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Thread: The USN's future?

  1. #1611

    What’s the Purpose of President Trump’s Navy?

    By Simon Reich
    Professor in The Division of Global Affairs and The Department of Political, The Conversation
    Peter Dombrowski
    Professor at the Center for Naval Warfare Studies, US Naval War College, The Conversation

    10:20 AM ET


    Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Connor Loessin

    Does the president's specified goal of 350 ships meet the needs of the nation in the 21st century? The answer is not yet clear.

    President Trump visited Newport News at the beginning of March to deliver a speech aboard the soon-to-be commissioned USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier. It provided a timely reminder of his campaign pledge that he would increase the size of the fleet from the current figure of 272 to 350 ships over the next three decades. This is significantly more than the Obama-era plans to increase the fleet to 308 ships.

    How this decision fits with any broader grand strategy is unclear. Critics have debated whether Trump has one. Indeed, a recent New York Times story suggested the growth of the military may simply be for the purpose of possessing raw military power rather than part of any serious strategizing.

    Trump’s decision to focus on building a more powerful global Navy, however, fits with a longstanding American strategic tradition. It dates back to naval officer and historian Alfred Thayer Mahan’s classic “The Influence of Seapower on History,” which was written on the cusp of America’s emergence as a global power at the end of the 19th century. In Mahan’s vision, a great Navy would promote America’s commercial interests at home and abroad. It was, and for many still*is, the foundation of any “grand strategy.”

    But a key question remains: Does Trump’s specified goal of 350 ships meet the needs of the nation in the 21st century? How does this fit into a strategic vision for U.S. security?

    Why 350 ships?

    The new budget proposal reportedly calls for increasing the 2018 Defense Budget by US$54 billion. This won’t itself pay for an ambitious expansion of the Navy. The USS Gerald R. Ford alone cost about $13 billion. It will, therefore, take many years of spending to move building projects forward. But as the Trump administration’s plans, if enacted, make clear, buying more ships will mean cuts to*foreign aid, environmental protection and a series of regulatory agencies. These are choices that have been roundly criticized by former military officials and senior policymakers.

    Moreover, there are few civilian officials available to answer the question of what purpose the Navy’s growth serves. That is because there is currently a dearth of administrative appointments to key leadership positions in the Navy and the Department of Defense. So there is no evident strategy to justify this new target.

    The man initially anointed by the Washington rumor mill as the next secretary of the Navy was ex-congressman Randy Forbes, formerly of the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces of the House Arms Services Committee and a vocal supporter of American naval power.

    Forbes was passed over in favor of Phillip Bilden, a businessmen with ties to both the Army and the Navy. Bilden, however, withdrew from consideration when it became clear that ethics rules would require him to disentangle himself from his extensive business holdings. The vacuum remains unfilled. Now, in a strange turn of events,*Forbes is once again in the running.

    Meanwhile, the preferences of the new Secretary of Defense General Mattis and National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster regarding the size, shape and purposes of the Navy are unknown.

    Both are well-read, broadly educated, deep thinkers on U.S. and global security. But both participated in ground wars in the Middle East. They are therefore assumed to be advocates of land forces, not naval power. In the past, they have focused on conventional wars, counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, rather than maritime challenges.

    The Navy’s view

    Even in normal periods, fleet design is a complicated bureaucratic dance with budgets, internal procedures and external interventions from Congress to be negotiated.

    In times of crisis or great political change, the strong preferences of presidents, their advisers and the civilian leaders or the military services can play a decisive role. Most famously, Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, at the behest of President Reagan, championed a 600-ship Navy to counter the rapidly growing Soviet fleet and threats to Europe, the Far East and elsewhere.

    Even before candidate Trump shined the spotlight on the Navy, the service was, of course, planning for the future.

    The Navy released its latest vision statement, “A Design for Maritime Superiority,” in January 2016. It resoundingly defended the ideal that the United States is a maritime nation and a premier naval power, specifically naming China and Russia as potential aggressors on the high seas. It didn’t specify a target fleet size although the documents could be construed as justifying the sort of overall budget growth proposed by Trump.

    Still Congress, forcefully egged on by Representative Forbes, who felt the Obama administration and the Navy itself were neglecting naval strategy, mandated three independent studies to examine the future fleet. Interestingly, when completed, none of the three alternatives proposes anything like a 350-ship fleet by 2030, despite errant reports to the contrary.

    Recent news reports suggesting that the alternative fleet architecture proposed by the think tank the MITRE Corp. called for over 400 ships misinterpreted the study. In fact, the MITRE authors recommend a far smaller fleet because they explicitly recognize the costs of building up to such a large number.

    All three studies focus on new war-fighting concepts such as distributed maritime operations, new types of platforms including unmanned systems and new technologies including rail guns (that can repeatedly launch a projectile at more than 5,000 miles per hour). Capacity and fleet size are obviously not the same thing, despite the current focus on numbers of ships.

