Monday, May 31, 2021

Ticonderoga Replacement

This post is a result of a suggestion from reader ‘Lonfo’ in the recent November open post and I thank him for the idea.





As best I can tell, it appears that around half the Ticonderoga fleet is sitting, rotting, pier side – retired and scrapped in all but name and the Navy has proposed officially retiring 7 Ticonderogas in 2022 with the remainder of the class being retired as quickly after that as the Navy thinks they can get Congress to allow.


While the reasonable supposition would be that the Ticonderogas would be replaced by a new cruiser class, the Navy has suggested that a Ticonderoga replacement may be a family of vessels (and UAVs or manned aircraft?) rather than a single ship.  It’s also possible that there may never be a true replacement and that the less capable Burke Flt III may be the semi-replacement. 


Beyond vague, speculative articles on the Internet, there’s no real information about a Ticonderoga replacement so let’s speculate using the Navy’s single, vague statement about a family of platforms, the known push by the Navy towards smaller, unmanned vessels, and the Navy’s general desire to move towards unmanned or minimally manned vessels and see where that takes us regarding a Ticonderoga replacement.

Ticonderoga Class Cruiser


The key is to recognize the Navy’s driving forces for ship design:


Minimal Manning – This not only means manned with a minimal crew but also unmanned.  In other words, the Navy wants to operate platforms with as few people as possible with the Holy Grail being entirely unmanned platforms and an unmanned navy.


Cost – The Navy continually attempts to design and build ‘cheap’ ships and continually fails spectacularly.  Despite the constant failure, they still keep trying to achieve ‘cheap’.


Numbers – The Navy has a myopic focus on hull numbers – AS LONG AS THEY’RE NEW HULLS – and don’t really care whether those hulls offer any useful combat capability – witness the LCS and Zumwalt.  In an apparent contradiction, the Navy has no interest in maintaining and upgrading older hulls so as to increase numbers – only new hulls matter in the Navy’s eyes.


Technology – The Navy is obsessed with new, cutting edge technology which, to them, means artificial intelligence, networking, data, and centralized command and control.  It is vital to note that firepower is not among the valued technology elements.



So, having considered the driving forces for Navy ship design, what kind of cruiser replacement design does that lead us to?


The obvious conclusion is that the Navy will do exactly as they have stated and replace the Ticonderoga class with a family of unmanned or minimally manned vessels.  That being the case, what would a family of cruiser replacements be?


To answer that, we have to recognize the functions that the Navy wants a cruiser to perform: 

  • AAW
  • BMD
  • Strike
  • ASW


With that in mind, what are the ‘breakdowns’ of a cruiser’s functions that could be distributed to a family of platforms?


Weapons – This would be a floating VLS barge, in essence;  a missile magazine.


Sensors – This would be a dedicated radar platform.  Given the need for endurance on the order of weeks and 24/7 persistence, this has to be a ship.  In concept, the vessel would be a blockhouse with 3-4 radar faces spaced around the structure.  As such, it could be quite small.  The Burke’s radar arrays are contained within an approximate 60 ft square superstructure.  This would lead to a very small vessel even allowing for engine space and other requirements.


Command – This would be a small vessel whose purpose is to communicate with, and control, the various components of the cruiser ‘family’.  Thus, this would be a network ship with command functions.


Aviation – Aviation facilities, meaning flight deck, hangar, workshops, magazines, etc., are extremely inefficient in the sense that the same function(s) are repeated for every helo-capable ship.  The more logical and cheaper approach would be to condense several aviation facilities into a single ship … a helo/UAV carrier.  This does not have to be, and should not be, a giant amphibious ship like the current LHAs and the like.  Instead, this should be a moderate size vessel whose only function is aviation and would carry around six or so helos and a dozen small to medium size UAVs.


We should note that the Navy has already begun the process of producing a large displacement unmanned surface vessel that will essentially be a missile barge – an unmanned mini-arsenal ship.  Several ships are already budgeted.  In addition, the Navy has also begun the process of producing a smaller displacement, unmanned, sensor (ISR) vessel.


There you have it.  We can envision four separate unmanned or lightly manned vessels that would make up the family of a cruiser function.  Of course, none of the individual components would be as capable as the function contained within the parent Ticonderoga cruiser.  I really hope someone is gaming this out in a realistic fashion because this is a path that will be difficult to come back from.



  1. I guess a couple questions occur:

    (1) How graceful will the degradation be if one of these ships (for example the radar ship) is sunk? Do the others all become useless?

    (2) Will the cost of the four smaller ships be less than a single larger ship?

    1. (1) There's two possible answers to that: one, the system collapses and renders the remaining component vessels useless or, two, there are additional component ships and another radar ship takes over thus providing resiliency to the overall system. HOWEVER, that depends on being able to maintain a flawless, widespread network during combat - a feat that seems unlikely.

      (2) Given that our cheapest small vessel of recent build was the LCS which cost around $600M each, four times that would $2.4B. Since we have no actual designs, that's a really wild guesstimate but it gives some indication of the ballpark cost. The other factor that goes with the cost question is capability - are those four ships really equal to one cruiser in capability? If not, and we had to, say, build two missile barges to equal the VLS of one cruiser (which seems quite likely) then it's actually the cost of five ships, not four … and so on. So, it's really a question of what value do we get for the cost and how many vessels do we have to build to equal one cruiser.

  2. Oh, and presumably all four ships will have self-defense equipment for short range air defense and whatnot.

    1. Well, maybe nobody said it, but shouldn't they at least have SEARAM or something?

    2. All indications, currently, are that any unmanned vessels will NOT have self-defense. The currently planned medium (ISR) and large (missile barge) displacement vessels have no self-defense. So, the evidence would suggest no self-defense - as idiotic as that would seem to us.

    3. So if the USN unpersoned ships lack self defence, expect to see Chinese boarding parties. Prize crews will come equipped portable command consoles to convert unmanned to PLAN-manned. Seem like a good mission for the Maritime Militia.

    4. China has already seized US unmanned underwater drones so I have no doubt that they'll seize an unmanned vessel the first chance they get. I also have no doubt that we'll do nothing about it since we did nothing about the manned boats the Iranians seized!

  3. Slight tangent, but I have a radar question for CNO.

    If the AEGIS radar system is oriented for long-range detection and engagement, what would be a shorter range engagement radar system?

    Is there a radar that would be able to detect missiles from clutter, and coordinate missile intercept efficiently at shorter ranges?
    Does a 4D radar do that?

    Would that possibly work as a complement to AEGIS on a realistic Ticonderoga class replacement?


    1. As you can imagine (or check for yourself!) actual radar performance data is not made publicly available. So, there is no radar that is capable of handling the close in, cluttered engagement environment that I envision occurring. There might be such a radar but I have no way of knowing for sure. That said, it is clear that radars have been developed for the limited, one-on-one type engagements. Radars claim to be able to track hundreds of targets but even that is misleading as those would be targets that appear over time and are fairly widely separated. There is no radar that I know of that even pretend to be able to handle the thousands of targets that would instantaneously appear as a couple of defending missiles explode around an incoming missile and totally obscure the radar picture.

      Yes, such a radar, if it existed, would be a nice complement to Aegis/AMDR. In fact, a horizon/low level radar as a complement was the intent of the dual band radar.

    2. British Type 45 Destroyers have an especially tall radar mast to maximize early detection of low flying targets. They brag that they can engage targets before Burke's can even detect them.

  4. This seems like a horrible idea. Only thing I like about it is splitting off the aviation component. Why on earth would anyone think that creating a "family" with so many baked-in problems from the beginning would be a replacememt for a proper warship?? I understand you're speculating, but...

    1. " I understand you're speculating, but..."

