Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Perry vs. LCS

From the start of the LCS program, there has always been the spectre of the Perry FFG lurking over it.  Many have suggested that the Perrys should have been upgraded instead of building LCSs.  Others have suggested building new Perrys.  In any event, the Navy decided to get rid of the Perry class in a move highly reminiscent of the sinking of the Spruances to eliminate their potential competition with the Navy’s desired Aegis cruisers - remove the Perrys and there could be no potential alternative to the LCS.

Once in a while it’s fun to ponder what might have been.  Just for fun, let’s look at what a Perry path could have given us compared to what we got with the LCS.

For starters, here are a few physical characteristics.

                                    Perry                           LCS

Length                        450 ft                          378 ft
Displacement            4200 t                         3500 t
Speed                        30 kts                          35 kts
Range                        4500 nm @ 20 kts     1200 nm @ 20 kts *
Draft                           22 ft                            13 ft

* Estimated from DOT&E reported data

The key physical characteristics are the speed, range, and draft. 

An LCS would be somewhat faster.  Recall that the LCS speed has been steadily downgraded such that a practical max speed is now only a few to several kts faster than a Perry.  More importantly, neither the Navy nor any LCS supporter has yet come up with a tactical use for the LCS’ speed so in comparing the two vessels speed, this is essentially a non-issue.

The range advantage for the Perry is enormous.  Again, recall that the LCS range has been steadily downgraded from the design goal of 3500 nm @ 14 kts.  Add to this the conceptual requirement for the LCS to put into port every two weeks for maintenance as opposed to the Perry’s ability to stay at sea indefinitely and the range/endurance characteristic hugely favors the Perry.

Draft is another of those ambiguous characteristics that the Navy has been unable to come up with an actual use for.  Is there really any operational benefit to a 13 ft draft versus a 22 ft draft?  Is there something useful that an LCS can do in 13 ft of water that a Perry can’t do in 22 ft?  This is another non-issue.

Now, for purposes of this comparison, we’re going to assume that the Navy continued building Perrys.  Thus, we’re not going to compare the LCS with the old, defanged Perrys that the Navy neutered.  Instead, we’re going to compare the LCS with a modern version of the Perry.  By “modern”, I mean a Perry that had been reasonably upgraded with new technology as it became available but not with non-existent technology promises like the LCS.

Seaframe.  The vessel would have the same hull but with a modern, slanted superstructure for a degree of stealth.  That’s a reasonable construction modification.  The vessel would not be a super-stealth ship but would have an easily achievable and reasonable degree of stealth.  In essence, it would have an LCS-ish superstructure.

The entire hull and machinery spaces would be built with quieting in mind (much of it was!)  Acoustic isolation, vibration dampening, and materials selection would make the ship as quiet as possible.  Prairie/Masker technology was, and will be, applied.

The stern would be modified in some fashion to accommodate waterline (or nearly so) stern launched RHIBs along the lines of the LCS’ dry well deck.  This would provide a great deal of flexibility and ease of operation for boarding and inspection (VBSS) ops and the like.

Sensors.  The main radar would be the TRS-4D supplemented by optical sensors (EO/IR).  Sonars would include a hull mounted multi-frequency sonar, a dedicated mine finding sonar, multi-function towed array, and dipping sonar (VDS or aircraft type).  Laser sensors and target designators would round out the fit.

Armament.  The bow would accommodate a 76mm gun and an 8-cell VLS along the lines of the Australian upgrade.  Free standing Harpoon box launchers would hold 8 Harpoons.  A RAM launcher would provide short range AAW.  A pair of Mk38 Mod 2 25mm remote gun systems would provide close-in protection against surface craft.  A Hellfire launcher would provide short range anti-surface, anti-swarm capability.  Two sets of triple torpedo tubes would provide anti-submarine weaponry.  Odds are that an additional one or two 8-cell VLS could be accommodated but that would remain to be seen.

Aviation.  As now, the ship would have a hangar and flight deck capable of operating two Seahawk type helos versus the LCS which can only operate one.

In summary, the Perry would be a highly proficient ASW vessel with a long range surface strike capability and a reasonable AAW self-defense and near area defense along with anti-swarm defense.  This would have been a reasonable frigate with good endurance, range, and both blue water and littoral capability.  Had we built these, they would have nicely bridged the gap between the old Perrys and a new, clean sheet frigate design.  Best of all, it would be serving as we speak compared to the current LCS with no modules and barely a Coast Guard level of combat capability.

Ah, what might have been.


