Thursday, August 29, 2019

Burkes - The Anchor Around The Navy's Neck

My favorite baseball team went out and traded for a star and gave him a record setting, long term contract.  Now, just a few years later, he’s constantly hurt and contributes little.  Unfortunately, his enormous contract makes him untradeable and we’re saddled with him for another ten years.  In the meantime, we lack the budget to pay for other good players, have had to let promising players go because we couldn’t afford to give them new contracts, and he’s blocking the development and rise of young players in the minor leagues at his position.  Despite having once been a star, he and his contract are an anchor around the team’s neck.

Similarly, the Burke class destroyers are an anchor around the Navy’s neck.  Huh?!  You can’t be serious.  The Burkes are the most (only?) successful surface ship design we have.  Why, the Burke is the star of the Navy team (oh, oh … I don’t like where this is heading!).  How can they be anything but a benefit?

Well, let’s look at the situation.

When the Navy wanted to replace the Ticonderogas, did they look to design a new, optimized cruiser to take full advantage of the desired AMDR radar?  No, they stuck with the Burke because they were afraid of a new design after the recent string of disastrous new designs.  So, we’re now saddled with a Ticonderoga replacement, the Burke Flt III, with a half-AMDR instead of what we really want.

When the Navy wanted to build a better LCS (the new frigate program) did they look to design a new, dedicated ASW vessel, which is what they really needed?  No, they opted for a mini-Burke because it was what they were comfortable with.  The ‘new’ frigate is actually a manifestation of the illusion of the Burke’s ‘safety’ by insisting that the ‘new’ design be an existing design which, by definition, makes it an old design.

When combat comes and the Navy wants to conduct ASW, does anyone really believe that the Navy will risk $2B+ Burkes playing tag with submarines?  Of course not!  That means that for practical purposes we have no ASW capability!  Our star ship is now quite limited in realistic capability by its price.  On a related note, does it make sense to risk the proposed new frigates which will cost around $1.5B (I’m laughing at the Navy’s cost estimate of $800M)?  Of course not, again!  Our desire for mini-Burkes is preventing us from building the ASW corvette we really need and the Burkes are too expensive to risk doing the ASW job which is, supposedly, one of their core capabilities.

USS Burke

Let’s be clear.  The Burkes, at one time, served a very valuable role as the world’s most advanced AAW system.  Now, however, the Burke is at the low end of ship stealth and Aegis and Aegis-clones are everywhere and it’s even debatable whether Aegis is still the world’s premier AAW system.  There’s a plethora of radar manufacturers who claim their radars are superior and for a fraction of the cost.  So, what do the Burkes represent now?  Well, they’re a good AAW system but that’s about as far as we can go with our praise.  Even the Navy recognizes the shortcomings of Aegis and are replacing it with AMDR which they claim is vastly superior.  The Navy is saddled with a vast fleet of decent AAW Burkes and no hope to break out of the mold and produce something better. 

Because they represent something ‘safe’, albeit no longer state of the art, the Burkes are stifling innovation and new designs by the Navy.  Unwilling to risk another Zumwalt or LCS, the safety of the Burke now drags the Navy down and prevents the adoption of new designs.

The Burkes are an anchor on the Navy’s development.


  1. I thought the navy was proposing a San Antonio hull for the Tico replacement. I'm not convinced it will be up to scratch for damage control, but should be big enough for a high mast and room for power generation. Thoughts anyone?

    In my opinion the country that develops a quality small but top tier ASW ship, (call it sloop/corvette/frigate/sub hunter ship (SHS)...., name is irrelevant these days except for politicians, PR, journalists) that can do both deep water and coastal is on to a winner.
    If the USN develops these “lower priced” ships there would be numerous advantages, such as:
    a/ As it has been so long since the navy developed a successful new hull form, start small to build the skill base, they can even make full size prototypes at a sensible price as it is a small size
    b/ More can be procured and quicker.
    c/ They can be used on “more risky” missions as the cost of replacement (Ship and crew) is less.
    d/ They can be used for “flag waving” as it is less of a drain on the navy’s other assets.
    e/ Being cheaper you can afford to replace more often with an upgraded version.
    f/ They will have a good resale value, thus reducing the cost of the replacement.
    g/ US can afford to “give/discount” the second hand ones to friendly country’s.
    e, f and g combined make the idea even better in my opinion.
    I would be interested to know what “people’s” thoughts are on 2 classes, one small (just big enough to be a TAS tug with ASROC (or equivalent) and a larger (mother type) ship with a helicopter for air launched torpedoes?

    After they have “cracked” (re learnt) the new ship design process moving onto a Burke / Tico replacement should be a lot smoother.

    1. "I thought the navy was proposing a San Antonio hull for the Tico replacement."

      No, the Burke Flt III is the Tico replacement, at the moment. Somewhat longer term, the Navy is looking at their family of unmanned vessels. The LPD was briefly proposed as a ballistic missile defense vessel.

    2. so that is even longer without designing a new ship, so when the do that is even less people around who have had any experience in doing it. mad. That is what happened to us (in UK) with nuclear subs, we left such a long gap between designing a new class everyone who had experience had left or retired. We only finally got it sorted when you chaps came over and helped. PS we have just designed the Type 26 frigate (who the Australians and Canadians seem to like) we could return the favour and help you design a new ship. lol

    3. A San Antonio would never work as a Tico replacement. The hull is too broad of beam and its too heavy. It could never keep up with the carriers.

  2. I think the big take away here is a lack of what might be compared to genetic diversity in our ship designs. We build at a steady pace and design modestly at best. In the post WWI pre WWII build up we were building multiple destroyer classes at the same time with new classes every year until mass production of the big classes and intro of the destroyer escorts slowed the rate / moved the work focus over to the escorts. Cruisers pace was slower at new classes every 1-2 years with a 4 and a 5 year lull in the 30s. Even if one were to look at some of these classes as only new flights of a parent design in our current terminology we should have a faster pace and more diversity for an adversary to contend with. Admittedly we have some logistics needs that are unique and require a unique design challenge, but we used to manage that successfully. I keep hoping the navy just grabs some good commercial hulls and figures out how to mass produce again sticking good hardware on them. This 2 a year of several types won't do. For a cruiser 2 a year with 5 year bulk buys by flight will do. Really the SSN program has been doing this. For frigates and below I'd think in higher numbers and possibly multiple flights of a ship type being constructed at once. For instance the MUSV and LUSV might be platforms for a new manned design as well. Unmanned can't really show the flag with a port call and it won't be able to arrest anyone breaking the law out there.

  3. Not an engineer but is it really that hard to come up with a new hull form?!? You think USN could manage it since they've been around water for awhile now....