      I'm not speculating about the family concept, only the actual implementation. The Navy is already committed to the family concept and has already begun the acquisition process for the missile barge and the sensor vessel. You knew that, right? I'm only speculating on the exact form of a cruise family if, as seems almost a sure thing, the Navy opts not to replace the cruiser with another cruiser.

      Our last attempt at a cruise produced the $9B Zumwalt disaster. Do you see them repeating that any time soon? Especially given their publicly stated preference for families of small unmanned vessels?

  5. My first question about breaking the cruiser down into four distributed platforms is how well will they maintain the level of communications required to make the concept work in an opposed environment with enemy jamming? My gut feel is that they won’t, at least not for long, and in my mind that invalidates the entire concept.

    1. Well, communications is the beating heart of the concept of a family of component vessels and while none of us can know for sure how well the comms will work, or not, all the circumstantial and peripheral evidence suggests that it will not work well enough to maintain a continuous, mobike, real time, high res fire control network.

    2. See my contrary approach below (with which I am sure you are familiar by now).

      I realize that my proposed cruiser and battlecarrier may be criticized, as I have criticized the LHA/LHD in the amphibious context, for putting too many eggs in one basket. I would respond tat I would plan to complement them with pretty complete escort squadrons of cheaper single-purpose ships that among them cover all of the AAW, ASuW, and ASW basis, and that I utilize such cheaper ships to build out the numbers needed.

      What I do not do, at least not at this point, is propose to use any unmanned drones except for smaller UAVs, UUVs, and USVs that would be carried on the flight deck cruiser concept. I don't think unmanned drones are reliable in a combat environment, and by the time you add the maintenance and logistics tail I'm not sure they really end up being a lot cheaper than single-purpose manned platforms.

    3. Communication is a vital component in modern warfare, regardless Navy, Army, or Air Force. Rather than control air, today's first aim in a war is to control the spectrum.

      Naturally, further from your base station, weaker signal strength (non-linear relations). How to communicate with your front line troops and drones is a complicated topic.

      Why can't the nation tolerate China's Huawei? One key issue is its communication technologies have gone too far ahead. US doesn't want it to set new international communication standard. Current technology blockade (ban sale IC chips to Huawei, regardless US or foreign companies) would defer its progress. On China side, of course, they want to make this defer as short as possible. It's a tech competency war.

  6. I would take a different approach, a truly independent cruiser. It would be the flagship of an escort squadron (CortRon)—including 2 AAW destroyers (could be Burkes), 3 GP escorts (like FFG(X) but outfitted more like the original GP FREMMs), and 4 ASW frigates—that could escort large combatants (CVBG, SAG/HUK, ARG/MEU) or conduct independent missions.

    I would take the Des Moines hull and from there base my design off the WWII flight deck cruiser (CF) concept (1). Use the Makin Island hybrid propulsion system, which should give a top speed around 32-33 knots for a 21,000T cruiser hull since it drives the boxy 40,000T Makin Island at up to 28 knots (2). With the somewhat larger Des Moines hull (700x77 ft versus 640x67 feet for the CF, and 18-21,000T displacement versus 12-14,000) there should be room for 2x3 8” guns, one forward and one aft, to give a large gun capacity that the Navy currently lacks. I would take the forward and after 40-45 feet of the flight deck and insert vertical launch cells. With basically 70x45 to work with in each space, we should be able to get 96 Mk-41s in forward and aft, for a total of 192. Vertically the Mk-41s should reach down one deck below the main deck, so they would be spaced to allow passage forward and aft. Assuming the Navy develops a long-range supersonic/hypersonic strike missile (which is badly needed) and assuming it can launch from cells that swap out with Mk-41s on a 4 to 1 basis, I would include 16 such cells (8 forward, 8 aft) and drop the number of Mk-41s to 128. That still leaves a flight deck of 300x65 ft or so. It would operate 3 helos and 12-20 small UAVs. The flight deck would be the 02 level and the main deck would be the hangar deck, accessed by elevator from the flight deck. Four boat launch positions (1 starboard, 3 port) could launch and recover ship’s boats, small USVs, and/or small UUVs. The superstructure above the flight deck would be offset to starboard, as in the CF design, and would contain the AEGIS/AMDR array, any other FC radars/directors required, stacks and air intakes for engines, and bridge and pilot house. For self defense, it would mount two SeaRAMs where the CF has 5” guns, and 8 Phalanx, 2 each at forward and aft ends of the bridge, and one at each corner of the flight deck. It would carry a hull-mounted sonar.

    As for the stated Navy requirements, we would have:

    • AAW – AEGIS/AMDR, and some mix of standard and ESSM quad-packs
    • BMD – AEGIS/AMDR, and plenty of VLS cells to carry a number of ABM variant missiles
    • STRIKE – 16 supersonic/hypersonic strike/anti-ship missiles, VLS cells for NSM, 8” guns
    • ASW – hull sonar, helos, plenty of VLS cells for VL-ASROC

    Additionally, 12-20 UAVs, plus UUVs and USVs, should give the ship a significant ISRT (intel/surveil/recon/targeting) capacity. And 2 SeaRAMS plus 8 Phalanx or other CIWS should provide pretty good self defense capability. With the 16 large cells, the missile fit could be 16 long-range strike missiles, 32 ESSM in quad-packs, 40 Standard AAW, 20 Standard ABM, 30 NSM, and 30 VL-ASROC.

    Except for the supersonic/hypersonic missile, all the components currently exist, so the cost should be controllable. Based on size and number of missile cells, I would estimate roughly twice the cost of a new Burke ($1.8B), or $3.5B per ship. I would build 20, and build out the remaining ships to constitute 20 CorRons—40 AAW destroyers, 60 GP escorts, 80 ASW frigates.

    (2), realizing that Wikipedia is not the best source, but even if top speed is slightly lower, you still should get several knots more with a cruiser hull.

    1. I would build 20 independent cruisers (at $3.5B each, $70B), and to complete 20 escort squadrons would also build 40 AAW destroyers (use legacy Burkes, plus new ones at $1.8B each for up to $72B), 60 GP escorts ($1B each, $60B total), and 80 ASW frigates ($500MM each, $40B total). Total cost of a 200-ship surface combatant fleet would be up to $242B (less cost of any legacy Burkes), compared with CBO's estimate of $225B for the Navy to build 133-155 surface combatants (1). CBO's cost estimates include building 11 Burkes and 44 other large surface combatants to yield 73-88 total large surface combatants, so they envision using 18-33 legacy Burkes, which would reduce the cost of my proposed 20 CortRons by $33-60B, to $182-209B for apples comparisons.

      My approach would therefore build 45-67 more combatant ships for $16-43B less, compared to the Navy and using CBO estimates.

      I would use the money saved (plus additional funds as needed) to revive another older concept, the 1980s battlecarrier (2) with 2x3 16" mounts forward, and a large VLS field and angled deck with ski jump for up to 10 AV8s/F35Bs and 10 helos instead of the after 16" mount. The battlecarrier proposal had 320 Mk-41 VLS cells, I would swap out 128 Mk-41s (assuming 4:1) for 32 large cells for the supersonic/hypersonic cruise missile or SRBMs/IRBMs (which also need development), leaving 192 Mk-41. I would replace the 6" and 5" guns with 8 SeaRAM and 12 Phalanx. It would carry TRS-3D/4D radar, as it would not be the primary AAW platform.

      Again, because the battlecarrier would use existing components--Iowa hull, 2x Makin Island engineering plant driving 4 shafts (which should give it close to 30 knots), 16" guns, missiles (except supersonic/hypersonic cruise and SRBM/IRBM), STOVL aircraft, helos, SeaRAM, and Phalanx, I would expect to be able to control the cost. I would estimate construction cost in the $4.5B range, so 8 of them would cost $36B.

      As far as operating cost, the Makin Island plant should enable a significant reduction in engineering headcount, and that should bring operating costs in somewhere between a cruiser and a small carrier.

