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  • Raytheon Missiles & Defense awarded $651 million to produce SPY-6 radars for next-gen US Navy ships

    Tucson, Ariz., March 31, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies (NYSE: RTX) business, was awarded a $651 million, with options totaling $2.5 billion, hardware, production and sustainment contract for full-rate production of the AN/SPY-6(V) Family of Radars. The contract, with options, totals $3.2 billion and five years of radar production to equip up to 31 U.S. Navy ships with SPY-6 radars. Under the contract, RMD will produce solid state, fixed-face and rotating SPY-6 variants that will deliver unprecedented integrated air and missile defense capabilities for seven types of U.S. Navy ships over the next 40 years. Those vessels include the Navy’s new Arleigh Burke class Flight III destroyers, aircraft carriers and amphibious ships; today’s Flight IIA destroyers will be backfit with an upgraded radar.

    “There is no other radar with the surface maritime capabilities of SPY-6,” said Wes Kremer, president of Raytheon Missiles & Defense. “SPY-6 is the most advanced naval radar in existence, and it will provide our military a giant leap forward in capability for decades to come.”

    Since its inception, more than $600 million has been invested in the development and manufacturing of the SPY-6 family of radars. When compared to legacy radars, SPY-6 will bring new capabilities to the surface fleet, such as advanced electronic warfare protection and enhanced detection abilities.

    SPY-6 array radar variants have between nine and 37 radar modular assemblies, known as RMAs. Common RMAs allow SPY-6 to be scalable and modular to support production for the U.S. and partner nations across all variants, to include the Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar. This commonality supports standardized logistics and training for those who work on the radars.

    SPY-6 radar installation is complete on the Navy’s first Flight III destroyer, the USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125), which is scheduled to be operational in 2024. Radar array deliveries are complete for the next ship in the class, the future USS Ted Stevens (DDG 128).

    Photo courtesy Raytheon


    • All Freedom Littoral Combat Ships in Commission Tapped for Early Disposal

      By: Sam LaGrone

      March 29, 2022 9:34 PM

      The nine in-commission Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ships the Navy is proposing to decommission as part of the FY 2023 budget. US Navy Photos

      THE PENTAGON – The nine Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ships currently in Navy service – the youngest of which commissioned in 2020 – have been marked for disposal as part of the Department of Defense’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposal, USNI News has learned.

      The ships – USS Fort Worth (LCS-3), USS Milwaukee (LCS-5), USS Detroit (LCS-7), USS Little Rock (LCS-9), USS Sioux City (LCS-11), USS Wichita (LCS-13), USS Billings (LCS-15) and USS St. Louis (LCS-19) – are part of the 24 ships the service has chosen to decommission in FY 2023 for an estimated $3.6 billion in savings.

      In the Navy’s last plan for the Littoral Combat Ship program, the Freedom-class ships had been tapped to shoulder the anti-submarine warfare role with the LCS ASW mission package. The key component was a towed variable depth low-frequency active sonar that the Navy doesn’t have in the fleet. The promise behind the VDS was to give the Navy more tools to find the more sophisticated Russian submarines that have been entering service in the last several years.

      Interactive content by Flourish

      While it showed promise in early testing, the Raytheon-built AN/SQS-62 VDS suffered stability problems and had towing issues with the Freedom-class, several Navy officials have told USNI News. As a result of the poor performance, the Navy announced it had terminated the mission module on Monday.

      A Raytheon spokesperson referred all questions on the sonar to the Navy when contacted by USNI News on Tuesday.

      With no mission module and unexpected costs for the repair to a complex combining gear for the Freedom-class ships, Navy officials said it wasn’t worth keeping the ships in commission.

      “As we look across LCS, this is a place where we have identified that there are real costs, especially – for the Freedom-class to be able to make some of the repairs that are needed on those as we measure that against what is the best contribution to the capabilities that we need,” Meredith Berger, who is performing the duties of Under Secretary of the Navy, said on Monday.

      In the same briefing, Navy budget chief Rear Adm. John Gumbleton said the ASW mission would be a major part of the emerging Constellation-class (FFG-62) frigate program.

      “This is about opportunity cost. ASW mission, that went away. Roughly $50 million a year support cost for these vessels and an opportunity to reinvest $1.8 billion when this ASW mission sets [are] going to be taken up by the frigate, of which we’re buying the fourth of the line in this budget request,” he said. “It speaks to a return on investment to get at the lethality we need for our near-peer competitor.”

      The Navy planned to field the VDS Raytheon sonar on the frigates, but the service now intends to use Thales’ CAPTAS-4, a Navy official confirmed to USNI News on Tuesday.

      CAPTAS-4 is widely in use by “anti-submarine warfare (ASW) frigates such as the Royal Navy Type 23 and Type 26 frigates, the French Navy FREMM and FDI frigates, the Italian FREMMs, the Spanish F110 frigates, and the Chilean Type 23,” reported Naval News.

      The Navy intends to take the remaining six Freedom-class ships under construction and fit them with a variation of the surface warfare mission package for missions in U.S. Central and Southern commands, a service official told USNI News.

      The move from the Pentagon to shed the Freedom-class ships comes days after Congress officially rejected the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2022 proposal to decommission Fort Worth, Detroit and Little Rock as part of the FY 2022 defense budget.

      Freedom-class shipbuilder Lockheed Martin told USNI News on Tuesday, “we look forward to working with the administration and the Congress as the President’s Fiscal Year 23 budget receives full consideration in the months ahead.”


      • unicorn11
        unicorn11 commented
        Editing a comment
        Good riddance.

      • ARHmk3
        ARHmk3 commented
        Editing a comment
        I wonder what will happen to the current ships? I don't see too many countries rushing to buy them in their current state, and by the time you replace their engines with something sensible, and actually arm them with something sensible, it may end up being cheaper just to buy something new from scratch. For these ships to be of any value to anyone, they're really going to have to fill some incredibly niche role.

      • unicorn11
        unicorn11 commented
        Editing a comment
        I can see them being acquired by some of the Gulf Navies as glorified Iranian Boghammer boat chasers.

        Seriously, short-duration, high-speed patrols in the relatively littoral waters of the Gulf would probably be the best role for them, now the USN is finally waking up that they are an incredible WOFTAM and people.

    • SECDEF Austin Extends Truman Deployment as Conflict in Ukraine Continues

      By: Heather Mongilio

      March 31, 2022 6:17 PM

      A F/A-18E Super Hornet from the ‘Blue Blasters’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34 prepares to launch from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) on March 17, 2022. USNI News Photo

      Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is extending the deployment of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, its escorts and Carrier Air Wing 1 as a hedge against Russian aggression in Europe, two defense officials confirmed to USNI News on Thursday.

      USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) has spent almost four months operating in the Mediterranean Sea since Austin ordered the strike group to remain on station in December as Russia massed forces along the Ukrainian border, USNI News previously reported.

      “[Austin] reviews the posture literally every day, and he has decided that he’s going to keep the 82nd [Airborne] there for a while longer,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters Thursday. “And he has decided that [USS] Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) and her strike group will stay in the Med for a while longer.”

      One defense official told USNI News the carrier could remain in the region until August before returning back to its homeport in Norfolk, Va. By then the Norfolk-based George H.W. Bush CSG – currently in workups – could be in a position to relieve Truman, USNI News understands. The Pentagon could also decide to send a Pacific carrier to the region.

      The carrier strike group left Norfolk, Va., in December for a regularly scheduled deployment, but was ultimately kept in the Mediterranean instead of planned operations and exercises in the Middle East and other parts of the U.S. European Command as part of deterrence efforts against Russia.

      Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), left, and guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56), right, conduct a vertical replenishment and replenishment-at-sea with Supply-class fast combat support ship USNS Supply (T-AOE-6), March 8, 2022. US Navy Photo

      “What we’re trying to be careful of is sort of our hard ending dates on these temporary deployments because we want to be able to monitor the situation on the ground and make the best and most flexible decisions in real-time,” Kirby said.

      Harry S. Truman and other ships that are part of the carrier strike group have been mostly operating in the Adriatic and Ionian seas, according to USNI News’ Fleet Tracker. USS Cole, part of Destroyer Squadron 28 embarked with the carrier strike group, is currently participating in Exercise Intrinsic Defender in Israel. USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) recently transited the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf, according to the Navy .

      The air wing has been flying 80-90 sorties a day, USNI News previously reported from a visit to the carrier earlier this month.

      Other deployments, including shifting 200 Marines from Norway to Lithuania as announced on Tuesday, are done on temporary orders, Kirby told reporters.

      “We’ll take each one as it comes and the secretary will decide whether that capability needs to stay, yes or no,” Kirby said. “And then if it does, does it need to be that unit? Or do we need to rotate that unit out?”

      So far, none of the units sent to Europe as part of the deterrence effort have been rotated out, Kirby said.

      In addition to Truman, the Navy has deployed other guided-missile warships to both the Mediterranean and the Baltic, USNI News reported in February. Navy officials have told USNI News that more than a dozen cruisers and destroyers are operating in the region.

      Meanwhile, the Navy has not had a capital ship operating in U.S. Central Command for more than three months, since the Essex Amphibious Ready Group left in early January. It’s been almost seven months since a U.S. carrier was operating in the Middle East. The Ronald Reagan CSG departed the region in September. The forward-deployed carrier, based in Yokosuka, Japan, was surged to the Middle East to cover the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.


      • US Navy wants long-range missiles, more maintenance money in wish list

        By Megan Eckstein

        Apr 2, 03:54 AM

        The Navy asked for nine new ships and 96 aircraft in its FY23 budget request, which is one more ship but 11 fewer aircraft than the FY22 request. (Jim Cleveland/U.S. Navy)WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy would not buy more ships if it were given more money in fiscal 2023.

        The Navy often uses its so-called unfunded priorities list sent to Congress to ask for another destroyer or connector vessel. But the service is standing firm in its belief that it doesn’t want a fleet any larger than what it can afford to keep ready — having enough sailors, funding for training, dollars and shipyard capacity for maintenance and modernization work, munitions to fill missile launchers, spares to fill stock rooms, and more.

        Instead, the Navy is focused on readiness and future lethality in its annual wish list, a copy of which was obtained by Defense News.

        The top item on the list is a relatively low-dollar one: $23 million in weapons maintenance funding to expand the number of combat-usable Standard Missile-6 weapons, clearing the backlog of 125 missiles that need upgraded to support Pacific operations.

        Second on the list is $33 million to buy 11 more AGM-158C-1 Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles to boost lethality.

        Next comes $171 million for “maritime spares outfitting” for surface ships, submarines, unmanned systems, IT systems and more to increase spares availability at the point of use. Then there’s $175 million to fund ship repair and spare parts to support greater operations in the Pacific theater as part of the Pacific Deterrence Initiative.

        Next is $293 million for aviation spares so that carrier air wings are equipped with the maximum allowable spares.

        This focus on readiness is in line with what Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday has repeatedly preached: After fully funding the all-important Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program as part of the Defense Department’s nuclear triad, the Navy would prioritize its remaining money on readiness for today, lethality modernization for tomorrow and then “capacity at an affordable rate” with any leftover money.

        That mentality shaped the formal FY23 budget request, which was released publicly March 28. In it, the Navy asked for nine new ships and 96 aircraft, which is one more ship but 11 fewer aircraft than the FY22 request.

        The Navy used its FY22 wish list to ask for a second destroyer as its main request. That riled lawmakers, who said this second DDG should have been in the formal budget request rather than put in the unfunded priorities list with the hopes that lawmakers might add in funding for it.

        The FY22 unfunded list included $5.6 billion for 31 items. This year’s request, which includes 43 items that total $4 billion, clearly prioritizes readiness.

        Other readiness initiatives include, but are not limited to:
        • $189 million for public shipyard tools, test equipment and machinery, likely part of the overall Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program to modernize the four public shipyards.
        • $57 million for more flight hours to support the Pacific Deterrence Initiative.
        • $160 million for aircraft depot maintenance.
        • $40 million for landing craft air cushion sustainment.
        • $13 million for Mk 18 unmanned underwater vehicle sustainment.
        • $145 million for facilities sustainment and improvements.

        In the lethality category, the Navy asked for:
        • $101 million for tactical data links and networks.
        • $61 million to develop the Hypersonic Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare Increment 2 weapon.
        • $53 million for range improvements of the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile.
        • $11 million for mine countermeasures mission package capacity and wholeness.
        • $67 million for two ship sets of the Next Generation Jammer mid-band aircraft capability.
        • Other spending items for improved sensors and munitions.

        The capacity category is relatively thin in this year’s list. The Navy asks for $708 million to buy six additional F-35C carrier variant Joint Strike Fighters, bringing the total buy from nine to 15. The Navy requested 20 in FY22 but just nine in FY23, with the deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget, Rear Adm. John Gumbleton, telling reporters that the decrease in F-35C quantity reflected the tight budget environment rather than a decreased need for the jets.

        It also asks for $400 million for two more E-2D Advanced Hawkeye planes, bringing the total request to seven.

        The list also includes $26 million for 79 AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles; $446 million for three KC-130J cargo aircraft for Navy Unique Fleet Essential Airlift Logistics; and $49 million for MK-48 heavyweight torpedo procurement.


        • MQ-25 Drone Progressing Toward New Era of Naval Aviation


          By Jon Harper

          An unmanned Boeing MQ-25 Stingray test aircraft refuels a manned F-35 joint strike fighter.
          Navy photo

          The Navy’s MQ-25 Stingray drone program racked up major achievements over the past year and is on track to usher in a new era of manned-unmanned teaming.

          However, service officials are still pondering whether the aircraft carrier-based tanker will be armed with offensive strike weapons.

          In 2018, Boeing was awarded an $805 million engineering and manufacturing development contract to build the Stingray.

          Experts say the new unmanned aerial system — the first large, fixed-wing drone that will operate from a ship and support manned planes — will have an outsized impact on the future of naval aviation.

          “The MQ-25 will establish the basics of operating an unmanned aircraft in the carrier environment, laying the groundwork for all future carrier-based UAS operations,” Capt. Sam Messer, unmanned carrier aviation program manager, said in an email to National Defense. “It will also serve as an early example of manned-unmanned teaming — an operational concept that provides our warfighters with tactical advantages to win the fight.”

          Advanced technologies that will support the program and facilitate future missions include a deck handling device, ground control station and communication links.

          The MQ-25 will be different from the iconic drones of the post-9/11 counterterrorism wars, such as the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper, in that it will fly autonomously and not be remotely piloted.

          The way the platform operates will be similar to how commercial airlines leverage autopilot capabilities — except there won’t be any humans inside the Stingray, said Dave Bujold, MQ-25 program director at Boeing Defense, Space and Security’s autonomous systems division.

          “They’re not hand-flying every stick and throttle move,” he explained in an interview. Instead, the Stingray will use a waypoint system after it is catapulted off a carrier.

          “It knows where it’s supposed to go right after takeoff, and it goes there. And then from there, it continues all along its authorized mission,” he said.

          Aerial refueling will be “well scripted,” and pilots on the receiving end will have communication links with the ground station overseeing the MQ-25’s mission, just like they have with manned tankers today, he noted.

          When the Stingray returns to the carrier, it will use the joint precision approach and landing system, or JPALS, which is the same technology that manned aircraft use.

          “It autonomously will touch down on the deck and catch the hook on the wire,” Bujold said. If it misses the wire, the platform will accelerate, take-off again and reenter the landing pattern, just as a manned jet would in that scenario.

          The first MQ-25 test aircraft, the T1, had a string of achievements in 2021.

          In June, the Navy and Boeing conducted the first ever air-to-air refueling with an unmanned tanker when the T1 extended its drogue and gassed up an F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet.

          Both aircraft were flying at “operationally relevant speeds and altitudes,” according to Boeing.

          In August, during a six-hour flight test, the T1 refueled an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye battle management aircraft. The platforms were flying at 220 knots and an altitude of 10,000 feet when they linked up, according to Naval Air Systems Command.

          The following month, the test aircraft refueled an F-35C joint strike fighter.

          In December, another major development occurred when the T1 underwent an initial unmanned carrier aviation demonstration onboard the flight deck of the USS George H.W. Bush.

          During the demo, personnel drove the aircraft around the Bush’s flight deck while at sea to check its handling qualities and the functionality and capabilities of the deck handling system. This included taxiing into and connecting to the catapult, clearing the landing area and various other maneuvers, according to Messer.

          “The demonstration was very successful and was significant because the Navy has a rigorous, well-established process by which aircraft move around the deck of an aircraft carrier — and the goal with MQ-25 is to maintain current carrier operations cadence for seamless integration,” he said.

          Separately, Lockheed Martin showcased a prototype of the MQ-25 ground control station, which provided the Navy with “a unique opportunity to assess design constraints and capture feedback on the human systems interface,” Messer added.

          Bryan Clark, director of the Center for Defense Concepts and Technology at the Hudson Institute, and former special assistant to the chief of naval operations, said the demonstration onboard the Bush was “hugely significant.”

          “The challenge that the Navy would always bring up is we’ve got to figure out how to make this work on the flight deck,” he said. “The fact that they’re able to now do that and integrate it into kind of a crowded flight deck is a big deal, because that really means that they’ve … completed all the major tasks that are necessary to have the MQ-25 be a viable carrier-[based] operational aircraft.

          “They’ve already demonstrated the aerial refueling of various platforms. Now, it’s a matter of testing to make sure it delivers on what the contract requires in terms of its characteristics. … They’ve largely finished the hard part of evaluating autonomy,” he added.

          An immediate aim of introducing the Stingray into the fleet is to allow more F/A-18 Super Hornets to focus on fighter missions rather than tanking duties.

          Clark said the MQ-25 will provide a major gain in capability because the platform can extend the range of fighter jets to about 1,000 miles. Armed with standoff weapons, those jets could engage targets located 1,500 miles away from the carrier.

          “That’s a big deal because … the carrier can probably stay in locations where it’s relatively safe,” he said. “For example, the Chinese don’t have very many 1,500 nautical mile [range] weapons that can come out and hit the carrier. So, the MQ-25 enables the carriers to operate in places where it’s survivable. … It is pretty game changing from that perspective.”

          With the Stingray, the Navy aviation community will “leap ahead” of the Air Force when it comes to integrating manned-unmanned teaming into operations, he added. “That’s the big advance that the MQ-25 represents … in how manned-unmanned aircraft operate together.”

          The demonstration onboard the Bush completed the planned activities for the T1 prototype. Production of the first engineering, manufacturing and development aircraft is now underway along with modifications to prepare mission spaces, install control stations, and modify existing network, command, control and communications systems to support operational use of the MQ-25, Messer said.

          The service will also continue to assess refueling of other carrier-based aircraft such as the CMV-22 Osprey tiltrotor troop transporter.
          Meanwhile, work continues with the new ground control station as the Navy moves toward initial ground and flight tests where an MQ-25 will be controlled for the first time from that platform.

          Notably, the first group of warrant officers who will be designated as unmanned air vehicle operators are currently in training. After their training is completed, they will be assigned to MQ-25 Fleet Replacement Squadron VUQ-11.

          In September, Boeing broke ground on a new high-tech, 300,000 square-foot facility near MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Illinois where it will build Stingrays.

          “That factory is really sized to close on the program of record as quickly as we can,” Bujold said.

          The Navy plans to buy more than 70 aircraft as part of the program of record. Boeing hopes there will be additional orders including from potential international customers, he said.

          The MQ-25 is scheduled to achieve initial operational capability in 2025, with full operating capability expected in the 2030s.

          A key question that has yet to be answered officially is whether the Stingray will be armed with missiles or other offensive systems — as some lawmakers and other observers have been advocating.

          When asked if the Navy is currently considering adding strike weapons or electronic warfare capabilities, Messer said the initial focus is to introduce the platform into the air wing where it can serve its primary role as a tanker and then a “secondary” role as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform. However, the MQ-25 “does have payload capacity for mission growth in the future,” he noted.

          Bujold said getting the Stingray to the fleet as quickly as possible so it can perform tanking missions is “job one.”

          However, “I expect that this platform will become a very versatile multi-mission platform, and I think the Navy gave it away when they named it MQ” with the “M” indicating a multi-mission capability, he said when asked if he anticipates additional payloads will be added to the platform such as ISR systems or strike weapons. “It’s an opportunity space.”

          Clark said the Navy is already looking ahead to what the MQ-25 could do beyond tanking.

          “I think they will put weapons on them,” he said.

          With its high fuel capacity, the platform has a range of 1,500 nautical miles. Although it might not be very survivable in a contested airspace or in a dogfight because it wasn’t designed for speed, maneuverability or stealth, the system will be capable of performing offensive missions at standoff ranges or in uncontested areas, he suggested.

          The platform could also be used to deploy smaller drones or other “air-launched effects,” according to Clark.

          “It has a mission bay and it could carry weapons” such as anti-ship missiles, Clark said. “You could add sensors to it. … You could use it to hit fixed targets, or just do surveillance and target acquisition on behalf of other platforms. So, the Navy is looking ahead at how the MQ-25 — once it’s integrated with the air wing — can offer these other capabilities.”


          • Congress May Reject Navy’s Proposal to End LPD-17 Flight II Line, Lawmakers Say

            By: Mallory Shelbourne

            April 4, 2022 8:00 PM

            USS San Diego (LPD-22) and USS Somerset (LPD-25) conduct routine operations in the eastern Pacific on April 7, 2020. US Navy Photo

            NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Congress may reject the Navy’s proposal to end the San Antonio-class amphibious warship production line in the upcoming fiscal year, two lawmakers said today.

            House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee chairman Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) and ranking member Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) said today that they think Congress will alter the Navy’s plans to end the LPD-17 Flight II production in Fiscal Year 2023.

            Both lawmakers said Congress should meet the Marine Corps’ top unfunded priority, which is $250 million in advanced procurement money for LPD-33.

            “I think the LPD advanced procurement request – which came in from the Marine Corps – I think Gen. Berger and Gen. Heckl have made a really powerful argument to all of us … and I think that’s one of those items that’s going to change,” Courtney said, referring to Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger and Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl.

            Last week, the Navy in its FY 2023 budget request proposed ending the LPD-17 Flight II line with LPD-32, but the Marine Corps put advanced procurement funding for LPD-33 at the top of its annual wish list to Congress. Funding for those ships comes out of the Navy’s shipbuilding account and the request shows a division between the Navy and Marine Corps over the future of the amphibious fleet.

            Both Courtney and Wittman agreed that the Navy’s other amphibious warship request – LHA-9 – in the FY 2023 budget does not count because Congress already authorized and appropriated money for the amphibious assault ship. A senior congressional source told USNI News last week that the HASC would not count LHA-9 in the battleforce ship request, meaning the panel views the Navy’s proposal as seeking eight ships in FY 2023, not nine.

            Wittman argued the Navy needs to buy both the larger amphibious ships like LPDs and the smaller Light Amphibious Warship the Marine Corps wants to shuttle Marines around islands and shorelines in the Western Pacific.

            “I think we need to build both. You need LPD. You need to do advanced procurement on LPD-33, now .Get that done. Remember, the LAWs … [are] different than a large lift vessel. It is not an LPD. These are intra-theater connectors and what the Marines are going to need to move around,” Wittman said.

            “Those are the connectors that we need for the future. We have things like Ship-to-Shore connectors now, [Expeditionary Fight Vehicles]. That’s not what these things are. These things do that intermediate element to where the large amphibious ships cannot operate, with a lot more effectiveness. And then when you deploy, you can now distribute your risk across the theater. You can create some uncertainty for your adversary. You can’t do that with just one or the other. You have to be able to use both.”