    1. The challenge isn't the hull form. As you suggest, that's easy. Hulls haven't changed all that much from WWII. We slant the sides a bit more now but the basic concept is unchanged.

      The challenge is integrating the desired functions into the hull.

      The other challenge is knowing/remembering what the important functions are! For example, we've forgotten what armor does. We've forgotten why we once insisted on steel over aluminum. We've forgotten why ships should be structurally overbuilt. We've forgotten what cathodic protection is (that's a shot at the LCS!). And so on.

  4. From the outside looking in, it seems that the Burkes aren't the biggest problem. It looks like the problem is that the Navy doesn't have enough ship classes to perform the necessary missions and is trying to wedge the Burkes into those roles.

    I would want to have these major surface ship classes:
    -Fleet carriers (Nimitz class-role is self-evident)
    -Battleships (surface action and bombardment-revamped Iowa class initially)
    -Heavy cruisers (surface action and bombardment-built on Des Moines class hull)
    -AAW cruisers (perform AAW and coordinate task force AAW efforts-built on a Cleveland class type of hull)
    -ASW frigate (blue water ASW-a Perry class type of ship)
    -ASW corvette (shallow water ASW and convoy escort-Kamorta class type of ship)

    *I would use Burke class destroyers to fill this role between the AAW cruisers and the frigates. Their primary job would be to perform the screening role for task forces.

    Their principle role would be AAW. They would support the AAW cruisers and take the lead role if no cruisers were present.

    With VLS it would be relatively simple for them to assume an ASuW role as part of their screening responsibilities.

    They would also be part of the layered ASW defense for the task force, backing up the frigates and corvettes which would be doing the majority of that work.

    Used properly I'd think that the Burkes could fill the traditional role of destroyers and be highly valued in that role.

    1. " it seems that the Burkes aren't the biggest problem."

      They're not! They're good ships, though no longer great. The problem is that they're stifling the creation of new ship classes and causing stagnation in naval force development.

    2. CNO, I know that this blog post is about Burkes, but would an updated, evolutionary Perry class frigate serve the ASW purpose now? For the life span of the ship?

    3. You need to understand that ASW is not accomplished by one platform type. We need aircraft, ASW corvettes, ocean-going ASW escorts, etc. (see the blog's Fleet Structure page)

      The Perrys were ASW capable but were not focused ASW vessels. They were the modern frigate - capable of all jobs but good at none. We do not need 'good at none' ships. We need specialized vessels.

      So, no, a modernized Perry would not 'serve the ASW purpose'.
      So, a modernized Perry

  5. I think that a happy balance between innovation and proven designs/systems could be found my "forking" the Burke family tree... While using the basic design, creating an AAW and ASW variant might be an expeditious way to build whats needed without an all-new design. Remove the sonar, helo facilities, etc, which would provide space/displacement for the radar the Navy wants. You may or may not be able to reduce overall size to accomplish it. The ASW variant could be significantly smaller, or keep the size, and used the saved weight/space from the radar to expand the helo facilities and add more point defense to allow them more ability outside the umbrella provided by the AAW ships. And maybe those changes are so vast that itd be considered a new ship. But from a laymans perspective, this isnt that hard to accomplish, people just need to see what the Navy truly needs.
    Maybe clean sheet designs ARE needed, but with the track record, im a bit afraid of them myself. The biggest problem and somthing thats constantly stated here, is the multi-mission mentality. We have to step away from that!!!

    1. "I think that a happy balance between innovation and proven designs/systems could be found my "forking" the Burke family tree"

      Do you feel a slight tugging at your throat? Look behind you. It's an anchor!

      You're doing exactly what the post talked about. You're talking about creating and innovating while hanging firmly onto the safety of the Burke.

      What kind of ASW vessel do we want? Without going into specifications, we want an exquisitely optimized vessel whose every component is optimized for ASW. Is that a Burke, however modified? Highly unlikely!

      The Burke is holding you back from designing the truly good ASW vessel.

      And the same for AAW or whatever other variants.

      "Maybe clean sheet designs ARE needed, but with the track record, im a bit afraid of them myself. "

      He said, his voice fading into the distance as the anchor held him back and the rest of the naval world passed him by ...

    2. (Laughing near-hystetically...) Yes point made... The thing about this blog is that we often talk in different levels, ie; what we're doing, best case outcome, worst case outcome, best actually possible outcome, worst case actually possible outcome... You caught me in between best and worst actually possible, meaning that since the Navy seems tied (by anchor chain?) to the Burke, maybe the idea of a single-purpose Burke-based platform is somthing to advocate when you know wishing for anything better is fruitless...

    3. "You caught me in between … maybe the idea of a single-purpose Burke-based platform is something to advocate when you know wishing for anything better is fruitless... "

      If our naval goal is to build ships that aren't as bad as they might be then this is a reasonable approach. It may also be the best we can realistically hope for. However, I try to operate at the best level rather than the not-as-bad-as-the-worst level.

      I completely understand the Navy's reluctance (fear) to try anything new since their last three attempts (LCS, Zumwalt, Ford) were abject failures. The thing is, the failures were entirely of their own making. They violated all the common sense rules of ship design and procurement and seem genuinely surprised by the horrific outcomes which anyone (and almost everyone!) could have, and did, predict.

      If they would just follow common sense guidelines they'd have nothing to fear and they would not fail. The irony is the only thing they have to fear is themselves!

    4. So do you think the Sea Hunters will join the ranks of the nonfunctional money pits?

    5. "So do you think the Sea Hunters will join the ranks of the nonfunctional money pits?"

      Well, I have yet to hear of a concrete, specific mission for it so I don't know how to evaluate it but, yes, I think it's a waste until we have a mission for it. This is the my pet peeve of failure to develop a CONOPS prior to building. Now, for a single prototype that's somewhat excusable but I note that the Navy is already committing to a family of medium and large unmanned vessels without any CONOPS and without evaluating the lessons learned from the Sea Hunter prototype. We're repeating the mistakes of the LCS, just unmanned this time.

  6. They need to mitigate risk by spreading it across small doses/classes, and definitely need to speed it up just to avoid too many hands in the cookie jar. It has too be from idea to build inside 1 presidential term.

  7. Well what is wrong with building a ship that has all the good qualities of the Spruance class. Get rid of the aluminum superstructure of course. One of the great things about the
    Sprunace class was that they were built with room for upgrades.

  8. "That means that for practical purposes we have no ASW capability!"

    A surface ship is really the least capable method of ASW. It has been for quite some time. Makes much more sense to deploy an SSN or an MPA.