      The battlecarrier would form the basis for a surface action/hunter-killer group (SAG/HUK), along with an ASW helo carrier that could be based on the Japanese Hyuga (3) which carried up to 18 helos. The Hyugas came in at about $1.06B each around 2010 (3) so if the Navy could get them for $1.8B each, that would be another $14B for 8 of them, or $50B for 8 SAG/HUK group central formations.

      The SAG/HUK groups would be primarily responsible for sea control on the high seas, away from most shore-based air or A2/AD systems (so not requiring carrier protection), and secondarily for support of amphibious assault/strike missions (with carrier protections), where the battleships would provide NGFS and the helo carrier would serve as an assault helo base. The SAG/HUK group would be a very potent force, exceeded only by a full carrier task force (CTF) and would free up the CTFs for higher value missions. 12 carrier battle groups. (CVBG) plus 8 SAG/HUK groups, with 20 CortRons, should be sufficient to cover the Navy’s sea control and surface strike needs (as secondary strike platforms to SSBNs/SSGNs).

      I have just walked through my reasoning regarding the future surface Navy. I do not include unmanned drones (other than those which the cruiser can carry and launch) because I don’t believe the concept can work in a fully opposed environment with full-blown enemy jamming and interference. I do take a high/low approach where I build some highly capable top-end ships and fill out the numbers with cheaper single-purpose ships (like the ASW frigates).


    2. I don’t get the battlecarrier or gun armed,helo cruiser concepts. They combine too many missions with competing mission requirements.

      Instead make,

      1. An AMD cruiser escort that carries a big radar with a decent VLS magazine
      2. A fire support ship
      3. A light carrier for fighters, UAVs and helicopters
      4. A missile magazine arsenal ship

      This way you can tailor the overall force and individual task forces based on need rather than just one do it all ship. For example, a HUK doesn't need 8-inch or 16-inch guns. Fire support ships can be attached to amphibious task force instead.

      Also, if you lose one, you don’t lose your carrier, fire support AND arsenal ship combined.

      Lastly putting super expensive battlecarriers or gun armed cruisers near shore for NSFS just doesn’t make sense. See Gallipoli. Instead, use ships you can afford to lose.

    3. Understand, but what I'm trying to do is a mix of top-end ships and single-purpose low-end ships to fill out the numbers without breaking the bank. Yes, I am proposing multiple missions for the battlecarrier and cruiser, but I don't think they really compete. CIC on both ships is going to be a pretty hectic place to keep track of all that they could have going on, but I think they could handle that with sufficient realistic training. And keep in mind that each one is going to surrounded by 8-10 single-purpose ships to complement all those roles. So you have a split of duties as a backup to the concentrated duties.

      And with the split, if you lose one ship, then you lose either your AMD or your fire support or your light carrier or missile arsenal. As for the battlecarrier or cruiser, I think they would be able to defend themselves well enough against multiple threats to reduce the possibility of loss, whereas for example, an AAW-only ship would be at considerable risk from submarines.

      You can think of my CortRon as basically a multi-purpose cruiser at the heart, and most of your single-purpose ships surrounding it. And if you are escorting a SAG/HUK group or CVBG, then the cruiser capabilities go on steroids with the battlecarrier or the carrier(s). The Soviets couldn't compete with our carriers, so they built the Kirovs and Kievs to give them sea control/sea denial platforms that could somewhat counter the carriers. The battlecarrier would basically out-Kirov a Kirov and out-Kiev a Kiev. And the destroyers, escorts, and frigates in the CortRon (complemented with corvettes and patrol boats where possible) provide a pretty sizable complement of cheaper single-purpose vessels.

      The advantage of the battlecarrier/independent cruiser concepts is that you aren't relying on the electronic spectrum between ships for them to do anything. Maybe you have to rely somewhat on communications between the mother ship (battlecarrier/cruiser) and the smaller, mostly single-purpose escorts. And with 16" and 8" guns, you don't have to put them that close to shore for NGFS. If you look at the whole fleet I'm proposing, the inshore NGFS comes from assault support frigates (see ComNavOps's proposed fleet structure for an idea), corvettes (although they would be more for the shallow water ASW mission), and missile patrol boats (maybe something like Swedish Visby).

      I think overall it is a conceptually sound approach, primarily because I have tried to approach it from strategy to mission to CONOPS to design, instead of doing like the Navy and building platforms without any seeming notion of CONOPS or mission or strategy. ComNavOps and I disagree a bit about strategy, and our proposed fleets vary somewhat as a result, but I definitely think his idea is better than the Navy's, and I think he would say the same for mine. I do think cheaper single-purpose manned ships make more sense than unmanned drones.

    4. "The battlecarrier would basically out-Kirov a Kirov and out-Kiev a Kiev."

      And out-price both, combined!

      The Kirov was a least-bad reaction to our carriers and battleships and was the result of having poor options. Being unable to build their own carriers or Iowa class battleships, they had to pick one of a selection of bad options. With the technology, experience, and resources the Soviets had, a Kirov and Kiev were the best they could do with severe limitations. They weren't good options, just the least bad ones. You have a tendency to follow other country's least bad options rather than pursuing the 'best good' ones!

      By concentrating so many missions/functions in a single ship, you're also following the US Navy's failed path of ever more expensive ships with ever more concentrated functions. That leads to fewer ships which leads to the fewer ships being more expensive and that's the definition of a death spiral which is EXACTLY what the US Navy is trapped in now. So, you're following yet another example of a proven failure.

      You seem determined to emulate the worst of various country's navies rather than the best.

    5. "You seem determined to emulate the worst of various country's navies rather than the best."

      Well, I seem to recall that we in the fleet were worried enough about the Kirovs (and to somewhat lesser extent, the Kievs) that I would be very hesitant to call either of them the worst. As you wrote last July, “one could easily imagine a use for a modified Kirov equipped with enough armor to stand and fight. This would have to include armor on the order of a WWII battleship. Such a ship, with a massive, supersonic anti-ship missile would be a formidable threat, indeed. Unfortunately, the Navy seems to have totally rejected the very idea of armor. Still, one can dream and hope.” That’s kind of where I got the battlecarrier idea.

      The big differences I see are that 1) the battlecarrier and cruiser are using existing proved systems rather than unproved cutting-edge gizmos, so costs should be controllable, and 2) we would be surrounding them with large numbers of cheaper single-purpose ships. It’s basically the distributed fleet architecture that the Navy seems to want, but with a unit at the center capable of all functions if and as needed. And it consists entirely of manned ships with no unmanned drones except for smaller UAV, USV, and UUV systems primarily for the ISRT (intel/surveil/recon/targeting) missions.

      Where the Navy gets in trouble with costs is going with unproved concepts or vaporware (Zumwalt guns, LCS power plant, Ford EMALS and arresting gear and weapons lifts and toilets) when there is no need to do so. These ships would adopt more of the, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," approach. Start the class with existing technology. If something better comes along—and fully proves up in actual usage—then modify any new units as they are built and retrofit the older units in subsequent major maintenance periods.

      If you have a separate sensor ship and a separate air ship and a separate ASW ship and a separate AAW ship, then if you lose any one you lose that capability for the whole group. And if you lose your comms and/or data link in a jamming environment, you are pretty well hosed. If you have one ship that can do it all at the center, and supplement it with single-purpose ships, then unless the ship at the center is the one you lose, you always have all capabilities to some extent.

      A Kirov or Kiev would have a hard time standing up to a supercarrier or to land-based air, but in an environment were neither of those was a great threat (open ocean, away from land, against an enemy without strong carrier air) they could be pretty fearsome sea control platforms. And closer to shore, operating under carrier air cover, they would be powerful strike platforms. Like the Soviet ships, they would basically use missiles instead of the carrier air wing. I do think they should be buildable at the prices I listed, and as such would be cheaper alternatives to what the Navy seems to be planning.

