Halidon wrote:Thirdly, the program's made a definitive turn toward a more capable product than originally envisioned. While still seeking to constrain costs, the Navy has expanded their threshold requirements in a direction that suggest a preference for a larger and more capable hull.
I'm not sure I agree. Can you expand your thoughts on this?
Sure. The initial RFI left open a fairly broad range of possibilities, which analysts such as CSBA's Bryan Clark criticized as being too broad
because it meant the low end of the range was too low and might result in responses offering "Frigates" which were little more capable than LCS. Recent talk from the Navy, however, emphasized a desire to be at the top of that initial RFI's range or beyond it.
For instance along with stating a desire for an ever larger total VLS load
, in the AW realm they have made both EESM block 2 and SM-2 Block IIIC threshold requirements, rather than being "and/or," and have specified
MK-41 rather than leaving the door open for going with an ESSM-only lightweight VLS like Mk-56. Add in the 21-cell RAM CML and the threshold FFG(X) can potentially carry greater AW payload than some fairly recent Destroyer designs presently go to sea with.
ASW capability has grown as well, though not as flashily. The sonar requirements aren't greatly changed, although it's notable that a Low Band Hull Array has entered the mix as an optional sub for VDS. But there's now a requirement to integrate VLA in the future (another reason for MK-41). Plus SVTT has appeared and is accompanied by other "serious ASW work" gear like USW-DSS and acoustic decoys.
The most recent news from the bidders supports the idea that they're going bigger as well. Austal and Lockheed have been showing
and talking about
their Frigate work lately, and they certainly seem to be thinking "bigger."
Lastly, while my point is mainly about the growth in threshold requirements, there is this graphic the Navy released
. The chart at the bottom is pretty eye-opening in regards to the Navy's thinking beyond their minimum requirements. Notably, the USN charts FFG(X) growth potential into Area ASW, Area AW(!), extended OTH SUW, and offensive EW/IO missions.