    1. Subs and aircraft will do their part but there's no getting around the need for surface ship ASW. Surface ships also offer the kind of availability and persistence that subs and aircraft, in particular, can't. Whether escorting carriers, escorting convoys, patrolling chokepoints, conducting cruise missile attacks, or whatever, surface ships will encounter subs and have to be able to fight back.

  9. An interesting post (as always) but I would suggest there is an even bigger anchor holding back innovation in USN new ship design; the CVN. Since the CVN is considered the main element of the battle fleet, it seems as if all other ships are designed to protect it. This automatically results in large ships with the sea worthiness to stay with the CVN in higher sea states and huge fuel tanks in order to maintain high speeds for long periods of time. Needless to say as soon as there is a large ship there is a lot of space and ...“hey there’s room to add my project’s super new system”... driving up cost and complexity as well as adding lots of maintenance and increasing through life costs.

    IMO the USN needs to recognise the need for a group of ships to protect the carrier strike force (Burke’s, Tico’s and their replacements) but also needs to admit smaller simpler ships are needed to perform the less glamorous wartime roles such as protecting REFORGER conveys, amphibious forces and the strike forces’ supply ships. In peace time these would be the ships patrolling the straits of Hormuz or off the coasts of Somalia. In other words, the ships you are advocating for in many of your posts.

    As far as replacing the Burke’s go I think a simple functional analysis of the basic design would quickly identify what features can be reused and what has to be redesigned. Second I would suggest bringing in experienced designers of commercial ships for the bridge and similar areas. Finally I would suggest that anyone with wings on their uniforms should be restricted to commenting on the flight deck and hangar arrangements.

    There is a lot of naval architect capability in the US so the design side is not the issue. IMO it is the requirements side of the design process which needs to improve. If I may plagiarise from ComNavOps...first start with the concept of operations...

    1. "it is the requirements side of the design process which needs to improve."

      You got it!

  10. I'm wondering if it's even possible to have a low cost ASW warship anymore. The one talked about most these days, the Type 26, is expensive because of design costs, and the features for making it quiet, like building the engines on a "raft".

    The UK, Aust and Canada are using the Type 26 as their front line warships, so put all the bells and whistles on it.

    But let's say they pared it down purely for ASW. I reckon it'd still be expensive.

    A ASW would need to be quiet to avoid detection by subs, yet be able to detect subs and destroy subs. So the ASW needs all the sonars, quiet hull and engine design, some VLS for ASROC, and torpedo launchers. They could cheapen the AAW sensors by installing Sea Giraffe instead of the CEAFAR/Aegis/CEC mega suite of sensors and software.

    But would that really reduce the cost that much? I don't know enough to say, but let's say the cost for the above is 50% less than the full front line version of the 5 Eyes partners. That's still about $1 billion.

    Can most nations afford to build the copious numbers of dedicated ASW ships you've made a (strong) case for?

    btw, if the USN chooses the FREMM version for the FFG(X), it'll have the intrinsic quieter design , making it better, imho, than the AB's for ASW.And hipefully, they'll build more than 20, so have more for the minor missions, as well as some ASW .


    1. Of course we can build a low cost ASW ship! You've identified part of the cost problem which is the inclusion of non-ASW functions.

      We also need to go back to the WARSHIP and mission concepts. A naval ship should not be a cruise ship. We shouldn't be building in excessive crew comforts like gyms, video gaming, personal use networks, lounges, etc. Those things are necessary only because we insist on sending ships out on 6-12 month deployments. We need to go back to missions instead of deployments. If we do that, then we can forego most of the crew comforts because the crew won't be embarked for long periods. So, we save a lot of money. Combine that with stripping out non-ASW functions and we can build cheap ASW ships.

      We need to build for the MINIMUM required to accomplish the function rather than the maximum to make the ship a multi-function cruise ship.

    2. The FREMM contender for the FFG program deletes 30 man bunkrooms for 4-6 person staterooms. Good for long deployments at least.

  11. If USN cant execute properly the new FFGX program, then I think one of the conclusions will be how USN acquires ships is completely broken....and forget ever getting some cheap, high volume, practical, useful ASW and MCM ships again. In all likelyhood, USN will find a way to get rid of those requirements and wont bother anymore, we are almost there when it comes to MCM long before ASW becomes an after thought?

    To scary or impossible to believe? I don't think so, I think it's very likely to happen if they cant execute these new programs: USN will just rid of those pesky equirements like MCM and ASW and focus on SSNs, CVNs and high-end AAW. Its sexy, exquisite low volume and super expensive, USN can still jam that thru Congress.

    1. I think youre right in that the new "fig" will be (could be?) the turning point. Sadly, as the requirements seem to turn towards creating a mini-Burke, my expectations of a winning design fade. The fact that a modern Brooke/Knox to fill FF/DE roles is whats needed, and in substantial quantity,has been missed by the folks making decisions. It seems MCM is almost dead, and i think ASW tasking is being pushed primarilly towards SSNs. So yes, horrifying but you may be right...

    2. " It seems MCM is almost dead"

      Currently, we have two means of MCM: Avengers and MH-53E helos. Both are overdue for retirement and, indeed, are scheduled to phase out in the next few years. When they're gone we'll have nothing. The LCS will still be trying to get modules to work, I assume, but even if they do, there are only 6 dedicated MCM-LCS in the fleet after the LCS reorganization.

  12. As a side note, apart from MCM being a crucial part of any serious Navy, it offers a good opportunity to test junior officers before you give them 2bn USD destroyers. Not only being in charge and having to make decisions etc, but it helps them to navigate with out super duper radar and with out bumping into things for example.

    1. I've been saying for more than a year now we really should just turn LCSs into training ships. They are useless as combat ships, they're not even speed bumps so let's stop trying to pretend they have combat value. They would be far more valuable as training ships.

    2. In MCM bumping into things is bad,
      good lesson for larger ships.

      Nico's idea is good, LCS as armed trainers with a wartime role. Sort of like the RAF Hawk trainers,
      that fly base cap in wartime.

  13. Let me give a shout out for the Perry FFG class as a good anti submarine design , based on its capability.
    1)Carry 2 helicopters ( Lamps) equipped with radar, sonarbouys and A/S torpedoes
    2) 2 x triple deck mounted A/S torpedo tubes
    3) hull sonar SQS 56 , not the larger diameter longer range bow mounted sonar of Garcias and others but helicopters extend sonar range and speed up attack decision timing
    4) SQR-19 Towed array , this is the real long range passive detection sonar to support the Lamps choppers
    5)Mk 13 missile launcher , The Standard SM1 is just a replacement of the short range Tarter with a bit more range , but the ability to carry a good load of Harpoon missiles is the A/s weapon.
    People forget the original main mission of the Harpoon back in the 60s and 70s was as a surface attack weapon against Russian cruise missile submarines who would surface to acquire target and then launch. Planes like the Viking s only had A/s torpedoes which dont acquire targets on surface ( for good reasons if you working with other US and allied shipping) This meant the Harpoon became a standoff method to attack surfaced submarines and for FFG they could attack them on the surface as well cued by a Lamps helicopter or its own sensors.