      Obviously if you lose a battlecarrier or cruiser, then you lose a lot of capability. But if you are relying on 4 separate ships to perform the functions of one, and you lose any one of those ships or communications and data exchange between them, then what you have left is basically worthless—you have either sensors without weapons or weapons without sensors or weapons and sensors that cannot talk to each other. In this alternative architecture, losing any ship other than the battlecarrier and/or cruiser would not put you into that kind of pickle.

      I'm not wedded to the idea, I just think it is worth considering as an alternative to the way the Navy wants to go.

    6. "If you have a separate sensor ship and a separate air ship and a separate ASW ship and a separate AAW ship, then if you lose any one you lose that capability for the whole group. And if you lose your comms and/or data link in a jamming environment, you are pretty well hosed. If you have one ship that can do it all at the center, and supplement it with single-purpose ships, then unless the ship at the center is the one you lose, you always have all capabilities to some extent."

      The enemy will focus on the ship in the center.

      Yes, if you lose one of the separate ships, you lose that capability, but at least you still have the other capabilities. If you lose the battlecarrier, you lose multiple capabilities at once.

      The enemy can't jam communications between ships in a task force without having a jammer IN the task force. At best they can try and pick up COMMS with ELINT, but these comms can be low power and directional.

      For the battlecarrier, its gunfire mission and its air mission are at odds with each other. The gunfire mission requires it to get close to shore. Its air mission requires it to periodically turn into the wind and run at high speeds to launch and recover aircraft. So it's doubtful it would do both at the same time.

      Two separate ships obviously could. The carrier could be further out at sea with room to maneuver and launch/recover aircraft. The fire support ship could be closer in to shore to hit inland targets.

      From a force design standpoint, you may also need more of one capability than another. You may need more fire support ships than light carriers, or vice versa. With the battlecarrier, you're stuck buying one of each capability.

    7. "That’s kind of where I got the battlecarrier idea."

      You know, we had this once. It was the Lexington and Saratoga. As built, they mounted 4x twin 8" guns. The Navy eventually deleted the guns. You might want to study why and then figure out why your approach is better than the combat proven decision to NOT have heavy armament on a carrier.

    8. "Yes, if you lose one of the separate ships, you lose that capability, but at least you still have the other capabilities. If you lose the battlecarrier, you lose multiple capabilities at once."

      If one ship has all the sensors, and one all the weapons, and one all the air, and one with all the command functions, then if you lose any one or lose communications between them, then you basically have nothing. If you have a multi-purpose ship surrounded by single-purpose ships, then if you lose the multi-purpose ship you can still cobble together the single-purpose ships the same way as if you just have the single-purpose ships. And if you lose a single-purpose ship, you don't lose its function because you still have the multi-purpose ship.

      "For the battlecarrier, its gunfire mission and its air mission are at odds with each other. The gunfire mission requires it to get close to shore. Its air mission requires it to periodically turn into the wind and run at high speeds to launch and recover aircraft. So it's doubtful it would do both at the same time."

      It wouldn't have to. The air mission is primarily for when it is operating out in the open ocean, away from most shore-based air, where an air capability would give it an advantage over anything it is apt to encounter. For the fire support mission, it would be operating under carrier air cover and the air capability would be secondary.

      "You might want to study why..."

      From what I've read about the battlecarrier concept, it was never followed through because the headcount requirements would drive the operating costs too high. The labor-intensive parts were the engineering plant and secondary armament. Going to the Makin Island plant and removing the secondary armament in favor of the missile battery and SeaRAM/Phalanx should reduce the headcount requirements significantly.

      I'm admittedly spitballing a bit here and the concept would have to get fleshed out and evaluated in detail. But it looks like a ship that could operate outside carrier protection and provide a significant sea control/anti-ship capability, and free up carriers to focus on air superiority and task force protection in areas where land-based air was a bigger threat.

      I would see a SAG/HUK group as a significant asset in the GIUK gap, where the air threat might be an occasional Bear overflight, or in the mid-Pacific where you would again be too far from shore for land-based air to be a major threat.

      The battlecarrier is not intended to be primarily a light carrier. It is intended to be an anti-surface asset and leader of an ASW task group, with enough air to be able to provide its own CAP when the air threat level is low. It would be primarily an anti-ship (surface or subsurface) platform and when operating in the land attack mode, its air cover would come primarily from carrier air.

    9. "If one ship has all the sensors, and one all the weapons, and one all the air, and one with all the command functions, then if you lose any one or lose communications between them, then you basically have nothing. "

      The distinctions don't have to be this stark. The current CGs have significant VLS magazines. They aren't completely unarmed. You can have backup command facilities on other ships. The AAW ship shouldn't be the only one with a good radar, just the one with the best radar. There will always be a need for a degree of redundancy.

      "It wouldn't have to. The air mission is primarily for when it is operating out in the open ocean, away from most shore-based air, where an air capability would give it an advantage over anything it is apt to encounter. "

      So it carries around unused aircraft when its doing fire support? Sure seems like they could be useful for spotting, CAS, ISR, air superiority, and so on, while the fire support ship performs its mission.

      And as the leader of an anti-surface or ASW task force, its guns are largely useless. It's large VLS magazine won't be very helpful for ASW either. A light carrier is enough for an ASW task force. If there's an air threat, add an AAW ship.

      It just feels like its always carrying at least a ship's worth of unused capability around for each mission.

      High-end NGFS has been used so rarely in this day and age, that relegating it to a specialized ship just makes sense.

    10. I guess where I am coming from is that the Navy gets itself in trouble by insisting that every ship has to be a jack of all trades and state of the art. All I'm saying is that I can see a role for some multi-purpose ships, but fill out the numbers with cheaper single-purpose ships.

      "There will always be a need for a degree of redundancy."

      I don't see how you get any with the specific kinds of single-purpose ships being proposed.

      "So it carries around unused aircraft when its doing fire support? Sure seems like they could be useful for spotting, CAS, ISR, air superiority, and so on, while the fire support ship performs its mission."

      They could be used for those purposes. When in the NGFS mode, there would be a carrier with carrier air. You could launch your aircraft first, then conduct your firing run, and the aircraft could be refueled to extent their loiter time, or they could land and refuel, rearm, and relaunch from the carrier. And with you closer in and the carriers further out, you could be available as an emergency landing platform for an aircraft running low on fuel or otherwise in trouble.

      "And as the leader of an anti-surface or ASW task force, its guns are largely useless. It's large VLS magazine won't be very helpful for ASW either. A light carrier is enough for an ASW task force. If there's an air threat, add an AAW ship"

      If the large VLS magazine carries a number of VL-ASROC, it could be very useful in an ASW environment. As could its helos.

      I know I'm breaking one of ComNavOps's rules--and frankly mine as well--by talking about platforms before nailing down CONOPS, but I do see a number of potential scenarios where there would be a very useful purpose, and all I am saying is that it might be useful to evaluate the idea in those scenarios.

    11. "revive another older concept, the 1980s battlecarrier"

      You may have missed the following quote from the battlecarrier reference you cite:

      "The Navy came to the conclusion that if the country was going to get its money’s worth from the four battleships, the vessels had to concentrate on their unique abilities: firing massive artillery shells at the enemy. That meant keeping all three main gun turrets. The cool conversion schemes would have to stay just that, schemes."

      The Navy recognized that duplicating capabilities and missions only drives up costs and decreases single platform capabilities. Again, you're seeking out failed paths and insisting on travelling them without analyzing why they were failed paths and factoring that into your own path. Why is your travel down the failed path going to be a success when history has proven it's a failure?

      I would also point out that every navy that's attempted or examined a 'battle-carrier' hybrid ship has abandoned it. Again, why and why will your attempt be a success?

      What CONOPS makes this battlecarrier a success when it never has been before?

