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Thread: The USN's future?

  1. #1621

    SAS2017: US Navy outlines fleet priorities

    04th April 2017 - 12:00

    by Scott Gourley in Washington, D.C.



    Against ongoing uncertainties surrounding the next US defence budget, the US Navy (USN) has provided some 'ship math' on the current fleet size and priorities for decisions surrounding that fleet.

    During the opening panel at the Navy League's 52nd Sea-Air-Space 2017 Exposition, Adm William F. Moran, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, offered his insight about the current debate surrounding the number of ships in the USN fleet.

    'We're all struggling to figure out which budget is going to spit out the other end of the process we're in,' Moran offered.

    'When you look at where the navy is today, it's exactly where it's been for the last approximately three decades: roughly 30-35% of the force is deployed today, on the order of 90-95 ships anywhere on the globe. That hasn't changed.'

    However, he noted that while the USN on 11 September 2001 had more than 320 ships, today the fleet is down to 275.

    'And yet we have on deployment 90+ ships every day. So when you do that math, the same level of commitment around the globe with a smaller navy means that you're going to wear out that smaller navy fast – faster than we had planned. The same goes for our aircraft, submarines and every other component of the navy. So growth is really important to us as we look into the future.'

    Nevertheless, he conceded that in focusing on the current budget cycle and the plans for the next five to ten years, navy commanders fully realised that they have 'got to make ready the fleet that we have today'.

    'There's no question that, over the last 10-15 years, driving that smaller navy harder has made it harder to maintain the fleet we have. So all of us have testified to the challenges of readiness going forward. And for us it's to make whole the 275 ships we have today so we can at least have that size navy going into the future.'

    Moving down the top priority list, he pointed to a desire to maintain readiness states in areas such as tactical aviation, procure and install specific items and technologies to maintain readiness in the current force, and – when and if budgets allow – accelerate growth in the force 'by building more ships and more aircraft to grow the size of our navy so we don't wear it out as fast'.

  2. #1622

    Columbia-class on track, but Navy keeps wary eye on budget manoeuvres

    By: Aaron Mehta, April 4, 2017

    NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – The Columbia-class nuclear submarine program is on track to meet its expected deadline, but the Navy is keeping a nervous eye on budget negotiations on the Hill.

    The program, which will replace the Ohio-class nuclear submarine fleet, is progressing towards the start of construction in 2021 – and patrols by 2031 – Vice Adm. David Johnson, principal military deputy assistant secretary of the Navy* for research, development and acquisition, said at the annual Navy League Sea-Air-Space conference Tuesday.

    But, he acknowledged, the current budget uncertainty could throw a wrench into that situation, particularly with the possibility that the government could spend the rest of fiscal year 2017 operating under a continuing resolution, or CR.

    Click here to see more coverage from the 2017 Navy League Sea Air Space conference.

    Under a CR, budget levels are frozen at the previous year’s figures, unless a program is given a special anomaly exception from Congress. In a past CR, the Columbia-class was given that pass by Congress, but even so, Johnson is taking nothing for granted this year – or next year.

    “The issue for Columbia is, let's say we got all the [funding] for the year,” Johnson told reporters after his speech. “Then we have the same thing in 1 October, 2017. … It’s not a sustainable, long-term strategy. That’s the issue.

    “We can execute, but we need a budget,” he added.

    During the panel, Johnson reiterated concerns put forth by the department that without a major increase in funding, the Columbia program will eat into the current shipbuilding plan for the Navy – let alone plans to get to 355 ships, something more in line with what President Donald Trump has indicated he supports.

    However, Johnson said the budget questions are not having an impact on how the Navy is negotiating contracts with General Dynamics Electric Boat, the primary contractor for Columbia, nor with Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding, which will build roughly a third of each Columbia.

    “That work is progressing on plan. The contract negotiations are very close to being done, and they are not at all impacted by a CR or any of that,” Johnson told reporters. “It’s just straight work in the business of designing and building submarines.”

    The U.S. plans to design and build 12 Columbia-class submarines for a total acquisition cost of $100 billion in 2017 dollars – or $128 billion, as measured in total year dollars through the program, which stretches into the mid-2030s.

  3. #1623

    US Navy temporarily grounds T-45 fleet

    06 April, 2017 SOURCE: Flightglobal.com BY: Leigh Giangreco Washington DC

    What is it with the USN and oxygen problems?