  1. I dunno,
    What you describe is a long range frigate which would be outgunned by most modern mini corvettes. Not sure how important that is, but I'm sure it would have been held against such a design.
    Further, littoral action in mind, half the draught must count for something , i'll agree not sure how much, but not something to be summarily dismissed.
    Next, developing a medium range AA warfare fighting ability would never have been tolerated after all the expense that went into unifying AEGIS, and that platform wouldn't have been able to filed an AEGIS system, so another mark against the design. Unless the VLS was simply to house strike weapons. In which case its some punch, but on a naked ship.

    Lastly, ill say this, I think a very heavy weighting was applied to the modules that were such an integral part of the design brief. Speed, range, etc, but it was the multi mission aspect which i think the Navy found appealing.
    Perhaps they should have known that it would turn out to be the fiasco its become, but they looked at the German navy successfully building a modular swappable system into small frigates and thought, easy enough.

    Imagine if the marketing hadn't turned out to be a sham.
    A frigate, that in 24 hours in dock could be turned from an ASW platform into a Mine hunting one. Or configured into a surface warfighter, Or a land assault artillery support vessel. All for the cost of a few dozen craft and a few hundred 20 foot container cell.
    Their eyes were bigger than their stomachs.
    All that aside, it could still come good as a platform.
    Not with the current naval planning though.
    They keep sinking more funds into a useless mine hunter. An average ASW platform, and a terrible surface combatant.
    But, they may in the future come up with clean sheet designs that will make it 'all it can be'/
    Laser based AA platform for close in defence.
    Competent mine hunting gear, not some drone sub that either sinks or blows up every few hours of work.
    Who knows.
    Its got electricity, and lets face it, room, in spades.

    In a decade or 2, it may even turn into a useful multi role vessel.
    For now. a typical monumental cockup.

    1. You got that I was not describing the ultimate frigate design, right? I was just speculating if the USN had decided to continue an upgrade path of the Perrys rather than abandon them and move to the LCS.

      I'm guessing that you're talking about the MEKO family when you talk about a German modular system? If so, my limited understanding is that that isn't a rapid swapable system. Do you have a different take on it?

    2. I totally get that you're not talking about the ultimate Frigate, just what could've been fielded.
      Which is why i said its not a good idea and USN would never have accepted it
      To wit.
      Arleigh Burkes. are the best AA and strike platform at 10,000tons floating. AEGIS and now ABM capable. over 100 launch cells, etc, etc, no one build platforms anywhere near this class.
      Super Carriers. Don't need to say anything. No one else can even build 1.
      Assault Amphibs. Twice the assault capacity of the nearest Euro.
      Subs, Either SSN or SSBN, no one builds ones anywhere near as good.

      I wont bore you with the details. But you're talking about a Navy which is as powerful as the next 10 navies combined, and then suggesting they adopt the crapiest frigate on the market. Which is why they dumped it.

      I beg your pardon, not the MEKO, talking about the StanFlex modular payload system. Which is supposed to be 24 hours hot swappable. And like i said, had LockMart actually been able to make it work, (as opposed to the run of the mil lockmart crapware that never does) it wouldve created a class of very very useful vessels.

    3. "I wont bore you with the details. But you're talking about a Navy which is as powerful as the next 10 navies combined, and then suggesting they adopt the crapiest frigate on the market. Which is why they dumped it."

      Not sure I agree with that in two parts. First, the ship: Its all about roles. What CNO describes is a ship that can fight with other ships; but is geared more towards open ocean ASW escort.

      Currently, the Navy plans on using the 'Burkes as ASW. But with the aging of the fleet of 'Burkes, the lack of upgrades to a good chunk of the class, and the need to escort support ships, carriers, and anything else, we might start running short of 'burkes in the future to handle all of our needs.

      This new Perry could handle that open ocean escort and leave the 'Burkes to other roles like land strike and carrier escort. They might be better suited to the role, in fact. With ESSM they can do a good enough job with sub launched AShCM's, and their ASW focus will allow them to hunt subs better than a 'Burke.

      As to the Navy being more powerful than the next 10 combined.... by what standard?

      Yes, we have more hulls. But our offensive anti ship weaponry is ancient; whether its ship launched or air launched. And we've really limited what ships *can* carry anti ship missiles. Flight IIA burkes don't. From what I've read SSN's don't anymore either.

      We have many hulls, but a new Flight IIA 'Burke can't really attack a new Chinese destroyer. They are very out-missiled.

      The CVN's are powerful, but the air wings are small and have short range.

      In short, we have some modern hulls with little offensive anti ship weaponry, and a chunk of older hulls with ancient anit ship weaponry.