    12. "You may have missed the following quote from the battlecarrier reference you cite:

      "The Navy came to the conclusion that if the country was going to get its money’s worth from the four battleships, the vessels had to concentrate on their unique abilities: firing massive artillery shells at the enemy. That meant keeping all three main gun turrets. The cool conversion schemes would have to stay just that, schemes.""

      No, I didn't miss it. That came right after the statement about personnel numbers, and referred to the headcount numbers as being nearly those of a carrier. If the headcount numbers can be reduced, then the calculus changes.

      That was also referring to a return on a considerable conversion investment. Starting from the keel up, that would not be an issue.

      I've already mentioned several situations where this would be useful. Anywhere that you want to have an anti-ship and anti-submarine capability, without tying up a carrier, the SAG/HUK combination of battlecarrier and ASW helo carrier would give you that. And the air component would give it the ability to self-provide CAP in a low air threat environment, basically far enough away from land that massive numbers of land-based air would not be a threat and against an enemy without a significant carrier force of its own--IE, the Pacific away from China's A2/AD or the Atlantic from the GIUK gap south.

      I guess what I don't understand is how you can say on the one hand that a Kirov-type with better armor and protection would be useful and then criticize this concept. And again, I'm not making at least three mistakes that the Navy makes:
      1) Trying to build every ship to be all things; I'm mixing multi-purpose ships with single-purpose ships.
      2) Trying to rush new technology from the vaporware stage before it is ready.
      3) Reducing crew numbers to a level where damage control is not possible. Yes, I would reduce crew numbers by using a less labor-intensive engineering plant, and by replacing labor-intensive small-caliber secondary gun mounts with automatic systems like SeaRAM and Phalanx. But I would also redirect part of that headcount savings to beef up damage control. And the battlecarrier design would already incorporate much of the armor where the Kirov (and modern USN designs) have shortchanged.

      It's not primarily an air asset. It is primarily an anti-surface asset with sufficient air capability to operate independently of carrier air in a low air threat environment. Take the air off and just replace the after 16" mount with the large missile battery, and you have a pretty formidable anti-surface ship, with some defensive AAW and ASW capability. Add the air and it has the capability to operate without carrier air cover in low air threat environments.

    13. "If the large VLS magazine carries a number of VL-ASROC, it could be very useful in an ASW environment. "

      If we had an extended range VL-ASROC, maybe. But with only 11nmi range, the current VL-ASROC is a weapon of last resort. Don't want the battlecarrier anywhere near that close to enemy submarines.

    14. "I guess what I don't understand is how you can say on the one hand that a Kirov-type with better armor and protection would be useful and then criticize this concept."

      Because a Kirov type would be a single function ship - anti-surface whereas you're describing a combination ASW, ASuW, AAW, and aircraft carrier, all on one ship! The only thing you left out was submerging and being a submarine!

      The problem with this concept is CONOPS. The number and likelihood of scenarios where each of the functions is needed is very limited. Take the aviation … 10 aircraft (so let's be realistic and acknowledge you'll be lucky to have 5 operational at any given moment, as we've seen from extensive F-35 operating experience) can't accomplish anything significant other than a very unlikely, contrived scenario. You even acknowledge this by describing a low threat environment. If it's that low threat then you don't need an aviation capability and it's more than that then you need a true carrier or land based air cover. Can you contrive a scenario where 5 aircraft are exactly what's needed? Probably, but the price paid to construct and carry that capability around waiting for that one, unlikely, perfect fitted scenario is enormous.

      It's all about opportunity cost. You're wanting to impose a huge opportunity cost for the possibility of a very unlikely use scenario. This brings it back to CONOPS. What routine, expected scenario requires 10 (5 actually) aircraft? If there is such a scenario/CONOPS then you have a good justification for that capability. However, if not, you're imposing a huge opportunity cost (for example, significantly decreasing the NGFS capability).

      And so on for all the functions of this mammoth vessel.

      I'm also ignoring the extremely optimistic cost estimate. It cost us around $4B (I don't recall the exact figure off the top of my head) to build the America class which has just one of your listed functions (plus amphibious capability, to be fair). How you think you'll add 16" guns, massive armor, hundreds of VLS, etc. all for the same price as an America is beyond me but the cost isn't even the real issue so ...

    15. "I know I'm breaking one of ComNavOps's rules--and frankly mine as well--by talking about platforms before nailing down CONOPS"

      And yet you're doing it anyway and then defending it!

      The purpose of a CONOPS is PARTLY to define what is needed for a ship but it's also to clearly delineate WHAT IS NOT NEEDED.

      A CONOPS defines the MINIMUM requirement to achieve the intended role. As such, things that are 'useful' but not required, should be left out as they will only drive up cost for a very minimal return on investment.

      Ship design is not about cramming as much useful stuff as possible on a ship, it's about including ONLY THE MINIMUM required for the role. Very few people grasp that. Most people want to cram everything they can think of because each individual piece is 'useful'. USEFUL IS NOT A DESIGN REQUIREMENT; ONLY MINIMAL MANDATORY IS A DESIGN REQUIREMENT!

    16. I don't think we are going to agree on any of this, so I don't see the point of continuing it.

      My thought is that if you split up the functions among 4 single-purpose ships (sensors, weapons, command, air), then you have to keep all 4 afloat and able to communicate with each other, or else you lose an essential capability. I would still keep the single-purpose ships, but would have a single multi-purpose ship that could have the primary command function and could step up if you lose one of the others. I just think that makes more sense as a conceptual architecture.

      As far as CONOPS, I've laid out some pretty specific ideas of where and how it would be used. As far as costs, it's all existing technology. Where the Navy runs into trouble with cost is trying to bring vaporware into the fleet before it is ready. These components all exist already, and we already know what they cost.

    17. "but would have a single multi-purpose ship that could have the primary command function and could step up if you lose one of the others."

      If that's your goal then a far better choice than a single, mammoth, uber-expensive, do-everything ship is to just build a few extra small, dedicated, immensely cheaper, C2 vessels so that if one is lost, the next takes over. You'll have accomplished what you want at a fraction of the cost and opportunity cost. THAT'S what makes far 'more sense as a conceptual architecture'.

      I get the sense that you just like the idea of a battleship-carrier hybrid and are looking for a mission for it to do. That's fine. It's fun to imagine these things. Just recognize and acknowledge that it's just a 'for fun' thought exercise.

      " we already know what they cost."

      You say that except that you're not taking into account documented costs of real ships. I noted that the America, with just one of your functions, AND NO UNIQUE TECHNOLOGY, cost $4B or so. The Zumwalt, with none of your functions, cost $5B without including development costs. A battlecarrier such as you describe would cost at least twice and likely three times the America or Zumwalt. If you're trying to realistically estimate costs, $4B is the STARTING POINT, not the end point for costs.

      Of course, if you're postulating what costs ought to be, rather than what they are, as I often do, then speculate away!

      "I don't see the point of continuing it."

      And yet you keep bringing it up in post after post! If you don't want to discuss it, don't bring it up!

    18. "battlecarrier would use existing components--Iowa hull, 2x Makin Island engineering plant driving 4 shafts (which should give it close to 30 knots), "

      The Iowa propulsion plants produced 212,000 SHP. The Making Island system produces 70,000 SHP. Two Makin Island systems would produce 140,000 SHP which is well short of the Iowa 212,000 SHP. Am I misinterpreting something?

    19. OK, fine, I get that you don't like the idea. I won't mention it again.

    20. It's not an issue of whether I like the idea or not. If you opt to make a public comment on a blog, you kind of have to expect discussion. If you don't want discussion, don't comment.

      You might also look at negative comments as 'testing' for your concept. If you have good, valid answers for any critiques then you have a solid concept. If you find that you lack some answers then you know you need to modify and refine the concept to make it solid.

    21. "You might also look at negative comments as 'testing' for your concept."