            Courtney said Marine Corps leadership has made a “convincing case” for the LPD mission and voiced concern about how ending the LPD production line could affect the shipbuilding workforce and supply chain.

            Asked about the Navy’s proposal to delay buying the Light Amphibious Warship, Wittman argued the ship is necessary for the Marine Corps to execute its mission in the Western Pacific. The Marines say they would use LAW to lands Marines ashore on islands in the region where they could then set up ad-hoc based, fire anti-ship missiles and create chaos for an adversary like the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).

            “The delay in getting LAWs operational is going to create a challenge for the Marine Corps in order to be bale to operate in the distributed way that they envision in the Indo-Pacifc. And if they are going to have the ability to impose a level of uncertainty, a level of risk on the Chinese, they have to be able to operate differently,” Wittman said. “They have to be able to operate in a distributed manner. Our amphib ships – ships with well decks – are going to be incredibly important there, but you also have to have those intra-theater connectors. And it’s more than just an LCAC or a Ship-to-Shore Connector.”

            “You have to be able to move things around – Marines and equipment. And when you do that, you can increase the uncertainty for the Chinese there because they’re not going to be quite sure what’s going with that Marine Corps unit, what they have in their hands and how they are going to impose risk and how you move that risk around,” he added.

            Wittman argued for the Marine Corps’ vision of LAW as a less expensive ship and said the Navy can’t afford to add requirements and increase the cost of the vessel. The Marine Corps wants to buy the LAWs quickly for $150 million per hull.

            “It’s more of a connector, so your connectors are never designed to be survivable,” he said. It’s the same thing that’s happened with our logistics ships. If you keep adding requirements there, you drive the cost up. Then you end up with a billion-dollar logistics ship. That’s not what we need. The LAWs are the same way. The LAWs are not meant to be a warship. They’re meant to be as they say a connector. If they’re a connector, let’s make them a connector.”


            • Navy, Marines push ‘campaigning forward’ strategy as vital to deterring China

              By Megan Eckstein

              Apr 5, 03:36 AM

              American military vessels transit the South China Sea on Jan. 13, 2022. (MC2 Haydn N. Smith/U.S. Navy)NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The upcoming National Defense Strategy will highlight “campaigning forward” as a pillar of future operations, and top naval leaders say the force is already moving in this direction.

              Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger described campaigning forward as an extension of what the Marine Corps already does.

              “Having the Coast Guard, Navy, Marines present — and I would argue special operations as well — forward all the time, not fighting their way in but forward all the time, gives the [defense secretary] a better picture of what’s in front of him,” he said while speaking at the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space conference.

              Campaigning forward represents the “first opportunity to deter” an adversary, he said, and “you’re already in places they want to be. If they want to extend beyond the South China Sea, if you’re [China] — if you want to extend your defense line farther and we’re already there — it makes it much more difficult.”

              Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said during the panel discussion that a persistently present fleet could make China think twice about taking action against its neighbors, or at least help ensure the world sees what’s really going on.

              “Think about how important it was for the United States, and the world, really, with respect to Russia’s activity into Ukraine: We took away his [President Vladimir Putin’s] strategic surprise, we took away his operational and tactical surprise, we pulled the rug out under Vladimir Putin with respect to his ability to use false flag operations as a pretext to cross the border and invade Ukraine,” Gilday said.

              “Our ability to do that on a day-to-day basis in the Western Pacific, I would argue, is critically important. And you can’t do that virtually, you have to be there to assure allies and partners, to see that activity, to expose it,” he continued.

              The Marine Corps added a “Stand-In Force” approach to its list of concepts under development for future operations to deter or defeat China, which the U.S considers a pacing threat. This concept supplements the traditional forcible entry amphibious force with a one that’s already living and maneuvering within the enemy’s operating area. These two together — a stand-in force and a rotational expeditionary force — will support campaigning forward for the sea services.

              For U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Samuel Paparo, this vision isn’t far from how the fleet currently operates.

              “We’re behaving that way now in the sense that we’re executing deny, defend, dominate. Deny objectives inside of the first island chain. Defend allies and partners along the first island chain. And dominate when outside the first island chain,” Paparo told Defense News on April 4 at the conference.

              “Campaigning forward means the continued exercise of freedom of navigation, underscoring the fact that the United States naval service will fly and sail anywhere that international law [allows], and then our continued forward readiness to deter and, if deterrence fails, to fight and win any aggression that would upend the international rules-based order on which the nation’s security and wellbeing rests,” he added.

              Berger said that for campaigning forward to work, the naval force must be “credible.” But Gilday has butted heads with lawmakers over his own approach to funding this credible forward force.

              The CNO has focused on readiness for today and developing improved weapons and sensors for the near term, while pulling back on capacity and noting that he only wants a fleet as large as he can properly crew, train and sustain.

              The fiscal 2023 budget request, released last week, would shrink the fleet from 298 ships today to 280 in fiscal 2027. Lawmakers agree the Navy must be ready to meet a near-term threat from China but argue the service needs more ships, not fewer, to create a credible deterrent.

              Still, Gilday said current events in Ukraine support his strategy. “We need a ready, capable, lethal force more than we need a bigger force that’s less ready, less lethal and less capable,” he said.

              He pointed to Russia as an example of what he wants to avoid. Despite Russia’s numerical advantage, Gilday said, the 125 battalion tactical groups the country positioned around Ukraine struggled due to training and sustainment problems.

              “That’s not the force that any of us want. The investment strategy — if we want to flip that and make capacity king, we’ll end up with a force like that because you’ll pay for it with people, with ammunition, with training, with maintenance,” the CNO said.

              He noted his service had to make difficult fiscal decisions, including requesting to decommission 16 ships that haven’t reached the end of their planned service lives but are costing the Navy money that it would rather invest elsewhere.

              “I personally think we’re on the right path. That path is not popular with everybody in this room, certainly not on the Hill. But I believe it’s a responsible path, and I think it both fields a force today that’s ready to go and it invests in a force mid-decade and beyond that will serve us well,” Gilday told conference attendees.

              Despite shrinking the fleet, he said the FY23 request maxes out industrial base capacity to build long-range and high-speed missiles: advanced capability torpedoes, Maritime Strike Tomahawk missiles, Standard Missile-6 1B missiles, Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles, and Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile—Extended Range. He also noted the request will give Navy aircraft, ships and submarines the capabilities they need to be more successful in the near to midterm.


              • Textron’s Aerosonde UAS operating in 7th Fleet, second drone coming this year

                The drone's deployment reflects the chief of naval operation's desire to get more unmanned systems out to the fleet quicker.

                By JUSTIN KATZ

                on April 04, 2022 at 4:37 PM

                The Aerosonde drone is being used in operations in the US Navy’s 2nd and 7th Fleet. (Photo courtesy of Textron Systems)

                WASHINGTON: Textron Systems recently began flying its unmanned aerial surveillance drone off a destroyer in US 7th Fleet and is on contract to deploy another drone to a second ship later this year.

                Textron received a contract in October to begin operating its Aerosonde drone on the first of two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. Following installation and integration, the UAS took its first flight from the warship in March, Wayne Prender, a Textron aviation executive, told Breaking Defense during an interview in the run up to the Sea Air Space exposition. (Prender added that he could not disclose the specific ship on which the UAS is onboard.)

                With a 12-foot wingspan, the Aerosonde is a group three drone, meaning it is medium-sized, and is capable of operating in sea state four, or weather conditions with waves between four and eight feet high. Its capabilities mostly focus on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance as well wide-area search.

                Prior to deploying a drone to the US 7th Fleet destroyer, Prender said Textron had another Aerosonde operating in US 2nd Fleet off the expeditionary sea base Hershel “Woody” Williams, meaning the company will have a total of three drones actively deployed by the end of the year.

                Textron’s new contract is partly a reflection of Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday’s mandate to get unmanned systems out to the fleet faster. One way both the Navy and Marine Corps seem to be doing that is the use of “company-owned, company-operated” agreements.

                That type of contractual arrangement limits the missions and environments in which the service can use the aircraft compared to service-owned and operated systems, but offers other benefits such as saving time and money on having to train sailors. The Marine Corps has used a similar agreement in past years for the MQ-9 Reaper, but recently began transitioning toward owning and operating the drone themselves.

                One advantage the Aerosonde drone has is its ability to operate without the use of a hangar, which has allowed the service to deploy it onboard older destroyers that usually lack the ability to store their own air assets.

                “We can come in and we do not require a hangar. We have a very small footprint… We are able to store [the drone] in the small nooks and crannies of variety of vessels. And then when the ship needs us, we can go out, we can launch or recover as needed,” said Prender.

                Outside of the Navy, Aerosonde has amassed 575,00 flight hours for US Special Operations Command and the US Air Force, often present in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve as well as Afghanistan.


                • Gilday dings Russia to argue US Navy’s fleet is more than numbers

                  In a room of full shipbuilders, the CNO acknowledged Navy cutting ship fleet is not popular, but may be "responsible."

                  By JUSTIN KATZ

                  on April 04, 2022 at 12:19 PM

                  Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael M. Gilday speaks at a Pentagon press briefing, Washington, D.C., April 2, 2020. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

                  SEA AIR SPACE 2022: Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday argued today that the Navy needs to “keep it real” in terms of the number of ships it seeks to add to the fleet, arguing capability trumps capacity.

                  His remarks at the Navy League’s annual Sea Air Space exposition come just one week after the Pentagon published the Navy’s new budget request that seeks to add only eight new warships, and separately decommission 24 vessels, some of which are not even two years old yet.

                  “We need a ready, capable, lethal force more than we need a bigger force, less ready, less lethal and less capable,” the Navy’s top officer said. “We’ve had to make some very difficult decisions about divesting of some platforms. It’s more than just a numbers game. It’s a capabilities and a numbers game about fielding a combat credible force that can deter.”

                  The message is likely to be key to the Navy’s narrative this spring as service leadership defend its fiscal 2023 budget request to lawmakers who are keen to see the fleet reach its 355-ship goal, some of whom have been vocal about what they say are costly naval missteps.

                  The service chief acknowledged the conscious choice to build less ships is “not popular” with folks in the room — many of whom were industry shipbuilders — or on Capitol Hill. “But I believe it is the responsible path,” he added.

                  In defending the service’s strategy, Gilday also took a dig at Russian President Vladimir Putin.

                  “If we want to talk just about capability and you want a force that can — that’s ineffective, take a look at the 125 BTGs in Vladimir Putin’s position around Ukraine,” he said. “That’s not the force that any of us want.”

                  A BTG, or battalion tactical group, is a unit in the Russian military consisting of approximately 800 personnel.

                  Gilday’s remarks are not wholly unexpected. Under the Trump administration, the Navy began to embrace the White House’s push for 355-ship goal, if only in principle, laying out a vision for a future fleet buoyed mostly by destroyers. If that fleet was funded as the Navy laid out, it would have achieved 355 ships in the 2030s.

                  But even during that administration, then-Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson would make similar arguments to Gilday’s about capability compared to capacity when trying to satisfy lawmakers’ incessant complaints that the fleet would not reach 355 fast enough.

                  With Congress and the White House having shifted to Democratic-control, at least until the mid-term elections, there has been an acknowledgement in the Pentagon wholesale that it cannot expect the budgets necessary to build the massive fleet that some on Capitol Hill desire.


                  • Navy, Marine Leaders See Ukraine Invasion as a Chance to Prepare for China

                    The Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords exercises with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force training ships JS Kashima and JS Shimayuki, June 23, 2020. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brenton Poyser)

                    4 Apr 2022

           | By Konstantin Toropin

                    Officers and leaders in the maritime services say that they are paying close attention to the Russian invasion of Ukraine but not because of the threat the former Cold War foe poses. They say the conflict will provide key advice about how to deter China.

                    "The conflict in Ukraine, for me, validates the last couple [national defense strategies]," Gen. David Berger, commandant of the Marine Corps, told an auditorium full of people Monday at the Sea-Air-Space Exposition outside of Washington, D.C.

                    Berger explained that the conflict in Europe showed him "that you need a really strong land force to deter Russia in Europe." Conversely, in the largely aquatic Indo-Pacific region, the top Marine said that "you need a very strong Navy-Marine Corps team."

                    Adm. Mike Gilday, the military head of the Navy, cautioned the audience, largely made up of military officers and industry representatives, that "given everything that's going on right now in Europe, I think the three of us in this group say, 'Keep your eye on China.'"

                    Gilday was referring to himself, Berger and Adm. Karl Schultz, the commandant of the Coast Guard, who all made up the panel.

                    The Navy's top officer noted that one of his key takeaways from the conflict was a reinforcement of his service's choice of the "divest to invest" strategy that calls for the shedding of some aging and ineffective ships in order to save money that is then invested in new technologies.

                    The strategy is controversial and has been sharply critiqued by lawmakers as recently as last week.

                    "Let's keep it real with respect to what we're going to field out there," Gilday said. "We can only have so many ready ships that are manned properly, they've been trained properly, that [have] ammunition in their magazines, that have the proper maintenance."

                    Gilday cautioned the audience not to focus solely on the Navy's total ship count. "It's more than just a numbers game -- it's a capabilities and a numbers game," he argued.

                    "Take a look at the 125 [battalion tactical groups] that Vladimir Putin has positioned around Ukraine. That's not the force that any of us want," Gilday said.

                    Meanwhile, in a different panel discussion, the Pentagon's Dr. Ely Ratner, the department's assistant secretary for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, said that "Ukraine is a prime example of what happens when" the respect for "international rules-based order" breaks down.

                    "We understand that [China] is pursuing an alternative regional international order -- one that would not be defined by the kind of principles and rules that we believe that undergirded the kind of stability and prosperity that we've seen for some time," Ratner added.

                    To counter that, Gilday argued that the Navy has to keep sailing ships in the Asia-Pacific region to keep an eye on China.

                    "Think about how important [forward presence] was for the United States, and the world really, to restricting Russia's activity in Ukraine," Gilday said. "We pulled the rug out from under Vladimir Putin with respect to his ability to use false flag operations as a pretext to cross the border and invade."

                    -- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.


                    • US Navy's aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford completes flight deck certification

                      POSTED ON TUESDAY, 05 APRIL 2022 17:12
                      According to information published by the US DoD on April 5, 2022, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, E-2D Hawkeyes, and MH-60S Nighthawks assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 conducted operations to prove the ship’s and crew’s capabilities. To achieve certification, Ford conducted more than 400 day and night catapult launches and trap recoveries.

                      Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (Picture source: US DoD)

                      Prior to getting underway, Ford’s air department was evaluated on its ability to respond to flight deck emergencies and firefighting.

                      Following flight deck certification, flight operations continued to keep pilots’ carrier qualifications and proficiency current, demonstrating Ford’s contribution to air wing and fleet readiness through capabilities provided by the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launching System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG).

                      Ford will head underway again this month for additional milestone events that will prepare the ship for a scheduled deployment later this year.

                      USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is the first of the Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers and represents the first major design investment in aircraft carriers since the 1960s. Ford’s flight deck certification and carrier qualifications are part of the basic training phase prior to the ship’s first deployment.

                      The Gerald R. Ford class has a length of 333 m, a width of 77 m, and a displacement of 100,000 tons and is equipped with AN/SPY-3 and AN/SPY-4 active electronically scanned array multi-function radar.

                      The armament of the USS Gerald R. Ford-class consists of two RIM-162 ESSM launchers, two RIM-116 RAM, three Phalanx CIWS, and four M2 .50 Cal. (12.7 mm) machine guns.


                      • A ship that can’t combat threats ‘doesn’t do me good’

                        By Diana Stancy Correll

                        Apr 6, 04:03 AM

                        Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro stands during the playing of taps at a U.S. Navy Band performance on Aug. 17, 2021. (Senior Chief Musician Adam Grimm/Navy)

                        Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro has said ships that can’t combat threats to the service are dead weight — comments that come as the force seeks to decommission 24 ships next fiscal year.

                        When asked what the Navy is doing to grow the fleet, Del Toro said it’s outfitting ships with the right capabilities to accomplish their missions — something he considers “far more significant to me than anything else.”

                        “It just doesn’t do me good to have lots and lots of ships that aren’t effective against the actual threat itself,” Del Toro said at the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space conference on Tuesday. “It’s a combination of the right capacity, right capability to deliver the right lethality where we need it.”

                        The Navy’s fiscal 2023 budget request, unveiled March 28, requests nine ships including two Virginia-class attack submarines, two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, one Constellation-class frigate and one America-class amphibious assault ship.

                        It’s also asking to decommission 24 ships from the fleet — 16 of which would retire prior to the end of their service lives. Included in that group are nine Freedom-variant littoral combat ships, one cruiser and two expeditionary transfer docks.

                        The plan would see the fleet reach a size of 280 by FY27 — well under the 355 ships congressionally mandated in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.

                        Meredith Berger, who is currently performing the duties of Navy undersecretary, told reporters last month the service is still aiming for 355 ships, “but first and foremost it’s making sure that we have a fleet that has the right mix of capability, lethality, and something that we are able to sustain and support.”

                        It’s unlikely Congress will support the decommissioning of 24 ships, as lawmakers have historically criticized the Navy for failing to expand its fleet amid a lack of maritime strategy.

                        Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., has said the Navy and the Biden administration’s absence of strategy is restricting the service from reaching its target size.

                        “I just cannot beat the drum enough that we need to continue to grow the fleet,” Luria said at the Association of the U.S. Navy’s Legislative Awards ceremony in February. “The truth is, we really need to frame the reasons behind why we need this fleet.”

                        The Department of the Navy requested $230.8 billion for FY23, $9.1 billion more than last year’s enacted budget.


                        • An artist’s concept of the future carrier Enterprise (CVN-80). DoD Image

                          NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – HII has laid the keel block of the aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN-80) on Tuesday, USNI News has learned.

                          The seventh U.S. warship named after the Revolutionary War sloop, Enterprise formally began fabrication at HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding yard in Virginia, Rear Adm. James Downey, the program executive officer for carriers, told USNI News on Tuesday.

                          The start of fabrication comes three weeks ahead of schedule and as the carrier is about 13 percent done, Downey said.

                          Enterprise will be the third Gerald Ford-class aircraft carrier and is expected to deliver to the Navy in 2028. HII and the service will have a formal ceremony marking the occasion in August, USNI News understands.

                          Enterprise and follow-on ship the future USS Doris Miller (CVN-81) were bought as part of a block-buy strategy estimated to be valued at $24 billion, as part of a 2019 deal with HII. Miller is expected to deliver to the fleet by 2032.

                          News of the milestone comes as the Navy confirmed the first-in-class USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) had reached initial operational capacity in December. The quiet declaration means is now in material shape to deploy followed the delivery of the carrier’s 11th Advanced Weapons Elevator. The carrier commissioned in 2017 with none of the elevators delivered and working out the kinks in the system was a major roadblock for the program.

                          Last month, Ford completed a six-month availability following full-ship shock trails in which the Navy detonated 40,000-ton of explosives in a durability test of the carrier’s design. The carrier is now due to begin workups before an anticipated fall patrol.

                          Newport News is currently working on the three future Fords — John F. Kennedy (CVN-79), Enterprise and Miller – as well as the mid-life overhaul of USS George Washington (CVN-73) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74). The hulk of the decommissioned aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN-65) is also at the yard.


                          • How the Navy, Northrop avoided ‘strategic pause’ in MQ-4C production line

                            The pause was mitigated through congressional adds and some foreign military sales to Australia.

                            By JUSTIN KATZ

                            on April 05, 2022 at 9:26 AM

                            An MQ-4C Triton taxis at Andersen Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force/Michael S. Murphy)

                            SEA AIR SPACE 2022: The US Navy and Northrop Grumman have avoided a “strategic pause” originally planned for in the MQ-4C Triton production line through a combination of congressional additions and foreign military sales.

                            Plans to halt production of Triton, an unmanned maritime surveillance aircraft, were announced in the president’s fiscal 2021 budget request and included halts for both 2021 and 2022. At the time, the service said the breaks were required to give the program office more time to develop capabilities associated with certain configurations for the aircraft.

                            But neither planned production stop came to pass, thanks to a combination of factors, according to Northrop executive Doug Shaffer. He told reporters Monday that the FY21 pause never happened because Australia ended up buying three Tritons in FY21 and Congress added one aircraft for the Navy’s budget that year. The FY22 pause, he said, was avoided when Congress again added two aircraft beyond the service’s budget request for FY22.

                            Although the Navy sought a production pause while it developed new capabilities, the supplemental aircraft purchased by Australia and added by Congress effectively kept the production line moving regardless of the Navy’s request. The new capabilities continued to be developed on the sideline and will eventually be worked into the Triton program.

                            Pausing an active production line always comes with risk for both the Navy and the prime contractor. Those risks include having to lay off and rehire workers, compromise deals on parts or materials ordered in bulk to save money or subcontractors in the supply chain going under due to a lack of work.

                            Shaffer noted that avoiding the production pauses results in the program avoiding undue costs. “The unit cost is not going through the roof. We’re not losing suppliers. The industrial base is staying intact,” he said.

                            The president’s new FY23 budget request published last week seeks three MQ-4C Tritons. Shaffer added Northrop Grumman is discussing options with Australia for the country to continue its procurement as well.

                            Separately, the Navy is making a second attempt in its new budget request to retire the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance – Demonstrator, an aircraft the service has used for several years now that directly influenced the capability developments made to the MQ-4C Triton. The service sought to retire the aircraft last year but was unable to do so.

                            The Navy has used BAMS-D, a variant of the Air Force’s Global Hawk, in partnership with Northrop Grumman in order to understand how it would operate an unmanned aircraft that makes extended flights.

                            “The Air Force had been doing it for a number of years, but not in a maritime environment, not looking at maritime targets, not complete maritime domain awareness,” Rear Adm. Brian Corey, the program executive officer for unmanned aviation and strike weapons, told the same group of reporters. “What that has done is allowed us to get ready for Triton. It’s allowed us to understand how we might use Triton.”

                            Asked about the reason for the retirement, Corey said his office is not directly responsible for making that decision but that it came down to service leadership making a choice about what activities should be prioritized and what can be terminated.

                            The Navy in Jan. 2020 deployed two MQ-4C to begin operating from Guam. This past December, Corey said, the service brought one of those planes back to the continental United States.

                            The reason for that was “maintenance proficiency” and to ensure the service’s operational squadron flying the MQ-4C was prepared to reach initial operational capability, a key acquisition milestone, in August 2023, Corey said.


                            • Lockheed: Work with Forge coming through on Aegis Baseline 9, 10

                              Lockheed is in talks with the Navy to potentially expand its presence at the Forge in the coming year.

                              By JUSTIN KATZ

                              on April 05, 2022 at 12:17 PM

                              A graphic illustration of the Aegis capabilities. ((Lockheed Martin.)

                              WASHINGTON: The work Lockheed Martin has been doing with the Navy’s software factory for surface ship combat systems is already beginning to reap benefits for the fleet’s latest iterations of the Aegis Combat System, a company executive told Breaking Defense.

                              As the prime contractor for Aegis, Lockheed is deeply involved with the Forge, a Navy software factory aiming to establish the infrastructure necessary to bring updates to the fleet in as quickly as a single day. Lockheed recently received a request from the Navy to continue its work with the Forge and potentially expand its staff presence at the facility, which is located near the University of Maryland’s campus.

