Technical Information Center, which acquires, stores and disseminates scientific and technical information to aid in defense research and development.
  • Office of Economic Adjustment, which aids communities hurt by defense program changes, including base closures.
  • Defense Technology Security Administration, which guides policy on U.S. arms transfers overseas to safeguard America’s military edge and prevent the diversion of defense-related goods to terrorists.
  • Test Resource Management Center, which coordinates among DoD test and evaluation facilities.
  • Defense Human Resources Activity, which guides and implements human resource initiatives, budgets, policies and programs.
  • Washington Headquarters Services, which provides operational and administrative services to the DoD. Hiring a senior executive service employee through the agency, Thornberry argued, “is considered a success if it takes less than nine months.”
The proposal is not law, but draft language intended for the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which is due to be marked up in full committee next month — and later reconciled with the Senate’s expected version of the NDAA.

The cuts, if adopted, would not take effect for two years. DoD’s chief management officer would gain new service secretary-like authorities over the agencies and submit a plan by March 1, 2020, to execute the cuts by Jan. 1, 2021.

DoD combat-support and intelligence agencies would be exempt from the proposed cuts. That includes the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Defense Health Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.

At the news conference, Thornberry defended likely cuts to the civilian and contractor workforces as an attempt to streamline Pentagon decision-making. He cited more than 20 agencies that have input into the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States as an example of DoD redundancy run amok.

“I’m going to try to get rid of one of them because I don’t think we need 20,” he said. “Is it possible that the civilians who work for that agency feel like their job is threatened? Yes, I understand, but we have to speed up decision-making and have accountability.”

“I’m not saying they endorse all this stuff by any stretch, but I do think we are trying to swim in the same direction,” he said, adding that he wanted to spark a discussion with the DoD’s own
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Asked whether he was concerned by the cultural change he was seeking by merging DISA and Cyber Command, Thornberry said: “If I’m not making somebody nervous, I’m not doing anything.”

“We have to have a culture that is willing to be disruptive if we’re going to adequately defend the nation,” Thornberry said.
generally I don't post about stuff below 100m but now I will: ...
... as Trump administration repurposes $65 million for new nuclear warhead design
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The Trump administration has requested $65 million be repurposed for the Department of Energy’s budget in order to start work on a new
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In a reprogramming request sent to Congress last week, the Office of Management and Budget requested shifting $65 million to the
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for “engineering development, and any subsequent phases, of a low-yield nuclear weapon.”

The creation of a submarine-launched, low-yield nuclear warhead was announced in February with the launch of the Nuclear Posture Review. But because of the timing of the NPR and the release of the fiscal 2019 budget request, the NNSA didn’t receive any funding for that program.

In March, NNSA head Lisa Gordon-Haggerty said her office was
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to try and find the money for the warhead design.

The Defense Department’s
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sits at $22.6 million for FY19 and $48.5 million spread over the life of the Future Years Defense Program, or FYDP, a series of projected numbers that cover through FY23, meaning the combined cost for the development in FY19 will be $87.6 million.

The warhead design will be based off the existing W76-1 warhead for the Navy’s Trident ballistic missile. According to the OMB document, the low-yield variant will be known as the W76-2.

While that design choice is expected to keep the costs fairly low, it is important for NNSA to get the funding lined up in FY19, as the W76-1 refurbishment program is expected to be completed in the near future.

“As closeout of the W76-1 program was planned to occur in FY 2019, commencement of this new program (W76-2) is needed in FY 2019,” the OMB request reads. “Delays to the start of the modification in the existing program would require a restart of the W76 production line, increase costs, and delay delivery to the Department of Defense.”
hahaha just not to forget Feb 17, 2018
OK, for the SDF record: LockMart will win according to me
of course I mean something like Jan 11, 2018
Report to Congress on U.S. Navy Next-generation Frigate (FFG(X)) Program
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From the Report
The Navy in 2017 initiated a new program, called the FFG(X) program, to build a class of 20
guided-missile frigates (FFGs). The Navy wants to procure the first FFG(X) in FY2020, the
second in FY2021, and the remaining 18 at a rate of two per year in FY2022-FY2030. The
Navy’s proposed FY2019 budget requests $134.8 million in research and development funding
for the program.