      Our CVN's, which are our big stick, have to get closer to the enemy than ever due to the range of their air wings. And when they do, not only do they open themselves up to attack, but there is real question as to whether the Harpoons can get through modern air defenses.

      Finally: Aegis. How many are upgraded? How many are in correct working order? And has there *ever* been a live fire test on one to know if it and the SM series of missiles will actually *work* against a modern raid with near hypersonic smart missiles?

      I'm disturbed.


  2. Yes a ship that could have actually stood in and releaved the pressure on the DDG force in the lower end areas during peace time, and filled escort interdiction during peer war. The LCS or even the up gunned one cannot do this it will need a DDG for protection even in the most benign low end environments well I guess short of drug smugglers and pirates.

    1. Not only will it need DDG protection, it will need an oiler to do any mission requiring any range. The range is a deal breaker to me.

  3. Only slightly tongue in cheek but what about a version of the Type 26 as the new Frigate. Built in numbers in the US would bring the Unit costs down and may help the RN build more than the projected 8 in the UK. They are designed for lean manning too, but with plenty of room for extra crew to suite US practises. Affordable/adaptable and bang up to date for both navies.

    1. You noted that the premise of the post was an upgrade path for Perrys that would bridge the gap until a new design frigate could be built rather than what an ultimate frigate design should be? That said, there are many good frigate designs in the world, all better than the LCS, and any of them would make a useful addition to the USN fleet. I'd welcome Type 26 over the LCS!

    2. Buy foreign???, that will get you on a list!

      Misters Shelby and Sessions will be looking for you! And they won't be alone!

  4. The immediate comparison might be the Russian Steregushchy-class corvette.

    Granted it's not as fast as the LCS in max speed (although actually given the downgrades, the sustained speed might be comparable), but at half the size, it's armed and packs quite a few sensors.

    You may want to research it up and see how it compares.

    1. I've been watching it for some time and it's an impressive design!

    2. Bottom line is the US should be building something comparable in terms of armament and sensors vs displacement.

      It sure as hell would be more useful than the current mess that is the LCS. The Steregushchy costs perhaps $150 million US as well. More bang for buck too.

      I also think that small small fast attack craft would be useful. Maybe stick to the Visby that the LCS was influenced by.

    3. "It sure as hell would be more useful than the current mess that is the LCS. The Steregushchy costs perhaps $150 million US as well. More bang for buck too."

      I like the vessel... but the prices are always suspect to me; though I'm not an economist.

      Those sensors and weapons are *expensive*. I really have a hard time thinking that the sail away cost for that puppy is $150 million including weapons and sensors.

      If it was we should buy 100 of them for the cost of the LCS class, and use the leftover money to upgrade the avengers, if possible (my tongue is in my cheek here).

      I don't doubt your numbers, Alt, just the ones given out by the Russians. I suspect there are some subsidies going on.

    4. We can't get agreement on what our own ships cost. You're quite right to doubt foreign cost numbers!

    5. Labor costs are often cheaper and it is possible that they have been able to realize cost savings elsewhere. Otherwise, another possibility is that the US is so deeply gold plated that other ships can be built for a lot less - witness how much more efficient the civilian sector often is.

      On the other hand, it may be as you note falsified statements. Or it could be that Russian ships are cheaper to buy but more expensive to operate (many Russian aircraft are like that).

      Hard to say. But no doubt that the LCS is a terrible value.

    6. I think the sources of ambiguity in foreign costs are due more to different standards (many countries build to more commercial standards than we do), exchange rates, government subsidies (Russia, China, for example), different levels of technology (Aegis is expensive compared to many other radars), different levels of capability even for seemingly similar ships, different types of contracts, etc. I suspect that out and out falsified statements are not typical.

      For example, given how heavily China subsidizes shipbuilding and the degree of government owned defense industries, trying to compare costs between the US and China is pretty much meaningless.

  5. CNO, while you complain about we proponents of the LCS not providing reason for the current LCS versions, you don't provide any reason for the USN building new frigates.

    As for the need for high speed and shallow draft, I point out that one of the stated reason for building the LCS is to protect fleet units from coastal attack boat and suicide boats like those that attack the Cole. The main advantage these attack craft has is their small size that allow the to operate where most larger warships can not go. Now the LCSs can not go everywhere the attack boats can go, but the LCS can operate in the area between the Attack boats and the traditional warship, making the superior to protect larger ship from attack boats.

    1. GLof, as I stated in the post, this was a speculative concept had the Navy opted to continue the Perry instead of the LCS. It's speculating on what the Navy would have done, not what I would do.