    The US Navy has ordered a three-day grounding of its T-45 Goshawk trainer jets while US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) looks for ways to correct persistent oxygen issues on the aircraft.

    The Navy canceled about 40% of its T-45 flights 31 March at its training commands in Mississippi, Florida and Texas after pilots expressed concern over recent physiological episodes experienced in the cockpit caused by contamination of the aircraft's oxygen system, a Navy spokesman stated in an email to FlightGlobal this week. The Chief of Naval Air Training is working to correct the problem with engineering experts at NAVAIR and conducted briefs with the pilots in all three training wings this week, the spokesman says. The Navy is using “unconstrained resources” to tackle the issue and potential solutions have neither manpower nor cost restraints, she adds.

    “This is a complex problem with multiple interrelated potential causal factors,” she says. “The root cause of physiological episodes remains unidentified, but engineers are working diligently to find a solution.”

    The order comes after a 4 April media report revealing that more than 100 US Navy instructor pilots are boycotting the T-45 flights until high-level Navy officials address the jets’ oxygen system issues. Earlier this year, naval air forces commander Vice Adm Mike Shoemaker called the physiological events on the T-45, EA-18Gs and F/A-18F/Gs his “number one safety priority across the force,” pointing to continual breathing problems related to the onboard oxygen generation systems (OBOGS) and contaminated gas.

    “Aggressive efforts to upgrade components and the materials used to detect ‘bad air’ are in work, however, we do know that component failures as well as flow, pressure, concentration problems are generally accompanied by warnings from the aircraft, and manual activation of emergency oxygen is very effective,” he stated in January. “Our challenge is contaminated air, for which we currently have no warning system.”

    Hypoxia has plagued the Navy’s T-45s and larger fleet of F/A-18 fleet for years now, but the issue has recently received more attention on Capitol Hill. During a 28 March House Armed Services Committee hearing, members of Congress expressed concern over dangerous crew cabin pressure in the older Super Hornets and possible oxygen contamination in the newer F/A-18 variants. The F/A-18A through D models saw a 90% increase in physiological episodes (PEs) over the last fiscal year, while the E and F models saw an 11% increase in the same period. Meanwhile, the EA-18G doubled its number of PEs during that same time.

  4. #1624

    Slash Ship Design Time In Half, CNO Says

    By Colin Clark

    on April 28, 2017 at 4:25 PM


    Adm. John Richardson

    WASHINGTON: That the Navy should get more money to build up its surface and submarine fleets may be the message*Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson sends in an upcoming article which he promises would be a “strong Navy voice” on budget issues.

    Richardson told an audience at the Brookings Institution Thursday*that he would be publishing an article “in the next couple of weeks” which he appeared to be previewing.*He pressed two big ideas of interest to our readers. One, the US must continue to hammer away at short-term innovation because computing power and the spread of advanced technologies through the commercial sector makes it imperative for the Navy to build weapons that can be uggraded every five years or so. Build a hull to last 30 years, he said, but design the guts of the ships and the weapons so they can be improved on a regular basis.

    Second, Richardson called on shipbuilders to greatly speed how they design ships, urging them to cut the time it takes by one-third to one-half. On top of that, ways around and through the acquisition process must be found to allow for more classes of ships to be designed and built more quickly.

    I hear much of this resulted from an in-depth Navy study of whether the service could actually build a 355-ship Navy, as President Trump has urged, any time soon. The conclusion of the internal study was simple: no, it can’t be done given current design and acquisition timelines. Richardson told the Brookings’ crowd, without mentioning the study: “We’ve been taking too long to get things done.”

    My source on the Navy study says the Navy went through Eric Labs’ recent Congressional Budget Office study of the 355-ship Navy and concluded his numbers were sound. Labs estimated that the Navy couldn’t hit that mark until 2032, even if you double shipbuilding budgets compared to historic levels.

    Pacific Commander Adm. Harry Harris told Congress earlier this week that his command is already short of subs and surface ships. Harris said he only has 50 percent of the subs he need to*tracks Russian, North Korean and Chinese undersea activity.

  5. #1625

    Watchdog Tells Congress to Slow Down New “Frigate” Program

    (Source: Project On Government Oversight; issued May 01, 2017)

    By Mandy Smithberger

    A recently released Government Accountability Office (GAO) report urges Congress to slow down acquisition of a new frigate based on the troubled Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) design since Congress would otherwise have to “make significant program decisions and commitments in 2017 without key cost, design, and capability knowledge.”