      Or as just getting shot at from all directions. It's easy to criticize anybody else's ideas. It's harder to come up with better ideas on your own.

    22. I guess you have two choices: either think of it as a challenge to make your concepts better or don't post them and then you won't get any critiques.

      " It's easy to criticize anybody else's ideas. It's harder to come up with better ideas on your own."

      Welcome to the reality of every post I've ever done!

    23. True that. I've kind of refined my ideas about carriers from comments on here.

      But I think the idea of sending 4 ships out together, each with a different piece of the puzzle, and it's going to work because we are going to have flawless and instantaneous communication is absurd, so I'm trying to come up with an alternative.

    24. What a great set of thought provoking comments... Heres my post-read epiphany: Ive seen the "low threat environment" mentioned often. My question is, why would we ever build anything tgat wont be competent and capable in a high threat environment?? Sure, theres budget, and manning etc... But when building a fleet to defend our nation amd its interests, I prefer the "bring a gun to a knife fight" mentality. If we want ships to 'build relationships', or show the flag, send the Coast Guard. When the Navy is actually needed, I want it to be terrifying!! Every single ship should punch above its weight class. If the enemy fleet is comprised of thumbtacks, I want to show up with a 20lb sledge... If individual ships or systems arent overwhelmingly superior, fine. Build 20 or 50 or 100 more until numbers recreate that superiority!!!
      I understand that reality tempers this, but with intelligent use of the Navys budget, we could have a 200, 355, or 500 ship fleet that nobody would consider taking on... Key word intelligent...

    25. "But I think the idea of sending 4 ships out together, each with a different piece of the puzzle, and it's going to work because we are going to have flawless and instantaneous communication is absurd, so I'm trying to come up with an alternative."

      Isn't this how we've done things for 80 years? We send out separate AAW warships (cruisers and destroyers) with every carrier.

      Each ship has multiple, redundant communications systems. Can they all break down at once? Sure, possibly. Doesn't seem to happen very often. But each ship can still perform its mission on its own for a while.

      I don't get the concern about what's largely line-of-sight communications.

  7. This concept is missing maintenance and repair capability. A cruiser carries its own technicians. You'll need to add a tender to keep those unmanned systems running.

    1. "You'll need to add a tender to keep those unmanned systems running."

      Yes. And a dedicated tanker to keep their small fuel tanks filled!

  8. We should have stopped what we were doing in the 90s and broken the wheel at what would have been the best time to do so.. Burke was to be cheaper than Tico and then the upgrades and subsequent need and industrial base adjustments make it a wash. Its the same propulsion, same genset layout, same radar concept. We need to determine what that future Destroyer / Destroyer Leader is to be and what ships manned or unmanned will support. If we get a focused AAW ship that's a win. Anything near or in shore for guns should be small. ASW can be small, probably going to be medium sized. It would be nice to see some ambitious student at the NPS or MIT produce a flight II Zumwalt design on a stretched hull. The obsession with Des Moines class isn't healthy. NNS might have the equipment for Steel that thick but I doubt it. A Baltimore size ship might be possible at real cruiser numbers, but there will need to be another smaller ship to build up the numbers. Maybe grow FFG. Either way there need to be corvette sized hulls made useful and in qty from smaller yards that allow real competition for the work. It needs to be an engineering forward approach.

    1. "The obsession with Des Moines class isn't healthy. NNS might have the equipment for Steel that thick but I doubt it."...

      The post-treaty cruisers are some pretty spectacular designs. With good balances of offensive power, range, and protection. Plus, being comparable in dimension to current DDs, they make for some great templates for notional ships!!! Most armchair navalists arent going to whip up a fresh hull design to replace a Burke, but its quite easy to manipulate previous designs, and ships with actual armor make a great start.
      And to be fair, while discussing notional ships, its not much of a stretch to also envision notional yards freshly capable of handling whatever plating those ships might require. There isnt anything we did 50-75 yrs ago we couldnt do again if there was a need or will to...

    2. "The obsession with Des Moines class isn't healthy."

      Focusing on the most successful cruiser class ever produced seems like a very healthy thing! Even if we did nothing more than replace old systems with new on an exact duplicate of a Des Moines, we'd have a ship that is infinitely more powerful than any ship in the world today!

    3. Bought 3. Served 13, 10 and 26 years. Yes, they worked briefly for the tail end of their era. So better than LCS, but brief and no numbers. We built 40 hulls about the size of the Clevelands and 20 the size of Baltimore's and the service lives of those converted to missiles was greater.

  9. Since the Burke destroyers already do the four missions listed above, could the Navy stretch a Burke into a cruiser?

    For example, add a forward plug of about 20 feet to allow for a 64 cell VLS behind the forward gun. Add a 10-15 plug amidship between the engine stacks for a port and starboard CWIS/SeaRam. And, add another 20-25 foot plug aft to make room for a second 5-in gun.

    The Navy's ship building budget doesn't look pretty over the next 10 to 15 years. While a clean sheet design is preferable, it might not be afordable.

    1. As you describe it, technically yes. The length to width (beam) ratio is currently 7.7 which is fairly fat and an additional 55 ft would only make it around 8.5, which is fine. However, stability becomes an issue especially with the Burke's already significant topweight. So, I suspect that wouldn't work well.

      Further, what makes a 'cruiser' is not length or number of VLS cells but actual EFFECTIVE capability. The Burke is already sub-optimal due to sensor limitations with the AMDR having already been reduced from optimum due to weight/stability/utility issues. Simply adding more length and VLS cells would negatively impact stability and would not improve the radar issue. You'd just have a bigger destroyer with decreased stability and no actual improvement in EFFECTIVE combat capability.

      So, technically, yes but effectively, probably not.

    2. Would not advocate it as Burke basic design 30 years old, design has moved on, but did see it mentioned in CRS report you could extend Burke hull by ~ 66 feet.

      Re AMDR, SPY-6, originally estimated it would be only 30 times more sensitive than SPY-1 which was marginal for the new capabilities envisaged, but Raytheon claim SPY-6 with it's AESA GaN TRMs in trials have achieved 100 times sensitivity, so no radar sensor limitations.

    3. Forgot to mention Navy recently awarded contract to Raytheon to mod SPY-6 to operate in receive/passive mode, EMCON:)

    4. "Raytheon claim SPY-6 with it's AESA GaN TRMs in trials have achieved 100 times sensitivity, so no radar sensor limitations."

      Be wary of accepting manufacturer's claims. How many such grandiose claims have we seen fail in recent times? With 100% certainty, the claims are overstated. The question is whether the SPY-6 still represents a significant improvement UNDER REALISTIC OPERATING CONDITIONS. Unfortunately, the Navy steadfastly refuses to conduct realistic testing so ...

    5. @Fighting Iris: That's essentially what the Japanese and the Koreans have done with the Atago-class and Maya-class DDGs, althought it wasn't just lengthening the hull, the superstructure was raised by two decks to accomodate the flotilla commander's staff and stations, because the Burke CIC is too cramped for that.

      As an acquaintance who's served on Ticos and Burkes explained it to me, the Tico CIC has 4 large screens and more consoles than the Burke CIC, which allows you to easily fit in the desron commander and his staff; they manage air warfare for the squadron while the Burke's CIC crew manages their ship's fight. But you don't have that extra space and screens in a Burke, so to turn it into a flaghship the Japanese had to add flag and staff facilities to the superstructure, hence the raised profile.

    6. Sejong the Great-class destroyers of the ROKN. Cruiser sized version of Burkes with a whopping 128 VLS cells. The USN should adopt this design, slap on a larger version of the SPY-6, and call it a day.

    7. "The USN should adopt this design"


      We've demonstrated that more VLS is unnecessary. Future combat needs are extreme stealth, much greater power generation, extensive small UAV capability, large caliber naval guns or some other form of affordable area bombardment, extensive close/medium range missile defense, extensive and high powered EW/ECM, armor, etc. Does the StG have these characteristics? If not, it's not a good choice.