      Frankly, I'm dubious about the value of a modern frigate for the US Navy's force structure and needs.

      The shallow draft and high speed (to the extent that the LCS still retains any speed) are generic attributes that no one has been able to come up with a tactical or operational need for. LCS supporters inevitably fall back on these generic traits that aren't operationally useful.

      Consider draft. A Burke has a 30 ft draft, meaning that it can operate in 30 ft of water (neglecting any safety margin). Do you understand how close that is to shore, generally speaking? A small boat in less than 30 ft of water is safe from being rammed by the Burke, I guess, but is well within weapons range of even simple machine guns on the Burke. Does the Burke really need to sail right up next to it to destroy a small boat?

      Draft is a characteristic the Navy made up to justify the LCS but upon rational examination it is useless.

      The best argument supporters of the LCS can offer is the MCM role. If the MCM module ever works, that would be a useful capability. Of course, we could have achieved that same capability or more for a lot less money. New, improved Avengers would have been a much better investment.

      The Navy made a very bad bet on the LCS and continues, in the face of all logic and evidence, to double down on the bet. Then they have the nerve to complain about not having enough money to buy new destroyers and carriers and amphibs!

    2. "Frankly, I'm dubious about the value of a modern frigate for the US Navy's force structure and needs. "

      I've got one. long range ASW.

      We have ships that need escort, and the Pacific is a damned big place. If we are going to 'pivot' there, we should have a way of doing good ASW work. On top of that, the ship should have some decent, not great, AAW ability, and the ability to at least threaten other ships. But the main thing would be ASW.

      The Navy sees this, they've tried to shoehorn the LCS into that role now. And it stinks at it.

    3. Well, you've kind of just described the Burke - open ocean escort of important vessels while providing ASW and AAW.

    4. My jaw just dropped, but I still say that the next escort vessel should be based on the Ticonderoga class, instead of the those cramp.

    5. "Well, you've kind of just described the Burke - open ocean escort of important vessels while providing ASW and AAW."

      Well, kind of.

      A few things stick out in my mind.

      A) As far as I know the 'Burkes were optimized for anti air. My buddy who served on one said they did ASW. From time to time. The Sub always won. They aren't quieted as far as I know.

      B) The Tico's are going to go away, most likely, increasing the demand on the 'Burkes for anti air. And given the increased cruise/ballistic missile threat, and the smaller VLS magazine on the 'Burkes, it likely won't be a 1:1 replacement.

      C) The 'Burkes themselves aren't spring chickens. How many have been used hard, put away wet, and un upgraded? How many will the Navy start to retire in favor of Flt III Burkes?
      And I'll bet you $10 a Flt III burkes spends less than 5% of its time doing ASW work.

      E) The Navy has already complained about the 'Burkes getting over worked. Using them escorting CFL's and food containers isn't likely going to happen when a Navy commander has a Carrier to protect. Not saying it won't, just saying vital convoys will get the dregs. And in a peace time situation the whole point of the low end ship is to save miles on the 'Burkes.

      F) From an enemy standpoint, it makes more sense to send cheaper torpedos at CFL's and logistics ships than $1million dollar anti ship cruise missiles they'd rather be sending at Carriers. Given that, I think the 'Burkes are overkill in the AAW department and underspec'ed in the ASW department.

      So yes, given the above as what I understand about the current Navy, a long range, DE type frigate that is cheaper than a 'Burke is needed to do that open ocean escort. Optimize it for range and ASW. Give it a small(ish) gun. Give it ESSM and some Harpoon/LRASM launchers so it can provide a modicum of defense against other ships and some small area air defense.

      Just my $.02

    6. "My jaw just dropped, but I still say that the next escort vessel should be based on the Ticonderoga class, instead of the those cramp."

      If you're talking ASW escort, I'm chuckling. I'm assuming your jaw is dropping because we'd be making an ASW escort off the hull of an AAW escort that was sourced off of one of our best ASW escorts... ;-)

      I love the idea of the Spruances. Spruances mixed with S3's and Helo's made a heck of an ASW team.

    7. Which just got me thinking....

      CNO, you are fond of analyzing existing assumptions.

      I'm curious as to what you think of this. One of the things I've heard constantly from the Navy and from some pundits is that the Navy is 'more capable now than it was' presumably during the 600 ship Navy days.

      I'm not so sure. Lets take a look at the Navy during the days when the F-14D was coming on line.

      In the fleet you had A6's for long range strike, F-14's for fleet defense (and soon long range strike), F-18's for light attack, C2's for COD/logistics, and S3's and Helo's for ASW work.