                              The Forge’s work will ultimately help create similar environments for sailors onboard different ships, so that it doesn’t matter whether the vessel is equipped with the legacy SPY-1 radar or Raytheon’s updated SPY-6. A similar effect will be seen in old hardware or console types that have been installed onboard the Navy’s ships throughout the life of the Aegis Combat System’s 10 baselines.

                              “Our baseline nine ships and baseline 10 ships … will have the same exact software baseline. It’ll have the [same] touch and feel even though one ship has a SPY-6, and one ship has a SPY-1,” Joe DePietro, the company executive, told Breaking Defense in the run up to Sea Air Space conference.

                              Click here for more coverage from the Sea Air Space 2022 conference.

                              It is “really a separation of the software and hardware baselines as part of the development effort that we’re putting in place,” he added.

                              The separation of software and hardware requirements is a key element to the Forge’s work, Breaking Defense reported in February as part of an in-depth explainer about the facility. The Navy’s aspirational goal is the so-called “Integrated Combat System,” or ICS, a uniform fighting environment that would allow a sailor to switch between a cruiser and a destroyer with virtually no additional training.

                              One of the key technologies being used to develop the ICS are virtual twins of the Aegis Combat System. A virtual twin is essentially a clone of the system being used across the surface fleet but contained in sleeker, modern hardware that is capable of easily receiving updates over the air.

                              DePietro said Lockheed currently has several Aegis virtual twins operating at both Navy facilities, such as the Pacific Missile Range Facility, which has a SPY-6 array installed, as well as in Pascagoula, Miss., where it is being used to update the first Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, DDG-125.

                              “We’ve definitely been using and already applying those applications of that technology for years now,” he said. “I think you see it in place and doing things real time as we’re going through our integration events for different capabilities.”

                              Another example of how the company is using virtual twins is testing how a system responds to certain events or data for the purposes of developing artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities.

                              “The Navy is beginning to move in that direction, as part of as part of their … activities that they have going on for their hardware refreshes that will allow us to do more containerized software here moving forward,” he said.


                              • Navy quietly declares aircraft carrier Ford operational

                                It's a major event for the Navy's high-profile warship, and it happened silently in December.

                                By JUSTIN KATZ

                                on April 05, 2022 at 3:18 PM

                                USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) turns into the James River as it gets underway in 2019. (US Navy/Tatyana Freeman)

                                SEA AIR SPACE 2022: The Navy in December quietly determined the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) had achieved initial operational capability, the program manager for the ship revealed today.

                                The milestone was officially reached on Dec. 22, 2021, when the last advanced weapons elevator was turned over, Capt. Brian Metcalf, the ship’s program manager, told attendees at the Sea Air Space exposition.

                                Initial operational capability is an important acquisition milestone that indicates the ship’s capabilities have reached the minimum thresholds required to be operationally useful. In other words, the super carrier that has plagued the Navy with cost overruns and schedule delays for more than a decade now, is finally at a state where the service can use it in a real-world operation.

                                The ship is scheduled to deploy in the early fall.

                                The fact the Navy did not make any announcement is surprising because the service’s performance in building and delivering the Ford has attracted large amounts of negative news coverage, critical reviews from outside analysts and, perhaps most importantly, intense scrutiny from lawmakers.

                                Asked why the service did not announce the activity, Metcalf said “some people know what IOC means and some people don’t.”

                                “It’s a very acquisition specific milestone,” he added. “The conditions on the ship don’t really change because of IOC.”

                                The 23 new technologies the Navy have integrated onto the Ford, such as the advanced weapons elevators and the electromagnetic aircraft launch system, have received much attention over the years from Pentagon weapons testers and third-party government auditors.

                                Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday publicly acknowledged last summer that putting so many new technologies on the Ford was a mistake.

                                “The ammunition elevators are an exceptional example of a painful process over the past four or five years,” the CNO said.


                                • SEA-AIR-SPACE NEWS: Naval Aviation Looking to Boost Simulation-Based Testing


                                  By Mikayla Easley

                                  Defense Dept. photo
                                  NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Navy wants to use more modeling and simulation when trying out new aircraft technology, service leaders said April 5.

                                  As the Defense Department pushes the services to ramp up modernization efforts to keep up with peer adversaries like China, the Navy’s aviation community has been developing a number of new capabilities — from the secretive Next Generation Air Dominance program to unmanned platforms like the MQ-25 Stingray refueling drone. However, testing these new systems can be a significant burden on the service in terms of time and money, said Vice Adm. Carl Chebi, commander of Naval Air Systems.

                                  “We’re pushing that more and more into the modeling and simulation environment, especially the high-end modeling and simulation environment like we’re doing with the [F-35 joint strike fighter],” Chebi said during a panel at the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space conference in National Harbor, Maryland.

                                  When tackling the affordability challenge in testing, Chebi said Naval aviation is trying to take a digital engineering approach to alleviate some of the potential financial burdens. Some of the service’s first forays into using digital engineering have been with the MQ-25 and NGAD programs, he said.

                                  Because the Navy is still learning best practices for digital engineering, however, Chebi asked industry members in the audience to help the service do better “from a digital perspective.”

                                  Once the service is able to introduce other platforms into a joint-simulation environment for testing purposes, it can begin using the same environment for training as well, he noted. This will allow Naval aviators to achieve and maintain their proficiency, he said.

                                  “A lot of the high-end fight requires a lot of reps and sets you can’t get in open air,” Chebi said. “From a capability perspective and an affordability perspective, it makes a lot of sense to try to channel that into our models — especially the high-end models.”

                                  To transform training, the Navy has been leaning into simulator-based technology like live-virtual-constructive to improve fleet readiness. LVC training uses virtual reality and computer-generated elements to link live platforms with manned simulators.

                                  Rear Adm. John Meier, commander of Naval Air Force Atlantic, said the sea service has been making “substantial progress” with its LVC programs. While some training still must be done in a live aircraft, the Navy is looking to push more of the high-end training into simulated environments, he said.

                                  “I think we all recognize that when we talk about the high-end threat, we’re really talking about advanced tactics, advanced weapons in ranges that exceed our physical space and our ranges, and advanced tactics and emitters that, quite frankly, we do not want to display for prying eyes to see for overhead sensors or any sensors to vacuum up,” Meier said.


                                  • A second FFG-62 shipyard? Fincantieri ‘can meet demand’ for now

                                    While the Navy's decision hasn't been made, lawmakers threw cold water on the idea of a second shipyard for the new frigate in latest spending bill.

                                    By JUSTIN KATZ

                                    on April 06, 2022 at 2:06 PM

                                    A graphic of the Constellation-class frigate. (Provided by Fincantieri Marinette Marine)

                                    SEA AIR SPACE 2022: Shipbuilder Fincantieri Marinette Marine “can meet the demand” of the Constellation-class frigate program for the time being, but the Navy still deciding whether to select a second contractor for the 20-ship class, according to the service’s program manager.

                                    Capt. Kevin Smith told attendees at the Sea Air Space exposition on Tuesday that when the time is right, the Navy plans to purchase the ship’s technical data package from Fincantieri and begin to qualify alternate shipyards so that the program office is ready to move forward if senior leadership chooses. A ship’s technical data package is essentially a set of blueprints that the government would need to provide an alternative contractor so they, too, could build the ships.

                                    The Navy took care to ensure its contract with Fincantieri for the Constellation-class included the rights for the government to purchase the technical data package.

                                    At a basic level, the biggest incentive the Navy has to establish a second shipyard is that it increases the number of ships it can produce each year and also adds a level of stability to the supply chain: If production at one shipyard stops for any reason, then the other will still be working.

                                    But the strategy comes with its own costs, especially amid concerns about the program’s maturity. The introduction of a new contractor could complicate the program, and the Navy must also consider whether its future budgets, which most expect to be flat-lining or declining compared to previous years, will be able to support enough work for both shipyards to keep their production lines moving.

                                    Lawmakers’ appetite for a second shipyard are mixed. On one hand, a second yard means more jobs for their constituents — always a positive for those from states that house major shipbuilders such as Austal USA in Alabama or General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Maine.

                                    On the other hand, language in the fiscal 2022 defense spending bill indicated some on Capitol Hill are apprehensive that establishing a second yard too early could lead to costly mistakes in the future.

                                    “There is concern that prematurely adding a second [frigate] shipyard before the first shipyard has identified and corrected technical and production issues will inject unneeded risk and complexity into the program,” according to a report accompanying the recently signed spending bill.

                                    For now though, Fincantieri, based in Wisconsin, will continue to work with the Navy on solidifying the new ship’s final design, which will go through an important review in the near future, Smith added.


                                    • Lawmakers say Navy’s shipyard revitalization needs help from industry, public — and Congress

                                      The congressmen say the problems SIOP is facing stem from public support, awareness and 'muscle memory' erosion in industry.

                                      By JUSTIN KATZ

                                      on April 06, 2022 at 12:36 PM

                                      A dry dock at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard is flooded during the undocking of a Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine. (Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Dustan Longhini)

                                      SEA AIR SPACE 2022: Two influential congressmen overseeing the Navy’s shipyards are convinced the service’s plan to revamp its facilities requires greater urgency and funding, but faces hurdles far from the shipyards themselves — many of them on Capitol Hill.

                                      “It’s been so long since the Navy has sort of really taken this on and the country has taken this on in a big way,” Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., said of the Navy’s plans to revitalize the four public shipyards, also called the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP).

                                      Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., said part of the issue lies in Congress, where lawmakers have to worry about stepping on each other’s toes.

                                      “This is a cross jurisdictional issue for the Congress to deal with. I wish it was as simple as putting it into the [defense policy bill] and making it happen. But unfortunately, many of these are [military construction] projects,” he said in the same discussion with Courtney during the Sea Air Space exposition.

                                      The two congressmen are the longstanding leaders of the House Armed Services subcommittee on seapower and projection forces. They have their frustrations with the Navy’s progress, and say the Navy’s 20-year timeline isn’t quick enough.

                                      But they also recognized a bottleneck in Washington, DC, citing, for example, a recent failed push in Congress to infuse the SIOP with most of its necessary funding.

                                      Alongside other lawmakers, Wittman attempted to add $25 billion to the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act that would have funded the entire program in a single year. But the money failed to survive in the final legislation.

                                      Asked whether the Navy or Congress was slowing things down, Wittman suggested there was work to be done in Congress and that part of the issue is convincing people — outside of the House Armed Services Committee — that this needs to be a top priority.

                                      “I think everybody, members of Congress, including Joe and myself and others need to start making the argument in a broader expanse rather than just” the committee, he said. “If we don’t invest now, we are not going to have the talent all of a sudden to press the gas pedal and put all of these projects into place to modernize both our private and our public yards.”

                                      Although Wittman and Courtney collectively can influence the Navy’s shipbuilding budget, the funding for SIOP is an issue monitored by the House panel’s readiness subcommittee. Beyond that, funding in the defense policy bill does not equate to cash in hand. Even if the readiness panel gets onboard, the panel must make its case to the appropriations committee.

                                      On the Navy’s side of things, another issue mentioned only briefly during congressional hearings are cost overruns occurring at different shipyards. Courtney said the nascent cost estimates industry has offered to the Navy “are coming in much higher than what was anticipated.”

                                      He also argued some amount of “muscle memory” has been lost due to how infrequently the Navy and industry work on the redesigning and modernizing a facility such as a public shipyard.

                                      He echoed Wittman’s comments, saying that the public shipyards have never had “constituencies” in the same way that other major military programs manage to attract by way of the jobs they create.

                                      “There was never a constituency for public shipyards,” he said. “It’s a different kind of animal than other defense platforms.”

                                      “We know this is something we can’t avoid any longer and we’re going to pay a little price for that in terms of just the both the cost and the execution,” he added.


                                      • Textron drone deploys on US Navy destroyer as contractor-operated ISR node

                                        By Megan Eckstein

                                        Apr 7, 01:08 AM

                                        Textron employees launch an Aerosonde UAV from a 7th Fleet-based destroyer in March 2022. (Textron photo)

                                        NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Textron Systems has its Aerosonde Small Unmanned Aircraft System deployed on one U.S. Navy destroyer in the Pacific and will be operating on a second by the end of the year, a company official told Defense News.

                                        The Aerosonde system had been operating off the Navy expeditionary sea base Hershel “Woody” Williams for three years, with the system carrying an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) payload and a wide-area search payload to support maritime operations in the Atlantic, Wayne Prender, Textron’s senior vice president for air systems, said in a March 31 interview.

                                        In September, the Navy awarded the company a multi-year contract to integrate and operate the air system on two U.S. 7th Fleet-based destroyers. The first ship is now deployed following an integration period and operational evaluation.

                                        After a first flight in March, the aircraft and destroyer “are now sailing in a full operational capacity in support of 7th Fleet and their real-world missions,” Prender said.

                                        “We really believe that Aerosonde and its operations are setting conditions for future unmanned Navy programs by providing real-world operational deployable mission sets, really showcasing the value of organic air assets and unmanned aircraft assets to those ship captains,” he said, noting that the two ships involved are a Flight I and a Flight II Arleigh Burke-class destroyer that do not have a hangar and therefore don’t have a helicopter permanently onboard.

                                        “Our small footprint and our streamlined logistics really enable a ship and that ship’s captain and its crew that would otherwise have no eye in the sky, we provide them that organic capability at a fraction of the cost of a manned system and utilizing common logistics that they already have on board,” he added.

                                        Prender made clear that Textron isn’t trying to replace any manned helicopters on surface ships. But, he said, for those that do not have a hangar, the Aerosonde unmanned air vehicle can fold up and tuck away in small spaces in the destroyer, staying out of the way and then getting set up and in the air in less than an hour when needed.

                                        For those ships that do have hangars and organic helicopters, Aerosonde could supplement the helos and do ISR and other missions at a much lower cost, he said, preserving the manned helicopters for more pressing missions only they can accomplish.

                                        Textron employees are deployed on the destroyer today, operating the UAV as a contractor-owned/contractor-operated asset. The Navy essentially pays for the data the UAV obtains, which is piped directly into the combat information center on the ship and used by the crew to understand the environment and plan their missions.

                                        Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Lorin Selby said in an April 5 speech at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space conference that he wanted to look more seriously at this CO/CO model in the future, saying the Navy didn’t need to buy hardware in some cases but rather needed to buy the ability to gather data. Whereas the Navy often falls in the trap of buying something with a lengthy service life, meaning the technology eventually becomes obsolete and the service has to pay to keep modernizing the system, the CO/CO model being used with Textron allows the Navy to get the data it needs while allowing Textron to appropriately balance upgrades and technology insertion.

                                        Textron employees prepare to launch an Aerosonde UAV from a 7th Fleet-based destroyer in March 2022. (Textron photo)

                                        Prender said there are several ways to expand today’s operations, if the Navy chooses to do so. First, he said, he hoped that the successful deployment on Pacific destroyers would encourage the Navy to expand to more ships and more ship classes. The contract could even be set up so that a certain number of Aerosonde UAVs and Textron teams move from one ship to another, based on mission needs.

                                        Second, he said, Textron or third-party vendors could develop additional payloads. Textron today uses the ISR and wide area search payloads as well as an automatic identification system tracker payload off Navy ships. The Aerosonde also uses a lidar and a synthetic aperture radar payload in support of European Maritime Safety Agency missions.

                                        Others could be developed for areas including communications relay, allowing for an unmanned-unmanned teaming opportunity.

                                        Textron also makes a Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle as part of the Navy’s mine countermeasures mission package for the Littoral Combat Ship program. The CUSV is limited in range by its line-of-sight communications with the LCS, Prender said, but using an Aerosonde UAV as a communications relay could untether the USV from the manned ship.

                                        “As we start to expand the footprint of our unmanned aircraft systems in the Navy, and that starts to overlap with the unmanned surface vehicle footprint that the Navy is employing, you can start to stitch those two together and, with a simple data link relay, which we’ve demonstrated, you can extend the reach of the Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle beyond its limited LCS line-of-sight range, kind of pushing that CUSV over the horizon. And so that unmanned-unmanned teaming gives the CUSV greater standoff range. It also provides an eye in the sky where you can do interrogation of potential targets and threats and then allow the CUSV to take action on those assets, whether it be in a mine countermeasure mission, a surface warfare mission or search and rescue mission. So we’re definitely excited about seeing the potential growth of unmanned surface and unmanned aircraft systems throughout the Navy as the footprint starts to expand,” he said.

                                        Prender said the company would be working to get the second Pacific-based destroyer ready to employ the Aerosonde later this year, as well as using the first deployed system to support Navy exercises and experimentation.


                                        • Navy on Track to Deploy MQ-25A Carrier Tanker in 2026 on USS Theodore Roosevelt

                                          By: Sam LaGrone

                                          April 6, 2022 11:02 AM • Updated: April 6, 2022 11:46 AM

                                          A Boeing unmanned MQ-25A aircraft is given operating directions on the flight deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) on Dec. 13, 2021 in the Atlantic Ocean. U.S. Navy Photo

                                          NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – The Navy’s MQ-25A Stingray unmanned aerial refueling is set to deploy on an aircraft carrier in 2026, a service official said on Tuesday.

                                          Vice Adm. Kevin Whitesell told a panel at the Sea Air Space 2022 symposium that the service was on track to reach initial operational capability for the MQ-25As by 2025 and deploy the aircraft on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) by 2026.

                                          The Navy has wrapped up early testing of the Boeing-built MQ-25A T-1 prototype ahead of the first production MQ-25As. The T-1 proved aerial refueling with F/A-18F Super Hornets, F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and E-2D Advanced Hawkeye operating out of MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah, Ill. In December, the Navy used the T-1 prototype for deck handling testing aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77).

                                          “We now need to continue to further develop MQ-25A to ensure that it’s going to be able to function within the air wing. [Fly] up to 500 miles away from the ship and be able to pass gas on the way out,” Vice Adm. Scott Conn, deputy chief of naval operations for warfighting requirements and capabilities (OPNAV N9), told reporters on Tuesday.
                                          “It’s all about expanding our operational reach. Based on the environment and the threat, we need to continue to get more operational reach, continue to operate further and further away from our carriers. The MQ 25 is an important aspect of that.”

                                          The Stingrays will replace the F/A-18F Super Hornets in the tanking mission for the carrier and free up the fighters for other missions. Anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of Super Hornet sorties have been in support of the tanking mission, USNI News has previously reported.

                                          Previously, the Navy said USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) and Bush would be the first carriers outfitted with the control stations and data links to field the Stingrays.

                                          Boeing won an $805 million contract in 2018 to build the first four Stingrays in a competition that also included General Atomics and Lockheed Martin. In 2020, the Navy exercised an $84.7 million contract to buy three more, with a goal of a fleet of 76 for $1.3 billion.

                                          The Navy is considering adding more capabilities to the MQ-25As as the tankers work more with the carrier air wing, service officials have told USNI News.

                                          “We kind of went skinny on the initial requirements for this in order to be sure that we’re able to go fast. So MQ-25 is capable of significantly more than we are asking it to do at [initial operational capability]. So at IOC, it needs to be able to operate around an aircraft carrier and be able to conduct aerial refueling and that’s as far as we went,” Rear Adm. Andrew Loiselle, who leads the chief of naval operations air warfare directorate (OPNAV N98), told USNI News in December.

                                          “The rest of it will be spiral developed because it’s got significant additional capabilities with a mission bay and weapons phase that, you know, we plan to take use of in the future.”


                                          • unicorn11
                                            unicorn11 commented
                                            Editing a comment
                                            I could imagine a MQ-25 derivative being used to carry an AWACS style radar further forward and beaming the data back to either the ship or to a Hawkeye, vastly extending the carriers surveillance and control capability, and losing one doesn't cause the loss of a rare Hawkeye and a bunch of very skilled crew.
                                            Last edited by unicorn11; 08-04-22, 07:02 AM.

                                          • Magnify v2.0
                                            Magnify v2.0 commented
                                            Editing a comment
                                            Fairly sure that will be network support to get data back post any satellite degradation, like other forward tankers do. A fairly critical function to have. With F-35C as fleet air defense a Hawkeye-D crew with long-range VHF radar picture is going to be fairly safe from even 5th gen attackers. Like ~1,000 km early warning on a VHF contact, to start heading back toward a carrier (plus HF OTHR early-warning coverage on 5th gen as well). Hawkeye can withdraw as F-35C are cued to flank and ambush. Position an FFG or unmanned with SM6 along the main air-threat axis, to cover Hawkeye withdrawal, and/or provide fighter SAR support.

                                        • U.S. Navy’s unmanned vessel plans need improvement, watchdog agency says

                                          By Geoff Ziezulewicz

                                          Apr 8, 05:48 AM

                                          A Government Accountability Office image shows how Navy surface drones will contribute to the fight of the future. (GAO)

                                          While the U.S. Navy is steaming full speed ahead in developing unmanned surface and undersea drones to augment the fleet of the future, the information technology and artificial intelligence that will drive these platforms remains a work in progress. The sea service needs to better map out its efforts, according to a government watchdog report released this week.

                                          Navy shipbuilding plans call for spending more than $4 billion on such drones over the next five years, but that plan “does not account for the full costs to develop and operate these systems,” a Government Accountability Office report found.

                                          Replacing crews requires IT and AI capabilities that the Navy has only begun to assess, according to GAO.

                                          “While the Navy has established strategic objectives for these efforts, it has not established a management approach that orients its individual uncrewed maritime efforts toward achieving those objectives,” the report states. “As such, the Navy is not measuring its progress, such as building the robust information technology needed to operate the vehicles.”

                                          GAO’s audit began in October 2020 and concluded this month.

                                          Some of the Navy's unmanned efforts are laid out in a recent Government Accountability Office report. (GAO)

                                          It found that the Navy is “only beginning to assess (unmanned systems’) effects on existing shipbuilding plans.”

                                          “While the Navy has outlined a plan to spend $4.3 billion on uncrewed maritime systems in its shipbuilding plan, we found that this understates the costs associated with these systems because it does not account for all costs — specifically operations and sustainment, and the digital infrastructure necessary to enable them,” the report states.

                                          Funding unmanned development could also come under pressure from competing shipbuilding demands, according to the GAO.

                                          It found that the Navy has yet to stand up criteria for evaluating prototypes or developing better schedules for such prototype efforts.

                                          “With detailed planning, prototyping has the potential to further technology development and reduce acquisition risk before the Navy makes significant investments,” the report states. “Since uncrewed systems are key to the Navy’s future, optimizing the prototyping phase of this effort is necessary to efficiently gaining information to support future decisions.”

                                          The Navy is looking to introduce several unmanned systems into the fleet in the coming decades, according to GAO, and while some software will be unique to each platform, the Navy also wants to have a lot of common digital infrastructure among these vehicles.

                                          This digital infrastructure would involve AI capabilities built over time to better help the platforms communicate, sense their surroundings and manage reams of data, the report states.

                                          Navy officials told GAO that the sea service needs a host of technologies, including simulation software, software for autonomy and mission planning, large datasets for machine learning, as well as commercial tech and software that can be quickly bought and melded into Navy systems.

                                          Among its recommendations, the report states that the Navy should provide Congress with a cost estimate for the full scope of work that will be required to make unmanned systems part of the fleet, while developing an approach to refine this estimate in the next shipbuilding plan.