    The point is that analysis underpinning the Navy’s own vision for the future is different from that of the new president.

    To date, the president has concentrated on the overall number of ships while the Navy and the congressionally mandated studies focused on war-fighting capabilities and war-fighting concepts. What is missing from the president’s target of a 350-ship Navy is an underlying strategy – one that links what is proverbially called the “ways, means and ends” necessary to defend American interests on the high seas.

    Working outward, the national security community, the public and indeed America’s allies and adversaries need to understand the logic underlying any historic naval buildup. A clear statement regarding the primary threats facing the U.S., the types of adversaries it will face and the nature of future conflict would help explain why the American taxpayer is investing so much national treasure in the military services.

    After all, if Russia is not the enemy, and we don’t need a big Navy to defeat the Islamic State, then why spend so much?

    ‘Military operations other than war’

    So far, Trump has not offered an answer for the nation to rally behind and to reassure his critics.

    In its absence, experts have sought reassurance in the president’s fragmentary and sporadic pronouncements to support their own vision. Neo-isolationists have cheered his efforts to close American borders. Others have warmed to the notion that he has suggested our allies assume more responsibility for their own defense. Even proponents of old-fashioned primacy have sought luster by interpreting the president’s defense buildup as a return to the unilateralist days of American military prowess through intervention.

    Our own research suggests that the truth is that none of these grand visions may apply. The Navy, and indeed the other military services, face a growing demand for their services. They are now being asked to perform an increasing number of functions that are not associated with fighting wars.

    The military even has a term for it: “MOOTW” (military operations other than war). And the U.S. Navy’s MOOTW ranges from conventional war-fighting against other countries’ navies to policing the globe against pirates, drug flows and the smuggling of nuclear materials, humanitarian assistance and even fighting Ebola in Africa. These activities consume much of the Navy’s time. And their increasing demands require increased resources. Military budgets therefore often reflect the requirements entailed in providing these services as much as the need to conform to any one image.

    Of course, congressional democrats may yet scuttle plans for an enlarged Navy. Alternatively, the president may move beyond discussing discrete missions to a more coherent grand strategy – perhaps tutored by his new senior military appointments – that justifies acquisition decisions.

    The types of ships (and aircraft, and unmanned systems and equipment) purchased in the coming years will make sense only if they are employed in an operationally coherent manner. Only then will the American public be able to judge if the trade-offs made to fund such an enterprise were worth it.

    This article first appeared at The Conversation.

    Dr. Peter Dombrowski is a professor of strategy at the Naval War College where he serves as the chair of the Strategic Research Department. Previous positions include director of the Naval War College Press, editor of the Naval War College Review, co-editor of International Studies Quarterly, Associate Professor of Political Science at Iowa State University and defense analyst at ANSER, Inc.
    Last edited by buglerbilly; 16-03-17 at 04:58 AM.

  2. #1612

    Portsmouth Naval Shipyard commander says more jobs to be added this year

    By: The Associated Press, March 19, 2017 (Photo Credit: Navy)



    KITTERY, Maine — The new commander of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard says 350 workers are going to be added this year to handle the growing workload.

    Capt. David Hunt also tells The Portsmouth Herald*that he wants all three of the shipyard's dry docks to be capable of handling Virginia-class submarines. Currently two of the three dry docks can handle the newer Virginia-class submarines.

    Hunt became the shipyard's 85th commander of the facility, which is the nation's oldest, continuously operating U.S. Navy shipyard.

    The shipyard repairs and overhauls nuclear-powered submarines and its current workforce stands at 5,400 people. The shipyard is set to begin construction later this year on new barracks for sailors stationed at the yard during submarine overhauls.

  3. #1613

    Fast-Tracked Ramjet Provides Deep-Strike Capability

    (Source: Navair blog; posted March 14, 2017)

    By Jeff Newman


    Using existing components sold for civilian rocket hobbyists, Naval Air Systems Command technicians were able to develop, build and fly a solid-fuel ramjet in six months, a timeframe made possible by a unique acquisition strategy. (Navair image)

    The U.S. Navy took the first step to reintroducing to the fleet an old-but-much-needed technology when it successfully tested a solid-fuel ramjet engine at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) in China Lake, California.

    As threats emerge that require an ability to strike targets from farther out to sea than ever before, the Navy is revisiting the solid-fuel ramjet—an air-breathing engine that can propel a missile up to three times the distance and at higher speeds than a standard solid rocket motor.

    “The combination of range and speed is an absolutely enabling technology for the warfighter that they need now,” said Matt Walker, head of the Airbreathing Propulsion Section at NAWCWD.

    In a traditional rocket motor, oxidizer can make up roughly 90 percent of the rocket’s propellant, Walker said. Meanwhile, a ramjet engine—a technology first conceived in Europe in the 1910s—uses its vehicle’s forward motion to draw in oxygen from the surrounding atmosphere, allowing more room for fuel and making it four-to-five times more fuel efficient than a solid rocket motor, he said.