      There were problems: The Tomcat was a maintenance beast. The C/D Hornets were (are) short legged. Logistics was more complicated by the plethora of jets. Sortie time probably wasn't as good.


      The F-14B's and D's provided a really good measure of fleet defense. By the mid '90's they could also at least drop iron bombs (don't know if they go precision munitions. That, coupled with the Intruders, gave the CVBG a much greater reach. Now we are limited to the combat radius of the SuperHornets.

      The C2's allowed a lot of stuff to be brought to the carrier from a long way away. Ship to ship replenishment is more difficult than what is hoped for by the V-22, but the logistical tether of the whole battlegroup was longer. We still have the C2, but for how long?

      S3's provided longer range ASW ability. They also provided tanking ability to aid strikes and CAP; without diminishing the combat power of the air wing by flying strike aircraft as tankers. Now that's gone.

      The 'Burkes and 'Tico's that did the escorting were similar, if with younger tech.

      The Spruance existed at that time as well to provide ASW muscle. Now that's gone.

      Frigates provided open ocean escort and allowed the 'Burkes and 'Ticos to do higher end missions.

      Harpoon today would look real similar to the crews on those ships back in the day. (!)

      In short, while we may have newer weapons, and better sensors, I think we've really lost capability and flexibility.

      On top of that add that the Carriers just took a huge leap ahead in price, and its a tough pill to swallow.

      maybe I'm missing something.

    8. "So yes, given the above as what I understand about the current Navy, a long range, DE type frigate that is cheaper than a 'Burke is needed to do that open ocean escort. Optimize it for range and ASW. Give it a small(ish) gun. Give it ESSM and some Harpoon/LRASM launchers so it can provide a modicum of defense against other ships and some small area air defense."

      And that's a bit different from your original suggestion which I interpreted as being fairly AAW capable (if I misinterpreted, I apologize!). I'm in favor of a DE-ish ASW escort but only limited range AAW (ESSM). Anything more than that and it starts becoming an expensive poor man's version of a Burke.

      By the way, we have 80-90 Burkes. We could have ten carrier or amphib groups with 10 Burke escorts each. We seem to have plenty of Burkes.

    9. "And that's a bit different from your original suggestion which I interpreted as being fairly AAW capable (if I misinterpreted, I apologize!). "

      Probably not. Things can be awfully clear in my head but not necessarily so in my writing. :-)

      We do have a lot of 'Burkes. I'm just thinking of going forward; how many will be retired early, or retired justly. I'm guessing it won't be too long when we'll just have Flight III/IIA Burkes doing work as escorts for CVN's, and not much left for other duties.

      If the 80/90 is solid going forward, then maybe we take a subset and, while not doing anything else, just change their training so they are ASW first, AAW second.

      I think there is a reluctance to do this due to the sweet AAW package, but looking at the types of Subs being built, the embarrassing situations we've come across (subs penetrating CVN screens), and the numbers of subs being built by China, among others, its a need.

      I could be wrong. But If I'm not, that's where I see the role of a new FFG(DE) type.

      We've had the underarmed, under-ranged, LCS doing 'presence' duty in the East China sea. IIRC Ft. Worth was alone.

      If anything violent happens, its dead. If it gets too far from a Flight II 'Burke with harpoons or a Tico or CVN, and the Chinese threaten to stop it or shoot it... it might not have an option.

      My little DE can say 'Okay. But we'll shoot back; my ESSM/SeaRAM has at least a shot at stopping your missile', and I have enough fuel in my bunkers that I can make a fighting run for it without worrying about running dry.

  6. The size of a ship has little to do with its procurement cost - even less on total cost of ownership, and larger ships generally have superior sea keeping characteristics, reserve buoyancy, and facilitate machinery quieting: why do we continue to focus on trying to build 3-4,000 ton all purpose warships?

    FFGs were too short-legged: it should be possible to build a 8-10,000 nm range ship on a larger hull assuming the navy adopt diesel propulsion (actually CODAG or CODELAG).

    I think it is time to look forward to the end of ASW helicopters and embrace drones: and maybe even revisit other recovery options like the brody landing system. A single hanger to hold 4-5 UAVs or one SH-60 is sufficient.

    A Udaloy or Spruance sized hull, a mission deck (with a container handling crane), 64 cell VLS, VDS and Towed Array sonars, CIWIS/SeaRAM/RAM, and anti SWARM missile launchers.

    I intentionally sidestepped the issue of naval guns: the ship probably ought to have a 155mm system(s), but I really doubt the Navy will develop it.