    1. @ZT. Agree. What we need is a modern designed FFG with the principles that worked well with that OPH class as you enumerated. Instead we are going to get a mini Burke which is not what we need.

    2. "What we need is a modern designed FFG with the principles that worked well with that OPH class as you enumerated. Instead we are going to get a mini Burke which is not what we need."

      What do you think the Perry had that made it 'good' as compared with a mini-Burke?

    3. FFG-7's accidentally became decent ASW platforms when their AAW functions were neutered.

      While your focused is on the DDG-51 class I think what you are really addressing is the how multi-mission requirement has completed compromised the USN's procurement process.

    4. "really addressing is the how multi-mission requirement has completed compromised the USN's procurement process."

      Yes, that's a major aspect of it although, rather than procurement process, it's more of the design and requirements process which is, of course, an integral part of the overall procurement process, so, yes!

      Good observation!

  14. There's a quote that I like that goes something along the way of:

    "There is nothing that cannot be made a little bit worse for a little bit less money, and the customer who values price above all else is the natural victim of this practice."

    The opportunity cost of LCS, DDG-1000, and Ford appears to be haunting the Navy, and I'm not sure what exactly was learned from these mistakes.

    The FFG(X) documents up on USNI News focus on the systems on the proposed ship, and sure enough, it's just a less-Burke, while we continue to build Burkes.

    Where's the vision? Where's the CONOPS? If a helo deck adds a lot of cost, size, and complexity to warship, what capability could an ASW corvette provide with accompanying unmanned vessels optimized for detection and engagement of submarines?

    1. A ship with radar can only have line of sight and then some from an antenna higher than the deck- essentially the horizon plus some . A helicopter 5000ft up changes everything , and 75-100nm away changes it all again. A warship travelling at 28-30 kts which is about full speed these days, can take some time to reach a point 75 nm away , a helicopter does it in a fraction of time. Give them sensors and the ability to launch missiles and torpedoes and you can see why the cost size and complexity of the frigate or destroyer is worth it. The FFG with 4000 t could carry 2 choppers, so its not a big issue when the latest design Type 26 for RN, RAN and Canada is 8000 t

    2. In looking a previous ship classes and build histories, it seems we used to do things right. We incrementally made upgrades in succeeding classes, and modernized oldet ones when practical. Now it seems that if a radical technological innovation isnt made, then it isnt worth the time to do it. Rather than have a nearly identical follow-on to the Avengers for example (with just the newest available OTS versions of the various systems), we jumped into LCS. How hard is it to replace older ships with a new improved version?? I recall reading that the OHP was rough draft designed in 19hrs from scratch back in 73(??) We could be cranking out fresh Avengers for...$200-250M?? Instead we have $450M pier queens that cant do the job, and cant be built in meaningful numbers even if they could!!!
      It seems the postwar, intelligent, gradual improvements made in DD/DE/FF ships gave way when the Spruances came along, and although they matured into capable platforms(along with their Tico brethren), it seems that they were the last class built with any common sense, and that didnt have to be so amazingly transformational, with a reasonable application of CONOPS. Frankly the next dose of transformationalism needs to come as a return to cheaper single-mission ships that have a planned lifespan of 20-25 years. That way we use, test, learn, and consistently roll upgrades into the next class, whose design should be complete long before the previous is obsolete.

    3. Requirements were changing more rapidly back then. Destroyers went from Fletcher-Gearing design in 1941 with 5 x in or 6 x 5 in guns to Farragut with 1 x 5in. Also changed over a longer period was the change from brick lined boilers and heavy steam turbines to small light weight gas turbines. Max speeds dropped as well which is a prime driver of under water hull design. Radars became more comprehensive along with structures for helicopters and missile launchers.

      However the last 30 years have had much less evolution, you can see the same lack of obvious changes in warship naval architecture with the super carriers - the first Nimitz launched in 1968 isnt all that different in overall design from the Gerald Ford . The changed launch and arrester systems may have gone backwards

    4. @Ztev Sure,as the gun was replaced by the missle, and radars grew, the ships changed dramatically. But they did it more linearly. Todays processes are akin to laying down the keel for a Spruance as the last few Fletchers were fitting out. I think wed have been in trouble trying to produce LM2500 powered ships in the 1940s!!! Sure, the transition away from boilers was a huge step, but it wasnt grasping far into the future for unproven tech... And when we pushed the envelope too far with turbines in BBs, we stepped back to reciorocating machinery for a while til they matured. And the evolution of our "stsndard" BBs are another good example of incremental improvements that worked, and saw no massive failure. Slower, smaller steps seem a better recipe for success, and weve forgotten that

    5. "We could be cranking out fresh Avengers for...$200-250M??"

      As a point of reference, the Avengers cost $55M-$61M in the late 1980s and early 1990s, depending on the reference source. That's around $110M-$120M today.

    6. "Requirements were changing more rapidly back then."

      Do you think requirements aren't changing today or do you think the Navy simply isn't responding to the changing requirements?

      For example, the Navy has next to nothing in the way of ECM on its ships (just the little SLQ-32/SEWIP derivatives with very limited capability). ECM is the only AAW weapon with a PROVEN effective track record in combat (see Hughes for raw data). Thus, there is a massive requirement for substantial ECM on ships. I think our ships should have, conceptually, ten times the amount of ECM capability they currently do. The requirement has manifested itself in this missile age but the Navy has ignored it.

      Or, another example is stealth. The Navy has made token efforts at stealth but truly effective ship stealth, as exemplified by the Visby (see old post on the subject), has been ignored by the Navy. That's a massive requirement change that the Navy has not responded to.

      And so on.

      So, no new requirements or just no response from the Navy?

    7. We could be cranking out fresh Avengers for...$200-250M??"

      I had seen a three ship funding somewhere that was for $290M (faulty memory?) So i adjusted, and threw in an extra $50M because, well...the Navy haha. But even at that price it illustrates a better option single purpose ship than LCS!!!

    8. My comments about requirements changing was primarily about propulsion and speed as they affect hull shape and L/B ratio. If the speed and propulsion dont change then the hull can be the much the same (lengthening will add displacement but can improve fuel efficiency).
      Destroyer and Frigate classes are generally beamier now as the lack of heavy boilers and turbines very low in the hull doesnt allow weight for guns and sensors above deck without increase in beam. Keeping stability ( often in damaged condition as well) means more beam.