  10. CNO Gilday current big plan is to rip out the AGS and magazines from the three Zumwalts and install the Trident VLS cells as in the new Virginia's VPM to launch the new Army/Navy $50 million? hypersonic land attack missiles by 2025.

    Expect the 3 ships cost of conversion may be a $bilion or so to add to the Zumwalts black hole of $26 billion and assuming four VLS tubes fitted as in the 2,500t VPM with three hypersonic missiles in each tube, total 12 missiles per ship, being very optimistic assume two ships operational at any one time, max of 24, think the Chinese will be snickering and wondering if the USN can think up any more weird ideas to waste money.

    1. "total 12 missiles per ship"

      Setting aside specifics, this is the issue the Soviets faced in ship and weapon design. They had very big, very powerful, very fast missiles but could only fit a relative few per ship. Even the Kirovs, for example, carried only 20 of the big SS-N-19 Shipwreck missiles. They were Mach 2 or so with 1600 lb warheads but each ship could only carry 20. Unless you assume near 100% success rates for the missiles, that's nowhere near enough missiles to overwhelm a modern Aegis-ish defense system. If one gets through, you'll do a lot of damage but you won't be overwhelming the target. It's a trade off, balancing act. Will 12 missiles be sufficient to overwhelm an Aegis-ish target's defenses? The only way to know is to conduct realistic tests which the Navy adamantly refuses to do. With no actual, realistic test data, how do we know whether the 12 missiles are worth the cost and the use of ship's space?

      I have no problem using ONE Zumwalt as a test bed, IF WE ACTUALLY CONDUCT REALISTIC TESTS. Otherwise, it's a pure gamble and likely not a good one, at that.

  11. USNI has published a report to Congress on DDG(X) also known as Future Large Surface Combatant. It is also a potential replacement of Ticonderoga:

    There was little information on what this ship would be.

    In order to dominate on the sea (at national elites insist), you need to keep upgrading technologies to be above of your potential advisories. An important question is --- what future naval battle would be? More explorations are healthy. People submit their ideas and examine them through experiments and war games (include computer simulations). Unfortunately, China does better than US as the nation has too many empty talks than serious studies.

    To make DDG(X) a naval air command ship suitable to protect carrier groups, Navy cannot rely on old technologies despite its glorious days as they are history, not future. Navy also should not make strategic mistakes like LCS which was designed to attack irregular forces than another powerful navy.

    Personally, I don't like unmanned surface vessels as their assigned jobs would be better performed by flying drones. Unmanned submarines is a good idea but need to solve communication challenges. Unmanned weapons are supplementary than replacement. Navy's desire on unmanned surface ships could be like Marine's land based anti ship missiles --- trying to do others' jobs.

    1. @Anonymous: "There was little information on what this ship would be."
      I wonder why? :)


  12. Rick Joe, who writes about the People's Liberation Army for The Diplomat, has proposed on Reddit (where he posts as "PLArealtalk") replacing an Arleigh Burke class destroyer's hangar with an air defense command center, to create a stopgap replacement for the Ticonderoga class cruiser. The Arleigh Burke is an increasingly dated design, but it still works better than the overambitious Zumwalt. Details at

    Do you think this is worthwhile- at least until the USN gets its head out its ass, and commissions a ship that actually works, instead of warning tales straight from Arthur C. Clarke's story 'Superiority'? The story can be read at

    1. "it still works better than the overambitious Zumwalt."

      To be fair, they were intended for completely different missions.

      I hate stopgap measures because they all too often become permanent.

  13. Regarding the Burke Flight 3 as a semi-replacement. My understanding is that the main problem with the Burke (relative to the Tico) is lack of room for the air warfare commander's staff. Obviously also fewer missiles. The radar is the same.

    Suppose we backed off the ASW mission from the Burke Flight 3. Remove the helicopter hanger and just kept enough sonar to detect incoming torpedoes, plus some anti-torpedo countermeasures. So the Flight 3 would need to be in a battle group, not alone, which seems likely anyway.

    So the Burke Flt 3 would be an "air warfare destroyer". Would these changes make it good enough at that mission to fully replace the TICO in that role?

    1. Unknown: Sorry, I think you posted while I was typing, which is why my post partially duplicates yours. Sorry about that.

    2. Burke's problem is its hull design's potential has been fully explored with little room to upgrade. it is difficult to retrofit next generation power system into it but still has rooms to add desired sensors and weapons.

      For next generation destroyer or cruise, fully electricity propel system is desired. A ship needs to generate enormous amount of electricity to power the ship and supply electricity for radars. Advanced AESA radars "eat" huge amount of electricity. We need next generation power generation and distribution system. All current available systems have this or that short from desire.

      Nuclear power sounds good but has their own problems for surface ships. US had nuclear powered cruises and destroyers before but all been scrapped. Of course, if defense industry can develop or buy a new generation of nuclear reactors to meet all desires, that's a different story.

      Meanwhile, a large ship with many upon many guns, big chimneys, huge sized engines, outdated radars, low tech sensors, outdated missiles, many sailors, ... is basically useless for modern wars.

  14. CNO,

    Much credit for putting the pieces together - I think you're correct on Navy's attempt to "unbundle" the cruiser into four specialized ships.

    I will say - the math doesn't favor the Navy's approach.

    Completely made up numbers follow - but illustrative of the point.

    If a cruiser has five mission-critical combat systems (Aegis, VLS, comms, etc.) and four mission-critical engineering systems (Main Sea Water, Propulsion Lube Oil, Gas Turbines, etc.) and each system is 95% reliable over the course of a 2-week underway, overall reliability for the cruiser is but 0.95^10 or just 60%.

    That's why maintainers and parts are on board. The overall reliability of a warship would be unacceptably low without them.

    Now lets go to the 4-ship unbundled cruiser-group. In addition to its mono-weapon, you add a comms-suite to the mission-critical list, plus all the engineering components.

    So using our toy example, we would get, for the bundled fleet 4 x 2 = 8 mission critical combat systems (intra-group comms + whatever ship's specialized weapon is) + 4 * 5 = 20 engineering systems. For a total of 28 mission critical systems.

    Assume same individual system reliability of 95%, and suddenly the cruiser group is down to 0.95^28 = 24% reliability.

    That's unacceptable, so in order to get reliability up, we're going to discover, 10 years into the program, that parts have to be built to more exacting specifications, maintenance needs nuke-level procedural compliance and material history.

    Also we're going to have to throw a lot more people at the problem.

    In short - if you liked LCS, you're going to love this program.

    If they're going down this road (again), they're going over the objections of the people who *have* to know better, and we'll be back to the DOT&E calling operationally unsuitable & operationally ineffective while we get a decade of happy talk about getting systems reliability up.

    This is going to be a major program failure.

    1. It's frustrating to watch - because I *know* the Navy is aware of the near-unbounded cost of driving component-reliability asymptotically towards 100% - which is what you'll need in a system-of-systems like this with no redundancy or degeneracy of functions, but seems unable to apply the knowledge to the problem domain.

      I think, once again, like LCS or DDG-1000, or FFG-X the answer is being driven by top-down policy and not being informed by engineering practice.

      If you want to call it policy - maybe it's just sloganeering - "divest to invest". It's functionally equivalent to a program of unilateral naval disarmament - which doesn't reflect national naval policy 't'all. Who's running the show?

  15. Re:aviation. Efficiency might not be the optimal goal. There are inherent advantages to distributing aviation capability across multiple hulls.

    1) Dispersion. Your helo carrier can only be in one place which limits where aviation coverage can be provided.

    2) Redundancy. One hit on the helo carrier may take out the forces entire aviation capability.