    Larger fuel stores also allow a ramjet to sustain high speed during flight, making it harder to shoot down than a solid rocket motor, which exhausts its fuel shortly after launch and then rapidly slows down, he said.

    Though most ramjets are liquid fuel, which generally burns more efficiently, solid fuel can be packed more densely, meaning a solid-fuel rocket can typically fly farther, Walker said.

    “We are consistently seeing that solid fuel ramjets will fly about three times the distance as a solid rocket motor of the same size,” Walker said.

    The Navy began experimenting with surface-launched ramjets toward the end of World War II and air-launched ramjets during the mid-1950s. Development on air-launched ramjets continued throughout the Cold War, but the fall of the Soviet Union shifted the nation’s military focus to conflicts in the Middle East, where adversaries with inferior air defenses rendered the ramjet’s range superfluous.

    But now with Russia re-emerging as a threat, and joined by a resurgent China, the Navy is once again in need of the ramjet’s unique capabilities.

    Unique Acquisition Strategy

    To that end, NAWCWD Commander Rear Adm. Brian Corey and Weapons and Energetics Department Director Dan Carreño challenged Walker and his team at the end of April to develop, build and fly a solid-fuel ramjet in six months, a timeframe made possible by a unique acquisition strategy.

    Walker said his team determined the best course was to keep the project small and use parts that could be purchased off-the-shelf for far less money and in far less time than it would take to design and develop them independently.

    “It doesn’t have to take 10 years to get something done,” said Nick Quigley, an aerospace engineer on Walker’s ramjet team. “We took stuff that would come off-the-shelf, we were able to order from somebody, and then we would make that integrate into a solid-fuel ramjet. So, we made a solid-fuel ramjet out of things we could get readily available.”

    The team sought out manufacturers popular with model rocket hobbyists. It found a rocket booster that could propel the vehicle to Mach 2-at which point the ramjet would take over-for $900, a pittance compared to the tens of thousands it would have cost to develop one in-house, Walker said.

    To his knowledge, this acquisition strategy was unprecedented. Fortunately, many of the parts Walker’s team needed could be purchased with a credit card.

    “We had to keep things inexpensive, so we couldn’t rely on the contract world. To buy things this quickly is very difficult to do with the standard contract process we have,” he added.

    Walker also stressed the importance of keeping his development team small and agile.

    “If you have a small team, you can just get together and draw on a white board on the fly and not have to worry about getting the large team involved and buy-in from everyone,” he said.

    Walker believes the strategy could be applied broadly throughout the Navy, but acknowledged that it might not fit larger programs and systems as well as it did his project.

    Walker said he sees the greatest impediment to developing such an acquisition culture is an institutional unwillingness to assume risk, both technical and professional.

    “The risk-averse approach is to do all kinds of analyses and testing so you understand every aspect of what you’re looking at, but that can take a long time to complete,” Walker said. “Too much as a DoD, we aren’t willing to fail and have a ‘black mark,’ so to speak. We learn a lot from our failures, and as a culture, we need to be willing to fail, to take some chances.”

    Walker and his team flew the ramjet about three months into the project, before it had every aspect of its design nailed down. The first flight failed when the booster separated at the wrong time, preventing the engine from igniting.

    “But we learned things in that flight that we would not have even known to look for, so ‘fly early and often’ was our mantra,” he said.

    As a result of the flight, the team discovered it had a timing issue with the ramjet’s ignition. A quick fix, and the second test flight saw the engine fire at the right time, but the fuel took too long to ignite, causing the ramjet to decelerate to the point it missed its target.

    The team changed the ignitor to provide more direct flame to the ramjet’s fuel, and on the three subsequent test flights, “it ignited perfectly,” Walker said.

    Now the team is working on making its solid-fuel ramjet “more tactically relevant,” integrating the rocket booster with the propellant inside the combustion chamber, rather than having a separate booster that has to detach from the rocket mid-flight, Walker said.

    Another goal is to install a high-performance inlet that will allow the ramjet to more fully realize its speed potential. The ramjet tested last year did not accelerate much once the booster got it up to Mach 2, but the next rocket “will accelerate like crazy,” Walker promised.

    Walker believes his team could have a ramjet-equipped missile to the fleet within three-to-four years, “which is a very fast schedule,” he said. “People doubt it, but I’m very confident we can do it if we can change the acquisition culture. We’ve tested the technology and know that it works.”

    -ends-

  4. #1614

    Skunk Works Head: Latest Navy MQ-25A Requirements Pushing Competitors to Redesign Offers

    By: Sam LaGrone

    March 21, 2017 9:54 PM • Updated: March 22, 2017 4:54 PM


    Lockheed Martin MQ-25A bid. Lockheed Martin Photo

    ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy’s latest revised list of requirements for its carrier-based*unmanned aerial tanker will likely push all four competitors to redesign their bids, the head of Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Work division said on Tuesday.