      Then there is above the deck, ever since vertical launch was introduced having firing arcs is no longer important ( other than main or light guns), and as the US destroyer displacement made a jump with the Spruance class in the 70s deck space is abundant.
      ECM antenna arent likely to be drivers in deck structures or hull design. Design is always a compromise and they concentrate on the major factors before seeing that components can be accommodated.
      Stealth as mentioned is a new factor which can be a secondary or primary design factor, Zumwalt is a good example.
      We can look at smokestacks for example they are essential but have changed from the steam days when taller cylindrical designs were favoured as boilers needed updraft. Gas turbines emit larger volumes at full power but rudimentary exhausts work, some navies prefer to have deck houses surrounding with only the tops protruding.

      To me the primary design drivers of US destroyers ( and super carriers and amphib carriers) hasnt changed since the 1970s and thus the designs 'appear' to be similar or even like the Burkes substantially the same.
      The biggest change was Zumwalt with stealth as a new primary factor, but the result was wasted as the hull and deck could have transferred well to a new AAW cruiser with the appropriate surveillance and fire control radars and plentiful launch tubes ( which I think are now mostly along the edges of hull) The size allows a helicopter and hangar to be included as a secondary design objective

  15. CNO , what's your opinion on the 'containerization' of weapons to help the lethality distribution ? Such weapon containers aka VLS system can be deployed on any ship including big container carrier or tankers clandestenly and the warships are free to roam around without carrying a lot of ordnance

    1. It's an appealing idea that has no valid use in war. During war, there won't be any commercial shipping in a war zone so any cargo/tanker ship sailing into a war zone will be instantly realized to be a 'warship' and, because they will have no defensive capability whatsoever, they'll be quickly sunk.

    2. @buntalanlucu: The use of containerised AShMs isn't for turning cargo ships into missile boats, it's for a nation that needs to quickly upgun its ships in a hurry. If you look at a lot of newer offshore patrol vessels and gun corvettes coming out, they have dedicated spaces to fit containers, and flight decks which can be used to either accomommdate helicopters, or containerised missiles.

      The other use case is for shore batteries - instead of having to buy dedicated AShM launcher trucks, you simply hook up this container onto any 18-wheeler, and drive it to the staging point.

    3. "It's an appealing idea that has no valid use in war. During war, there won't be any commercial shipping in a war zone so any cargo/tanker ship sailing into a war zone will be instantly realized to be a 'warship' and, because they will have no defensive capability whatsoever, they'll be quickly sunk."

      The definition of "war zone" is rapidly becoming more flexible. Consider that the newer and planned generations of cruise missiles are going to be very long range. There is a considerable tactical advantage in being able to launch a saturation attack from 2000+ miles out. And target designation is a non-issue against any kind of fixed infrastructure like a port or airfield.

      Kill your enemy while they are on the ground, fat and happy. First strike is arguably more important than ever and a container ship off your cost with modular cruise missile armament is not too far off having a Soviet missile sub lurking off the Atlantic North East back in the day. The shorter the time to target the better, and achieving that strategic surprise is easier than ever. Hopefully intelligence has kept up...

    4. I should have said 10 or 20 or 200 container ships off the coast. Who needs ICBM silos or boomers if you can do that kind of first strike?

    5. "I should have said 10 or 20 or 200 container ships off the coast."

      Are you thinking this through operationally?

      Let's accept your premise, for the moment, that commercial ships, knowing full well the ranges of various weapons, are going to stay within weapons range of a war zone. There are two possibilities:

      1. The ships weren't there before the war started and suddenly the enemy sees 10 or 20 or 200 container ships surge to their coast. Don't you think that will look pretty suspicious?

      2. The 10 or 20 or 200 container ships were hanging around for weeks prior to the start of the war (wars don't happen without a run up). Again, don't you think the enemy would be highly suspicious of a bunch of commercial vessels just hanging around a potential war zone for weeks?

    6. "The definition of "war zone" is rapidly becoming more flexible."

      No it's not! What's become more flexible is our definition of war. We've come to believe that the limited, nobody on either side gets hurt, no collateral damage, 9 to 5, third world conflicts are war. Nothing could be further from the truth.

      When the war with China comes, there will be no doubt about where the war zone is, there will be no flexibility about what constitutes a war zone, and NOTHING will be allowed to survive in the war zone that isn't known to be friendly.

      Recall WWII's 'unrestricted warfare'? It will be like that only worse.

      We'll sink every commercial ship that isn't ours and China will sink every commercial ship that isn't theirs.

      Now if you're trying to imagine a simple missile barge, which it kind of sounds like you are, then go all the way and call for the arsenal ship!

    7. That's not what I'm saying at all.

      I'm talking about first strike capability, while the world is officially still at peace.

      Have you looked at an AIS map of the Pacific recently? Here it is

      So a couple of hundred container ships on a time to target course to near the US coast would go completely unnoticed, because that's what the Pacific looks like every single day. Nobody is suggesting lurking off the coast looking suspicious.

      I could set this up in a week if I had the containerized weapon systems to work with. Its trivial.

      This ties in perfectly with your idea of unrestricted war which I completely agree with. And the Chinese are just the people to do it if they get annoyed enough. The US loses every military or military capable shipyard and fleet base in the first three hours of the war including the ships in port, plus most strategic airfields including most of their aircraft. Guam is gone. Pearl is gone.

      Then what? Maybe a nuclear war, with the Russians and Chinese working in concert? Not cool.

      The Chinese can out build the US by ten to one or more and the US capacity to ramp up that existed in WWII is largely gone along with the skilled heavy engineering workforce. I think there are some very flawed Rah Rah assumptions about who can play the role the US did in WWII being the powerhouse factory of the world. Right now if you look at this objectively, the Chinese fill that role, not the US.

      Which is why intelligence is the only solution, and I hope they are doing their job really well! Its also the reason I am not in favor of poking the Dragon. If you stand back and consider the situation, China doesn't pose a threat to the Americas or Europe. No blue water navy and no ambitions.

      Africa, India and South East Asia are another story, but the influence is commercial rather than military. Taiwan is certainly living on borrowed time which is no surprise to anyone. But maybe that is just the way things are going to play out in the 21st century and its not the end of the world.

      Living in the Philippines for half the year on average changes your point of view. China is doing some quite useful things in the region and the costs are not unreasonable generally speaking.

      BTW, if you haven't looked at AIS of the Persian Gulf recently you might consider it. Puts the complexity of the Strait of Hormuz issue into bright relief.

    8. "That's not what I'm saying at all."

      Okay, I completely missed your original intent. I see now that you're talking about Chinese use of this method, not the US, and that you're talking about an initial Pearl Harbor act.