    Approval of a block buy committing the taxpayer to full production of a revamped $1.2 billion “frigate” LCS—one immune to cancellation in the event of failed operational tests—is the largest LCS decision now facing the new Department of Defense and the new Congress. The GAO report makes clear that approval would be a terrible decision for taxpayers.

    If the Navy moves forward now, the GAO warns, taxpayers will be paying for 12 ships without knowing the total cost, design, or capabilities of what they’re buying.

    If the Navy moves forward now, the GAO warns, taxpayers will be paying for 12 ships without knowing the total cost, design, or capabilities of what they’re buying. The report echoes concerns the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) raised in an analysis last year and in POGO’s Baker’s Dozen of recommended Congressional reforms.

    In the decade and a half since the program was first sold to Congress, the LCS has already been forced into multiple major program changes, initially driven by large cost overruns, the lack of combat survivability and lethality discovered during operational testing and deployments, the almost crippling technical failures, and schedule delays in each of the three mission modules.

    The rush to prove the capabilities of the LCS led to premature deployments, leaving a crew “marooned in Singapore on an open-ended deployment.” Moreover, “costs to construct the ships have more than doubled from initial expectations, with promised levels of capability unfilled,” the GAO writes. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates taxpayers could save $12 billion if the program was canceled.

    Now the Navy has announced it is abandoning the two fundamental concepts behind the program: a multi-mission ship with swappable mission modules and a radically new way of manning it. Instead, each LCS hull will have a single mission and a significantly larger crew assigned a single primary skill set. Even with these changes, however, the Navy is still planning to buy a “frigate” version of the LCS that is less survivable than its previous class, and, the GAO writes, “the least capable small surface combatant option considered.”

    The Navy wants Congress to approve a block of 12 planned frigates, which would conservatively cost between $9 billion and $14 billion. The problem with a block buy, however, is that it tries to tie the hands of both Congress and the Navy to cut the program or make needed modifications if the Navy and shipbuilders continue to deliver ships that don’t meet the program’s requirements. Under a block buy, it would be more difficult to make necessary changes on the program, the GAO writes, “because of the potential for the government to have to pay more for ships.”

    Normally a program of that size would be categorized as a separate major defense acquisition program (MDAP), which includes a number of key oversight and accountability milestones. In this case the Navy won’t separate out the frigate program to track this key oversight information or have needed transparency through Selected Acquisition Reports. One can only assume the Navy is trying to decrease public and Congressional criticism by making information less public.

    Unfortunately, this is not the first time the GAO and other independent watchdogs have urged Congress to slow down the LCS program. Throughout the history of the program the Navy established artificial deadlines on decisions to approve a production schedule that included an unnecessarily high amount of concurrency between testing and production—significantly increasing cost risks—and the decision to pursue a dual-buy strategy.

    At the time, the Navy argued the use of fixed-price contracts would control costs, but the GAO found the Navy still had to pay millions of dollars to repair deficiencies, and the shipbuilders made a profit on correcting their screw-ups. Seven years later the pricing the shipbuilders proposed “have not yet been achievable.”

    Disappointingly, the omnibus appropriations bill being considered this week continues to accelerate purchasing additional LCSs beyond the Navy’s request. Approving a block buy for the frigate program at this point would be doubling down on an acquisition strategy that has proven to be enormously wasteful, adding additional risk to the Navy’s already unaffordable shipbuilding plans. Congress should heed GAO’s advice this time and reject a block buy until the Navy knows what it’s actually buying.

    -ends-

  6. #1626

    Boeing pulls Harpoon from US Navy missile competition

    By: Christopher P. Cavas, May 2, 2017 (Photo Credit: US Navy)



    WASHINGTON – Citing continuing requirements changes that would mean giving ships a less-capable weapon than those carried by aircraft, Boeing said Tuesday it would drop out of a U.S. Navy effort to buy an over-the-horizon (OTH) cruise missile for littoral combat ships (LCS) and frigates.

    Boeing’s decision to withdraw its widely-used Harpoon missile leaves the Raytheon/Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM) and Lockheed Martin Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) as the likely candidates in the OTH effort.

    Troy Rutherford, director of cruise missile systems at Boeing Defense, said the company had long planned to adapt the Block II Plus Extended Range Harpoon being developed for Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) to support the needs of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA).

    “We felt we were well-positioned when the RFP dropped” in February, Rutherford said, but subsequent Navy changes -- in Boeing’s opinion – devalued a lot of what the company felt it could offer.