    The Navy’s latest direction for the MQ-25A Stingray would further minimize information, reconnaissance and surveillance (ISR) requirements for the airframe and further reduce strike as a mission, Rob Weiss, the head of the company’s internal aviation research and development arm, said at Lockheed Martin’s annual media day.

    “The Navy came out with these requirements perhaps in the last six to eight months, and they still haven’t given us the final system requirements document – that should be coming any day – with specifically what they want this tanker to do,” Weiss said.

    “From our viewpoint, the requirements, as they are currently unfolding, are going to require a new design from all of the competitors. It’s now very tanker-focused. We’re looking at what those requirements are, there will probably be a follow-up capability – some ISR it could do and potentially some strike – but it’s very much focused on tanking.”

    Along with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, General Atomics and Boeing are competing for the first operational carrier-based unmanned aerial vehicle.

    As part of his presentation, Weiss teased an image of Lockheed Martin concept that*showed a view of a wing with an aerial refueling tank hanging from a pylon and trailing a probe-and-drogue fuel line to an F/A-18E Super Hornet.

    Currently, the Navy refuels its carrier aircraft with*its Super Hornet fleet. The tanking mission accounts from anywhere from 25 to 30 percent of Super Hornet sorties, further exacerbating the ongoing tactical aviation shortfalls in the service.

    That demand – in part – is pushing the Navy to get a tanking UAV into service as soon as possible rather than creating a more multi-mission platform, USNI News understands.

    “If the requirements were about penetrating ISR in contested airspace – be it ISR or strike – you would need an airplane that looks different than the concept you’ve got up there with pylons and so forth doing tanking,” he said.

    Last year, Weiss suggested the Navy pursue a more stealthy tailless flying wing design that could be adapted to higher-end missions later.

    “If you start with a vehicle shape that will allow it to penetrate into a contested environment, you can get a low-cost tanking capability upfront without putting all the capability into that vehicle. … You can do it at low cost but stay on that same path to use that vehicle design to operate in a penetrating environment,” Weiss said in 2016.

    Later last year, Commander of Naval Air Forces Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker said industry was struggling with designs that could blend the requirements of an ISR platform and a tanker. The Air Boss said the two missions lent*themselves to two different types of platforms.

    A primarily-ISR UAV would be a high-endurance platform that would “probably not carry a lot of fuel, have a large wingspan,” to be an efficient platform, Shoemaker said in August.

    “If you’re going to be a tanker at range, you’re obliviously going to have to be able to carry a fair amount of fuel internal to the platform. … That drives the different design for those two. So the industry is working on an*analysis of where that sweet spot is to do both of those missions.”

    However, based on Weiss’s comments, the Navy’s latest revision to the requirements seem to push all the competitors to a wing-body-tail design for Stingray rather than the*flying wing concept both Lockheed and Northrop were thought to be developing for the MQ-25A program.

    “The requirements have been defined to be a tanker, so you really don’t want to go with a tailless design if your primary requirement is associated tanking,” he said.

    General Atomics and Boeing both have proposed wing-body-tail for their MQ-25A proposal in the past, USNI News understands.

    Following a draft Request for Proposal issued last year directly to the four competitors, the Navy is expected to issue the final RFP this summer, with an expected contract award in 2018, Weiss said.

    The MQ-25A is the Navy’s follow-up program to the service’s Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) UAV program that developed an aircraft primarily for ISR. However, the program was restructured following a 2015 Office of Secretary of Defense review led by Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work, and it became a tanking-first concept that became MQ-25A.

    While the four competitors are developing the airframe, the Navy is developing the ground control station and the data link packages for the MQ-25A that remain largely unchanged from the UCLASS program.

  5. #1615

    Inside Boeing’s F-18 Pitch To White House; Fewer F-35Cs Means Shorter Fight

    By Colin Clark

    on March 30, 2017 at 5:54 PM


    Advanced Super Hornet

    WASHINGTON: If the Navy would buy one squadron of new F-18s (known as the XT, Block 3 or Advanced Super Hornet) instead of the carrier version of the F-35 it “actually improves overall mission capability, while substantially reducing cost.”

    But the Navy*could go even one better and buy two squadrons of the new F-18, which would give the Navy “the best capability affordably.” Buying 120 Super Hornets and 200 of the Advanced Super Hornets (which is what their plan would work out to) would save $8 billion in procurement costs each year plus $1.4 billion in operations and maintenance costs each year, the report claims.