      With that understanding, I would still point out that no major war can begin with no warning. The lead up to Pearl Harbor, for example, was years in the making and the US saw it coming almost to the day. So, if relations worsen with China to the point that they would consider initiating a massive first strike we'll have plenty of warning. Knowing what was coming, we'd be monitoring all Chinese and commercial shipping and, as I pointed out previously, seeing a bunch of Chinese/commercial ships suddenly carrying mysterious missile-size containers and moving to potential launch positions would certainly trigger a response. Heck, we monitor commercial shipping pretty closely now - even civilian monitoring sites can show all commercial shipping. It would be fairly straightforward to see the pattern developing.

      "China is doing some quite useful things in the region and the costs are not unreasonable generally speaking."

      China's method of soft conquest calls for generous projects and assistance with the real bill coming due much later in the form of financial and military coercion. For a perfect example, look at their Sri Lanka port takeover. The same kind of thing is happening now in Philippines, Africa, the Middle East and, basically, all around the world.

      This also makes your statement that China has no ambitions seem quite naïve. China is bent on nothing less than global domination.

      You note that Taiwan is living on borrowed time but you should be noting that Philippines is living on borrowed time also. You have noted the 'conquest' beginning (China's 'useful things') but you've failed to grasp the meaning. That failure and unwillingness to see reality is what China counts on.

      To return to your commercial missile ship concept, you've already offered the solution to it and that is intel. Missile containers don't suddenly appear on dozens or hundreds of ships. If we're doing our intel job properly, we'll see the increase in missile manufacturing, track the shipping destinations of the missiles, observe the containerization process, note that commercial ships are being fitted with these containers, track the ships so fitted, and be well prepared to sink dozens or hundreds of defenseless commercial ships when the time comes.

    9. We largely agree. The big question surrounds maintaining secrecy. I suggest that the way Chinese society is structured, and the size of the Chinese shipping industry, makes the intel task more difficult.

      As far as Chinese soft power goes, the Sri Lanka port is something of an outlier. It was a couple of steps too far beyond commercial good sense.

      In the Philippines, Chinese investment is building some badly needed infrastructure that centuries of societal corruption has hindered. I don't think anyone is unaware that the camel is getting his nose inside the tent. The question is about the long term intent of the Camel. So far we've seen pretty benign results, based on centuries of Chinese behavior.

      I'm not convinced that the Chinese are bent on world-wide hegemony. I'm more convinced they want hegemony in the Africa/Indo-Asian region. I guess we'll see over the next few years.

      The really worrying thought is that once China is fully developed again, they will have ~4 times the GDP of the US and a manufacturing base unlike anything in the history of the world.

      Interesting times.

    10. "I don't think anyone is unaware that the camel is getting his nose inside the tent."

      Haven't heard that one before. Love it!

      So, why do you think the Chinese are investing in Philippine infrastructure? Is it out of the pure goodness of their hearts (a motivation that would be at odds with the totality of their other international behavior!)? If not, what is their motivation? It's clear to me what the motivation is but I'm curious as to what you think it is.

      "I'm not convinced that the Chinese are bent on world-wide hegemony. I'm more convinced they want hegemony in the Africa/Indo-Asian region."

      Even just what you've acknowledged, that's a good quarter of the world or more! You undoubtedly know that they've begun laying the foundation for claiming and seizing the second island chain which encompasses a huge chunk of the Pacific? They're buying/acquiring ports and rights in Australia so be sure to include that. They're also expanding into South America, of late.

      As far as benign results, if you cooperate with them then the results are benign but for Vietnam, the US, and even you, the Philippines, the results have not been so benign. Vietnamese and Philippine fishing industry, for example, is being systematically eliminated and fishing boats are being forced away, damaged, and occasionally sunk. They've claimed and seized Philippine territory and ignored the UNCLOS tribunal ruling which they're a signatory to. And, of course, there's the many conflicts with the US including seizing US military aircraft and drones. Benign? You would appear to have a very lenient definition of benign!

      " I guess we'll see over the next few years."

      This is the crux of the problem. By the time China's actions are 100% clear (assuming global domination is their goal) to everyone, the opportunity to do something about it will have passed. This is what happened with WWII Germany. No one wanted a war. No one wanted to confront Germany. Everyone excused away Germany's actions. Germany could have been stopped early on with far less effort and destruction but the free world didn't have the appetite for confrontation, only appeasement and that resulted in a world war. The parallels with China, today, are striking. Give it some thought.

    11. I've also been keeping half an eye on Chinese and Iranian tankers that have been playing games with AIS transponders.

      Speaking of not boding well...

    12. There is much we agree on. And I think they have designs on 1/3 of the world for sure plus whatever else they can get away with. Think TPP on steroids. They also have a big financial toe-hold in Canada btw.

      Where we differ is Chinese intentions. IMO the Chinese are merchants by culture. I think they are more interested in building a huge trade network that they largely control. That includes the Philippines of course. They want to make money and they want influence if not outright control. Duterte is pushing back hard on the Chinese in many areas, but he's a hard ass and his successors are unlikely to do as well.

      If you look at what China is building up for force structure it ties in with both military control of the South China Sea plus a really serious A2/AD environment to make the US behave in the area.

      I am a little surprised by the Australians. I would have thought they would be putting more restrictions on Chinese investment. But I guess that's their issue to deal with.

      There is no doubt that China is expanding influence fast. But currently and historically that influence doesn't come in the form of conquest. I really don't see this turning to military conflict unless some event triggers it. There is no invasion of Poland and I don't see the equivalent happening in the South China Sea.

      Hopefully not anyway, we managed to not scrap with the Soviets during the cold war and China is arguably more rational than any number of Soviet leaders! The proxy wars were bad enough...

      That website I provided the Sri Lankan link for is pretty good. Hard to find objective reporting these days but they seem fairly unbiased with decent coverage on most things Asian.

    13. I also believe the inflection point where you could stop Chinese build up is past.

      Chinese force structure and new building program appears coherent, while US Fleet and overall force structure looks like Swiss cheese, holes everywhere as detailed in this blog year after year. And no sign of any will or capability to fix the mess.

      And fixing the mess requires immediate, focused and broad-based action if there is any hope of reining in the Chinese. IMO.

    14. " I really don't see this turning to military conflict unless some event triggers it."

      It already has! I've cited examples of using armed force to seize Vietnamese claimed fishing territory. They've seized the disputed islands using the threat of military force. They've seized some Philippine territory. They've used lasers on US aircraft and pilots, seized a US EP-3, and seized drones WHILE THE US WAS OPERATING IT!

