URR, dude – we need to play bridge on the same team.
I hit on the similar topic this AM on my home blog based on a NavyTimes article.
Part of the problem is that we seem to have some cognitive problem, or at least schizophrenia, when it comes to our FFG’s.
In 2009, the following “sky is blue” statement is just strange to hear, especially from the Deputy Director of NAVSEA.
“What has changed is an increasing awareness of the utility of the FFG in the littorals and the increased ability of our aviation assets,” McManamon said. “When you put an armed helicopter on an armed ship with a shallow draft that is fuel-efficient, that is valuable. In the littorals, the ships become a lot more viable.”
What changed where, when, how, and with whom? That awareness has existed since well before I was a MIDN – though anyone that tried to say that too loud during the last decade were beaten to death with piles of LCS PPT printouts. It helps though in understanding the confusion I hear from the Ensign to the Congressmen on the direction and concepts from the Navy about our surface ships. I don’t know if I should be angry, confused, or sad when I read that quote – but mostly I am frustrated at lost opportunities and an under-capitalized Fleet.
Back to SEA 1390 though – let’s look at what it is.
Under SEA 1390, the Adelaide Class ships are receiving a modified and re-hosted FFG Naval Combat Data System (NCDS) and Australian Distributed Architecture Combat System (ADACS). It will operate on upgraded computers with new interfaces, and use an upgraded Local Area Network (LAN) to handle the need for higher data transmission rates. The Combat System will be supported by the introduction of the LINK 16 tactical data link to complement LINK 11, and provide better allied and helicopter interoperability.
Defensively, the old AN/SLQ-32v2 “Slick 32” electronic support system that picks up and classifies enemy radar emissions is being replaced with newer technology. For underwater warfare, the AN/SQS-56 and MULLOKA sonar systems will be removed, in favor of an improved variant of the ANZAC Class’ Thompson (Thales) Spherion Medium Frequency Sonar. Electronics that can integrate the Spherion’s data with towed sonars, in order to provide the frigate with a single underwater picture, will be every bit as important.
Offensively, The Gun and Missile Fire Control System will be upgraded from Mk92 Mod 2 to Mod 12 variant, and the AN/SPS-49(V)4 air surveillance radar upgraded to AN/SPS-49A(V)1MPU. A multi-sensor Radar Integrated Automatic Detect and Track System (RIADT) is also added to improve target detection, tracking and engagement, particularly against low altitude targets in cluttered ocean or near-shore environments.
All this must work together well, in order to make the Improved Adelaide Class’ weapons upgrades effective. The ships’ existing Mk13 GMLS pop-up launcher will retain its 40 round magazine, but will be fitted for more advanced SM-2 anti-air missiles and Harpoon strike missiles (usually fitted 32 SM-2 and 8 Harpoon). An 8-cell Mk41 tactical-length (vs. longer strike length) vertical launching system adds room for another 8 SM-2 Standards – or up to 32 shorter-range RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow air defense missiles.
Self-contained drop-in weapon changes round out the mix. The ship’s 20mm Phalanx CIWS last-ditch defense systems will be upgraded to Block 1B for better capabilities against UAVs, helicopters, and small boats, the MU90 Eurotorp lightweight torpedo will be ready in the torpedo tubes, the Harpoon anti-ship missiles will be RGM-84 Block IIs with GPS guidance and land attack capability, and RAFAEL’s Mini-Typhoon 12.7mm remote weapons systems will supplement the Phalanx’s defenses against fast boats and similar threats.
Imagine the economy of scale savings for both Oz and the USN if we had joined in?
Speaking of lost opportunities, over at my home blog, one of my commenters mentioned the following about what is going on with the USS McInerney (FFG-8).
Updated with Fire Scout VTUAV. Great upgrade. We’ll see how it does on first deployment. And then rip all the UAV stuff off and sell the ship. Unbelievable.
She is going to Pakistan in 2010.
It’s Friday – time for a nice port-wood single malt over a pipe on the back porch as the kids run around.