    That’s the essence of the story that Boeing is telling the Pentagon and the White House, according to a Boeing document I obtained that was presented to White House officials. The document marks a shift in*Boeing’s efforts. In years past the pitch was, essentially, buy more Super Hornets. Now the company wants to convince the Pentagon to shift the balance between the F-18 and the F-35 in favor of their plane. That push has gained much momentum since President Trump’s famous tweets about the F-35’s high costs, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis ordering a review of the costs and capabilities of the F-35C and F-18 and the news that the Navy fighter fleet is in what analysts are calling a death spiral.

    As the headline for Sydney’s story about Navy Department readiness notes,*62 percent of F-18 Hornets are unfit to fly and the number for the Marines is up to 74 percent.


    F-35C

    Boeing has been offering some version of the argument that the F-18 is cheaper, ready to fly and almost as good as the F-35C for years. They’ve been eager to keep their production line open and saw the chance to cut into Lockheed Martin’s fighter business. For its part, Lockheed Martin has known for years its F-35C sales were the most in peril because of Navy concerns about the F-35’s ever-rising costs and its uncertain life cycle costs.

    This new document goes much further. It*includes a chart — “Analysis of Future A2/AD PACOM Scenario” (can you say China?) — claiming that shifting the balance of F-18s and F-35Cs would “reduce campaign duration” substantially. Keeping the planned Navy buy of three F/A-18 Super Hornet squadrons and two F-35C squadrons would result in a longer fight, it says.

    Another chart at the bottom ticks off the characteristics of the two planes. It grants*they both have “advanced radar” and “survivability.” But it*claims the advanced F-18 would outpace the F-35C in maneuverability, acceleration, combat radius and weapons load.

    On costs, the paper says the advanced Hornet would cost $79 million all up — including government gear — while*Boeing pegs the F-35C’s total weapon cost at $120 million.

    A source familiar with the F-35 program says F-35C costs should be around $100 million by 2021. The source concedes that cost per flying hour is a bit higher for the C but it is, of course, a truly stealthy aircraft while the F-18 is not.

    Boeing also argues that the Advanced Super Hornet would be “complementary” to the F-35C. “Both platforms are survivable in the future because of stealth, Growler and self-protect EW,” one Boeing source says. This would give the military*“flexibility in deciding how much of each platform they need, keeping in mind they need both.”

    A key issue in terms of the Mattis-ordered review is whether the Advanced Super Hornet is being factored into the cost and capabilities comparison of the F-18 and the F-35C that the Deputy Defense Secretary will receive. It’s not clear, at this point.

  6. #1616

    Quote Originally Posted by buglerbilly View Post
    Inside Boeing’s F-18 Pitch To White House; Fewer F-35Cs Means Shorter Fight

    By Colin Clark

    on March 30, 2017 at 5:54 PM


    Advanced Super Hornet

    WASHINGTON: If the Navy would buy one squadron of new F-18s (known as the XT, Block 3 or Advanced Super Hornet) instead of the carrier version of the F-35 it “actually improves overall mission capability, while substantially reducing cost.”

    But the Navy*could go even one better and buy two squadrons of the new F-18, which would give the Navy “the best capability affordably.” Buying 120 Super Hornets and 200 of the Advanced Super Hornets (which is what their plan would work out to) would save $8 billion in procurement costs each year plus $1.4 billion in operations and maintenance costs each year, the report claims.

    That’s the essence of the story that Boeing is telling the Pentagon and the White House, according to a Boeing document I obtained that was presented to White House officials. The document marks a shift in*Boeing’s efforts. In years past the pitch was, essentially, buy more Super Hornets. Now the company wants to convince the Pentagon to shift the balance between the F-18 and the F-35 in favor of their plane. That push has gained much momentum since President Trump’s famous tweets about the F-35’s high costs, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis ordering a review of the costs and capabilities of the F-35C and F-18 and the news that the Navy fighter fleet is in what analysts are calling a death spiral.

    As the headline for Sydney’s story about Navy Department readiness notes,*62 percent of F-18 Hornets are unfit to fly and the number for the Marines is up to 74 percent.


    F-35C

    Boeing has been offering some version of the argument that the F-18 is cheaper, ready to fly and almost as good as the F-35C for years. They’ve been eager to keep their production line open and saw the chance to cut into Lockheed Martin’s fighter business. For its part, Lockheed Martin has known for years its F-35C sales were the most in peril because of Navy concerns about the F-35’s ever-rising costs and its uncertain life cycle costs.

    This new document goes much further. It*includes a chart — “Analysis of Future A2/AD PACOM Scenario” (can you say China?) — claiming that shifting the balance of F-18s and F-35Cs would “reduce campaign duration” substantially. Keeping the planned Navy buy of three F/A-18 Super Hornet squadrons and two F-35C squadrons would result in a longer fight, it says.

    Another chart at the bottom ticks off the characteristics of the two planes. It grants*they both have “advanced radar” and “survivability.” But it*claims the advanced F-18 would outpace the F-35C in maneuverability, acceleration, combat radius and weapons load.