      I'm not quite sure how much more evidence of intent to use military means you need?

      Setting that issue aside, does it really matter how conquest occurs? Does it matter whether troops invaded and turned your country into a vassal state or, instead, they simply dominated your economy, government, demographics, and trade to the point that you become a vassal state? The latter is succeeding admirably, so far, for China so they have no reason to start major wars. We've given them the entire S/E China Seas, all but abandoned Taiwan, have backed away from Philippines (and been pushed away by Philippines!), have granted Chinese basing rights and possession in Australia, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. They're getting everything they want through appeasement. They take the long view and that view must be looking pretty good right now! They're conquering the world without firing a shot because no one wants to confront them. You gotta admire their plan! It's working!

    15. Largely agree. I was thinking more of an invasion of Taiwan or something along those lines, but you have a point. I see most of the issues involving the US as "get out of here, this is my back yard" kind of thing. Any time something like this happens I always try to reverse the roles of the parties to see how it looks when reversed.

      Its worth noting the Philippines was a vassal state for 400-ish years under Spain and the US, and being a US colony is within living memory. My mother in law was a translator for the US authorities for example.

      So having the Chinese around isn't all that much of a novelty frankly. Taking the territorial disputes out of the equation, so far they really aren't calling the shots and are generally making themselves useful, but of course that will change.

      What do you honestly think the chances are that the US can turn the acquisition and defense planning establishment around in time to be any use? I'm having a hard time being optimistic and could use some encouraging words...

      I also agree that the Chinese take a very long view of the future, and their plan to regenerate China on the world stage is succeeding admirably so far.

    16. Speaking of expansion, did you notice Italian involvement in one belt, one road?

      I didn't see much fuss at the time, but this is a really big deal. A potential Chinese basing capacity in the Med is seriously bad news.

    17. "get out of here, this is my back yard"

      Turning it around, as you suggest, you might contemplate how the US handles their back yard. Communist Cuba exists unhindered just off our shore (though the Cuban missile crisis was a red line, to be sure). Soviet/Russian ships have regularly sailed the east coast of the US with no protests, threats, or dire warnings. Russian ships have conducted unnecessary Innocent Passage exercises through Alaskan waters with no US protests or threats. The US does not claim the Gulf of Mexico, for example, as its exclusive territory as China claims the E/S China Seas.

      I see a world of difference between the neighborly, respectful US view of the 'backyard' and China's belligerent, threatening treatment of its 'backyard' - another name for 'backyard' being 'international waters', of course.

    18. "What do you honestly think the chances are that the US can turn the acquisition and defense planning establishment around in time to be any use? I'm having a hard time being optimistic and could use some encouraging words..."

      If you follow this blog, and I know you do, it's easy to get a negative view of the US military and defense industry. In an attempt to improve things, I regularly point out the many problems. What I don't do, is apply the same analysis to China (or Russia/Iran/NKorea) because I simply don't have the specific information to do so.

      That said, China has all the same problems we do and, perhaps, more. We just don't hear about it and don't see it documented by me or DOT&E or whoever. China suffers from large scale corruption throughout their government and defense industry, their economy is based heavily on government subsidies, their raw material supply sources are more limited than the US, their technology is completely unproven whereas we at least have been engaged in limited combat for decades, their command and control structure is rigid compared to ours, free thinking is discouraged, the initiative and motivation of their enlisted ranks is suspect (as was the Soviet's), their designs are copied with less than total understanding, they lack a solid industrial aircraft engine base, their doctrine and tactics are completely untested in the real world, they are far behind in stealth aircraft (though catching up fast!), they lack an effective amphibious fleet (though catching up fast!), they're 'trapped' behind the first island chain which has immense negative strategic implications (versus the US with two large, open coasts), they lack allies (as opposed to the US with many potential allies), they are vulnerable to oil blockades (the US is energy independent), they are making enemies as fast as they are making territorial gains, they have two potential enemies on their border (India and Russia), their pilots have no institutional combat experience to draw on, they are decades away from having an effective carrier force (they'll have ships soon but not the institutional knowledge of how to use them), they … I can go on and on.

      The point is that reading this blog, you may acquire a skewed view of the relative strengths of the US and China and that's not realistic. The US is still well ahead militarily and industrially. Bear in mind that much of China's general industry is foreign (meaning the US) established and operated. In a war, all that capability and expertise vanish. Yes, the facilities will still be there but it takes a lot more than facilities to produce a product.

      Kind of a long winded answer but there are plenty of encouraging words to be had.

      The problem for the US and its policy of appeasement is that every day that goes by allows China to strengthen itself. By the time we get around to war, they'll be much stronger. From a strictly logical perspective, if war is inevitable, we should do it today while we still possess many advantages. I'm not advocating starting a war but I am advocating drawing a very hard line and pushing back aggressively and if that leads to a war, so be it. If it doesn't (and China doesn't want a shooting war yet, either), then the US 'wins' in the sense that we begin containing China and setting behavioral boundaries.

      For example, we never should have allowed those illegal artificial islands to be built. We should have aggressively and physically prevented it and if China opted to start a war over a reef in the middle of the South China Sea then so be it.

    19. "did you notice Italian involvement in one belt, one road?"

      This is where the US is failing badly. Italy was attracted to China out of economic need. The US should have proactively worked with Italy to help meet their needs instead of China. We need to engage with China on all levels but we're not. China is looking to stick their camel's nose into every tent they can find and the US (and the West) should be already in those tents, staring back at China when the stick their nose in. I've got to believe that, given the opportunity, most countries would rather work with the US/West than China.

      For example, the US backed away from Philippines and China immediately moved to fill the void. That was a mistake on our part.

  16. In the 1950s the UK RN commissioned the Type 14, a minimal ocean going ASW corvette. They lasted about twenty years in ASW service. They (and their crews) were rather accomplished ASW vessels because they could not be tasked with any other role. However, the navy had numbers (vessels and crews) slashed and dedicated was a luxury.
    Then the RN was designing an ASW vessel that would tow an array in the Nth Atlantic and would prosecute targets with a Sea King helicopter, not much else. The helicopters were to be supported by an uprated support ship (the frigate carrying fuel and weapons only).
    Then the Falklands War happened, enter the Type 23.
    The UK cannot afford dedicated vessels as the Govt will not keep promises about future orders, nor can the RN guarantee that the frigates will only face submarines.
    The US might be able to afford dedicated vessels for dedicated roles in specific situations, if not they will find themselves in the UK situation.

  17. In reference to the Avenger class being $100M-or-so, the UK Hunt class mine hunters were, per unit length, the most expensive ships in the RN.