    1. GAB, tell me about your vision for an ASW drone. I've thought about such an aircraft and can't come up with a viable concept. I assume you're describing something about a quarter of the size of a SH-60 since you mention 4-5 in a hangar. With that small size, how do you get all the sonobuoys, ?radar?, comm gear, ASW torpedoes, and endurance you want? When you build a drone that can carry that and has several hours endurance (fuel tanks), you're probably pretty much back to a SH-60 size aircraft.

      It would be possible, I suppose, to split the detection and weapons functions among two different drones to keep each small but then the total size is still large in terms of hangar space impact.

      So, what do you see the drone doing and what characteristics do you see it having?

    2. I don’t want to pre-empt GAB too much but ...

      Augusta Westland ( Italian\British )
      Are making this

      ( with the help of Poland, lets be fair )

      It test landed on a moving platform last year. So fairly far along the R&D trail, it will be armed, with some quite heavy weapons for a rotary wing drone.


      Royal Navy has commissioned mini multistate sonar buoys

      And I read this week we are also working on a lightweight dipping sonar.

      These technologies will be competing with various other drones later this year in a drone-off for the royal navy. ( I forget the specific operational name. )

      But they will also feature in JOINT WARRIOR this year according to Quinetiq.


  7. CNO.

    My view on these drones is that they are primarily weapons carriers to deliver ordnance out to the 1st convergence zone and beyond.

    Keep in mind that I take a holistic, campaign view of ASW: hunting individual submarines is probably the least productive means to that end, and even then, the primary hunter is the submarine.

    1. An ASW drone can be a surface vessel, a subsurface vessel, or an aircraft! ACUTV is an example of what “might be done” with a surface UAV.

    2. Sonar buoys are generally not detection assets they are localization assets.

    3. Aircraft are very good at moving ordnance quickly; not very good at persistence.

    I would not limit the ship to just ASW drones…


    1. Sounds like you're describing the old DASH unit - a weapon transport vehicle. Nothing wrong with that. How does localization occur if not with the drone? If we need a helo for localization, they're already armed and we don't need DASH. If a helo won't do the localization then what will? Surface ships could but then we're risking billion+ dollar ships playing up close tag with subs and the advantage is all with the sub. Subs could localize subs but there are comm and ID issues plus a sub is armed and wouldn't need a DASH.

      I completely get the holistic ASW but I'm still not quite seeing your vision of how this works at the local level.

    2. "My view on these drones is that they are primarily weapons carriers to deliver ordnance out to the 1st convergence zone and beyond."

      As you know, we had a convergence zone ASW platform, the S-3 Viking, and dropped it!

      ASW drone

    4. CNO,

      The Navy needs a carrier capable airframe that can be produced as in the following variants:

      1. AEW
      2. ASW/MPA
      3. Tanker (with capability to tank from USAF boom systems)
      4. COD/cargo
      5. EW

      This airframe could likely be "optionally manned."


    5. Not to beat a dead horse but we already had that.
      ASW = S-3B Viking
      Tanker = S-3/KS-3 Viking
      COD = US-3A
      EW = ES-3A Shadow
      AEW = Gray Wolf/Outlaw/AEW Viking proposals

      The Viking is, arguably, the most versatile aircraft the Navy ever produced and they abandoned it.

    6. The S-3 was fine, but the whale ruled!


    7. As did the F-8 Crusader. I wonder what a modernized F-8 would look like? We may never know.

    8. Yeah, yeah he mutters (looking like the cat that missed the mouse)...


  8. What about a drone reusable sonobuoy? An Amphibious uav design with a dipping sonar, It would fly itself to the location, land on the water, then deploy its sonar. While floating it would be almost undetectable, and use very little fuel.

    Randall Rapp

    1. Who or what would listen to the sonar? A tiny unit, floating on the water, would have little power/antenna/comm capability and would probably be limited to line of sight, if that.

    2. Use the same systems for the airdropped sonobuoys used by P-3s and other sub hunting aircraft. They would just be larger and reusable.

  9. There was an article in the USNI Proceedings from 4/2015 supporting the concept of a patrol frigate based on the national security cutter with an estimated cost of about 800 million. It seems like a better value with more options for future changes to the baseline design than anything I see available. Moreover, the NSC is a known design and would pose less developmental risk than other options.

    1. That was 4/2014, not 2015 if anyone wants to look it up.

    2. NF,

      I am all for replacing the FFG/LCS: my concern is why we keep trying to shoe horn the kitchen sink into a smaller hull because we (wrongly) equate size with cost.