    “We were invested heavily across the OTH domain, and we’re on track with Navy to produce the Block II Plus first net-enabled OASUW [Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare] cruise missile into operational capability this year. And we continue to be on track for with early development for Extended Range for the air-launched version,” Rutherford said.

    But, he said, “in every iteration of the RFP amendments we see a decrease in the top-level requirements document and changes in the top-level requirements document. We’ve taken a hard look at that and said that at this point it doesn’t make sense for the Boeing Company to bid on this.”

    Among the differences between the NAVAIR and NAVSEA requirements, Rutherford noted, are all-weather and net-enabled capabilities for the air-launched weapon – capabilities deleted or not given in the surface ship requirements.

    “We would have to take a lot of capability out of this existing system and really deliver a less-capable weapon system to NAVSEA than the one we are currently on track to deliver for NAVAIR,” Rutherford said.

    NAVSEA’s requirements, he added, “really don’t give credit to the full capabilities of the missile. It also doesn’t allow for a lot of leeway in offering non-development technology and alignment with where naval aviation is taking us.”

    The new Block II Plus Harpoon will become operational this year, Rutherford said, and Boeing is doubling its production over the next four years. “We’ve got a very strong pipeline there.”

    Boeing has no intention to drop support or development of Harpoons launched from ships.

    “We continue to invest in this capability and the technologies,” Rutherford said.

    “We have a lot of interest from the international community to pick up Extended Range Harpoon. We see a very healthy market for not only air-launched but also surface and submarine-launched Extended Range Harpoon across our current inventory of partners.”

    The company remains ready to produce sea-launched Harpoons, Rutherford said.

    “If the surface Navy in the future wanted to upgrade to an extended-range variant there’s a way for them to easily do that,” he said. “We’re always happy to have that conversation with the Navy and discuss openly what the true requirements are. I just go back to the way this solicitation is currently written and the requirements continue to change within this particular solicitation. We’ve chosen not to place a bid on this activity.”

    The move caught industry and officialdom somewhat by surprise, but the Navy, through a spokesperson, declined to comment on the development. Lockheed followed suit, referring questions to the Navy, but Raytheon offered a statement.*

    "Raytheon and Kongsberg are jointly preparing a submission to the U.S. Navy’s Request for Proposal for its Over-The-Horizon Weapon System," spokesperson Tara Wood wrote in an email. "The companies believe that the ready-now Naval Strike Missile offers the U.S. Navy a high-performance capability to rapidly and affordably deliver strike dominance to the U.S. surface force."*

    Boeing’s decision to withdraw is likely to come up Wednesday afternoon when the House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on the LCS and frigate programs.

    Only one LCS has launched cruise missiles. The Coronado conducted a demonstration launch of the Naval Strike Missile in September 2014, when a launch box was placed at the edge of its flight deck. The launcher was removed following the test.

    The Coronado was subsequently chosen to be modified to carry Harpoon launch canisters during its current deployment to Singapore. The installation, which was not intended to be fully integrated with the ship’s combat system, was only partially complete last summer when the ship launched a Harpoon during Rim of the Pacific exercises. The missile ran out of fuel and failed to reach its target.

    The Harpoon installation was completed during the deployment, with eight missile tubes installed on the Coronado’s foredeck. But since arriving at Singapore in October the ship has not fired another missile, although several live-fire exercises using other weapons have been performed.

    Final bids on the OTH program are due to be submitted June 23.

  7. #1627

    Love how it is always the program's fault when Boeing chooses not to complete it's products...

    As if it's 40+ year old technology is 'too advanced' for a brand new anti-ship missile contract...
    In a low speed post-merge manoeuvring fight, with a high off-boresight 4th generation missile and Helmet Mounted Display, the Super Hornet will be a very difficult opponent for any current Russian fighter, even the Su-27/30

  8. #1628

    Quote Originally Posted by buglerbilly View Post
    Boeing pulls Harpoon from US Navy missile competition

    By: Christopher P. Cavas, May 2, 2017 (Photo Credit: US Navy)



    WASHINGTON – Citing continuing requirements changes that would mean giving ships a less-capable weapon than those carried by aircraft, Boeing said Tuesday it would drop out of a U.S. Navy effort to buy an over-the-horizon (OTH) cruise missile for littoral combat ships (LCS) and frigates.

