Military Defense News: The Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship Disaster

The key part of this story is the linked phrase below “CANNOT EXPECT TO SURVIVE”. Boy, that is exactly the phrase I want to hear when talking about the Next big thing in Naval Military Hardware with China getting more and more froggy by the day! -SF


In the late 1990s, the U.S. Navy became entranced by the idea of high-tech, modular warships that would fight close to shore, where the service anticipated future naval battles to most likely occur.

The present-day outcome of that trance, the 30,000-ton Littoral Combat Ship, has not worked out as well as the designers planned. The Navy intended to buy 52 of them — but since trimmed the number to 40. (Six are currently in service.)

The modular design, allowing the vessel to swap different sets of weapons and sensors for different missions, takes more time to adjust than first envisioned. The cost has roughly doubled. The ships are also lightly-armed and cannot expect to survive, by the Pentagon’s own admission, in a shooting war with China.

Recognizing the problem, the Navy changed direction in 2014.

A portion of the total 40-ship LCS force was redesigned as “frigates,” and will be larger, with more armor and better-armed (with a longer-range anti-ship missile) than the standard LCS. This “frigate-LCS” will also carry improved countermeasures, a towed sonar array and a bigger radar.

But the frigate is hardly a major improvement, according to the Government Accountability Office. For one, the frigate jettisons the modular structure — the mission modules now cannot be swapped out — but keeps and combinesthe surface and anti-submarine warfare modules. However, the Pentagon is being vague about the specifics.

“Frigate program officials told us that the Navy has not yet determined if all frigates will be equipped with both ASW and SUW mission package equipment at all times, or if the decision about the mission equipment to be carried will depend on specific situations or other criteria,” the GAO noted in a report released June 9.

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Military Defense News: Next-Gen Russian Subs Constructed of Stealthier Composite Materials



Next-generation Russian nuclear submarines may use composite structures — imagine something akin to a cutting-edge carbon fiber — in an attempt to drastically reduce their acoustical signatures.

But this wouldn’t be the first time Moscow has experimented with novel materials to build submarines. Before its collapse, the Soviet Union pioneered the use of titanium hulls to increase the hydrodynamic performance of its boats.

“These are new multi-layer composite materials … Their structure and composition reduce the sonar signals that are reflected from a submarine, isolate working mechanisms from vibrations, and so on,” said Valeriy Polovinkin, an adviser to the general director of the Krylov State Research Center, in an interview with the Russian-language daily Izvestia.

“The opponent just will not get the required level of signal reflected from the submarine as the composite material has a high internal loss factor, or sound absorption properties can change when vibration occurs, completely preventing the spread of vibrational energy.”

The Russians hope to use composite materials for everything from the hull coating to the dive planes, rudders, stabilizers, propellers, drive shafts and possibly even the hulls themselves. If the technology works, composite materials would greatly reduce the weight of various structures, increase the boat’s reliability and reduce operating costs.

That’s because composites don’t corrode and thus wouldn’t need to be painted, Polovinkin said — reducing maintenance costs. Moreover, composite structures should simplify manufacturing by reducing part counts

The new composite materials are still in testing, but Russia will test its first composite propeller design in 2018. “This is one of our institute’s most promising projects,” Polovinkin said. “This trend reduces vibration in the blades and increases the efficiency of the screw. These various effects will help improve the ship’s acoustic signature.”

Russia will incorporate composite materials in its next-generation follow-on to the Project 855M Yasen-class and Project 955A Borei-class submarines in the 2020s. There are currently two submarines projects underway — which are being developed by the Malakhit Design Bureau — that will be based on a common hull design.

The primary difference will be in the two vessels’ weapon systems—the “interceptor” variant will not feature tubes to carry long-range anti-ship or cruise missiles. That version of submarine is expected to replace Project 971 Shchuka-B (NATO: Akula), the Project 945 Sierra and the remaining Project 671RTM Shchuka-class (NATO: Victor III) boats. The SSGN variant will replace the Project 949A Oscar II-class.

The Russians are using the Project 855M Yasen-class as a starting point, but the new submarines will be smaller and cheaper than their Soviet-designed predecessors. Indeed, there are indications that Moscow will be extensively leveraging automation technologies developed for the Project 705 Lira-class attack submarine — better known in the West as the Alfa-class — for the new boats.

Russian analysts estimate that the next-generation submarines will displace no more than about 6,000-tons. Which means that another Soviet innovation might make a comeback — liquid metal cooled reactors. The Lira and several other Soviet designs used lead-bismuth cooled reactors, which produce much more power and are much more compact than pressurized water reactors.

However, the disadvantage is that liquid-metal cooled reactors cannot be shut down and require specialized port facilities.

This article originally appeared at The National Interest, where Dave Majumdar is defense editor.

Read the Original Article at War is Boring