      The size of a ship has little to do with its procurement cost - even less on total cost of ownership, and larger ships generally have superior sea keeping characteristics, reserve buoyancy, and facilitate machinery quieting: why do we continue to focus on trying to build 3,000 - 4,000 ton all purpose warships?


  10. One more thing (I took the day off, can you tell? :-).

    If I remember right, once the first Perry moved out of the slipways, it took about 10-12 years to get the rest in the water. And that included modifying the design to get the long hull version.

    How long has it been since Freedom hit the water?

    1. Jim,
      The issue with the LCS is that first 2 never even got through a complete INSURV, LCS deployments are lagging, and the key system (the (the mission modules) are still not done!

      By contrast, the FFG-7 class went into serial production with the second hull, completed the normal inspection cycles pretty much on time, and were available for workup/deployment the same as every other USN combatant.

      Hull Laid Down Launched Commissioned
      FFG-7 12 JUN 1975 25 SEP 1976 17 DEC 1977

      FFG-61 30 MAR 1987 25 JUN 1988 5 AUG 1989

      CDR Salamander had a great blog post comparing the construction /deployment cycles of FFG-7s and LCSs: it is an ugly story.


  11. The overall draft of a FFG-7 can be reduced by 3-4 feet likely by splitting the single LM-2500 turbine power across two shafts turning two smaller variable-pitch props. Since Twin-Diesel-on-one-shaft gear-boxes of LS/LP Amphibs work routinely, going the other direction is not an issue either.

    Once Army 52-cal. 155mm howitzer can offer 30nm of range with modern guided-ammo, such a mechanism could be marinized for trials. PzH-2000 w/ DENEL

    Then explore the advantages of a 62-cal barrel to add range.

    This is all Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) stuff, without need for another from-scratch development program.

    1. 1. Reducing the draft by 3 -4 feet has no practical impact on operations; USN and Royal Navy cruisers operated within one (1) NM of invasion beaches during landings. With a 1:50 beach gradient 3-4' translates into getting the ship ~200 yards in closer to a beach.

      2. There was nothing wrong with FFG propulsion system (auxiliaries were a different issue) - going from one shaft to two will negatively effect propeller efficiency, which in turn will reduce fuel economy (range). Unless you opt for hybrid electric propulsion, two shafts will also require two main reduction gears instead of one. MRGs are expensive, and there are not a many facilities that can produce them.

      3. The Germans attempted to mount a PzH turret on one of their frigates and found very quickly that the stabilization systems and corrosion control were require a completely new design - the USN already built the best medium caliber gun for naval use with the Des-Moines class (itself based upon the 6" DP gun).

      4. An M269 Loader Launcher Module from the MLRS (or the HIMARs launcher) would be a good candidate as the missiles are sealed. The Israelis also have a navalized rocket launcher in production that can accommodates a variety of rockets from 122mm to 203mm as well as drones.


    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. GAB
    on items
    - 1. There is more to vessel-ops than beach-gradients.
    - 2. Mechanical gear-box for 1-into 2 are a non-challenge.
    Furthermore exploring going gas-turbine-electric seems perfectly worthwhile exploring. Steam-turbine-electric drives were part of USN battleships through a good number of hulls about 90 years ago...

    3. I am glad you remember this from an earlier note of mine. Stabilizing a howitzer-barrel on a sizable ship-hull is much easier than doing this with a 52-cal 120mm MBT barrel on a 70-tons vehicle at 30mph cross-country.

    Given adequate numbers - not the case with the German Navy - investing in controlling corrosion on the most modern 155mm mechanism is not a major challenge between upgrading limited parts and better coatings, plus more protection of electrics.

    Physically protecting the mount from white-water suggest a range of geometries other than the proud erect-posture-forward attitude fashionable. VISBY's 57mm in shut-down mode is just one start on that theme... Smarter options yet not far away.

    - 4. Since USMC's HIMARS is 50% of MLRS, it did not seem too much of a proposition to reach a lower-level of navalization of this Army system. Ditto therefore for a 155mm howitzer.

    Not sure what 'sealed missiles' have to do with this since arti-rounds are darn tight too...

    Navalizing promising systems will more likely fail due to Obstructionists and 'not-invented-in-Navy' thinking rather than overwhelming technical challenges.

    Again, 155mm via 52-cal barrel = 30nm right now !
    More with more barrel.
    More with 203mm and 62-cal barrel...

    And no need for a 'Destroyer'/'Monitor'/ Unobtainables to offer some serious extended duration guided but affordable Fire Support.

    So, you'll be designing your FFG around the MLRS-reloading sequence of MLRS ?