                                          An image in a recent Government Accountability Office report shows how an undersea drone would contribute to a future fight. (GAO)

                                          The sea service should also establish an “uncrewed maritime systems portfolio” and assign an entity to oversee that portfolio, while offering more detail about how it intends to reach its unmanned objectives.

                                          Evaluation criteria should be developed for assessing prototype readiness before moving to an acquisition program, and a master planning schedule should be built that folds in each unmanned system, laying out when the Navy plans to prototype and purchase each platform, according to GAO.

                                          “The Navy generally concurred with all seven recommendations, but some of the actions that it plans to take in response to three recommendations would not fully address the issues that we discuss in this report,” the watchdog report states. “GAO maintains that fully implementing all recommendations is warranted.”


                                          • Don’t scrap LCS now that they are finally useful: Luria

                                            “The LCS has not been a platform that has achieved its goal. We all know that,” Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., told Breaking Defense. “But it is a platform that can do low-end missions. So if you get rid of the LCS's, what are you going to replace them?”

                                            By AARON MEHTAon April 07, 2022 at 10:35 AM

                                            The Independence variant littoral combat ships USS Tulsa (LCS 16), left, USS Manchester (LCS 14), center, and USS Independence (LCS 2), right, sail in formation in the eastern Pacific. (US Navy/Shannon Renfroe)

                                            WASHINGTON: The Littoral Combat Ship is one of a handful of poster children for Defense Department waste, a program that is both over budget and unable to deliver the capabilities that had been promised. So when the Pentagon’s fiscal 2023 budget request included plans to retire nine LCS vessels, there were not many willing to mourn the fleet.

                                            But now one of the House Armed Services Committee’s most vocal naval supporters is putting a different spin on the story of the LCS: that while the ship will never be what it was designed to do, it is capable of a mission set the Navy needs right now.

                                            “The LCS has not been a platform that has achieved its goal. We all know that,” Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., told Breaking Defense in an interview this week. “But it is a platform that can do low-end missions. So if you get rid of the LCS’s, what are you going to replace them [with]? Are you then going to need a DDG to go do every one of those ops, or are those ops not going to happen?”

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                                            Luria instead suggested keeping the LCS, but accepting they are what they are. Rather than served as the high-end backbone of the Navy of the future as once envisioned, the LCS could help free up other ships to do more critical operations while assisting in lower-tier requirements, such as drug interdiction, partnering with smaller navies in the Pacific island chains or operating out of Singapore.

                                            The idea of using LCS for counter-drug or piracy operations is one that Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, has been hitting on for several years. Given that US Southern Command is always desperate for more ships, assigning the LCS to that mission could be a useful solution.

                                            During the rollout of the Navy’s budget request, Rear Adm. John Gumbleton, the deputy assistant Navy secretary for budget, said the LCS retirements were mostly driven by Freedom-class vessels, as well as a decision to not pursue the anti-submarine warfare mission module package any longer.

                                            The admiral also said the Navy expects to save $3.6 billion in future years by retiring 24 ships — a number Luria questions, saying “I just don’t buy” the figure as saving real money.

                                            “When they say it’s going to be $3.6 billion over five years, do some rough math there, that’s about $700 million a year, that’s, like, 0.39 percent of their annual budget. So where’s all the money going?”

                                            The reality is that even while members of Congress may be sick of thinking about the LCS, they are also enamored with the idea of a 355-ship navy. And while Navy leadership may be signaling a desire to get away from capacity in favor of investing in new capabilities, how many ships will actually be allowed to be retired is very much an open question — especially with members of Congress, on a bipartisan basis, stating during a budget hearing this week that they feel the Pentagon’s $773 billion request isn’t enough to keep up with inflation and threats from Russia and, especially China.

                                            Luria fits into the camp that feels more money is needed, but declined to put a specific budget target on the field.

                                            “I don’t have a specific dollar amount in mind. I would say that, for me to be satisfied, I need to see a significant increased commitment in shipbuilding,” Luria said. “I think we need to be building everything we can build with the industrial capacity we have.”

                                            Among the ideas she floated were increasing the DDG buy from 10 to 15 and speeding up construction of the Navy’s new frigate design.


                                            • Magnify v2.0
                                              Magnify v2.0 commented
                                              Editing a comment
                                              " ... Rather than served as the high-end backbone of the Navy of the future as once envisioned ... " - By AARON MEHTA

                                              Omg ... did anyone ever think this about LCS? It's just a fking corvette! How could that ever replace scores of DDG, LHD & CVN, as the USN's "high-end backbone"? ... lol

                                            • unicorn11
                                              unicorn11 commented
                                              Editing a comment
                                              A relatively lightly armed corvette too.
                                              Last edited by unicorn11; 13-04-22, 01:00 PM.

                                          • PACIFIC OCEAN (Apr. 2, 2022) – An F-35B Lightning II aircraft attached to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA 211) launches off from the flight deck aboard amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA 7), Apr. 2. VMFA-211 is embarked aboard Tripoli as part of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Lightning carrier concept demonstration. The Lightning carrier concept demonstration shows Tripoli and other amphibious assault ships are capable of operating as dedicated fixed-wing carrier platforms, capable of bringing fifth generation Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing aircraft wherever they are required. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Sypert)

                                            US Navy And USMC Demonstrate ‘Lightning Carrier’ Concept

                                            The U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) demonstrated a key capability when they operated 20 F-35B Lightning II jets from America-class amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli (LHA 7) March 30 through April 8, fully exercising the Marine Corps’ “lightning carrier” concept for the first time in naval history on an amphibious assault ship.

                                            Naval News Staff 11 Apr 2022

                                            USMC story by Maj. Mason Englehart

                                            Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David H. Berger spoke to the potential of the “lighting carrier” concept based on amphibious assault ships in his planning guidance. “Lightning” is derived from the predominance of F-35B Lightning II aircraft aboard.

                                            The demonstration featured 16 jets from Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, with an additional four from Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1, all operating from USS Tripoli at a high tempo. The Navy and Marine Corps team has incrementally developed the Lightning carrier concept and continues to refine its tactics, techniques, and procedures to support integrated naval operations.
                                            “When this opportunity came up to put this many of our fifth generation aircraft on board Tripoli in conjunction with operational testing, we were thrilled. It has been an incredible opportunity to train to fight as a MAG from the sea, to train our pilots, and to work alongside our Navy teammates.”
                                            U.S. Marine Corps Col. Chad Vaughn, commanding officer of MAG-13.

                                            Amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA 7) departs Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., April 7, 2022. Tripoli completed flight deck operations with 20 F-35B Lightning II jets from Marine Fighter Attack Squadrons 211 and 225, Marine Aircraft Group 13, and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, as well as Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1, as part of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Lightning carrier concept demonstration. The Lightning carrier concept demonstration shows Tripoli and other amphibious assault ships are capable of operating as dedicated fixed-wing strike platforms when needed, capable of bringing fifth generation Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing aircraft wherever they are required. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Samuel Ruiz)

                                            The demonstration proved that an assault carrier can be a lethal addition and provides combatant commanders with more options when employed in creative ways. An earlier concept utilized amphibious assault ships to demonstrate the “Harrier carrier” concept for AV-8B Harriers.

                                            This concept will not change the standard make-up of an Amphibious Ready Group and Marine Expeditionary Unit (ARG/MEU). However, the exercise demonstrated the potential to utilize amphibious assault ships to provide the naval and joint force with lethal access, collection, and strike capabilities from fifth generation Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing (STO/VL) aircraft in future operations.
                                            “This demonstration proved the versatility of the America-class assault carrier, with its ability to embark either two squadrons of F-35Bs and a MAG command element, or a battalion-sized landing force and the associated assault support [12 MV-22B Ospreys, four CH-53E Super Stallions, and six F-35B Lightning II]. For the fleet commander, both options are formidable and sustainable.”
                                            U.S. Navy Capt. Joel Lang, Tripoli’s Commanding Officer.

                                            Tripoli, an amphibious assault ship, is the second America-class landing helicopter assault (LHA) ship. Optimized to support rotary- and fixed-wing operations, Tripoli carries two times as much aviation fuel, 30 percent more aviation ordnance, and—with an expanded hangar bay—more space to perform aircraft maintenance than its Wasp-class predecessors.
                                            “The fifth-generation capability of the F-35B brings a significant advancement in capability to the combatant commanders, not only as a lethal strike aircraft but with the vast array of sensors that come with the F-35B’s avionics suite. Having two full F-35B squadrons on a ship like USS Tripoli capitalizes on this next generation capability, providing the commander with a multitude of options.”
                                            U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Alexander Goodno, commanding officer of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 225
                                            Amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA- 7) , departs Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., April 7, 2022. Tripoli completed flight deck operations with 20 F-35B Lightning II jets from Marine Fighter Attack Squadrons 211 and 225, Marine Aircraft Group 13, and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, as well as Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1, as part of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Lightning carrier concept demonstration. The Lightning carrier concept demonstration shows Tripoli and other amphibious assault ships are capable of operating as dedicated fixed-wing strike platforms when needed, capable of bringing fifth generation Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing aircraft wherever they are required. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Samuel Ruiz)

                                            As one of the Marine Corps’ newest F-35 squadrons, the demonstration provided an opportunity for VMFA-225 to operate at sea for the first time as a squadron.

                                            The pilots and Marines of my squadron were really eager to gain experience operating at sea, test out this new capability, and work alongside an experienced squadron like VMFA-211 and the USS TRIPOLI crew,” added Goodno. “I am exceptionally proud of how well the Marines of VMFA-225 performed in our first at-sea period. It was an exciting concept and one that we all believe should gain further consideration as an option for our forces moving forward.”

                                            3rd Marine Aircraft Wing remains combat-ready, deployable on short notice, and lethal when called into action.

                                            As an integral part of U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. 3rd Fleet operates naval forces in the Indo-Pacific in addition to providing realistic and relevant training necessary to flawlessly execute our Navy’s timeless roles of sea control and power projection. Third Fleet works in close coordination with other numbered fleets to provide commanders with capable, ready forces to deploy forward and win in day-to-day competition, in crisis, and in conflict.


                                            • Magnify v2.0
                                              Magnify v2.0 commented
                                              Editing a comment
                                              I'm jealous.

                                            • unicorn11
                                              unicorn11 commented
                                              Editing a comment
                                              Adelaide or Canberra should be able to operate around 15 each, plus a number of Sea Hawk Romeos.

                                              If we had F35B models that is.

                                            • ADMk2
                                              ADMk2 commented
                                              Editing a comment
                                              That is extremely unlikely…

                                          • New pictures released of US Navy's Zumwalt-class destroyer USS Zumwalt

                                            POSTED ON WEDNESDAY, 13 APRIL 2022 09:44
                                            According to a tweet published by Chris Cavas on April 13, 2022, new pictures were released of the US Navy's Zumwalt-class destroyer Zumwalt, the first of its class.

                                            Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt maneuvering off the Southern California coast (Picture source: Chris Cavas)

                                            USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) is a guided-missile destroyer of the United States Navy. The ship was commissioned in Baltimore on 15 October 2016. Her home port is San Diego, California.

                                            The Zumwalt-class destroyer is a class of three United States Navy guided-missile destroyers. The class design emerged from the DD-21 "land-attack destroyer" program as "DD(X)" and was intended to take the role of battleships in meeting a congressional mandate for naval fire support.

                                            Unlike previous destroyer classes, designed primarily for deep-water combat, the Zumwalt class was primarily designed to support ground forces in land attacks, in addition to the usual destroyer missions of anti-air, anti-surface, and antisubmarine warfare.

                                            The vessels' distinctive appearance results from the design requirement for a low radar cross-section (RCS). The Zumwalt class has a wave-piercing tumblehome hull form whose sides slope inward above the waterline, which dramatically reduces RCS by returning much less energy than a conventional flare hull form.

                                            The ship is 600 feet (180 m) in length, with a beam of 80.7 feet (24.6 m) and displacing approximately 15,000 tons. Michael Monsoor has a crew size of approximately 148 officers and sailors; she can make speed in excess of 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph).

                                            The "Zumwalts" use an Integrated Power System (IPS), which is a modern version of a turbo-electric drive system. The IPS is a dual system, with each half consisting of a gas turbine prime mover directly coupled to an electrical generator, which in turn provides power for an electric motor that drives a propeller shaft.

                                            The system is "integrated" because the turbo-generators provide electrical power for all ship systems, not just the drive motors. The system provides much more available electrical power than is available in other types of ships.

                                            The DDG 1001 is armed with 20 MK 57 VLS (Vertical launching System) modules, with 4 vertical launch cells in each module, 80 cells total. Each cell can hold one or more missiles, depending on the size of the missiles.

                                            The ship can launch Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) surface-to-air missiles, Tactical Tomahawk Vertical Launch Anti-Submarine Rocket (ASROC) cruise missiles. The ship is also armed with two 155 mm Advanced Gun Systems and two Mk 46 Mod 2 Gun Weapon Systems.


                                            • The Navy’s shipbuilder oversight offices are underutilized, watchdog agency reports

                                              By Geoff Ziezulewicz

                                              Apr 13, 06:31 AM

                                              The aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford underway during acceptance trials in 2017. (Navy)

                                              The Navy has in recent years been plagued by a series of high-profile shipbuilding problems that have delayed construction, sent costs skyrocketing and impacted quality and performance across platforms.

                                              Although the sea service has an oversight tool within major private shipbuilding yards that could help improve things, it remains hindered, according to a Government Accountability Office report released this week.

                                              Co-located with shipyards, the Navy’s Supervisors of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair, or SUPSHIP, are the sea service’s on-site lead for overseeing quality assurance, according to GAO, a legislative branch watchdog agency.

                                              But SUPSHIP offices face several challenges in their mission to improve shipbuilding results, the report found.

                                              For starters, SUPSHIPs have limited input before contracts are awarded, and their expertise is not leveraged in the decision-making process, according to GAO.

                                              Further, the Navy’s process for accepting ships from builders fails to include SUPSHIP’s expert input on ship quality and readiness, and SUPSHIP’s position within Naval Sea Systems Command “dilutes their ability to be a distinct, authoritative voice in decision-making for Navy shipbuilding programs,” according to the report.

                                              A Government Accountability Office graphic showcases how a Navy office charged with shipbuilding oversight is hindered in its mission. (GAO)

                                              Quality requirements vary across shipbuilding contracts, which also hinders SUPSHIP’s ability to provide quality oversight, GAO found.

                                              The watchdog noted that Congress passed legislation late last year to stand up a deputy commander dedicated to the SUPSHIP mission, “which should help improve their authority and accountability.”

                                              The problems of the last decade are well-known.


                                              • HII unveils ‘Odyssey,’ its answer to Navy’s call for open architecture autonomy

                                                The basic idea of Odyssey is to prepare any ship or platform to use a variety of autonomous software capabilities.

                                                By JUSTIN KATZ

                                                on April 12, 2022 at 1:02 PM

                                                HII made its name building the Navy’s aircraft carriers, such as the Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), which completed full ship shock trials last year. (Photo courtesy of the US Navy.)

                                                WASHINGTON: Following multiple acquisitions as well as several years of in-house research and development, HII has unveiled an autonomy software suite that it says can be put on any ship or vehicle and is consistent with the requirements the US Navy has been developing for autonomous platforms.

                                                The Navy wants “this open framework, they want to be able to take best […] breed of several different autonomy engines and put them together,” said Duane Fotheringham, an executive at HII leading the company’s unmanned systems business unit. “This very much allows us to do that. We can take each of these pieces and deliver them separately as part of this framework.”

                                                The company, which days ago changed its name from Huntington Ingalls Industries, announced a rebranding last week during the Sea Air Space exposition to reflect its shift in recent years from being solely a shipbuilder to more broadly a defense technology firm.

                                                Its new autonomy suite, dubbed Odyssey, is directly targeting the vision the Navy has laid out in recent years for how the service wants industry to bring autonomous capabilities to its unmanned — and in some cases, manned — platforms. In essence, the company says Odyssey can be installed on land, maritime or aerial platforms and prepares them to accept a variety of plug-and-play modules that HII has developed, such as health monitoring and perception, or capabilities developed by a third party.

                                                That “plug-and-play” mentality is nearly identical to an effort led by the Navy’s program office for unmanned maritime systems and dubbed the Unmanned Maritime Autonomy Architecture. Think of it as the Navy’s rule book for how industry must develop autonomous systems.

                                                The driving principle behind UMAA is defeating “vendor lock,” the notion that if a contractor’s technology is incapable of interacting with third-party software, then it forces the Navy to either commit to that one vendor for the long haul or go elsewhere.

                                                To explain “vendor lock” another way, most open-source software available today is built to be run on a Microsoft Windows operating system. If you purchase a computer from Apple, which has its own operating system, and are unable to run a piece of software because it is not designed to interface with iOS, then you experienced vendor lock.

                                                Microsoft and Apple have become prolific enough such that it is common for developers to write software capable of being used on either Windows or iOS, but in the niche world of highly customized, military-oriented unmanned systems, the standards are not as prolific or clearly defined. The Navy’s UMAA is its attempt to define the standards for anyone who wants to do business with them.

                                                The impetus for developing Odyssey, Fotheringham said, was a desire to bring together HII’s internal research together with the capabilities the company acquired when it purchased the technology firms Hydroid and Spatial Integrated Systems.

                                                “We’ve taken all of those pieces and we’ve started to put them together,” he said.


                                                • JKM Mk2
                                                  JKM Mk2 commented
                                                  Editing a comment
                                                  To me this sounds a lot like the LCS program. Develop a multi-mission basic platform that can handle multiple plug-in modules. Great idea but never really worked

                                                • Bug2
                                                  Bug2 commented
                                                  Editing a comment
                                                  Yeah, but LCS suffered from the fact the modules were ALL new developments, not existing weapons or equipment that was being adapted to modular constriction and/or installation. As it was all new, their separate development program was a clusterfuck of all clusterfucks, with one system completely cancelled, and the part-replacement system and the other two running 2-4 years late, if not longer?

                                                  Instead of taking a simple approach, they chose the most convoluted and difficult EVERY time, almost like they were competing as to who could screw it up the most!

                                                  The engine problems with the Freedom Class, just added to it.........

                                              • Combined Maritime Forces establishes new naval group to patrol Red Sea region

                                                By Megan Eckstein

                                                Apr 13, 10:50 PM

                                                Royal navy frigate HMS Montrose (F 236), left, Pakistan navy frigate PNS Aslat (F 254), left center, Royal navy of Oman patrol vessel Al-Shinas (Z 21), right center, and USCGC Charles Moulthrope (WPC 1141) sail in formation during International Maritime Exercise/Cutlass Express (IMX/CE) 2022 in the Arabian Gulf, Feb. 13. (Spc. Natianna Strachen/U.S. Army)

                                                WASHINGTON — The multinational Combined Maritime Forces in the Middle East will stand up a new Combined Task Force-153 to specifically address maritime threats in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

                                                The U.S. Navy will lead the task force initially, but will quickly hand leadership over to a regional partner, U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, the commander of U.S. 5th Fleet and Naval Forces Central Command, told reporters in an April 13 call.

                                                Cooper, who also leads the Combined Maritime Forces organization, would not directly say the new organization is meant to counter the maritime threats posed by the Iran-backed Houthi forces in Yemen. Rather, he said the April 17 standup of CTF-153 will “strengthen the Combined Maritime Force, which is the world’s largest multinational naval partnership, and ultimately we’ll enhance security and stability in the Red Sea and the region.”

                                                Combined Maritime Forces has already established three other combined task forces: CTF-152, which patrols inside the Persian Gulf; CTF-150, which operates outside the Persian Gulf and will now focus on the Gulf of Oman and Northern Arabian Sea; and CTF-151, which counters piracy across the entire 5th Fleet area.

                                                Cooper said CTF-153 will operate from the Suez Canal through the Bab el-Mandeb strait and to the Yemen-Oman border and will address human trafficking and smuggling of both legal materials like coal and illegal weapons and drugs.

                                                “The standup of this organization really reflects a regional consensus on the importance of maritime security in these bodies of water,” Cooper said. “We’ve had a proven record in recent examples of success when we focus in this organized way.

                                                U.S. Navy Capt. Robert Francis, who commands U.S. surface ships in 5th Fleet, will lead CTF-153 with a staff of about 15 from aboard U.S. Navy command ship Mount Whitney, which typically serves as the U.S. 6th Fleet command ship out of Italy.

                                                “The fact that we’re bringing what is traditionally the 6th Fleet flagship into 5th Fleet signals our very strong resolve and commitment to this region,” Cooper said.

                                                Though he would not address which nations would join the new task force or who would take command next, he highlighted the Egyptian Navy as having joined the Combined Maritime Forces organization a year ago.

                                                Cooper called them an “enormously capable navy; they’re growing their capability.” He said they tripled their exercise participation over the last year and know the Red Sea waters well.

                                                The vice admiral said he expected two to eight ships to serve under the task force at any given time and said unmanned surface vessels being tested under 5th Fleet’s Task Force 59 organization could also support maritime security operations in the Red Sea at some point. Task Force 59 was stood up in September to oversee experimentation with unmanned craft in all domains in an operational theater.

                                                Cooper said he doesn’t expect the CTF-153 standup to increase the presence of ships and aircraft in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, but rather it would make the ships there more effective, helping coordinate everyday activities from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others patrolling their coastal waters in concert with other naval forces.


                                                • Target Drone During High Energy Laser Engagement (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

                                                  U.S. Navy Conducts Historic Test Of New Laser Weapon System

                                                  During an Office of Naval Research (ONR) test, an all-electric, high-energy laser weapon was used to defeat a target representing a subsonic cruise missile in flight. The Layered Laser Defense (LLD) weapon was designed and built by Lockheed Martin to serve as a multi-domain, multi-platform demonstration system.

                                                  Naval News Staff 14 Apr 2022

                                                  ONR press release by Warren Duffie Jr.

                                                  ARLINGTON, Va.—The ground-based laser system homed in on the red drone flying by, shooting a high-energy beam invisible to the naked eye. Suddenly, a fiery orange glow flared on the drone, smoke poured from its engine and a parachute opened as the craft tumbled downward, disabled by the laser beam.

                                                  The February demonstration marked the first time the U.S. Navy used an all-electric, high-energy laser weapon to defeat a target representing a subsonic cruise missile in flight.

                                                  Known as the Layered Laser Defense (LLD), the weapon was designed and built by Lockheed Martin to serve as a multi-domain, multi-platform demonstration system. It can counter unmanned aerial systems and fast-attack boats with a high-power laser—and also use its high-resolution telescope to track in-bound air threats, support combat identification and conduct battle damage assessment of engaged targets.

                                                  The drone shoot-down by the LLD was part of a recent test sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) at the U.S. Army’s High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The demonstration was a partnership between ONR, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Research and Engineering) and Lockheed Martin.

                                                  “Innovative laser systems like the LLD have the potential to redefine the future of naval combat operations,” said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Lorin C. Selby. “They present transformational capabilities to the fleet, address diverse threats, and provide precision engagements with a deep magazine to complement existing defensive systems and enhance sustained lethality in high-intensity conflict.”

                                                  The LLD testing supports a broader effort by the naval research and development community, partnered closely with the fleet, to mature technologies and field a family of laser weapons that can address multiple threats using a range of escalating options. These capabilities range from non-lethal measures, such as optical “dazzling” and disabling of sensors, to destruction of a target.