    Boeing’s decision to withdraw its widely-used Harpoon missile leaves the Raytheon/Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM) and Lockheed Martin Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) as the likely candidates in the OTH effort.

    Troy Rutherford, director of cruise missile systems at Boeing Defense, said the company had long planned to adapt the Block II Plus Extended Range Harpoon being developed for Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) to support the needs of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA).

    “We felt we were well-positioned when the RFP dropped” in February, Rutherford said, but subsequent Navy changes -- in Boeing’s opinion – devalued a lot of what the company felt it could offer.

    “We were invested heavily across the OTH domain, and we’re on track with Navy to produce the Block II Plus first net-enabled OASUW [Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare] cruise missile into operational capability this year. And we continue to be on track for with early development for Extended Range for the air-launched version,” Rutherford said.

    But, he said, “in every iteration of the RFP amendments we see a decrease in the top-level requirements document and changes in the top-level requirements document. We’ve taken a hard look at that and said that at this point it doesn’t make sense for the Boeing Company to bid on this.”

    Among the differences between the NAVAIR and NAVSEA requirements, Rutherford noted, are all-weather and net-enabled capabilities for the air-launched weapon – capabilities deleted or not given in the surface ship requirements.

    “We would have to take a lot of capability out of this existing system and really deliver a less-capable weapon system to NAVSEA than the one we are currently on track to deliver for NAVAIR,” Rutherford said.

    NAVSEA’s requirements, he added, “really don’t give credit to the full capabilities of the missile. It also doesn’t allow for a lot of leeway in offering non-development technology and alignment with where naval aviation is taking us.”

    The new Block II Plus Harpoon will become operational this year, Rutherford said, and Boeing is doubling its production over the next four years. “We’ve got a very strong pipeline there.”

    Boeing has no intention to drop support or development of Harpoons launched from ships.

    “We continue to invest in this capability and the technologies,” Rutherford said.

    “We have a lot of interest from the international community to pick up Extended Range Harpoon. We see a very healthy market for not only air-launched but also surface and submarine-launched Extended Range Harpoon across our current inventory of partners.”

    The company remains ready to produce sea-launched Harpoons, Rutherford said.

    “If the surface Navy in the future wanted to upgrade to an extended-range variant there’s a way for them to easily do that,” he said. “We’re always happy to have that conversation with the Navy and discuss openly what the true requirements are. I just go back to the way this solicitation is currently written and the requirements continue to change within this particular solicitation. We’ve chosen not to place a bid on this activity.”

    The move caught industry and officialdom somewhat by surprise, but the Navy, through a spokesperson, declined to comment on the development. Lockheed followed suit, referring questions to the Navy, but Raytheon offered a statement.*

    "Raytheon and Kongsberg are jointly preparing a submission to the U.S. Navy’s Request for Proposal for its Over-The-Horizon Weapon System," spokesperson Tara Wood wrote in an email. "The companies believe that the ready-now Naval Strike Missile offers the U.S. Navy a high-performance capability to rapidly and affordably deliver strike dominance to the U.S. surface force."*

    Boeing’s decision to withdraw is likely to come up Wednesday afternoon when the House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on the LCS and frigate programs.

    Only one LCS has launched cruise missiles. The Coronado conducted a demonstration launch of the Naval Strike Missile in September 2014, when a launch box was placed at the edge of its flight deck. The launcher was removed following the test.

    The Coronado was subsequently chosen to be modified to carry Harpoon launch canisters during its current deployment to Singapore. The installation, which was not intended to be fully integrated with the ship’s combat system, was only partially complete last summer when the ship launched a Harpoon during Rim of the Pacific exercises. The missile ran out of fuel and failed to reach its target.

    The Harpoon installation was completed during the deployment, with eight missile tubes installed on the Coronado’s foredeck. But since arriving at Singapore in October the ship has not fired another missile, although several live-fire exercises using other weapons have been performed.

    Final bids on the OTH program are due to be submitted June 23.
    Yep - Boeing is well ahead of the curve and it is because the specification is so low that Boeing considers the contract beneath it so therefore it will withdraw.
    Oh - "the missile ran out of fuel and didn't reach its target" - a minor hiccough!
    Adding spin to an ancient missile's deficiencies does not a modern specification-meeting-missile make!
    Close the door on your way out!
    MB
    Last edited by Milne Bay; 03-05-17 at 11:29 AM.

  9. #1629

    So it opens the door for Kongsberg/Raytheon with the NSM.

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