    1. "1. There is more to vessel-ops than beach-gradients."

      You brought up draft so what other aspects of vessel ops are you thinking of that are impacted by small changes in draft/depth?

    2. TS.

      1. There is *no practical advantage* the LCS has over an FFG due to 3-4 feet less of draft.

      Please describe a scenario where this is remotely an issue.

      2. The design trade-offs going from one to two or more screws is not trivial, particularly if the sole goal objective is to reduce draft.

      I was trained as a PE, and am intimately familiar with the FFG propulsion plant, and very familiar with the LCS propulsion plant.

      3. ??? - I am an old guy and the F-125 MONARCH story is quite an old story as well - the key point is that naval artillery and land artillery designs tend to be very different for very good reasons. Many nations have tried to field systems that work on land an at sea - the only one that achieved any significant success was the 40mm Bofors. This strongly suggests that there is a lot more going on than is obvious, even to an enthusiast.

      4. Corrosion is not an issue solely due to water shipping over the deck!

      The Army got a good lesson in corrosion following the 1994 invasion of Haiti when certain SOCOM units suffered some rather serious issues when they operated off the Eisenhower and the America. The weather was quite benign and the units were embarked for a very short period of time.

      A sealed, container launched missile is much less of a challenge to integrate onto a ship than a couple of dozen tons of rotating machinery and controls.


      I was quite clear about my vision for the ship that I would like to have seen replace the FFG-7 in my January 21, 2016 post above.

      It is not an FFG, and putting an M269 Loader Launcher Module on the hull was not part my proposal.


  13. Frigate really is a concept, a job, a set of requirements navally that remain relevant.

    Obviously over the years these have shifted slightly in the exact definition of these roles and differing navies have a slightly different take on how to embody their solutions.

    Simply rebranding the LCS doesn’t satisfy the missions. You can’t just magic a frigate from anything, it’s actually a pretty specific balance, and highly engineered over the centuries. The Perry was actually pretty dam good (when fresh off the line).

    If you don’t satisfy the criteria either your destroyers and other craft are going to have to pick up the slack, OR you going to lose ships.

    I think training here is probably part of the issue here. As yet another jack of all trades, do we think the LCS in any variant is going to be GREAT at what it does? There is something to be said in dedicating a ship and its crew to a role.

  14. You left out one of the most important figures: cost. A replacement Perry was estimated by the CBO to cost $700 million in 2003. That figure is over $1 billion today adjusted for inflation alone. The Australian Perry refit was not cost effective. It cost over $1 billion to complete and at best gave the ships in question another 10 years of active life. Many in the Australian Navy consider it a poor compromise. LCS is far from perfect, but its modular capabilities set makes more sense than mission dedicated small ships like the PC and MCM that never get appropriate maintenance over their careers. LCS is a compromise design that combines the PC, MCM and FFG classes on a single hull through modular capability. Read about it here:

    1. You've missed the point of the post. The point of the post was not the cost of a brand new replacement Perry but, rather, the product that would have been serving today if the Perry line had been continued and simply incrementally upgraded. Thus, there are no upgrade costs to consider. Each new Perry would have been built with whatever new technology was available and deemed worthwhile. The Australian example has no bearing in this discussion.

      Had the Navy opted to continue the Perry line with incremental upgrades, we'd have a highly capable frigate in service which would have bridged the gap until a new design frigate could be built, if desired.

    2. Lazarus, the article reads like a simple cheerleading piece and examines none of the problems with the program or ship. All in all, a very poor piece of analysis.

      I know you're a supporter of the LCS (despite all the evidence!). Perhaps you'd care to guest author a piece, or series of pieces, defending and extolling the LCS? I'm serious about this offer. I would help you make the piece the best it can be, regardless of my personal opinion, if you wished. I would enjoy hosting an evidence-backed and reasoned defense of the LCS. Note that my policy is to never comment negatively on a guest post. That would be inappropriate. Let me know if you're interested.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  15. "More importantly, neither the Navy nor any LCS supporter has yet come up with a tactical use for the LCS’ speed so in comparing the two vessels speed, this is essentially a non-issue."

    If the LCS ships were able to go 45 kts as advertised, wouldn't that speed allow it to outrun most torpedos (i.e. defense against submarines)?

    1. Most Russian torpedoes are 50-55+ kts. So, yes, an LCS might be able to outlast a torpedo in a stern chase if the torpedo was detected far enough out and the geometry was truly a stern chase.

      Also, the LCS speed has been downrated significantly. My latest readings suggest a max speed of 38-40 kts for the LCS.


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