                                                  Target Drone in Recovery Parachute Following High Energy Laser Engagement (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

                                                  Laser weapons provide new precision and speed of engagement for naval warfighters. They also offer simplified logistics that are safer for ships and their crews, as lasers are not dependent on the traditional propellants or gunpowder-based ordnance found on ships.

                                                  Instead, modern high-power lasers run on electricity, making them inherently safer and able to provide weapon capability as long as a ship has power. This also means the cost per engagement for a laser weapon can be very low, since the only consumable item expended is fuel to run the system.

                                                  For years, the Department of Defense (DoD) and all the Services have recognized the promise of directed-energy weapons such as lasers, and continue to prioritize research. Recently, the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, the Hon. Heidi Shyu, re-affirmed that directed energy is one of the DoD’s critical technology areas.

                                                  ONR plays an important role in developing technologies for laser weapons and has fielded demonstration systems for operational experimentation. Notably, in 2014 ONR saw the Laser Weapon System tested successfully aboard the USS Ponce in the Persian Gulf. More recently, ONR fielded the Laser Weapon System Demonstrator aboard the USS Portland in 2021.

                                                  Although there’s no plan to field the LLD, it offers a glimpse into the future of laser weapons. It is compact and powerful, yet more efficient than previous systems. It has specialized optics to observe a target and focus laser beams to maximum effect, while also incorporating artificial intelligence to improve tracking and targeting.

                                                  “LLD is an example of what a very advanced laser system can do to defeat significant threats to naval forces,” said David Kiel, a former Navy captain who is a program officer in ONR’s Aviation, Force Projection and Integrated Defense Department, which managed the testing. “And we have ongoing efforts, both at ONR and in other Navy programs, to keep building on these results in the near future.”

                                                  During the recent test at White Sands, the LLD tracked or shot down an array of targets—including unmanned fixed-wing aerial vehicles, quadcopters and high-speed drones representative of subsonic cruise missiles.

                                                  “We’re proud to say that the Layered Laser Defense system defeated a surrogate cruise missile threat in partnership with the Navy, White Sands Missile Range and Army High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility teams. Lockheed Martin drew best-in-class laser weapon subsystems from across the corporation, including key industry partner Rolls Royce, to support the entire threat engagement timeline from target detection to defeat,” said Rick Cordaro, vice president, Lockheed Martin Advanced Product Solutions. “We leveraged more than 40 years of directed energy experience to create new capabilities that support the 21st century warfighter.”

                                                  Dr. Frank Peterkin, ONR’s directed energy portfolio manager, said, “The Navy performed similar tests during the 1980s but with chemical-based laser technologies that presented significant logistics barriers for fielding in an operational environment. And, ultimately, those types of lasers did not transition to the fleet or any other Service.

                                                  “Today, ONR coordinates closely with the Navy’s resourcing and acquisition communities to make sure we develop laser weapon technologies that make sense for the Navy’s requirements to defend the fleet and for operations in the rough maritime environment at sea,” Peterkin continued. “It’s a challenging problem, but Navy leadership at all levels see potential for laser weapons to really make a difference. The next few years are going to be very exciting as we work with the Navy and joint partners to make the capability we just saw demonstrated by the LLD a reality for the naval warfighter.”

                                                  Warren Duffie Jr. is a contractor for ONR Corporate Strategic Communications.


                                                  • Ultra image

                                                    Ultra And Sparton Win U.S. Navy Contract For New Sonobuoys

                                                    Ultra Electronics Holdings plc (ULE) and Sparton DLS, LLC announce the award of a contract valued at $11.6 million to their ERAPSCO joint venture, against the $222 million competitive Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) production contract for the manufacture of next-generation sonobuoys for the United States Navy.

                                                    Naval News Staff 14 Apr 2022

                                                    Contract is for the production of the new AN/SSQ-125A (Q-125A) active sonobuoy

                                                    ULTRA press release

                                                    The new buoy type, the AN/SSQ-125A (Q-125A) which was recently officially qualified, was developed by ERAPSCO after 24 months of effort. The Q-125A will provide advanced active sonar capabilities to the U.S. Navy fleet of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft and will further the U.S. Navy’s ability to counter stealthy modern submarines from our foreign adversaries.

                                                    ERAPSCO will award production subcontracts in the amount of $3.6 million and $8 million to Ultra Electronics USSI and Sparton. Production operations will take place at Ultra Electronics USSI’s Columbia City, IN facility and Sparton’s DeLeon Springs, FL facility, and are expected to be completed by November 2023.

                                                    Eric Webster, President of Ultra Sonobuoy Systems:
                                                    “This is an important milestone in creating advanced capability for the U.S. Navy, and I am pleased our team continues to lead the industry into the next generation with proven expertise in transducer development and acoustic signal processing. This ability to deliver cutting edge ASW technology is essential to U.S. Navy anti-submarine warfare efforts.”

                                                    Tracy Howard, Chief Executive Officer of Sparton DLS, commented:
                                                    “As a proud member of the ASW community in uniform and business for over 35 years, I am pleased that we are able to provide the highest quality sonobuoy engineering and production to the US Navy and our allies throughout the world. Our Sparton team is filled with pride and patriotism as we are able to directly support our warfighters.”


                                                    • unicorn11
                                                      unicorn11 commented
                                                      Editing a comment
                                                      Might end up being used by the RAN / RAAF as well, for commonality.

                                                  • What should the US Navy learn from Moskva’s demise?

                                                    China's investment in anti-ship weaponry poses a "major problem" for the US Navy's ability to fight in the Indo-Pacific, a Singapore-based analyst told Breaking Defense.

                                                    By JUSTIN KATZ

                                                    on April 15, 2022 at 5:46 PM

                                                    The Russian missile cruiser Moskva, a flagship of Russian Black Sea Fleet, enters Sevastopol bay. (Photo by VASILY BATANOV/AFP via Getty Images)

                                                    WASHINGTON: Even as Ukraine has proved its military tenacity in ground fighting against Russian troops, observers of the conflict were stunned late this week after the Ukrainian military announced it successfully struck the Russian Black Sea fleet’s flagship with a pair of cruise missiles.

                                                    The notion of Ukraine’s military, the veritable underdog in the fight, bringing down the Moskva, a warship named for Russia’s capital city, was not only a strategic victory but a symbolic one.

                                                    Russia’s defense ministry put out a variety of statements suggesting the ship suffered an accidental fire or explosion, but today a senior US defense official told reporters the ship was indeed hit by two Ukrainian Neptune missiles.

                                                    But just as analysts were calculating what the Russian loss meant for the future of the European conflict, the sinking of such a high-profile ship also prompted a more introspective question for some US naval observers: If Ukraine could sink a flagship vessel with a cruise missile, how well would American ships do in a similar situation, as it could see in, for example, the Indo-Pacific against China?

                                                    The answer, three naval warfare experts told Breaking Defense, is complicated, but generally the US Navy is much better positioned to defend against or recover from such an attack.

                                                    Anti-ship munitions are relatively inexpensive and the Chinese have invested in plenty of them, making the threat very real. But Russia’s surface fleet’s ship designs are outdated and flawed in ways that lend them to catastrophic results from even a single successful hit. Their defenses also haven’t been updated as vigorously as America’s. Further, the apparent incompetence of Russia’s crews likely played a key role in the ship’s inability to recover following the strike — a skill US Navy sailors have demonstrated time and again.

                                                    “The USN does confront a major problem against the Chinese in the Indo-Pacific” with respect to its cruise missiles, said Collin Koh, a research fellow at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. “Yet on the flipside, the PLA Navy is also steadily building principal surface combatants, and if the US military is able to enhance its anti-ship arsenal then a counter-threat can be posed to the Chinese in the same manner.”

                                                    (Relatively) Small Munitions, Big Impacts

                                                    Capable anti-ship cruise missiles are readily available in the global arms market, and China, for one, has amassed a “potent arsenal” of them, according to Koh.

                                                    To be effective, Koh said, a missile doesn’t have to sink a ship outright — it just needs to do enough damage that the crew’s attention is diverted from launching attacks to keeping themselves afloat. If a weaker force focuses large numbers of missiles on a single ship, they have good odds of landing one or two useful hits.

                                                    Details of the Moskva’s final moments above water are still foggy, but there is consensus that the ship did not sink immediately following the strike, but rather succumbed to the damage while transiting back to port.

                                                    The Israeli Navy experienced a similar incident in 2006 when the Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah managed to strike the corvette INS Hanit from land, Koh noted.

                                                    “The strike didn’t sink the warship [Hanit] but put it out of action. This incident, and the latest Moskva sinking, reinforces the notion that in today’s naval warfare, weaker parties can still pose an asymmetric threat to stronger naval adversaries,” he said.

                                                    The Importance Of Ship Design, Upgraded Defenses And Steady Sailors

                                                    But there are a few reasons it may be apples and oranges to compare the Moskva and ships in the US Navy’s current surface force.

                                                    The first has to do with the design of the Moskva and other Soviet fleet ships, said Jerry Hendrix, a retired US Navy captain and a vice president of the Telemus Group. Produced in the 1970s and 1980s, the Soviet Union chose to store offensive weaponry above deck. That means it only takes one well placed hit to start a fire, which then heats up the canisters storing the missiles, transforming them into ticking time bombs.

                                                    “I don’t think that we can understate just the inherent poor design of the Slava class or for that matter, the Kirov class, or the Udaloys that came out at this time,” Hendrix said, referring to different Soviet-era ship types still in service. “This particular design of ship that the Russians or the Soviet Union invested in significantly really sets itself up for the sort of cascade failure.”

                                                    By contrast, the US Navy stores offensive munitions below deck, meaning if a fire threatens to start “cooking” a missile, then the crew can quickly flood the space before more damage is caused.

                                                    Another issue, Hendrix said, was the Russian’s surface fleet, which has not seen as much investment and attention as its more capable submarine force, has “archaic” air defense systems that simply aren’t designed for the trajectories of modern cruise and ballistic missiles, nor are they sensitive enough to pick up smaller contacts. The US Navy’s Aegis Combat System, on the other hand, has been persistently upgraded for decades to adapt to new threats.

                                                    “Our Aegis platforms have been designed, and then upgraded, and modified specifically looking everywhere from the surface to ballistic missile trajectories, which are coming down nearly vertically,” he said. (Aegis reportedly intercepted a missile attack on a US ship off the coast of Yemen in 2016.)

                                                    James Foggo III, a retired four-star Navy admiral who now leads the Center for Maritime Strategy, told Breaking Defense today the crews themselves are also key factors in whether a ship can overcome an attack.

                                                    He noted the timing of Moskva’s sinking coincides with the upcoming 40th anniversary of the Falklands War. In that conflict, there were two vessels, one British and one Argentine, that were destroyed in eerily similar incidents to what happened to the Russian warship.

                                                    In both cases, Foggo said, the crews should have been able to either defend against the attack or at least mitigate the damage after the fact. In both cases, the crews failed to do either.

                                                    The Argentine ship had watertight doors, designed to isolate flooding in the event an attack breaches the hull. The crew’s inability to control the flooding indicated a poor state of readiness on their part, Foggo said. In the British ship’s case, the crew reportedly failed to see the missile coming. Subsequently, the ship caught fire which spread and destroyed the vessel before it could return to port, he said.

                                                    “I don’t have any facts other than speculation [about the Moskva], but I will tell you that it smacks of the situation on [the Argentine ship]. Complacency,” he said.

                                                    ‘It’s An Embarrassment To Putin’

                                                    Although Russia’s defense ministry refuses to credit Moskva’s transformation into an artificial reef to Ukraine, it does acknowledge the ship is gone. And that is likely a very hard pill for the Russians to swallow.

                                                    Sending the warship named after the country’s capital into this war “was essentially Moscow sending a signal that we’re here and we’re going to stay,” said Hendrix. “So don’t underestimate the impact of the loss of this ship… It’s an embarrassment for Putin. It’s an embarrassment for Russia, and it is a real blow to the national prestige of Russia.”

                                                    Foggo said he was particularly concerned about what retaliatory measures the Russians would take after losing a flagship. He said many countries’ flagships are typically well-maintained, and relatively state-of-the-art vessels that are meant to represent the best of a nation. Moskva was rumored to be Putin’s favorite.

                                                    Foggo also pointed outed there is an irony about Moskva’s fate, and its status of flagship. Early on in the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian government ordered its own navy’s flagship, the frigate Hetman Sahaidachny, to be scuttled, or intentionally sunk, in Nikolaev port northeast of Odesa in order to keep the Russians from seizing it. Foggo said that the Moskva and other ships in its class were built at the same port when Ukraine was part of the USSR.

                                                    “And that’s where the Ukrainian flagship remains sunk. And now the Ukrainians, if it’s true, sunk Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet,” he said. “It’s just — I mean, you can’t make this up. It’s like a Hollywood script.”


                                                    • unicorn11
                                                      unicorn11 commented
                                                      Editing a comment
                                                      Somebody doesn't understand the concept of mission kill.

                                                  • Navy, Marine Corps Modernize Aviation Amid Fiscal Pressures


                                                    By Mikayla Easley

                                                    Marine Corps photo

                                                    Facing high-end threats abroad and fiscal pressures at home, Navy and Marine Corps aviation forces are preparing for the next generation of warfare.

                                                    The sea services’ aviation components own a variety of capabilities essential to the Defense Department’s vision for future joint all domain operations — including the striking power of the Navy’s carrier air wings, as well as firepower and heavy lift for Marine Corps ground forces.

                                                    To ensure those capabilities can maintain an edge over U.S. adversaries in future strategic environments, the Navy is emphasizing new platforms that will allow the service to operate at longer ranges and faster speeds in the next 10 to 15 years, said Rear Adm. Shane Gahagan, program executive officer for tactical aircraft programs.

                                                    “The ranges that we need based on the threats that are out there — [which should] have kinetic and non-kinetic effects — are only increasing over the years. They’ve pushed naval aviation farther and farther out,” he said during a recent panel at the National Defense Industrial Association’s annual Expeditionary Warfare Conference.

                                                    Gahagan pointed specifically to long-range weapons, such as hypersonic missiles, as technology the Navy is pursuing. Hypersonics are expected to be highly maneuverable and travel at speeds greater than Mach 5, and pose a major challenge for enemy air defenses.

                                                    In addition, the Navy may need to boost aircraft procurement in the future to avoid shortfalls and sustainment problems, according to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “U.S. Military Forces in FY 2022.”

                                                    “For many years, naval aviation has been procuring mature systems with predictable costs and schedules,” Mark Cancian, a senior advisor at CSIS, said in the report. “Long-established production lines have recently finished … [and] new systems will eventually replace them, but there will be a gap.”

                                                    Notably, the Navy plans to end production of the F/A-18 Hornet combat jet in 2022. The procurement of other aircraft such as the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter won’t compensate for the loss of the F/A-18, according to the report.

                                                    Gahagan said the service has plans for a sixth-generation fighter to be developed under its Next-Generation Air Dominance program intended to replace the Navy’s fleet of F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets by the early 2040s.

                                                    In the meantime, Gahagan noted the service life of F/A-18 E/F airframes is being extended to 10,000 flight hours under the Block III program, which includes added capabilities such as new displays, visual targeting assets and abilities to link data.

                                                    The Marine Corps also sees modernization as critical for future operations, said Brig. Gen. Matt Mowery, assistant deputy commandant for aviation.

                                                    “We need to be faster, be able to go farther and be able to have more effects out on the leading edge of the battle space,” Mowery said during the panel.

                                                    The Corps’ push for modernization is part of Commandant Gen. David Berger’s Force Design 2030 — a plan to ready the service for potential conflicts with adversaries such as China in the Indo-Pacific region. Along with procuring new platforms, the strategy calls for divesting of unneeded legacy systems.

                                                    For aviation, this includes a reduction in rotary-wing squadrons and potentially the number of fixed-wing fighter jets per squadron, according to the service’s Force Design 2030 annual update.

                                                    “Instead of [strictly] thinking about ... platform replacements, [it’s] more of a capability requirement,” Mowery added. “Over the last two years, we’ve really done a lot of analysis and reflection and coordination with the other services to really think about where we are going and what is the requirement that we need.”

                                                    For example, the service plans to develop its future rotary-wing fleet using a family-of-systems approach that will encompass the Marine Corps’ entire inventory of platforms that take off and land vertically, Mowery said. This could include replacements for the AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venom helicopters, he added.

                                                    In the future, the family of systems may also encompass technology like large unmanned logistics system-airborne, Mowery said. The platform is one of the varieties of cargo transport systems the Marines are developing and acquiring, according to the Department of Navy’s Unmanned Campaign Framework published in 2021.

                                                    “As we look at the distances that we [have to] cover out in the Pacific, to have something unmanned that can do very repetitive work [is] riskworthy, but over long distances and at an airspeed that will make a difference on the battlefield. That may actually be a priority for us over an H-1 replacement,” Mowery said, noting that the service will still take deliveries of the last H-1 helicopters it purchased.

                                                    The expanded role unmanned aerial vehicles will play in Marine Corps operations is another tenant of Force Design 2030. The service purchased two MQ-9A Reapers in 2020 and is looking to purchase six more in 2022, according to the Marine Corps’ budget request for fiscal year 2022.

                                                    The Marines also have finished procurement of the MQ-8 B/C Fire Scout — an autonomous reconnaissance helicopter — while simultaneously divesting its RQ-21 Blackjack reconnaissance and surveillance UAV, according to the Force Design update.

                                                    However, Mowery warned of a disconnect between the Defense Department and industry on the exact capabilities unmanned platforms can offer and when the technology will be ready.

                                                    “The last thing we want to do right now is shift investments into something that’s going to be more manpower intensive, … or take a single-seat aviator and put more on his or her plate because they’ve got another system or asset up and flying with them but it’s not truly autonomous,” he said.

                                                    Gahagan agreed with Mowery, adding that the department needs to tell industry more precisely what it wants unmanned technology to accomplish.

                                                    The Navy has been relatively cautious in experimenting with UAVs compared to the other services such as the Air Force, according to the CSIS report. More emphasis is being currently placed on manned aircraft, it noted.

                                                    Still, production of the MQ-4C Triton, a long-endurance intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance drone, is slated to begin in 2023. Additionally, the MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial tanker is also scheduled to achieve initial operational capability in 2025.

                                                    The Marine Corps is also behind the curve when it comes to UAVs, the report said. It added that Berger wants to better incorporate drones but “faces decades of aviation culture built around manned aircraft.”

                                                    Another challenge facing the service’s ability to acquire drones and other capabilities is the current fiscal environment, Mowery noted.

                                                    As of press time, the federal government has yet to enact a full-year defense appropriations bill for fiscal year 2022 and is operating under a continuing resolution. Working under a CR for an extended period of time hinders the Corps’ ability to acquire the technology it needs, Mowery said.

                                                    “Stable and predictable budgets are really key to us being able to modernize, remain relevant for the current fight, and be ready for this peer fight that we see in the future,” he said.

                                                    Overall, the Department of the Navy requested $211.7 billion in spending for 2022. Between the two services, the Navy asked for $163.9 billion — just 0.6 percent more than in 2021 — while the Marine Corps requested $47.9 billion, about a 6 percent increase from 2021, to help overhaul the force.

                                                    Gahagan added: “It’s a balance between budgetary decisions of current readiness, future readiness and how do you balance where the funding flows to be able to work the great power competition. We need to maximize and optimize current [and] future readiness in a budget environment that may not be optimum for what we need.”

                                                    As the Navy looks to procure more technology, Gahagan said the service will likely put more emphasis on a platform’s sustainment costs when making contract awards, incorporate cost per flight hour as a metric in requirements, and emphasize live-virtual-constructive training.

                                                    Mowery agreed that distributed operations in areas like the South China Sea will necessitate a different approach.

                                                    “We’ve got to be more energy efficient [and have] power management and more reliability on those systems, because we’re not going to be able to have the iron mountain that we’ve been able to have over the last 20 years to draw from,” he said, referring to the large units and supply depots upon which the military has grown dependent.

                                                    Gahagan acknowledged that future success will require some creativity.

                                                    “A lot of it’s not about money. It’s about just [being] open to different ideas, critical thinking of how to do things different, and bringing in best practices,” he said. “The challenge for industry and naval aviation is how do we execute the outcome we need [in a] constrained budget with the technology moving forward.”


                                                    • Navy On Cusp of Awarding Contract for New Torpedo


                                                      By Mikayla Easley

                                                      ​The Very Lightweight Torpedo
                                                      Northrop Grumman photo

                                                      NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Navy is poised to award the contract for its first new torpedo in more than two decades.

                                                      In October, the sea service released a request for proposals for the Compact Rapid Attack Weapon program. The RFP sought bids to manufacture the prototype for the very lightweight torpedo, or VLWT, developed by Pennsylvania State University’s Applied Research Laboratory. Once fielded, it will be the Navy’s newest torpedo since the 1990s.

                                                      While it is unclear who responded to the RFP, Northrop Grumman entered its own prototype torpedo into the production contract competition in November, said David Portner, the company’s senior program manager for undersea weapons.

                                                      “The contract that we bid on is essentially to transition the effort from Penn State to industry, and our focus is to essentially modify the design to make it lower cost in production,” Portner said on the sidelines of the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space conference in National Harbor, Maryland.

                                                      He added the corporation is waiting for a decision on a “day-to-day basis” from the Navy.

                                                      At 9 feet long and around 200 pounds, Northrop Grumman’s VLWT prototype is a fraction of the size and weight of the 600-pound Mark 54 lightweight torpedoes currently used by the Navy. The size would allow the Navy to carry more torpedoes on a submarine, and even create the option for either manned or unmanned aircraft to carry them, Portner said.

                                                      In addition, the torpedo will be able to perform both defensive and offensive missions depending upon which software is configured. The compact rapid attack weapon, or CRAW, is the offensive version of the torpedo and the countermeasure anti-torpedo, or CAT, is the defensive version.

                                                      “Defensively, this torpedo is being designed to engage an incoming torpedo. Offensively, it’s been designed to engage a submarine,” Portner said. Whichever way operators set up the torpedo will determine how it interacts with threats based on their size, speed and whether or not they have a crew onboard, he explained.

                                                      The first iteration of the lightweight torpedo designed at Penn State was fielded as a defensive weapon, but the program has since been canceled. However, the Navy realized the benefits of having a multi-mission weapon and pushed the university to design a more flexible torpedo, Portner explained.

                                                      “These will be much less costly. It’s much more rapidly launched and it’s more maneuverable because it was designed for that defensive capability,” he said. “But bringing in the offensive capability as well, a submarine can use it in those situations.”

                                                      The Navy is using an other transaction authority agreement to compete the program. The acquisition will seek to transition the Penn State prototypes to large-scale manufacturing.


                                                      • DEW
                                                        DEW commented
                                                        Editing a comment
                                                        A submerged submarine hull is already stressed. It doesn't take much in contact to do serious damage. Even a wounded sub is a mission kill and a wounded sub in damage control is meat on the table for any capable ASW force.

                                                      • unicorn11
                                                        unicorn11 commented
                                                        Editing a comment
                                                        The guidance systems for smaller torpedoes are set somewhat differently than for the heavyweight ones. the heavyweight torps go for the centre of the active sonar target, expecting their large warhead will mission kill a sub, in the unlikely scenario where it doesn't sink the target immediately.