  16. IMO, the only way USN sells this garbage to Congress (and we all know here USN eventually will) is to completely gloss over the comms problems and serious weakness and propose that you aren't replacing a 1 to 1 ship like in the past but it's a whole NEW WAY of thinking ship design and war functions,absolutely necessary to defeat Chinese navy. (avoid bringing up LCS!)

    If USN would ask me to sell this crap, I would propose as CG replacement a USV standard group fit:

    - 2 RADAR USV (you need redundancy and in Pacific war scenario, you need to cover more space, so at least 2 per group)
    - 4 to 6 VLS USV (in a carrier defence scenario, predominantly SM loadout, in a strike scenario, predominantly TLAMs or new strike missile)
    - 4 ASW USVs (certainly need double the amount but realistically, I don't think USN cares much for ASW any more so I dont expect USN to order more than bare bone minimum)
    - 1 helicopter USV carrier: around 4 helicopters and some UAVs.
    - 1 tanker/tender/mothership. You need to fix all this gear, refuel and IMO, rearm at sea. If there's no crew or almost no crew, why are you coming back to port??? Only ship that should come back and forth is the mothership with the rest of USV at sea.

    Price tag? No clue, at $500 million for a standard hull USV, ADD maybe $400 million to $1 billion for the more sophisticated weapons/radar. Truth is, cost doesn't mean anything, my bet is USN will fudge the numbers until the 10 to 15 USVs per group cost LESS than 1 new CGX would cost. USN: " See Congress, its cheaper and we bring more to the fight!" Probably what makes USN want group USV to replace CGs is you can fudge the numbers very easily!

    The "beauty" of this "group" is contractors get to do the LCS all over again! It's really similar to old LCS but instead of 1 ship changing out modules and weapons fit, you really standardized the basic motor functions and hull and just put the appropriate weapons on each a Pacific war scenario, USN will just sell to Congress that all these USVs cover so much more space and volume compared to 1 CG, plus it's all more "redundant" (look Congress, we have 2 radars instead of 1!) and even if China were to sink 1 or 2 USVs, the group beautifully "degrades"....and it's "cheaper"!

    No Admiral today cares that in 10 to 12 years of working on this crap, eventually someone realizes it's complete garbage and needs to be trashed, it will be somebody else's problem.

  17. If I was going to replace the Ticonderogas, I would do so with a single purpose cruiser.

    The mission for these would be to be the coordinator of the AAW defense of a task force. They would be the hub that ties the AAW umbrella together.

    To accomplish this they would feature an AEGIS type of phased radar, supplemented by a complementary radar like 3/4d, or whatever is available that best does the job.

    They would tie together the other ships of its class, the Burkes, and the other ships of the battle group. They would coordinate the AAW defense, sharing information and leading the defensive plan.

    The hull that I would choose for this would be a light cruiser design, something like the Cleveland/Fargo class.
    These ships are a little bit longer, wider, and heavier than the Ticos.
    They would have armored decks and hulls, and also have armored doors that could swing down over the radars to prevent shrapnel damage from near misses.

    Armament would include:
    -best ECM available
    -Goalkeeper CIWS fore and aft on the bow and stern
    -Twin 5"/62 mounts on the deck fore and aft
    -Twin arm launchers fore and aft for ESSM
    -4 to 5 Phalanx CIWS on port and starboard
    -4 SeaRAM CIWS port and starboard
    -200 VLS cells

    The VLS cells would be loaded with a large number of standard missiles, as I would see these ships as the ones that might be actually shooting those.
    But the VLS is very flexible, assuming that the new anti-ship missile will be compatible, and could be filled with whatever the mission requires.

    Much of the 'large' ship idea is predicated on the assumption that CIWS can effectively engage incoming missiles.
    That makes the larger ship valuable in that it can both carry armor and enough defensive weaponry to be survivable.

    The argument can be made that these large ships concentrate to much value in a single ship.
    But as long as they are survivable, it is a much better option than putting smaller ships and sacrificing a smaller number of US sailors when it goes down....or the silly notion of unmanned combatant surface vessels.


  18. Just give the Ships some solar panels... VP says that solar panels wins wars

  19. Thought-provoking post!

    USN idiocies aside, the concept of a dedicated radar/sensor ship is interesting.
    It could be quite small and thus stealthier, but you can't go too small before losing seaworthiness.
    And of course a powerful radar is inherently non-stealthy.

    1. Also, the smaller you go, the lower the radar is to the sea and shorter the radar horizon is.

      I also question whether it's possible to maintain a real time fire control link to the other component ships during combat. When you have incoming supersonic or high subsonic missiles, even a fractional second delay is problematic. Can we get the radar fire control data from the radar ship to the other ship's receivers and then to the weapons in time to be effective? It would required realistic testing which the Navy refuses to do.

    2. I'd say keep what needs that fast a draw on the ship and move the rest to something cheaper. You already don't like VLS for the loss in ability to fire direct at the horizon. Maybe the future AAW cruiser has the radars, countermeasures, lasers, RAM/Searam and Mk 29 launcher. Maybe mk 110s and mk 45 with guided rounds. Tomahawk and Standards get a ride somewhere else. That's the extreme. I'd say some lesser set of VLS to support some flexibility for direct offense. Remain a threat and not just a defensive asset.

  20. "I also question whether it's possible to maintain a real time fire control link to the other component ships during combat."

    For the first battle, probably (?) yes.
    As soon as the enemy notices that just a tiny delay can totally disrupt your fire control, it's over.

  21. Given the only ship being acquired in numbers is the LCS, it's clear that the real replacement for a Tico class cruiser is the LCS and not even some pie in the sky unmanned ships.

    1. Haha...the LCS isnt even a replacement for the Hurricane or Pegasus classes honestly!! I do think that as far as fully functional ships goes, the Constellations might be the last gasp...

  22. Could there be a chance that the Navy would mass them in a an area to create local firepower superiority?

    I wonder in that doctrine, area saturation weapon or MIRV would become devastatingly effective against a horde of drones. Maybe we should do some testing to see the optimum distance between these ships (not too close for massive bombardment or too small for timely information transfer).

    1. I should have clarified. I asked because while the Distributed Lethality concept envisioned platforms to be spread out over the AOR, it does not specify what is a platform. As traditionally stated, it seems like a ship is a platform but does an unmanned drone with little self-defense capability is also treated as such?

    2. "Could there be a chance that the Navy would mass them in a an area to create local firepower superiority?"

      If you are talking about the LCSs, you could mass all however many there are of them and you wouldn't have local firepower superiority over much of anything.

    3. "Distributed Lethality … does not specify what is a platform."

      Ah, actually the Navy has pretty well described what platforms they have in mind for distributed lethality. The Navy has mainly discussed using the LCS but they have also mentioned amphibious ships, logistics ships, and the like. The only ships they haven't specifically mentioned are the Burkes and, of course, carriers.

  23. How can the Navy, or any Armed Service possibly procure proper weapon systems when it has no meaningful overarching strategy? Our 'national strategy' isn't a strategy, or a plan, or even grounded in the reality of what the nation can build and afford.

    DoD force structure and procurement is badly planned and managed across the armed services – the U.S. military behaves as an imperial European land power, but cannot square this behavior with the reality that the USA is a space/air/sea power whose vital economic interest is linked to trade with the Americas and Asia.

    This psychosis is an artifact of the imperial presidency and long-invalidated Cold War policies. A policy that demands that we maintenance of hundreds of large overseas forces and bases that we cannot afford, to defend ‘allies’ unwilling to carry the burden of their own defense, and counter proliferation of nuclear weapons strategy that was obsolete by 1998 when Pakistan obtained the bomb.

    Until the Executive Branch is able to articulate a clear national strategy the *in concise, plain language* that links national objectives to threats, and actual resources: this foolishness will continue.

    Until the US Congress holds the administration and DoD and the Intelligence Community accountable to not just the budget, but also the National Strategy: this foolishness will continue.



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