    On costs, the paper says the advanced Hornet would cost $79 million all up — including government gear — while*Boeing pegs the F-35C’s total weapon cost at $120 million.

    A source familiar with the F-35 program says F-35C costs should be around $100 million by 2021. The source concedes that cost per flying hour is a bit higher for the C but it is, of course, a truly stealthy aircraft while the F-18 is not.

    Boeing also argues that the Advanced Super Hornet would be “complementary” to the F-35C. “Both platforms are survivable in the future because of stealth, Growler and self-protect EW,” one Boeing source says. This would give the military*“flexibility in deciding how much of each platform they need, keeping in mind they need both.”

    A key issue in terms of the Mattis-ordered review is whether the Advanced Super Hornet is being factored into the cost and capabilities comparison of the F-18 and the F-35C that the Deputy Defense Secretary will receive. It’s not clear, at this point.
    The only reason that the F/A-18 is in any way survivable is that it is not used as a day one of war radar penetrating asset. In other words it relies on the F-35's abilities to deflect attention and to get things done in the face of hostile AA to allow it to survive at all. Without the stealth aircraft, the F/A-18 is nothing but SAM fodder.
    What a crock of shit to propose that the advanced Shornet is in any way comparative.
    It may be cheaper to buy and maintain, but that is money down the toilet if it gets shot out of the sky.
    Does anyone actually listen to this shite from Boeing?
    MB

  7. #1617

    TRUMP does.................Mattis tries to correct him..........impasse reached.The current "study" is for Mattis to finally prove Boeing is full of shit...........................

  8. #1618

    Raytheon radar executes first ballistic missile test

    By: Rachael Kalinyak, March 31, 2017 (Photo Credit: Raytheon)



    After a series of previous successes, Raytheon’s AN/SPY-6(V) Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) successfully searched, acquired, and tracked a ballistic missile during the first dedicated ballistic missile defense exercise at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), the company announced March 31.

    Tad Dickenson, Raytheon’s director of the AMDR program, indicated that “all systems were green” and the successes seen at the PMRF are “significant achievements and a testament to the expertise and commitment of this government and Raytheon team.”

    The AN/SPY-6 remains on track for delivery to DDG 51 Flight III. After completing several milestones throughout the radar’s advancement, it will transition to low-rate initial production. The AN/SPY-6(V) is the first scalable radar built with radar modular assemblies, also known as radar building blocks, which are standalone radars that can be grouped together to build a radar of any size. Because of this, the radar is capable of increasing battlespace, situational awareness, and reaction time thanks to the greater capacity in range, sensitivity, and discrimination accuracy.

    The AMDR will replace SPY-1D radars on new Aegis warships.The scalable sensor, meant to scale up for larger warships with more installed power and down for smaller vessels – is key to the Aegis system’s ability to track and defeat enemy air and ballistic missile targets.

  9. #1619

    Uncharted waters: US Navy still searching for path to a bigger fleet

    By: Christopher P. Cavas, April 3, 2017

    WASHINGTON — Just about everybody in and around the U.S. Navy agrees there is a pressing need to build a bigger fleet. Just about nobody agrees on a way to get there.

    It’s not yet clear what the overall goal will be — 355 ships, the latest figure put forth by the Navy to grow from today’s 308-ship fleet target — or the Trump administration’s oft-stated 350-ship fleet. No one knows how much the new fleet will cost because there have been no decisions on the new force’s makeup — how many submarines, aircraft carriers, big-deck amphibious ships, destroyers and the like will be needed.

    No decisions have been reached on how or what to change from existing plans that all date from the previous presidential administration. No one is yet sure what those in power want — what their priorities are, what directions they want to take to reach yet-to-be-determined goals, even who the real players are. Some of those presupposed key players have yet to be named or nominated, much less put in office. There are no timelines yet for reaching any of those conclusions.

    No one knows precisely what will be in the next budget because, for one, the Pentagon is still working on the fiscal 2018 budget which won’t be sent to Congress until mid-May, and secondly, Congress, trapped in a seemingly endless inability to pass timely defense budgets, still hasn’t finished work on the 2017 budget or moved on the 2017 supplemental requests. It’s hard to figure what to ask for next year when you don’t know what you’re going to get this year — but that’s what the Defense Department is dealing with.*

    The 2018 budget submission in May should also include details of the future years defense program, the near-term plan for what the Navy intends to do in each procurement program. In conjunction with the budget, a new 30-year shipbuilding fleet plan should also be submitted detailing the way ahead through 2038.

    To determine its direction, the Navy is working through a variety of documents and efforts. The new Force Structure Assessment, completed in December, contains the 355-ship figure. Three fleet architecture studies, performed at the direction of Congress, use different approaches to build the future Navy. None will be officially adopted, although Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations, has said elements of each study could be incorporated into official plans. Other, less-prominent studies are being carried out.