                                                        Light ASW torpedoes trail and home on the stern, homing on the prop, on the basis that a hit there screws the drive train, might blow the prop off, meaning the sub is dead in the water, and can pop the seals, which will kill a sub rapidly as the flooding will overcome the ability of the sub to surface..

                                                      • Magnify v2.0
                                                        Magnify v2.0 commented
                                                        Editing a comment
                                                        With its imaging sonar, add acoustic and target-shape recognition, plus aim-point logic, and optimal vectored approach angle and it'll hit the right location for a kill. 1-inch wide plasma jet and shock wave enter control room, high pressure water follows. Instant mission kill. 2nd torpedo assigned to propulsor.

                                                    • Congressman: Navy to get blunt questions about ‘confounding’ double ship counting

                                                      The ship, LHA-9, had already been authorized, so its inclusion as new in the president's budget request attracted immediate attention from lawmakers following the budget's rollout.

                                                      By JUSTIN KATZ

                                                      on April 18, 2022 at 2:01 PM

                                                      The amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), the same type ship as the LHA 9 of budget controversy, sails off the southern coast of California. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy M. Black/Released)

                                                      WASHINGTON: An influential congressman overseeing the Navy’s shipbuilding accounts says the service can expect blunt questions about what appears to be the double counting of an amphibious warship in the president’s budget request.

                                                      “I think it is so blindingly obvious that that ship can’t be counted this year again,” Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., told Breaking Defense in an interview today. “To the extent that you have to wrestle with it just kind of undermines the credibility” of the rest of the budget.

                                                      Courtney chairs the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee, a key congressional panel with jurisdiction over the Navy’s shipbuilding budget request. Courtney, the panel’s ranking member Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., as well as other lawmakers took notice when the service rolled out its new budget request, which counted LHA-9 as one of nine new vessels bought in fiscal 2023 even though it had already been authorized fiscal 2020.

                                                      That’s a problem because lawmakers in previous years have written legislation that explicitly directs the Navy to not portray a ship that has already been authorized in prior years as a new vessel in subsequent budgets. For reasons that are not clear yet, that is precisely what the Navy appears to have done in this case.

                                                      Breaking Defense has sought a comment from the Navy multiple times about this issue and as of press time has not received a response.

                                                      Courtney said he too had not received an explanation yet from the service, but that he intends to seek answers during the annual private meetings lawmakers have with key service officials ahead of congressional public hearings.

                                                      “That subject is going to be very bluntly brought up,” he said, calling the move “confounding.”

                                                      During a separate interview several days after the budget was released, Wittman told Breaking Defense he couldn’t speculate on the Navy’s intent. He chalked the service’s ship counting up to an insider baseball game among the Pentagon, the White House and Congress — a game driven by the Pentagon’s need to follow the top line budget numbers directed by the White House.

                                                      “I’m not too much into what the intentions are,” he said in an April 8 interview. Congress’ “job is to have the debate and do as much as we can to make sure our nation is in the right position to defend itself.”

                                                      Often, when it comes to the budget, Wittman added, “the president proposes and the Congress disposes. That’s where are with this.”


                                                      • ... “I think it is so blindingly obvious that that ship can’t be counted this year again,” ...
                                                        Remarked on this last week, at this link. F-35A acquisition costs are $181 million each, in 2022-23 FY. That's almost twice their stated cost, with engines. What's USAF really buying with the almost $12 billion requested? It isn't 68 F-35A, which should cost about $6.5 billion. SO where's the other ~$5.5 billion going?


                                                        ... “To the extent that you have to wrestle with it just kind of undermines the credibility” of the rest of the budget. ...
                                                        Massive spending is occurring, on unstated programs, and the cost is so large it's hard to hide or disguise. It's something very big, new, and expensive.

                                                        Similar with the unexpectedly huge ~$33 billion AUD allocated to new missile defenses and hypersonic weapon research. This combined figure is so shockingly large no one saw it coming. A money drop like that, doesn't get allocated, unless something big and new was already mapped and planned.

                                                        But suddenly USA, UK and ADF all have space force services?

                                                        UK just invested 24 billion pounds on this last year, spread over 4 years, to 2025.

                                                        Think about that ... 24 billion pounds ... spent over 4 years ...

                                                        ... The ability to operate in Space is further enhanced by an increase in Defence funding of £24 billion over the next four years, as announced by the Prime Minister last year. ...

                                                        I don't know if that's all for space related capabilities, but something big is happening across AUKUS and NATO.

                                                        ... UK Space Command carries the UK’s commitment in the Combined Space Operations initiative, which comprises of seven nations: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, UK and the U.S. ...
                                                        When you look at the US Space Force budget, it gets even more ridiculous ...

                                                        ... The service laid out that strategy in late March, requesting $3.4 billion — about $1 billion more than Congress appropriated in fiscal 2022 — to keep the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared System satellites and ground segment on track. The request also proposed another $1.2 billion to continue developing systems to track hypersonic missiles from low and medium Earth orbits and ensure the associated ground capabilities are aligned with the satellite work.
                                                        That's a $4.6 billion USD annual Space-Force service budget? ... no way! ... it's much too small a number.

                                                        UK will spend an average of $7.8 billion USD increase, on its space force capability each year, until FY2026.

                                                        How likely is it that the UK spends twice as much as the US on a new national 'space force'?

                                                        Meanwhile, in Australia we get a surprise new space combat service as well ...

                                                        ... "Defence will invest $7bn in space capabilities over the next 10 years." ...

                                                        Something very sus about all the unexpected and inconsistent new spending, plus an attempt by the US to hide the scale of the spending, as the article above states ...

                                                        ... Wittman told Breaking Defense he couldn’t speculate on the Navy’s intent. ... a game driven by the Pentagon’s need to follow the top line budget numbers directed by the White House ... “I’m not too much into what the intentions are,” he said in an April 8 interview. Congress’ “job is to have the debate ... "
                                                        Which is all but impossible as nothing now adds up. The budget numbers are incoherent, there's an unstated intent and priority, that's not to be seriously questioned, or debated, nor with anything approaching a consistent quantitative budgeting picture. The US apparently wants its investment in space to appear much smaller than it must be. Whatever's going on it's the new big thing for this new cold-war decade. It could be an allied global directed-energy air defence network.

                                                        Did Regan's 1983 "Strategic Defence Initiative" become a thing?

                                                        If you had a nasty psychotic prick threatening preemptive nuclear strike all the time, and Beijing and DPRK more or less doing similar, what else would you do? You'd proactively build an effective defense to eliminate the threat. That's exactly what Reagan said SDI was for. But SDI was dismissed by tech critics as too hard, too expensive, decades away, and in effect an unrealistic strategic propaganda mechanism, for demoralizing the Soviets. Because at the time. it was kind of believable, not immediately of course, but 'soon'. It could be done. A massed nuclear attack could be mostly defeated if missiles could be destroyed in the boost-phase (Lasers), mid-course (SM3 and interceptors in Alaska + mid-pacific islands, and lasers in space) and in the terminal phase (THAAD and more lasers).

                                                        All that's missing from the overall picture is a comprehensive DEW defense network, below 100 km altitude for the boost phase, but even that partially exists today with SS lasers on DDG and C-130. SDI is getting very close to becoming a functional and practical reality. If I were a nuclear-armed authoritarian leader, I'd be worried. Hence global range nuclear torpedoes for retaliation ... and thus nuclear deterrence restored.

                                                        But add the world's only air-breathing long-range hypersonic strike 'cruise missile' as currently being developed by USA and Australia. Suddenly the torpedoes and BMs can be destroyed before they are launched. Nuclear deterrence lacking credibility.

                                                        That could remove the ability to successfully fight an intercontinental nuclear war. And tactical level nuclear weapons could be destroyed by mobile DEW defence networks. It's become a practical reality already.

                                                        Which means a large-scale conventional war can be pursued against a nuclear power without a serious chance of a successful major nuclear exchange occurring, nor even successful tactical nuclear strikes.

                                                        This would seem like a good reason to invest vast sums of money, to me. Thus China and Russia can be dealt with conventionally where they won't have a chance of coming out of it as powers of any real consequence any more.

                                                        Cold-War SDI delivered ... but for Cold-War v2.0.

                                                        rambling 2c


                                                        • Bug2
                                                          Bug2 commented
                                                          Editing a comment
                                                          Curiouser and curiouser...............???

                                                        • unicorn11
                                                          unicorn11 commented
                                                          Editing a comment
                                                          Basically money's being funneled into the black side of defence. Things like the SR-71, F117 and B2 came out of the the black project world, something equally legendary is coming I suspect. Obviously NGAD is some of it, but I suspect hypersonic weapons systems are another aspect.

                                                        • Magnify v2.0
                                                          Magnify v2.0 commented
                                                          Editing a comment
                                                          I suppose we'll find out in about 5 years.

                                                      • New Navy Long Range Shipbuilding Plan Calls for Decommissioning More Cruisers, Littoral Combat Ships

                                                        By: Mallory Shelbourne

                                                        April 19, 2022 6:07 PM • Updated: April 19, 2022 8:51 PM

                                                        Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Jackson (LCS-6) pierside in Guam. US Navy Photo

                                                        The Department of the Navy’s first long-range shipbuilding plan in three years proposes multiple fleet procurement schemes for the Navy and forecasts the service decommissioning two Independence-class Littoral Combat Ships in the coming years, according to the document.

                                                        The Fiscal Year 2023 30-year shipbuilding plan, obtained by USNI News, shows the Navy decommissioning two Independence-class LCS – USS Jackson (LCS-6) and USS Montgomery (LCS-8) – in FY 2024. Jackson entered the fleet in 2015, while Montgomery was commissioned in 2016. Both ships were built by Austal USA.

                                                        The Navy also wants to continue decommissioning its aging Ticonderoga-class cruiser fleet, starting with USS Antietam (CG-54), USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55) and USS Shiloh (CG-67) in FY 2024. Under the proposal, the Navy would decommission the entire cruiser fleet by the end of FY 2027, including the ones that are currently in the cruiser modernization program.

                                                        Navy’s three options for its Battle Force Delivery Plan. US Navy Photo

                                                        In a departure from recent years, the 30-year blueprint includes three alternatives for ship procurement. The first option would yield an inventory of 316 ships by FY 2052, the second would yield 327 ships by FY 2052 and the third would yield 367 ships by FY 2052. But the document notes that “the ability of the industrial base to support” the third option with the largest fleet size “has not been independently assessed.”

                                                        The first two options would be for “a budget with no real growth,” while the third option “represents an additional $75B real growth beyond the [Future Years Defense Program] in FY2022 constant dollars,” according to the proposal.

                                                        US Navy Battle Force Retirement Plan

                                                        “The increased procurement level, informed by industrial base capacity and on-time and on-budget performance, achieves 326 manned battle force ships in the mid-2030s, and ultimately achieves 363 manned battle force ships in FY2045,” the document continues. The year 2045 was the timeline former Defense Secretary Mark Esper used for his shipbuilding analysis during the Trump administration.

                                                        While the proposal forecasts the Navy’s thinking for the next 30 years, the ultimate decision on which ships to purchase and which ships to retire rests with Congress, which has repeatedly criticized the service for decommissioning ships at a faster rate than it can build new ones.

                                                        The long-range plan shows the Navy decommissioning 13 ships in FY 2024, another 13 in FY 2025, 14 ships in FY 2026 and 13 in FY 2027. FY 2027 would also see the service decommission USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51), the lead ship of the class.

                                                        The three procurement schemes show what ships the Navy could purchase between FY 2028 and FY 2032, a timeframe the service is calling a “transition” period after the FY 2023 five-year spending plan, and between FY 2033 and FY 2052, which the Navy is calling the “future force design” timeframe.

                                                        While the first two alternatives only show the Navy buying one Ford-class aircraft carrier between FY 2028 and FY 2032, the third option shows the service purchasing one in FY 2028 and another in FY 2032.

                                                        “A decision on CVN 82/83 two-ship buy is required no later than FY25 and will be evaluated during upcoming force structure and industrial base studies,” the document reads. “The Department is reviewing Large and Small Surface Combatant and Attack Submarine procurement quantities in FY2028-2032.”

                                                        Navy’s three options for its Battle Force Inventory. US Navy Photo

                                                        The blueprint shows the Navy decommissioning USS Nimitz (CVN-68) in FY 2025 and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) in FY 2027, which aligns with the 50-year service lives for the Nimitz-class carriers.

                                                        The document notes that it’s prioritizing readiness before capacity, which aligns with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday’s goals.

                                                        “Assuming no real budget growth, the two low ranges of the plan do not procure all platforms at the desired rate (e.g., DDGs, SSNs and FFGs at two ships per year), which industry needs to demonstrate the ability to achieve, but do maximize capability within projected resources, industrial factors, and technology constraints to build the most capable force. Overall, this approach accepts risk in capacity in order to field a more capable and ready force.”

                                                        Download the document here.


                                                        • ARHmk3
                                                          ARHmk3 commented
                                                          Editing a comment
                                                          I think there is some serious potential behind the concept of the Independence-class, it was just executed in the worst possible way. If they gave it a suitable armament that wasn't dependent on swappable modules, and a sensible engine package, the large deck and storage space would make it incrtedibly useful as an unmanned vehicle mothership.

                                                          The problem with the current ships is whether the amount of work needed to turn them into something useful is worth it, even if the ships can be acquired cheap on the second hand market. It only really makes sence for someone like Taiwan, because they have old ships in desperate need of replacement that aren't all that good to start with, and time is not on their side.

                                                        • Bug2
                                                          Bug2 commented
                                                          Editing a comment
                                                          You hit the nail on the head ARH.............the USN cannot afford the manpower, cannot find the manpower to either repair, refurb and re-commission these warships, nor to man them once complete, they have other screaming demands for Labor that over-ride messing around with a 30-40 year old Cruiser.

                                                        • DEW
                                                          DEW commented
                                                          Editing a comment
                                                          The Fiscal Year 2023 30-year shipbuilding plan, obtained by USNI News, shows the Navy decommissioning two Independence-class LCS – USS Jackson (LCS-6) and USS Montgomery (LCS-8) – in FY 2024. Jackson entered the fleet in 2015, while Montgomery was commissioned in 2016. Both ships were built by Austal USA.
                                                          Re the above: My bad. Apart from anything else, I had mistakenly assumed the two named vessels were from the fully-sorted tranche of the Independence class. That is; beyond number 4 of the class (being LCS-10 and above).

                                                      • 5G deemed a ‘great enabler’ for US Navy

                                                        By Colin Demarest

                                                        Apr 20, 04:14 AM

                                                        The amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor, right, conducts a vertical replenishment while transiting the Arabian Gulf with the amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland, left, Sept. 18, 2021. (MC2 Wesley Richardson/U.S. Navy)

                                                        WASHINGTON — The chief digital innovation officer for the U.S. Navy this week hailed 5G as a “great enabler” of future operations, as the service experiments with the technology and focuses on greater connectivity through Project Overmatch.

                                                        Fifth-generation wireless gear is being considered for a range of applications, Michael Galbraith suggested April 19, from pier-side and shipboard links to smart warehouses and other logistical feats.

                                                        “Think of a ship, think of a carrier group — we need to work in the run quiet, run deep kind of thing, can’t use SATCOM,” Galbraith said at the Cloudera Government Forum. “I still need to communicate from the first deck to the third deck, I still need to communicate from that carrier to the destroyer, and 5G and other millimeter wave technologies allow that to happen.”

                                                        Exactly how 5G, the so-called internet of things and data collection interact with the Navy’s major networks is an “issue that we are actively working on,” Galbraith said. “You hear about Project Overmatch, communication as a service. That is a part of that work that the team that” Rear Adm. Doug Small’s “group is doing. That is vitally important.”

                                                        Project Overmatch is the Navy’s clandestine contribution to Joint All-Domain Command and Control, a broader Pentagon effort to better connect sensors and shooters and dissolve communication barriers between the services. Small is the leader of the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, a key JADC2 player.

                                                        Small in early April told C4ISRNET his team was “working across systems commands, warfare centers, services and with industry to provide the architecture, or framework, for how the various components are stitched together, including the networks, infrastructure, data architecture, tools and analytics to improve on our decision advantage.”

                                                        “Ultimately,” Small said at the time, “this will aid our ability to provide synchronized effects near and far in all domains, ensuring a more lethal and better-connected fleet now and far into the future.”

                                                        Fifth-generation wireless technology promises faster speeds, lower latency and other improvements compared with its predecessors. Alone, 5G is “more, better, faster,” Galbraith said. But when synced with other capabilities, he added, the potential really shines.

                                                        “We in the Navy, you know, we work at the edge, have been working at the edge since the 1700s,” he said. “In that information domain, there are other network capabilities, and 5G just is, again, a great enabler.”

                                                        The Department of Defense has selected a dozen military installations as test beds for 5G, including sites in California, Georgia and Virginia. This month, the department unveiled a multimillion-dollar challenge to accelerate the growth and adoption of a fifth-generation open ecosystem.

                                                        AT&T Inc. this year claimed initial success in setting up a 5G network experiment that could realize smart warehouses for the Navy, Defense News reported. The service believes smart warehouses could boost the efficiency and fidelity of its logistics.

                                                        “When we first started experimenting and piloting in 5G,” Galbraith said Tuesday, “we looked at what our priorities were.”

                                                        The Defense Department received nearly $338 million for 5G and microelectronics in fiscal year 2022. It requested $250 million for fiscal year 2023, budget documents show.


                                                        • After a Decade of Debate, Cruisers Set to Exit Fleet in 5 Years

                                                          By: Sam LaGrone, Mallory Shelbourne and Christopher P. Cavas

                                                          April 21, 2022 6:23 PM

                                                          USS Vicksburg (CG-69) getting repaired at BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair, Va., on April 8, 2022. Christopher P. Cavas Photo used with permission

                                                          NORFOLK, Va. – USS Vicksburg (CG-69) is in the middle of a $200 million repair period meant to keep the guided-missile cruiser in the fleet well into the 2030s. Shrouded in scaffolding and white plastic at BAE Systems Ship Repair, shipyard workers have been upgrading Vicksburg since 2020.

                                                          The repair work was part of a controversial decade-old Navy modernization plan to keep 11 of the remaining 22 Ticonderoga-class cruisers in the service’s inventory into the 2030s to operate with carrier strike groups and host their air defense commanders.

                                                          But now the Navy wants to abandon the modernization as part of a wide-ranging cut of legacy platforms the service says cost too much to fix and maintain. In the next five years, the Navy plans to shed its entire cruiser force, including the ships part of the ongoing modernization program, according to the long-range shipbuilding plan released this week.

                                                          Should Congress allow the Navy to move forward with its plan, the service would decommission 10 cruisers in two years, bringing the cruiser inventory down from 22 ships to 12 by the end of Fiscal Year 2023.

                                                          “It really comes down to – for these ships that are all over 30-years-old – whether we want to continue to pour resources into them from a modernization perspective when only one of the five has actually delivered,” Vice Adm. Scott Conn, deputy chief of naval operations for warfighting requirements and capabilities (OPNAV N9), told reporters on Wednesday.
                                                          “Congress may not be happy, they may push back. There is concern at the waterfront. Having been down and visited Vicksburg last week, and walked that ship and they got a lot of stuff done. And they have a long way to go. So it’s just a part of our ‘get real’ perspective in the Navy in terms of assessing where we are. And is the investment we continue to make on these ships going to give us a return from a warfighting capability perspective?”

                                                          Interactive content by Flourish
                                                          Along with Vicksburg, the Navy wants to decommission USS Bunker Hill (CG-52), USS Mobile Bay (CG-53), USS San Jacinto (CG-56) and USS Lake Champlain (CG-57) in FY 2023 and is already cleared to decommission USS Monterey (CG-61), USS Hué City (CG-66), USS Anzio (CG-68), USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) and USS Port Royal (CG-73) this year.

                                                          All 22 remaining cruisers are set to leave the fleet by 2027.

                                                          The Navy’s proposal is expected to continue years of debate between the service and Congress, as lawmakers have repeatedly criticized the Navy’s push to get rid of the cruisers without a platform to replace them.

                                                          Shedding the cruisers has been a thorn in the side of the Navy – and lawmakers – for over a decade, with the service offering various proposals to mothball and later modernize the ships or to decommission them permanently. All of the service’s ideas have been repeatedly rejected by Congress.

                                                          The back-and-forth between the service and lawmakers is convoluted, changing in detail and reasoning from year to year, but consistent in the overall theme of the Navy pushing to reduce the cruiser force and Congress pushing to keep the ships until there’s a viable replacement.

                                                          “The cruisers right now and the modernization are running 175 to 200 percent above estimated costs, hundreds of days delay. These ships were intended to have a 30-year service life, we’re out to 35,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday told the House Armed Services Committee last year.

                                                          A Flourish chart
                                                          Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), the former executive officer of Anzio, has been a vocal critic of the Navy’s plan to decommission the cruisers in the face of China’s naval buildup. Luria and others have invoked the “Davidson window” – former U.S. Indo-Pacific Command chief Adm. Phil Davidson’s warning that China could move against Taiwan by the end of the decade.

                                                          “It’s a ship that we have, and the cost of modernizing and upgrading it for extending its service life 10 or so years is significantly lower than building a new ship,” she told USNI News last year.
                                                          “We need to look at what we have today and how we can use it and how we can use it most efficiently. The idea of divesting of current platforms that still have usable service life in order to invest in something that we might develop the technology for in the future – paired with our poor track record on [developing new] platforms – just makes absolutely no sense to me.”

                                                          The Navy’s current plan is to replace the cruisers with the upcoming Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. The first Flight III, Jack Lucas (DDG-125), is set to commission next year. The destroyers will enter service at a rate far slower than the cruisers are leaving.

                                                          USS Anzio (CG-68) pier-side at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., on April 7, 2022. USNI News Photo

                                                          The service had planned to create a next-generation cruiser, CG(X), but the program was abandoned in 2010 due to cost.

                                                          In the mid-2010s, the service went ahead and took seven of the ships out of service, saying they would later be modernized to reenter the fleet as older cruisers reached the end of their service lives. The ships were not officially decommissioned, but instead entered a limbo state where crew numbers shrank to near-caretaker size. Stores, fuel and much of the ships’ equipment were removed, and at different stages the ships were “inducted” into a cruiser modernization program. Some shipyard work was done on the ships, but only in phases.

                                                          None of the ships inducted into the cruiser modernization program have returned to service. Two, Hue City and Anzio, are already slated for decommissioning this year and are in such poor condition the Navy determined they’re no longer worth repairing.

                                                          Earlier this month, Anzio could be seen at Naval Station Norfolk with no lifeboats, its painting turning pink and corrosion creeping up the hull from the waterline.

                                                          Conn said the new plan is “a realization that we have concern whether it will work. Gettysburg did deliver. I’m looking to see that ship get actually underway. Vicksburg has got a date. We’ll see if she can make that. … Nothing is carved in stone by the hand of God, it’s all on paper, it’s future decisions. There are people that can change it.”
                                                          Randy Forbes on a Decade of the Cruiser Debate

                                                          Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus speaks with Randy Forbes in Forbes’ office on June 13, 2013. Forbes is the likely pick for a Trump administration Secretary of the Navy. US Navy Photos

                                                          USNI News contributor Christopher P. Cavas interviewed former chairman of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee Randy Forbes on the history of the Navy’s cruiser modernization program. The Virginia Republican was front and center in Congressional opposition to the Navy’s efforts to draw down the cruiser force. Now out of Congress and in private life, last week he reviewed some of the history of the issue for USNI News.