Although the Navy has not yet determined the design of the FFG(X), given the capabilities that
the Navy’s wants the FFG(X) to have, the ship will likely be larger in terms of displacement,
more heavily armed, and more expensive to procure than the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships
(LCSs). The Navy envisages developing no new technologies or systems for the FFG(X)—the
ship is to use systems and technologies that already exist or are already being developed for use
in other programs.

The Navy’s desire to procure the first FFG(X) in FY2020 does not allow enough time to develop
a completely new design (i.e., a clean-sheet design) for the FFG(X). Consequently, the Navy
intends to build the FFG(X) to a modified version of an existing ship design—an approach called
the parent-design approach. The parent design could be a U.S. ship design or a foreign ship
design. The Navy intends to conduct a full and open competition to select the builder of the
FFG(X). Consistent with U.S. law, the ship is to be built in a U.S. shipyard, even if it is based on
a foreign design. Multiple industry teams are reportedly competing for the program. Given the
currently envisaged procurement rate of two ships per year, the Navy envisages using a single
builder to build the ships.

The FFG(X) program presents several potential oversight issues for Congress, including the
  • whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s FY2019 funding request for the
  • whether the Navy has accurately identified the capability gaps and mission needs
    to be addressed by the program;
  • whether procuring a new class of FFGs is the best or most promising general
    approach for addressing the identified capability gaps and mission needs;
  • whether the Navy has chosen the appropriate amount of growth margin to
    incorporate into the FFG(X) design;
  • the Navy’s intent to use a parent-design approach for the program rather than
    develop an entirely new (i.e., clean-sheet) design for the ship;
  • the Navy’s plan to end procurement of LCSs in FY2019 and shift to procurement
    of FFG(X)s starting in FY2020;
  • whether the initiation of the FFG(X) program has any implications for required
    numbers or capabilities of U.S. Navy cruisers and destroyers.


Tyrant King
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Navy’s top officer lays out aggressive new cruiser replacement approach
By: David B. Larter   5 days ago
WASHINGTON – Buoyed by rapid progress on the next-generation frigate, the U.S. Navy’s top officer is ready to quickly move out on the long-debated replacement for the Navy’s aging cruisers.

In an exclusive interview with Defense News, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson laid out a strategy for a new large surface combatant that uses some of the tricks the Navy is employing on the FFG(X) program: looking at existing hull forms as a base for a tailor-made future combatant that can evolve over time.

“We’re going to start putting the pedal to the metal on the next major surface combatant,” Richardson said Wednesday afternoon. “I think we learned a lot in the frigate discussion and turned around the major surface combatant discussion in record time.

“I’d like to do the whole thing, well, as fast as possible but do it in the frigate timeframes: in terms of defining what we want, the requirements, getting industry involved, making it a very open competition."

The Navy will be zeroing in on what they want out of their new ship very quickly, Richardson said, which means shipbuilders and industry could be getting bids together on the Navy’s new major surface combatant in a matter of months instead of years.

“I’d like to get this pretty well defined in the 2018, 2019 timeframe,” he said.

Richardson pointed to three main focus areas for a new major surface combatant: An existing hull form to speed up acquisition; excess power capacity; and the ability to rapidly switch out systems.

“Some parts of that ship are going to be very similar to ships that are around right now (hull forms) and that’s going to last the life of the ship,” Richardson said. “So, let’s get a hull form — and there are probably ones out there that are just fine."

The second area Richardson pointed to is the electrical plant, a must if the Navy is going to integrate lasers and electromagnetic weapons in the future.

“Power plant and power generation — you need to really pay attention to that because its very hard to change after you buy it," he said. "And if you think about the kinds of combat systems and weapons systems we’re going to have on future ships, they have got to be able to generate pulsed power and those sorts of things.

“So, lots of power. Buy as much power as you can afford because it’s like RAM on your computer, you’re going to need more as soon as you buy it.”

The third area, Richardson said, is that new technology must be easily switched during short stints in the yards, not requiring major ship alterations to accommodate new systems.

“Everything else, though, is swappable,” Richardson continued. “And that has to be designed in to the DNA of the ship so you can come in on a short upkeep and swap out your radar system, or your combat system, or put this weapons system in.

“It has a lot to do with designing standards so that everybody can build to those standards so it’s a much more dynamic, swappable type of a thing.”