  18. CNO you make a good point with this post. But when you look at the failures of late, theres a fine line here. Going ahead with a FLT III that is less capable than its requirements seems foolish, yet the fear of another LCS/Zumwalt/Ford is very real. Its terrifying to think that the Navy is afraid, and recognizes the potential for further failures due to lack of common sense design, yet wont just apply common sense.
    I fully believe that the Ford should have been a one ship class, ala Enterprise, and that the JFK, Enterprise should be Nimitzes. Retreating to relative safety in anything that has a $5B+ price tag seems rational, notional sortie rates be damned. But on the smaller ships, yes, if the existing platform wont fill the Navys requirements (full size AMDR) then back to the drawing board!!
    While the 355 Navy seems unrealistic/unattainable at this point, the smaller, cheaper single mission ships would be a good way to help get there,and provide a more flexible and effective fleet in doing so.

    1. "Nimitzes. Retreating to relative safety"

      Please don't confuse safety and intelligence! 'Retreating' from a hideously expensive, technological boondoggle is not a safety issue, it's an intelligence issue! The Nimitz, evolutionarily upgraded, is not a safety item - it's a fully capable, fully functional, outstanding design (overbuilt a bit for the current air wings but that's a separate matter). The Nimitz is not a retreat to safety, it's a move to rationality!

    2. "While the 355 Navy seems unrealistic/unattainable at this point,"

      Oh, the Navy will get there, rest assured of that. They'll do it by counting little unmanned vessels. They've already started laying the ground work for both the vessels and their inclusion in the battle fleet counting.

      355? Guaranteed!

      The fact that these unmanned vessels will be useless is irrelevant to the Navy. What matters is budget and the Navy sees budget opportunity in unmanned vessels.

    3. At the risk of being ostracized, I think its time to reign in the scope of US involvement.

      China is going to outgrow and outspend the US in the South China Sea. 1.4 billion people with the fastest growing middle class on the planet, and control of most of the strategic materials required for advanced war fighting equipment.

      I personally don't think this is the end of the world. My wife is Filipina and we spend a lot of time there. I try to stay current with local politics so I have a clue.

      We have this huge defense budget with holes you can drive a Ford through, if in fact you could drive a Ford through it if it was running.

      I see the world dividing into two hemispheres, and that's fine as long as no one is shooting at each other. Trade is good. Shooting is bad.

      Let's fix the profound problems with defense acquisition, get back up to a professional, reasonable level of spending and move on. I hope it's possible but I'm not complacent.

      Ford, LCS, Zumwalt, Marine landing etc. We need to fix this.

  19. Regarding the Ford design, its shocking about both the launcher and arrester gear and then there is the cost
    AAG - Advanced Arrestor gear
    "In February 2016, the President’s budget request for fiscal year 2017 estimated AAG costs of: $927.0 million for development, and $483.0 million for procurement, from which the committee calculated a program acquisition unit cost of $353.0 million.
    In April 2016, Navy officials provided the committee with an update, estimating AAG costs of: $1.3 billion for development, from which the committee calculated a program acquisition unit cost of $446.0 million.

    Hate to think what the cost of the EMALs or launcher system is.

    On the good side there are some benefits of the Ford design
    "The island is shorter in length, but stands 20 feet taller than previous aircraft carriers' islands. It is positioned 140 feet further aft and three feet further outboard than its predecessors."
    The flight deck has more useable space and has 3 elevators instead of 4.
    The claimed benefits can be seen as mostly puffery

    1. I'd reluctantly finish the Kennedy, and then be done with these things.
      The navy has a lot of needs and reducing the costs of aircraft carriers would be a good way to fund some of those.

    2. @Ztev Konrad - FWIW latest figures have seen on the AAG, EMALS and Ford build.

      Current Estimate

      ...... Then Year $ Quantity
      AAG...... $2,418.1 Million.... 4x
      CVN-78... $52,970.6 Million.... 4x
      EMALS.... $3,483.0 Million.... 4x
      Total.... $58,871.7 Million.... 4x

      So assuming the figures includes the claimed $4 billion 'saving' leveraged by the block buy of 3rd and 4th ships, $2 billion per ship, which maybe optimistic based on past history, time will tell.

      So average cost of Ford class $14.7B each in then year $ (minor point it excludes the R&D for the Ford SPY-3 & 4 radars even though Ford only ship to fit the SPY-4, radar R&D was funded by Zumwalt)

      Source "Department of Defense Comprehensive Selected Acquisition Reports for the Annual 2018 Reporting Requirement as Updated by the President’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget // The Department of Defense (DoD) has released details on major defense acquisition program cost, schedule, and performance changes since the December 2018 reporting period. This information is based on the comprehensive annual Selected Acquisition Reports (SARs) for the first quarter of FY 2019, as updated by the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget submitted to Congress on March 11, 2019.// The total program acquisition cost estimates provided in the SARs include research and development, procurement, military construction, and acquisition-related operations and maintenance. These totals reflect actual costs to date as well as future anticipated costs. All estimates are shown in fully inflated then-year dollars."

    3. Nick, the Ford is undergoing some pretty extensive post-shakedown rebuilds related to propulsion and elevators. do you know if those funds included in the figures you cited?

    4. Don't know is the answer,

      My understanding the figures in the report in 'then year $', are what Congress has specifically obligated to AAG, EMALS and Ford programs either funded by Research, Development, Test & Evaluation (Navy) or the Shipbuilding and Conversion (Navy) budgets.

      The Navy has other sources of funding, the big one being Operation and Maintenance budget which is much larger than the SCN budget and appears with limited oversight.

      My understanding during the post-delivery period, which is current state of Ford, O & M funding is used to support the ship’s crew and pays for consumables such as fuel and "fleet-responsible maintenance".

      So unless you have access to the Navy accounts its unknown if the spending for the propulsion casualties were charged to SCN Ford program or maybe allocated to O&M "fleet-responsible maintenance", your guess is good as mine, would expect elevators to charged to program R&D/SCN as yet to delivered and very high profile :)

  20. Exactly @ Army Guy!!! Double the price, and mostly disfunctional!! The next Enterprise really needs to revert to being a Nimitz!!!

  21. I wonder if the JMSDF might have a superior model for surface ship procurement. Despite having a substantially smaller surface fleet than the USN, they have 10 different classes of destroyer rather than just Burkes. The oldest ones are much less capable than any non-LCS US surface combatant, but every few years they take the lessons they learn from operating such a diverse fleet to design a new and improved platform. Their naval engineers thus steadily accrue valuable experience, and the amount of time it takes for them to turn an operational requirement into a hull is drastically shorter than our cycle.

    1. That's a good observation. I would lump the Chinese into that, as well. They've churned out multiple classes of all kinds of ships with steady and significant improvements each time.


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