                                                          FORBES: Actually the cruiser fight started longer than a decade ago. There was this huge movement in the Navy that was undermining force structure. We began to see this erosion of morale throughout the entire Navy. Ultimately that came to fruition and people began to see it in very painful ways – you see a force structure that is deteriorating rapidly. I think the cruisers were perfect examples of this.

                                                          When the Navy first came over there was no mention that we’re going to get rid of cruisers, that we want to take our force structure down. That wasn’t even a blip on the screen. The Navy’s first foray into this was to say, “oh no, we think the cruisers are important. We think we have to keep them. We’re just trying to find a way to modernize them in the most efficient way we can.”

                                                          And the way they were going to do that is if you’ll help us lay some of these up, then we will be able to modernize them more economically, more quickly. And they will still be a viable force to get us through until we can get something to take over their place.

                                                          However, we knew that was not their real intention. We knew that while they were coming in and talking about creating a hospital for these cruisers, what they really wanted to do was create a hospice for these cruisers, and we knew that they would be gone and they would never come back.

                                                          We went to work trying to paint a picture for Congress as to why the Navy itself was important and why fleet structure was important. And to ask the Navy one question – do you need these capabilities? And if you don’t need the capabilities, how are you going to replace them? And the Navy never answered that question.

                                                          They next came in and had yet another argument of what they were going to do to help the cruisers – it was never to take them out, it was to help them. And we stopped them on that. Then they came in with this 2-4-6 plan to take them on a limited basis. [A Navy plan to lay up two cruisers per year for a long-term phase modernization period, no greater than four years and no greater than six in modernization at any given time.]

                                                          We had all these discussions with the Navy. We were saying, you know right now you guys are focused on Iraq and Afghanistan, but you’re gonna blink your eyes and you’re gonna be looking at China and you’re gonna be looking at a rebuilt Russia. And you’re gonna need this force capability.

                                                          That continued to the point where today they have really bootstrapped this, by their own efforts, by their own work. They have now created the basis for getting rid of the cruisers, which they wanted to do a decade or more ago and just didn’t have the transparency to say that the only reason they were doing it was cost, that we need to cut the Navy. But we knew they were at the center point of what we were going to have to be able to do to keep our carrier groups competitive in the world that they were going to be facing.

                                                          These cruisers became symbolic of a lot more than just cruisers. Tell us how you’re gonna replace these capabilities? The Navy has never been able to adequately do that. And now they’ve even got this new red herring of, “we’re doing it for the safety of the men and women.” Well, I mean, what kind of argument is that, to put men and women on a ship that’s not safe?

                                                          [What the Navy has] generated with the cruisers has been a self-fulfilling prophecy they have brought on themselves, by the process that they put together in trying to do or not do the maintenance that was needed on those vessels.

                                                          USNI News: So what happens now?

                                                          FORBES: The Navy has, by its own efforts, probably put the cruisers in a position where it’s going to be next to impossible to salvage them. If I were king, though, I would use this as an opportunity to do something I’ve been advocating for over 15 years – bring in the Navy leadership to make a presentation to Congress of the risk they think the United States Navy is going to face in the next 10 to 20 years. Then to say and definitively show the capabilities they need to defend against that risk.

                                                          Then I would get them to show what the risks are to the United States and to the men and women of the United States Navy if they don’t provide those capabilities. I would make that decision first and then apply the money and the budget to say, ‘okay, if we make this cut or that cut, this is what that risk factor is going to be and this is what our exposure is going to be.’

                                                          The Navy has never, at least in my career in [Congress] and the positions that I held, never been held accountable to do that. If we don’t correct how we got here, we’re going to be here in another instance, in something else, on another platform at some other time, five years from now, or 10 years from now.

                                                          And I would say, ‘tell me what the hell you’re going to do to cover this capability right now? Why hasn’t that been fixed? Because you’ve had 10 years to run with this and you still haven’t done it.’

                                                          If you don’t have that kind of accountability, all of a sudden the Navy wakes up tomorrow and they’re in a fight and they don’t have those capabilities. And everybody’s pointing the finger at everybody else. But I think if you use this as kind of a defining mechanism of how we change, how we move forward in the future, I think that’s incredibly important.

                                                          I would use this whole debate on the cruisers, not to let it just go by the wayside and say, ‘okay, the Navy got what they wanted, they finally destroyed the cruisers.’ But I would use it as a great methodology of how we really bring strategic planning into play for the United States Navy and stop letting the budget drive what we’re going to do in terms of national defense. Really have a debate of what we need for national defense, and then at least understand our risk when we do a budget application on top of that.


                                                          • unicorn11
                                                            unicorn11 commented
                                                            Editing a comment
                                                            Most of the Tico's are getting on towards 40 years old.

                                                          • JKM Mk2
                                                            JKM Mk2 commented
                                                            Editing a comment
                                                            Stop pissing around with the cruisers. They are old and have been thrashed to death. The navy and everyone else knows they can't go on forever and it is no longer cost effective to try to upgrade them. Ramp up AB Flt III production to four or five per year and get the FFG program moving to free up AB's for AAW duties. why is it so hard to see the obvious!

                                                          • unicorn11
                                                            unicorn11 commented
                                                            Editing a comment
                                                            The issues is, like always, Congress won't bite the bullet and let Navy dump the capability, the same as the A-10s.

                                                        • Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan offers three options to increase the size of the fleet

                                                          By Diana Stancy Correll

                                                          Apr 22, 06:39 AM

                                                          The Navy's newest aircraft carrier, Gerald R. Ford, operates during acceptance trials in 2017. (Navy)The Navy has unveiled its new 30-year shipbuilding plan, which offers three different proposals for building up the fleet — but only one carves a pathway to 355 ships, which has been the sea service’s goal since 2016.

                                                          The proposals, which do not differ until fiscal 2028, offer two scenarios for procurement under “a budget with no real growth,” while the third scenario provides options under an unconstrained budget.

                                                          The Navy would reach 316 ships by 2052 under the first plan, but would build nine more under the second, reaching 327 ships within the same time frame. In the unconstrained plan, the service would reach a fleet size of 367 ships in 2052 — crossing the 355-ship threshold in 2043. Although Navy ofocials believe the industrial base can support the third option, the report said no independent assessment has been conducted yet.

                                                          “The further away in years you get from 2022, the less certain the future is,” Vice Adm. Scott Conn, deputy chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities, told reporters Wednesday. “And there’s uncertainty that continues to increase over time — uncertainty in terms of the fiscal budgets that we’re going to have to deal with, and uncertainty with respect to what China and Russia may be doing and be able to produce.”

                                                          The Navy provided multiple scenarios that take into account some of the ambiguity regarding a hybrid force of manned and unmanned vessels and the resulting technical questions that remain unknown, Conn said. Once those answers are nailed down, the ranges will become more definite.

                                                          At the same time, the options provide a “floor,” and offer lawmakers and industry leaders insight into where the Navy would like to head should more resources become available, said Jay Stefany, who is performing the duties of assistant secretary of the Navy for research, dDevelopment and acquisition.

                                                          The biggest difference between the first two plans is the composition of the fleet due to unmanned systems, Conn said. In the event of no real budget growth, the Navy anticipates having 89 to 149 unmanned platform systems by FY45, according to the report.

                                                          The Navy lays out several force structure options in its 30-year shipbuilding plan. (Navy)

                                                          The Navy would also procure five new aircraft carriers between FY28 and FY52 under the first two proposals, whereas the third plan accommodates the acquisition of seven carriers in that timeframe.

                                                          The shipbuilding plan also sheds light on what vessels the Navy will seek to decommission next. Specifically, the plans calls to decommission the Independence-variant littoral combat ships Jackson and Montgomery in FY24. The Navy is currently pushing to decommission nine Freedom-variant littoral combat ships in the FY23 budget.

                                                          Additionally, the proposal calls for decommissioning the Ticonderoga-class cruiser fleet by FY27.

                                                          Some lawmakers have cautioned that they will challenge the proposal. Members of Congress have frequently criticized the Navy not only for failing to expand the fleet to counter China’s growing power but also for a lack of maritime strategy. The legislative branch is not expected to get on board with the Biden administration’s FY23 proposal to decommission 24 ships.

                                                          “President Biden’s shipbuilding plan is a blueprint for American weakness,” said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., in a statement. “For years, our Navy fleet has suffered from underinvestment and a lack of planning to meet our nation’s 355-ship requirement. President Biden’s plan would worsen this trend by ending the production of critical ships early, without a plan to replace their capabilities.

                                                          “If the President will not help us get there, Congress must step in and do the job ourselves,” Wicker said. “We cannot afford to surrender naval superiority to our adversaries.”

                                                          Reps. Rob Wittman, R-Va., and Mike Rogers, R-Ala., echoed similar sentiments and said that attempting to “save a couple dollars” now jeopardizes U.S. warfighters’ safety amid China’s growing naval presence. As a result, they said Congress must “reject this plan.”

                                                          “It takes years to build a ship, and we no longer have the industrial strength we had during WWII to nearly instantaneously produce thousands of ships in times of conflict,” Wittman and Rogers said in a statement.

                                                          “The Biden administration’s 30-year shipbuilding plan reduces our ability to protect our aircraft carrier strike groups, reduces the Navy’s ability to eliminate an enemy’s minefield, reduces the Marine Corps’ ability to conduct forcible entry missions and reduces almost 10% of our fleet’s ability to launch missiles,” Wittman and Rogers said.

                                                          But Conn countered that challenging decisions had to be made based on “fiscal reality,” and noted that buying back the ships the Navy wants to retire before their expected service life ends would cost billions of dollars.

                                                          “We believe that there’s better use of those taxpayer resources to prevent a war, and if we find ourselves in war, to be able to fight and win that,” he said.

                                                          Under the Navy’s current budget proposal for FY23, the fleet would reach a size of 280 by FY27. The budget requests to decommission 24 ships from the fleet — 16 of which would retire prior to the end of their service lives. Included in that group are nine Freedom-variant littoral combat ships, one cruiser and two expeditionary transfer docks.

                                                          Additionally, it requests funds to build nine ships, including two Virginia-class attack submarines, two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, one Constellation-class frigate and one America-class amphibious assault ship.


                                                          • Bollinger Shipyards wins Navy contract to finish first two SIOP dry docks

                                                            The dry docks will aim to relieve submarine maintenance delays and deferrals through 2040.

                                                            By JUSTIN KATZ

                                                            on April 21, 2022 at 12:00 PM

                                                            The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Helena departs Portsmouth Naval Shipyard after completion of extended maintenance. (U.S. Navy photo by James Cleveland)

                                                            WASHINGTON: The Navy awarded a contract worth up to $33 million to Bollinger Shipyards to finish the refurbishment of two Virginia-class submarine dry docks, a milestone the service says will be the “first large-scale capital equipment project” as part of the shipyard improvement program.

                                                            The dry docks are in Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, and the work involves building the facilities’ caissons. The work is expected to be completed by September 2025.

                                                            “These dry docks will be the first added dry-docking capacity for the Navy in the last
                                                            quarter century or more,” according to an April 20 statement from Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command. “The Navy’s planned use of these new dry docks is anticipated to mitigate deferred or delayed Virginia-class submarine maintenance availabilities through 2040.”

                                                            A dry dock’s caisson acts as the watertight divider wall between the work area and the larger body of water to which the shipyard is connected. The caisson — which is usually a large iron or steel structure — can be flooded to seat it into position, blocking off additional water from entering the dry dock. When a vessel is ready to leave the shipyard, the dry dock is flooded with water using a pump system while the insides of the caisson is drained, forcing the structure to float and allowing it to be moved out of the way.

                                                            Alleviating the Navy’s notorious backlog of submarine maintenance is one of the key issues the service hopes to resolve through its plan to revamp the four public shipyards, also called the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP).

                                                            A key issue that has arisen since the service first pitched its $21 billion, 20-year plan is the speed at which the investment and construction happens. Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill argue the 20-year timeline is far too slow to both relieve the current pressure the public yards are facing as well as keeping the current submarine force — highly popular assets among the combatant commanders — deploying regularly.

                                                            Some lawmakers tried, and failed, to insert more than $20 billion in the last defense spending bill, most of which would have gone to SIOP, and a smaller portion would have assisted the country’s major private shipyards. Proponents of that bill, such as Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., told Breaking Defense they plan on trying again to insert that funding into the next defense spending bill.

                                                            The biggest problem for Navy brass with supercharging the SIOP’s timeline, though, is how it might hurt the service’s ability to service its submarines in the meantime. In other words, every dry dock being fixed for tomorrow is not able to help maintain the fleet today.


                                                            • USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (US Navy photo) ADRIATIC SEA - (Feb. 19, 2022) The Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel "Woody" Williams (ESB 4) sails the Adriatic Sea, Feb. 19, 2022. Hershel "Woody" Williams is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national interests and security in Europe and Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Fred Gray IV/Released)

                                                              US Navy ESB Completes Gulf Of Guinea Maritime Security Patrol

                                                              The Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) arrived at Naval Station Rota, Spain, following a successful maritime security patrol in the Gulf of Guinea, April 18, 2022.

                                                              Naval News Staff 22 Apr 2022

                                                              US Navy press release

                                                              From March to April, Hershel “Woody” Williams completed maritime security operations with African partners from Sierra Leone, Cabo Verde and Senegal as well as members of the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps.

                                                              In March, the joint U.S. and African maritime team interdicted an illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing vessel operating in Sierra Leone’s economic exclusive zone.

                                                              In April, as part of the African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP), the joint team, led by Cabo Verde, worked in coordination with the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics (MAOC-N), the International Police (INTERPOL), and Cabo Verde’s national Maritime Operations Center (COSMAR) to conduct a compliant boarding of a Brazilian-flagged fishing vessel, which led to the seizure of approximately 6,000 kilograms of suspected cocaine with an estimated street value of more than $350 million.

                                                              USNS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams (ESB 4) (U.S. Navy photo)
                                                              “The men and women that made this possible are a testament to our shared values and commitment to ensuring the safety, security, and freedom of navigation on the waters surrounding the African continent. I couldn’t be more proud of the professionalism and integration of the U.S. tri-maritime services, partner nations and other supporting organizations during our maritime security operations,” said Concannon. “These maritime security events show the world that our African partners are poised and ready to strike against illicit activity.”
                                                              Capt. Michael Concannon, Commanding Officer of USS Hershel “Woody” Williams

                                                              Hershel “Woody” Williams is the first warship permanently assigned to the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility. The U.S. shares a common interest with African partner nations in ensuring security, safety and freedom of navigation on the waters surrounding the continent because these waters are critical for Africa’s prosperity and access to global markets.

                                                              The ESB ship class is a highly flexible platform that may be used across a broad range of military operations. Acting as a mobile sea base, they are part of the critical access infrastructure that supports the deployment of forces and supplies to support missions assigned.


                                                              • unicorn11
                                                                unicorn11 commented
                                                                Editing a comment
                                                                Ugly as a hat full of arseholes, but apparently quite versatile.

                                                            • MQ-25 to Sealift: Five Navy budget justification book takeaways

                                                              The Navy's budget justification books are here, and they contains previously unknown details of how the service wants to spend its money.

                                                              By JUSTIN KATZ

                                                              on April 22, 2022 at 2:55 PM

                                                              Boeing’s MQ-25 prototype, T1, refuels an F/A-18F Super Hornet in mid-air for the first time. (Photo courtesy of Boeing.)

                                                              WASHINGTON: The Pentagon may have completed its annual budget rollout earlier this month, but the real stories on what the service plans to do with its money are just starting to come to light.

                                                              The budget justification books, or “J-books” as they’re often called, provide precise dollar figures for every program in the service’s request along with narrative explanations for why specific choices were made. What makes this year even more interesting is that in fiscal 2022, the Pentagon’s J-books did not include projections for future years. That means everything in this year’s J-books includes information and decisions the service made but didn’t necessarily disclose last year.

                                                              It takes a certain kind of defense acquisition nerd to sift through these dense texts, one that this Navy reporter proudly proclaims to be. Here’s five interesting nuggets we’ve found in the Navy’s J-books today.

                                                              Steady Funding For MQ-25

                                                              The service’s FY23 budget marks the first year buying fully-fledged MQ-25A Stingrays. The J-books’ projections show a steady stream of funding to purchase four aircraft a year, starting in FY23 and running through FY27. (The service’s previous investments have been on solely on research and development efforts as well as prototype aircraft.)

                                                              To buy those unmanned aircraft, the service is seeking roughly $720 million per year in procurement funding with the intent to buy a total of 76 planes over the life of the program.

                                                              MQ-25A is the Navy’s unmanned aerial tanker, built to deploy off an aircraft carrier. It is a critical capability that will aide in the service in overcoming a long-standing shortage in strike fighters by relieving the F/A-18 Super Hornet fleet from having to conduct refueling operations.

                                                              Schrödinger’s Ship: LHA-9

                                                              The Navy’s budget features the amphibious warship LHA-9 as one of nine “new” vessels being bought. This rubbed some in Congress the wrong way, as funding provided in previous years combined with an explicit direction from lawmakers about how they expect the Navy to present its shipbuilding request means there is an argument that LHA-9 should not be called a “new” ship.

                                                              Breaking Defense sought, but did not receive, answers from the Navy about this discrepancy after a lawmaker publicly called the Navy out and said the request violates the law over the misrepresentation. The justification books provide clarity into the Navy’s reasoning — kind of.

                                                              The Navy starts out by saying the budget request reflects the service’s “intent” to award the key LHA-9 construction contract in FY23.

                                                              “The budget request’s association of LHA-9 with FY23 is consistent with prior budget submissions and informs Congress when award” of that contract is planned, according to the J-books. It then goes on to say LHA-9 is “not specified” in the budget request as a “new procurement” for the purposes of the previously mentioned law in question.

                                                              In other words, according to the Navy, the service presented LHA-9 this way to keep Congress informed about when they’ll award the construction contract. As far as the dispute over whether it is “new, the Navy is essentially saying they never presented the ship as new. However, it’s clear that’s not how multiple lawmakers interpreted it, and the issue is likely to come up in budget hearings over the next few months.

                                                              A notional graphic of what an expeditionary medical ship. (Courtesy of Austal USA)

                                                              A Confirmed Expeditionary Medical Ship

                                                              During the Sea Air Space exposition earlier this month, Austal USA discussed internal research it had been conducting on a potential replacement for the Navy’s venerated hospital ships, Mercy and Comfort. Those vessels are renowned for the humanitarian aide they’ve distributed throughout the world, as recently as being deployed to New York City in the earliest stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

                                                              Austal’s ship idea, which the Navy has taken interest in, is called an Expeditionary Medical Ship (EMS) and is considered a variant of the expeditionary fast transport vessels. EMS will essentially take all the capabilities of a hospital ship but put them on a smaller, more agile vessel.

                                                              The J-Books confirm EPF-17 will be an EMS. In terms of its schedule, the service expects to award a contract in September 2022 and have work completed by February 2028.

                                                              Seeing The Sealift

                                                              The Pentagon’s struggles with surge sealift capacity are real. And the Navy’s plans, in conjunction with US Transportation Command and the Maritime Administration, for dealing with it have not always been clear based on what is in the budget justification books.

                                                              This year, however, the Navy appears to be getting serious about buying used sealift ships regularly. A new line item in the shipbuilding budget is dedicated to purchasing two sealift vessels per year for the foreseeable future. To the service’s credit, they had begun these acquisitions in previous years, but the details on them were buried elsewhere in budget request and those requests did not project the service’s future plans clearly.

                                                              The Navy plans to purchase up to a total of 17 surge sealift vessels, at a pace of 2 ships per year, up through FY27, according to the J-books.

                                                              A Laundry List Of Old Shipbuilding To-Dos

                                                              During the Navy’s budget rollout, service officials explained there was approximately $1.3 billion worth of old shipbuilding work to finish from previous years. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as prices going up unexpectedly due to schedule delays, but the bottom line is it needs to get done and the service needs extra cash to do it.

                                                              When questioned by reporters about that list, a top Navy budget officer didn’t get into specifics, but did say that the needs are varied across multiple programs. So a final budget takeaway is this condensed list of tasks the service plans to complete with that $1.3 billion.
                                                              • Hull mechanical and electrical work on the Virginia-class submarines as well as funds for the government’s portion of an unspecified “contract overrun”
                                                              • Combining gear repairs and other modernization efforts for numerous Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ships
                                                              • Overruns on integration and testing for various systems onboard the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN-79)
                                                              • Refueling and complex overhaul for the aircraft carrier George Washington (CVN-73)
                                                              • Various system modifications for several Arleigh Burke-class destroyers
                                                              • Contract value changes for the amphibious ship LPD-17
                                                              • Order changes for the towing, salvage and rescue ships T-ATS-11 and T-ATS-12


                                                              • US Navy photo

                                                                US Navy Selects Curtis-Wright For Torpedo Upgrade Program

                                                                For the U.S. Navy's torpedo upgrade programs, Curtiss-Wright Corporation, a U.S.-based supplier of electronic products, was selected to provide MOSA computers and digital processing modules.

                                                                Naval News Staff 25 Apr 2022

                                                                Curtiss-Wright press release

                                                                Curtiss-Wright Corporation announced that it was selected by Progeny to provide Modular Open System Approach (MOSA) computers and digital processing modules for use in the U.S. Navy’s MK54 and MK48 torpedo upgrade programs. The contract has an estimated lifetime value of $70 million.
                                                                “We are very proud to have been selected by Progeny to provide our rugged commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies to support the upgrade of the U.S. Navy’s MK54 and MK48 torpedoes. Curtiss-Wright’s selection on this upgrade program is another recent example of how our technology leadership in MOSA-based rugged COTS modules is helping to modernize military platforms rapidly and cost-effectively with open-standards solutions.”
                                                                Lynn M. Bamford, President and CEO of Curtiss-Wright Corporation

                                                                The processor modules covered by this agreement are being shipped to Progeny in Manassas, Virginia and Charleroi, Pennsylvania.

                                                                Curtiss-Wright Corporation is a global integrated business that provides highly engineered products, solutions and services mainly to Aerospace & Defense markets, as well as critical technologies in demanding Commercial Power, Process and Industrial markets.

                                                                – End –

                                                                About Mk 54 Lightweight Torpedo

                                                                Mk 54 LWT launched by USS Roosevelt (US Navy photo)

                                                                The MK 54 lightweight torpedo is the primary anti-submarine warfare weapon used by U.S. Navy surface ships, fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. Designed to operate in shallow waters and in the presence of countermeasures, it can track, classify and attack underwater targets.

                                                                To replace the aging fleet of torpedoes, the U.S. Navy worked with Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, a former business unit of Raytheon Company, to design and develop an improved LWT. The MK 54 combines the advanced sonar transceiver of the MK 50 torpedo with the legacy warhead and propulsion system of the older MK 46.

                                                                The MK 54 MOD 0 Lightweight Torpedo integrates existing hardware and software from the MK 46 and MK 50 torpedo programs with state-of-the-art commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) digital signal-processing technology. It incorporates an advanced guidance and control (G&C) section employing COTS processing technologies and tactical software improvements to significantly increase torpedo performance in challenging scenarios at reduced lifecycle costs.