    But while budget deadlines loom, it is unlikely significant changes will appear right away, as many of the decision makers that routinely influence the process have yet to make their wishes known or are even in place. There is no permanent secretary of the Navy, not even a nominee, and acting secretary Sean Stackley has been spending most of his time studying how to reorganize the Pentagon’s office of acquisitions, technology and logistics (AT&L) — also a major player in budget determinations. A number of observers think Stackley, the Navy’s long-serving assistant secretary for research, development and acquisition, could move over to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and take over the AT&L post.*

    New Defense Secretary James Mattis has yet to make his thoughts public on what he sees as the way ahead for the Navy. Whether he has many specific ideas for the Navy at this point is not clear, but many inside the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill are waiting to find out — in large part because Ash Carter, Mattis’ predecessor, played a major role in recent years in shaping several key Navy programs, notably in the littoral combat ship (LCS) program.

    Another key Pentagon player, the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation organization (CAPE), is also still forming up, as is the office of Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E). Both offices have had a significant impact on Navy programs in recent years, particularly in support of Carter’s decisions to curtail LCS production and force the Navy to move to a multi-mission frigate variant.

    With Carter and former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus gone and Stackley in a sort of between-status, Richardson remains as the key player determining the Navy’s immediate future. But, befitting his prior service as a submariner and the head of Naval Nuclear Reactors, he is clearly a champion of the fleet’s submarine programs, Richardson has held his cards somewhat close to the vest regarding what changes in direction he could effect in other shipbuilding programs — or even what he would advocate for or against. *

    While there is much talk about expanding Navy shipbuilding and no shortage of opinions on what kind of ships to buy, the reality is a number of restrictions limit options for the immediate and near future, regardless what anyone might want. The White House’s skinny budget released in mid-March contains no shipbuilding details and proposes only a modest three percent rise in defense spending for 2018. And the Budget Control Act restricting overall spending continues as the law of the land — and it is not at all clear when, or if, the BCA will be repealed. So it would seem the Navy is unlikely to be showered with new funding anytime soon.

    Outside funding questions, the shipbuilding industrial base is, for the most part, not in a great position to expand to meet ramped-up demands. A case in point is the submarine establishment, struggling its way to handle the doubling of the yearly attack submarine construction rate from one to two ships even as it is challenged to ramp up and take on production of the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine. The first new boomer is to be procured in 2021, but much development and design work remains before that will happen. The Navy wants to continue buying two Virginias per year even as the Columbias enter production, but it will be a stretch, to say the least. Any move to four subs per year is far off, if at all.*

    Surface combatants large and small comprise the largest element of today’s fleet, comprising a third of all ships. The large surface combatants now being built are Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. The Navy will soon commission its 63rd Burke-class ship, more than a dozen more are under contract at roughly $1.7 billion apiece, and a contract soon will be signed to begin construction of the latest Flight III variant, an enlarged Burke fitted with the new Air Missile Defense Radar. One of the building yards, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, is working its way out of numerous problems and is not in a position to ramp up production. Competitor Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding is in a better place, actively campaigning to build more destroyers and amphibious ships whenever increased funding comes through.

    By far the greatest shipbuilding controversy has centered on the small surface combatant, where OSD and the Navy – particularly Mabus – butted heads for several years on the program’s future. Prior defense secretaries Chuck Hagel and Carter sought in succession to end LCS procurement, move to frigate variants of each of the two designs in production, or move to a single frigate variant. Starting in January 2014, when Hagel first ordered the frigate to be developed, the LCS and frigate programs have gone through virtually annual changes to accommodate new directives.*

    Officially, the Navy plans to end LCS procurement and choose a single frigate design in 2019 – and there is pressure from OSD, the Navy and Congress to move that forward to 2018. Both industry teams, Lockheed Martin and Austal USA, long have been working to anticipate the Navy’s frigate design requirements — even as those requirements have fluctuated — and the service has been funding research and development work. But a formal request for proposal (RFP) for the frigate is scheduled for September, and the responses are unlikely to be delivered much before the end of calendar year 2018.*

    But the cumulative effect of the nearly constant changes in direction have set the program back more than is publicly acknowledged, a number of sources said. For example, if both frigate designs are going to be built, a high degree of commonality needs to exist between the two. If only one design is chosen, commonality is not as important, simplifying each team’s task. The current direction is for a down-select to a single design.*

    The simple truth is a down-select is highly unlikely. The primary drivers for continuing to build both variants are 1) political pressure in Congress, where there will certainly be strong opposition from whichever builder is left out of a single-source frigate program, and 2) any move to eliminate one of the shipyards would cut in half frigate shipbuilding production, imposing a significant setback in the larger move to grow the fleet — a retrograde move unlikely to find favor on the Hill or in the White House.