Since taking over as CNO, Richardson has championed an aggressive approach to acquisitions that brings in industry earlier in the process to define what is possible with mature or maturing systems, an approach designed to get new technology out in the fleet faster than the long timeline associated with developing new technologies for a blank-slate design.

It’s an approach he’s pushed with the FFG(X) and the unmanned MQ-25 Stingray tanker. The idea is to get new tech out in the fleet quickly and in the hands of sailors and officers to put it to work.

“We’ll get this design done. And because some things will be permanent and some things will be swappable, let’s just get that thing out there. It will be 100 percent better than the current cruiser,” Richardson said. “And then [when] we get smarter, we’ll put the next iteration out there.”

Power and sensors

Experts who reviewed Richardson's comments on the next surface combatant were generally positive about the CNO's approach to getting the next large surface ship on the water sooner rather than later.

An important part of the discussion about a new large combatant of this nature will be what sensors the Navy wants on it, said Bryan Clark, a retired submarine officer and analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

One of the growing concerns among Navy leaders is the massive radar signature of the fixed phased-array radars that have been the fixture of the AEGIS surface Navy.

“I would be very interested in what the Navy is thinking regarding the main sensors of the future large surface combatant,” Clark said. “The vulnerability of active sensors to counter-detection may argue for the next large surface combatant having large, high-gain passive sensors.”

Clark said it was a great move to ensure that the next surface combatant has excess power and capacity for future capabilities. The Navy’s current large surface combatant program, the DDG-51 destroyers, are moving on to a Flight III variant that supports Raytheon’s AN/SPY-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar. But to support the power-hungry sensor, engineers had to pack a ton of extra power generation capability in the Arleigh Burke hull form.

The Navy has said that the addition of more power just about maxed out space inside the Burke.

This suggests that the Burke hull form is probably not appropriate for the next major surface combatant under the parameters laid out by CNO, Clark said, and it may suggest the Navy has even broader plans for this hull than just replacing the cruisers.

“This approach will help get the new large surface combatant out there sooner, which would help the Navy address the constraints of the DDG-51 design, which with Flight III has little margin left for growth,” he said. “The desire for a faster design process suggests the Navy wants to shift to a new large surface combatant design earlier than 2029, which is when he next [large surface combatant] appears in the FY19 shipbuilding plan.

“The CNO is talking about the new surface combatant as if it were a replacement for the [cruisers], but the shipbuilding plan does not reflect two classes of large surface combatants being constructed. I assume this new ship will replace the CGs initially and then replace the DDG-51 Flight 1s.”

Hull contenders

If CNO wants to build the ship into an existing hull forms with lots of extra capacity, the list of contenders isn’t very long at the moment.

Most countries are focused on frigate-sized ships, which meant the Navy had a glut of contenders for FFG(X), but there is a much more limited supply of large surface combatants, said Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain and analyst with the Center for a New American Security.

“As I see it just right off the bat, there are really only three: the British Type 26, Burke and the Zumwalt (DDG-1000),” Hendrix said. And of those contenders, really only Zumwalt has the excess power generation CNO is looking for.

Huntington Ingalls has also done designs for its LPD-17 San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock that added vertical launch tubes and other surface combatant capabilities, but such a ship would have difficulty keeping up with the aircraft carrier, Hendrix added.

Using the Zumwalt hull form has its own challenges, said Clark. The Navy has been thrilled with the extra space and extra power generation the Zumwalt offers, but stability in the water for the stealthy destroyer has been a limiting factor in some conditions, he said.

Bryan McGrath, a retired destroyer skipper and consultant with The FerryBridge Group, said the focus on power and quick upgrades was good, but agreed that that stock of large combatant hulls is slim at the moment.

“Focusing on power is a good thing,” McGrath said. “Focusing on the ability to rapidly modernize through what he calls ‘swappable’ capabilities is a good thing. I hope [CNO] has an open mind on hull forms though, as I think the DDG-51 hull form is about played out and likely wouldn’t be large enough to accommodate the basket of things we want on a large surface combatant, leaving the DDG-1000 and the LPD-17 from existing U.S. designs.”

“Both are fine ships, but I’d like to see what the naval architecture and design community is capable of before limiting the playing field.
The Three Hulls of Interest
The British type 26? I think this is an Error Type 26 is a Frigate and smaller then the Burke class or Tico. They said Type 45 it would make sense.
The Burke of course
and the Zimwalt class