                                                                Continues software improvements will be delivered through the Torpedo Advanced Processor Build (TAPB) process. The MK 54 MOD 1 provides a hardware upgrade to the sonar array assembly and associated electronics. The MK 54 MOD 0 Lightweight Torpedo reached Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 2004. The MK 54 Vertical Launched Anti-Submarine (ASW) Rocket (ASROC) (VLA) system reached IOC in 2010.

                                                                General Characteristics
                                                                • Primary Function: Lightweight Torpedo
                                                                • Propulsion: Liquid propellant
                                                                • Length: 106.9 inch (2.72 n)
                                                                • Diameter: 12.75 inch (324 mm)
                                                                • Weight: 607 pounds (276 kg)
                                                                • Warhead: 100 pounds (43.9 kg), high-explosive PBXN
                                                                • Operational Range: 10.000 yd (~9.1 km)
                                                                • Maximum speed: >40 knots
                                                                About Mk 48 Heavyweight Torpedo

                                                                Lockheed Martin image

                                                                The MK 48 heavyweight torpedo is used by all classes of submarines as their anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface warfare (ASuW) weapon.

                                                                The MK 48 torpedo is a heavyweight acoustic-homing torpedo with sophisticated sonar, all-digital guidance-and-control systems, digital fusing systems, and propulsion improvements. Its digital guidance system allows for repeated upgrades to counter evolving threats through software upgrades. The last MK 48 MOD 6 production torpedo was delivered in 1996.

                                                                Since then, the US Navy has provided discrete improvements to MK 48 MOD 6 via upgrade kits to the torpedo’s guidance and control and propulsion systems. The MK 48 MOD 6 torpedo reached Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 1997 and continues to receive software upgrades.

                                                                The latest version of the MK 48 is the MOD 7, which is optimized for both traditional and emerging missions. The MK 48 MOD 7 torpedo is the result of a Joint Development Program with the Royal Australian Navy and reached IOC in 2006. The MK 48 MOD 7 hardware upgrade has enabled further software improvements to the MK 48 that provide increased capability in the most challenging scenarios.

                                                                General Characteristics
                                                                • Primary Function: Heavyweight Torpedo
                                                                • Contractor: Lockheed Martin
                                                                • Propulsion: Liquid propellant
                                                                • Diameter: 21 inches (530 mm)
                                                                • Weight: 3,744 pounds (1,558 kg)
                                                                • Warhead: 650 pounds (450 kg), high-explosive
                                                                • Maximum speed: 55 knots
                                                                • Maximum depth: 2600 ft (800 m)
                                                                • Effective firing range: 38 km at 55 knots, 50 km at 40 knots


                                                                • USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) and USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) sail together. (US Navy photo)

                                                                  Zumwalt Destroyers’ 155mm AGSs’ Removal Fates Undetermined

                                                                  The U.S. Navy has confirmed that the three stealthy DDG 1000 Zumwalt destroyers’ inactive and never-fired 155mm Advanced Gun Systems (AGS) will be removed for the installation of the Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) hypersonic missile vertical launch tubes in their places. But what is unknown is what will become of the AGSs, two per tumblehome destroyer, once they are removed. Naval News asked the U.S. Navy and received a reply.

                                                                  Peter Ong 25 Apr 2022

                                                                  The U.S. Navy’s Chief of Information (CHINFO) department replied to Naval News in mid-April 2022. Naval News asked CHINFO if the three Zumwalt class destroyers’ 155mm Advanced Gun Systems (AGS) will be:
                                                                  • Dismantled, saved and stored in a Navy warehouse for possible future use in another new class of ship.
                                                                  • Dismantled, saved and stored at the manufacturer’s location for possible future AGS modifications and upgrades.
                                                                  • Dismantled and stored by the U.S. Navy for future scrapping and destruction.
                                                                  • Dismantled and destroyed in the removal process for Hypersonic missiles.

                                                                  Lt. Lewis Aldridge, CHINFO News Desk Officer, replied via email;
                                                                  “The Navy plans to remove the two Advanced Gun System (AGS) mounts. Disposition plan to be determined.”
                                                                  — U.S. Navy CHINFO, April 2022
                                                                  Naval News Comments

                                                                  Naval News has previously covered the quest and the decision on what to do with the inactive 155mm AGSs, two guns per DDG 1000 destroyer.

                                                                  As stated in a previous Zumwalt story;
                                                                  “The AGSs were originally intended to provide Long-Range Precision Fires (LRPF) shore bombardment of approximately 37 to 62 miles (60 to100 kilometers) in support of amphibious assaulting U.S. Marines; however, the AGSs never lived up to their intended roles because the extended-range GPS-guided shells cost anywhere from $800,000 to $1 million each, an exorbitant cost that the U.S. Navy found too hard to justify.”
                                                                  Naval News, October 28, 2021

                                                                  The size of the USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) destroyer’s 155mm Advanced Gun System (AGS) is evident by a sailor standing before this angled turret. The metal gun barrel is stowed and hidden inside for stealth purposes. The three Zumwalt destroyers have never fired a shot due to the lack of custom-made 155mm AGS shells Photo: DVIDS

                                                                  Instead of pursuing cheaper custom-made 155mm AGS shells (U.S. Army and NATO standard 155mm howitzer shells cannot fire from the Zumwalt AGSs), the U.S. Navy has finally settled on removing these stealthy angular turrets and ammunition hull magazines to install the Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) hypersonic missiles vertical launch system (VLS) tubes in their places because the CPS hypersonic missile is larger than the dimensions of the Navy’s Mark 41 and Mark 57 VLS tubes. The Mark 57 VLS is so far only found aboard the Zumwalt destroyers.

                                                                  The U.S. Army’s Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) is the same missile as the Navy’s CPS, just named differently. The size of the U.S. Navy’s CPS, when installed inside the DDG 1000 destroyer, can now be made from this February 22, 2022 photo of the U.S. Army’s LRHW prototype at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. In the photo, two U.S. Army LRHWs are mounted and raised to the vertical launch position on an M870 trailer being towed by an 8×8 wheeled HEMTT tractor.

                                                                  JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash., – Using the Nation’s first prototype Long Range Hypersonic System, Bravo Battery Soldiers with the 5th Battalion, 3rd Artillery, 17th Field Artillery Brigade executed ground movement, round transfers, and established firing capability at Joint Base Lewis McChord Feb. 22-24. (US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Casey Hustin, 17th Field Artillery Brigade). [Author’s Note: The two soldiers at the base of the LRHW by the rear trailer tires provide a sense of size and scale of the similar U.S. Navy’s CPS hypersonic missiles that will not fit inside the U.S. Navy’s Mark 41 and Mark 57 VLS].

                                                                  The U.S. Army and Navy’s hypersonic missiles are the same diameters (0.87 meters) and both carry a Hypersonic Glide Body (HGB) that flies down and destroys targets with hypersonic kinetic energy. The U.S.’s LRHW and CPS are a direct response to peer nations’ hypersonic missiles, some mounted on land-based wheeled Transporter Erector Launchers (TELs), inside warships’ VLS tubes, or carried underneath bombers, that vary in diameter, weight, and dimensions such as the Chinese hypersonic YJ-21 Anti-ship ballistic missile as reported here.

                                                                  Naval News has covered the U.S. Navy’s HGB and CPS testing and development here.

                                                                  The U.S. Navy CHINFO and NAVSEA declined to comment to Naval News as to how many CPS VLS tubes can fit inside the removed 155mm AGSs’ ammunition hull spaces, but CHINFO did state that any remaining empty spaces will not be filled with Mark 41, Mark 57, or ESSM VLS tubes around the CPS launch tubes.

                                                                  Due to funding and logistic issues, it remains unknown if the U.S. Marine Corps will field the Navy’s CPS hypersonic missiles on USMC tractors and trailers similar to the U.S. Army’s LRHW tractor and trailer setup for Long-Range Precision Fires (LRPF) for ground launch. The CPS missile will reportedly have a range of more than 1,725 miles (2,775 kilometers).


                                                                  • ARHmk3
                                                                    ARHmk3 commented
                                                                    Editing a comment
                                                                    I'm still hoping either the Army or probably more preferably, RAAF get LRHW in service. More so given the potential for Chinese forces operating out of the Solomons.

                                                                • Navy Puts Forth 9-ship Multi-Year Deal for Arleigh Burke Destroyers

                                                                  By: Mallory Shelbourne

                                                                  April 25, 2022 6:55 PM

                                                                  Jack Lucas (DDG-125) launched on June 5, 2021. HII Photo

                                                                  The Navy is pursuing a nine-ship multi-year procurement plan for its next batch of Arleigh Burke Flight III destroyers, according to service budget documents.

                                                                  While the current proposal is to buy nine destroyers, the Navy has the option to purchase an additional ship to make it a 10-ship buy across the five-year spending plan.

                                                                  “The Navy is requesting authority to award Multi-year procurement (MYP) contracts for FY 2023 – FY 2027 for nine ships. The FY2023 budget also includes one option ship for a total procurement profile of 10 ships in FY 2023 – FY 2027,” the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget documents read. “The FY 2023 budget request reflects estimated savings for nine firm ships associated with [economic order quantity] procurement and an MYP strategy.”

                                                                  The service’s Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) shows the Navy buying two destroyers per year from FY 2023 through FY 2027, amounting to 10 ships.

                                                                  But Republican lawmakers may push for a third destroyer in the FY 2023 defense policy bill, a legislative source told USNI News. Should that plan move forward, lawmakers would want the Navy to buy 11 ships in the multi-year procurement, USNI News understands.

                                                                  Rear Adm. Paul Schlise, the Navy’s top surface warfare requirements office (OPNAV N96), has said he is committed to buying two large surface combatants per year to help the service move from the Flight III Arleigh Burkes to its next-generation destroyer, or DDG(X).

                                                                  The Navy is seeking $49.7 million in research and development money for DDG(X) concept development in FY 2023, according to the budget documents. The service is also asking for another $176.6 million to create an Integrated Power and Energy System Test Facility at Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division so the Navy can use a land-based testing site for the DDG(X) propulsion system as it works on the ship design.

                                                                  “DDG(X) will integrate non-developmental systems into a new hull design that incorporates platform flexibility and the space, weight, power and cooling (SWAP-C) to meet future combatant force capability/system requirements that are not achievable without the new hull design,” according to the documents. “The DDG(X) platform will have the flexibility to rapidly and affordably upgrade to future warfighting systems when they become available as well as have improved range and fuel efficiency for increased operational flexibility and decreased demand on the logistics force.”

                                                                  Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, argued earlier this year that the service needs to buy two large surface combatants per year for the next decade as a cushion while the Navy develops DDG(X).

                                                                  “What I propose is the department should commit to funding two large surface combatants a year for – let’s say 10 years – during which the transition from Flight III … to DDG(X) occurs,” Gallagher said at a January conference. “Congress in turn will commit to fully funding the DDG(X) program and from there, the Navy will need to provide a plan to both Congress and industry to move forward from two Flight IIIs per year to two DDG(X)s per year over a three to five year transition. I know that the next-gen DDG won’t be online for a 2020s fight, but my point here is you can build a battle force 2025 without neglecting our longer term modernization priorities.”

                                                                  The new multi-year procurement plan for more Flight IIIs would also follow the previous multi-year, in which the Navy bought two ships per year between FY 2018 and FY 2022.

                                                                  Former acting Navy Secretary Thomas Harker first disclosed plans to pursue another multi-year procurement for the destroyers last summer during hearings over the FY 2022 budget proposal. At the time, the Navy only sought one destroyer despite a contract to buy two that year to finish that last multi-year procurement contract. Congress added the second destroyer back in when it wrote the FY 2022 defense spending and policy bills.


                                                                  • With the Ticonderoga's and LCS exiting the fleet, the USN should be looking at 3 Burkes and 3 Constellation class frigates a year, simply to keep up the numbers.

                                                                    Don't forget the oldest Burkes are now 30 something years old as well.
                                                                    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
                                                                    It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
                                                                    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.


                                                                    • African Forces Used U.S. Seabase Woody Williams to Combat Local Threats

                                                                      By: Dzirhan Mahadzir

                                                                      April 25, 2022 4:42 PM

                                                                      Sailors assigned to the Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams (ESB-4) lower approximately 6,000 kilograms of seized contraband into a rigid-hull inflatable boat for transport to the Cabo Verdean law enforcement authorities on April 6, 2022. US Navy Photo

                                                                      The deployment of USS Hershel “Woody” Williams’ (ESB-4) deployment off the West Coast of Africa allowed forces from Sierra Leone, Cape Verde and Senegal to the U.S. ship as a base of operations for local missions.

                                                                      Using Williams allowed the forces to develop their own solutions to the maritime security problems that they faced, Capt. John Tully, the director of African Engagements for U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF), and Capt. Michael Concannon, the commanding officer of Williams, said in a media call.

                                                                      “Our priority when we’re working with African countries is to assist our partners in helping them develop African-led solutions to the security challenges that they face, and we’re very conscious that we do not put our partners in the position that requires them to choose between working with the United States and other external actors when determining the best way to protect their own sovereign and economic interest,” Tully said.

                                                                      Maritime security operations conducted by Williams during its recent deployment were all partner-led operations, Concannon told reporters.

                                                                      “We gave them a lot of support that they needed to conduct the operation but it was their operation, it was their law enforcement process that went through the determination of the scope of the problem and what to do with it, judicially, legally and we were happy to be a part of that support,” he said.

                                                                      From March to April, Williams completed maritime security operations with African partners Sierra Leone, Cape Verde and Senegal. In March, the joint U.S. and African maritime team interdicted an illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing vessel operating in Sierra Leone’s Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ).

                                                                      On April 1, as part of the African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership, the joint team, led by Cape Verde, worked in coordination with the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics, INTERPOL and Cape Verde’s national Maritime Operations Center to conduct a compliant boarding of a Brazilian-flagged fishing vessel, which led to the seizure of approximately 6,000 kilograms of suspected cocaine with an estimated street value of more than $350 million.

                                                                      The flexibility and capabilities of Williams makes it ideal for maritime security operations in Africa, said Concannon, pointing to the ship’s ability to operate helicopters and store small craft on its mission decks. The ESB also has extensive logistic transport capabilities, personnel embarkation capabilities and endurance in conducting operations for a long period before requiring refueling.

                                                                      U.S. Service members and Cabo Verdean maritime forces embarked aboard the Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams (ESB-4) seized approximately 6,000 kilograms of contraband during a maritime security patrol, April 1, 2022. US Navy Photo

                                                                      Concannon added that the deployment allowed representatives of three African countries to participate and collaborate with Williams and that he hoped future deployments would have a more expanded number of countries embarked on the ESB.

                                                                      Williams operating in the region allows African nations to overcome the difficulty of using surface vessels to patrol their EEZs and enforce their laws, Tully said.

                                                                      “By having the African partners onboard the Hershel “Woody” Williams as we did this time, we can help them overcome that challenge,” he added.

                                                                      Tully said that a key aspect in assisting African partners in enforcing their laws in the maritime domain has been the bilateral law enforcement agreements that the U.S. has with African countries. These agreements allow the U.S Coast Guard to have a direct and concrete effect in the rule of law in the maritime domain of the countries that have agreements with the U.S.

                                                                      Efforts supporting partners in the region span a wide gamut, ranging from various maritime security exercises and operations, the provision of equipment such as radars and automatic identification systems, supporting and assisting countries with their maritime enforcement centers, and institutional capacity building, Tully said. The initiatives are geared toward the end goal of allowing African partners to improve their capabilities and build maritime security relationships with other African countries through U.S.-supported joint engagement and exercise activities, he noted.

                                                                      A pilot boat approaches the Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams (ESB-4) as it pulls into port in Maputo, Mozambique on Oct. 15, 2021. US Navy Photo

                                                                      Although Williams is now currently back at Rota, Spain, Tully said the U.S. Coast Guard is expected to deploy a cutter to Africa later this year and noted the ESB’s departure from the region does not mean it won’t return soon.

                                                                      He acknowledged the limitations of having one ESB assigned to Africa include the ship’s inability to be everywhere at once, especially since there are regions competing with Africa, like the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean, for operations. But the deployment choice was always determined based on discussions with African partner nations.


                                                                      • White House nominates Franchetti for vice chief of naval operations

                                                                        By Geoff Ziezulewicz and Leo Shane III

                                                                        Apr 27, 12:45 AM

                                                                        Vice Adm. Lisa Franchetti has been nominated to become the Navy's next vice chief of naval operations.The White House has nominated Vice Adm. Lisa Franchetti to become the next vice chief of naval operations.

                                                                        Franchetti’s nomination was sent to the Senate Monday.

                                                                        If confirmed, she would become just the second woman to serve as VCNO, the second-highest ranking officer in the Navy. Now-retired Adm. Michelle Howard held the position from 2014 to 2017. The nomination includes a promotion for Franchetti to become a four-star admiral as well.

                                                                        Franchetti currently serves as director for strategy, plans and policy on the Joint Staff. Before that, she commanded U.S. 6th Fleet and U.S. Naval Forces Korea, among other flag assignments.

                                                                        The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding her nomination.

                                                                        A Rochester, New York, native, Franchetti was commissioned in 1985 via the Naval Reserve Office Training Corps program at Northwestern University.

                                                                        Also Monday, the White House nominated Rear Adm. Richard Cheeseman to become the next chief of naval personnel.

                                                                        Cheeseman handed over the reins of Carrier Strike Group 10 earlier this month and would be promoted to vice admiral if confirmed.

                                                                        Senate Armed Services Committee officials have not yet announced any timeline for confirmation hearings on the two leadership posts.


                                                                        • Delayed again, Navy won’t resolve strike fighter shortfall until 2031: Lawmaker

                                                                          It's the second time the Navy moved the goal posts on resolving the longstanding problem.

                                                                          By JUSTIN KATZ

                                                                          on April 27, 2022 at 4:45 PM

                                                                          An F/A-18E Super Hornet stands by on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman David Claypool/ Released)

                                                                          WASHINGTON: The Navy has changed its projected date for when it will resolve its ongoing strike fighter shortfall — again.

                                                                          During a congressional hearing with numerous uniformed and civilian Pentagon leaders, Rep. Donald Norcross, D-NJ, said the service now projects it will not resolve its shortfall until 2031. The congressman said the reason for the change was due to “unplanned reductions” in F-35 procurement as well as reduced inductions into the service’s modifications lines for F/A-18 Super Hornets.

                                                                          That’s six years later than the timeline Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday personally told the same lawmakers during last year’s budget hearings.

                                                                          But what was clearly irritating to both Norcross, and subcommittee ranking member Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., during the hearing is that prior to Gilday’s statement, former Navy acquisition executive Hondo Geurts told the panel in 2019 that the shortfall would not be resolved until around 2030. In other words, the Navy gave Congress a timeline, claimed it could speed it up significantly, and now has pushed it back beyond its original projection.

                                                                          Navy leadership during the hearing never discussed why the timeline was changed. A Navy spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions from Breaking Defense.

                                                                          As House lawmakers drafted fiscal 2022’s defense and spending bills, Congress never appeared convinced the Navy’s math was fully baked. The plans the service laid out last year relied on successfully extending the service lives of Super Hornets at a high rate, adjusting the numbers for F-35C squadrons and purchasing some foreign aircraft that could be used for training, freeing up other planes for operational purposes.

                                                                          During the hearing, Hartzler asked Rear Adm. Andrew Loiselle, director of air warfare requirements, what the Navy’s Super Hornet inventory would look like in the late 2020s, a time period where the service would only have one manufacturer for strike fighters and when Indo-Pacific Command once predicted China might make a move on Taiwan.

                                                                          Loiselle said he could not give Hartzler a specific inventory number, but did say the Pentagon would be short 13 strike fighters in 2025, according to the Navy’s projections. He added that those numbers are recalculated monthly.

                                                                          “Our fixed numbers of F/A-18s will not change in the future going forward,” Loiselle said. “What will change is the number of aircraft we do [service life modifications] on, which will give each of those remaining aircraft an additional 4,000 hours and 13 years of service life.”

                                                                          The strike fighter shortfall has been a sensitive subject between the Pentagon and lawmakers in recent years in part because the Navy wants to shutdown the Super Hornet production line. Congress didn’t allow that to happen and added 12 planes to last year’s defense legislation.

                                                                          Lawmakers’ unwillingness to allow a shutdown sparked provocative comments from Gilday during a major industry trade show last year, in which he told attendees to focus on delivering ships out of maintenance on time rather than lobbying for “aircraft we don’t need.”

                                                                          During the hearing today, Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., asked Loiselle why the service was seeking relief from a legislative requirement that the Navy have 10 carrier air wings by 2025.

                                                                          Loiselle responded that the service’s master aviation plan, which spans 10 years out, shows there are very few times in the near future when the Navy will have more than nine carriers available, due to a variety of reasons including some of those ships undergoing major overhauls.


                                                                          • Bug2
                                                                            Bug2 commented
                                                                            Editing a comment
                                                                            I really do NOT understand why they are upgrading older Super Hornet's to get more life out of them?

                                                                            I'd really like to see any Cost/Benefit Analysis they may/should have done..............

                                                                        • Navy’s next-gen, ship-killing missile will be a hypersonic weapon dubbed HALO

                                                                          The fiscal 2023 budget request is the first to outline crucial details about the next increment of OASuW, including its hypersonic capability.

                                                                          By JUSTIN KATZ

                                                                          on April 27, 2022 at 12:57 PM

                                                                          A jet deploys Lockheed Martin’s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM). (Credit Lockheed Martin)

                                                                          WASHINGTON: The Navy’s latest budget request revealed the next increment of the service’s air-launched, ship-killing missile will be a hypersonic weapon dubbed HALO.

                                                                          The program’s name is the Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare Weapon (OASuW) Increment II, and the service’s recently published budget justification documents call its development a “national imperative to maturing hypersonic capabilities.” Its nickname, HALO, is short for the Hypersonic Air-launched OASuW.

                                                                          HALO “will be a higher-speed, longer range, air-launched weapon system providing superior anti surface warfare capabilities,” according to the justification documents. “OASuW Inc 2/HALO will address advanced threats from engagement distances that allow the Navy to operate in, and control, contested battle space in littoral waters and Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) environments.”

                                                                          The weapon’s first increment is the Lockheed Martin-built Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), which has achieved early operational capability on several different warplanes in recent years, such as the Navy’s F/A-18 as well as the Air Force’s B-1B bomber. The fiscal 2023 budget request is the first to establish LRASM’s successor as HALO and reveal it will be a hypersonic capability.

                                                                          The Navy is seeking $92 million in research and development funding for HALO in FY23 and aims to the field the technology in FY28. The service sought, but did not receive, approximately $56 million for similar research in the FY22 budget request.

                                                                          A chart contained in the budget books indicates Halo is expected to reach “milestone B” by the end of FY23. Milestone B is an acquisition marker indicating a technology is cleared to begin producing prototypes. The budget books say the program’s acquisition strategy will follow a “competitive, phased approach” and that the service plans to engage “multiple vendors [to mature] a design” in FY23.

                                                                          Budget justification documents describe timeline for the HALO program. (Public record)

                                                                          HALO is the second major hypersonic weapon program the Navy is undertaking and will be developed alongside Conventional Prompt Strike. That hypersonic weapon is projected to be fielded onboard a Zumwalt-class destroyer in FY25, as well as a Virginia-class submarine in FY28. CPS is being developed jointly by the Navy and Army, which will be using the same technology to field a land-based variant. The Navy in FY23 is seeking $1.2 billion in research and development funding for CPS.