    The frigate program itself is in some jeopardy. There is virtually no chance the ship could happen in 2018, and the annual change in executive management’s requirements have made 2019 problematic. More likely, 2020 is a more realistic goal — or even later, giving the new Pentagon leadership more time to evaluate the situation and decide if the project is what is wanted.*

    The Navy can’t even define — really — what it wants in a new small surface combatant. While it has responded to the need to justify OSD’s directives, there has been no gap analysis performed for a new frigate — a comprehensive look at what capability gap exists, followed by an analysis of alternatives on how to fill that gap. There is no shortage of opinion regarding smaller combatants to be built, but reality is that, aside from the LCS-derived frigate, any other design, including adapting an existing foreign ship, would take many years to develop and cost far more.*

    The irony is that the Navy’s best choice to expand its fleet sooner rather than later is to continue building the ships so many opponents want to dump — rightly or wrongly.*

    The issue will become how soon the establishment faces up to that reality and puts solid, consistent effort into making the ships as effective as possible.

  10. #1620

    Carrier Ford Sails This Week; Future Destroyer Proposals In 2020

    By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

    on April 03, 2017 at 2:28 PM


    The future USS Ford is christened at Newport News shipyard.

    NATIONAL HARBOR: The long-delayed supercarrier Gerald Ford should set sail for builders’ trials this week, the head of Naval Sea Systems Command said today. If those builders’ trials and subsequent Navy acceptance trials go well, Vice Adm. Thomas Moore told reporters at the Sea-Air-Space conference here, “I think we’ll get the ship delivered in the April-May timeframe and then we can move on with commissioning.”

    As America’s first all-new carrier design since the Nimitz in 1976, the Ford class will serve into at least into the 2070s. But many of their escorts will be late-model Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, so-called “Flight III” updates of a 1980s design whose first ship, DDG-51, was commissioned in 1991. That’s why the Navy is brainstorming a next generation Future Surface Combatant, aiming to solicit design proposals from industry around 2020.

    “DDG’s a great class of ship… but we’re never going to build Flight IV, we need to move on,” Moore said. “It’s probably time for us to work from a clean sheet.”

    Moore is on a steering committee *for the clean-sheet Future Surface Combatant, along with three-star counterparts from the Navy staff (OPNAV) and the operational fleet. The idea is to have warfighters, shipbuilders, and budgeteers working together from the start, instead of one group coming up with unrealistic requirements for a super-ship the others can’t build or can’t afford.

    Below the 3-star panel, Moore said, “there’ll be a working level group at the one or two-star level that will come back and present us with concepts and a plan of action, and we’ll go back to the CNO (the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. John Richardson). I’d expect we would formally kick this off at the DoD 5000 (regulation) level — where we have a charter and we start working on an AOA (Analysis of Alternatives) — probably at the end of this summer.”


    The USS McCain (DDG 56), named after the senator’s father and grandfather, both admirals.

    “We’re looking at how do you move this process faster so we can get to the point where we’re ready to issue an RFP (Request For Proposals) out to start working on a design for the ship,” Moore said. “Typically, that’d take us four to five years,” i.e. until about 2022, but his “aspirational plan” is to release the RFP for designs “about 2020.”

    What should the Future Surface Combatant look like? That’s what all these studies are supposed to figure out, but a few basics are already clear. CNO Richardson has said he wants a ship built from the keel up for cyber and electronic warfare. Naval thinkers in and out of uniform have talked about laser weapons and electromagnetic railguns. All these systems require a lot of electricity — much more than available on current destroyer designs, with the possible exception of the DDG-1000*Zumwalt class, which went so badly over budget it was cut to just three ships. “The big things for any ship going forward, it’s going to need more power,” said Moore.

    The great thing about electrical power, unlike such features as 16-inch guns or thick armor plate, is that you can use it for almost anything: If one weapon, sensor, or communications system becomes obsolete, just unplug it and plug in something new. At least, that’s the Navy’s vision of never-ending modernization. But to upgrade without undue agony, you need to design a ship from the keel up with room to grow and an open architecture into which new components can easily plug and play.

    That’s not how traditional ships like the Arleigh Burke destroyer were designed, which is part of the reason Flight III will probably be the last major upgrade of the class: “We’re cramming a lot of stuff in that ship,” said Moore. With the Future Surface Combatant, by contrast, the Navy doesn’t just want to build a ship, but a floating framework that can keep evolving for decades to exploit new technologies and meet new threats.

    That’s not easy. As much as Moore wants to accelerate, “the ship is going to be out there for the next 40, 50, 60 years, so it’s important we don’t take any shortcuts,” he emphasized. “It’s very important that we do diligence on looking at alternatives, looking at the cost, marrying the requirements up to the costs, so at the end *we all have an understanding of this is the capability I’m going to buy, this is how much it’s going to cost, this is when I’m going to get the capability, this is how long it’ll last. If we have that discussion up front with the Future Surface Combatant, we’ll avoid some of the typical growing pains that we have for some of these programs.”

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