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  • America's frigates and AAW capability

    What is the anti-aircraft warfare (AAW) capability of the US Navy's current fleet of frigates? What is the difference between "zone-defense" anti-aircraft warfare (AAW) capability and "point-defense" type of AAW armament? Do USN frigates even carry surface-to-air missiles (SAM) anymore, and does there exist a likely replacement that might be an addition to the USN frigate replacement, the Littoral Combat Ships? What kind of upgrades have foreign buyers done to make the Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates modernized or cheaper to maintain? Does the US have specific ships for specific roles like AAW?
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  • #2
    Originally posted by Frtigern View Post
    What is the anti-aircraft warfare (AAW) capability of the US Navy's current fleet of frigates? What is the difference between "zone-defense" anti-aircraft warfare (AAW) capability and "point-defense" type of AAW armament? Do USN frigates even carry surface-to-air missiles (SAM) anymore, and does there exist a likely replacement that might be an addition to the USN frigate replacement, the Littoral Combat Ships? What kind of upgrades have foreign buyers done to make the Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates modernized or cheaper to maintain? Does the US have specific ships for specific roles like AAW?
    The only FFG's the Navy has at this time are the Oliver Hazard class guided missile frigates, with the USS Ingram FFG-61 the newest (commissioned 1989) and getting pretty long in the tooth. I will try to answer your question about "zone defense" and "point defense".
    Zone Defense is really not correct terminology. I think what you are thinking about is fleet anti-air warfare or area-defense. The newest guided missile destroyer to enter the fleet is the USS Michael Murphy DDG-112. She is equipped with the Ageis Weapon system with the Standard (SM-3) surface-to-air missile. Each AAW platform has an assigned area to protect the carrier battle group. The missile has a range of >500km or >270miles with a ceiling of >160km or >100miles. All ships are connected via the NTDS(Naval Tactical Data System) allowing them to see what anyone else is seeing in the battle group including the air-born early warning air-craft.

    Now point-defense is strictly defense of own ship and this is carried out by the Phalanx CIWS (close-in-weapon-system). The new Alreigh Burke DDG's are also armed with the evolved Sea Sparrow missile (ESSM), developed by Raytheon. ESSM is an advanced ship self-defense missile for use against anti-ship missiles; they also have the new Phalanx 1B upgrade which includes a Thales Optronics HDTI5-2F thermal imagery, improved Ku-band radar and longer gun barrel providing an increased rate of fire of 4,500rpm Now nothing says that the SM-3 couldn't be used for defense of own ship, it is. But the main purpose of the AAW platform is to protect the high value targets, you are expendable.

    Data was obtained from the following:
    http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/burke/
    http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/m-161.html
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    • #3
      Originally posted by Frtigern View Post
      What is the anti-aircraft warfare (AAW) capability of the US Navy's current fleet of frigates? What is the difference between "zone-defense" anti-aircraft warfare (AAW) capability and "point-defense" type of AAW armament? Do USN frigates even carry surface-to-air missiles (SAM) anymore, and does there exist a likely replacement that might be an addition to the USN frigate replacement, the Littoral Combat Ships? What kind of upgrades have foreign buyers done to make the Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates modernized or cheaper to maintain? Does the US have specific ships for specific roles like AAW?
      At the moment the only weapon system on Perry Class frigates in the USN are the 76 mm gun, 25mm gun, and phalanx. Air defence would be handled by soft kill systems and sound tactics (i.e. don't send the ship on a high threat area without escort aka Burke riding shotgun).

      The Perry Frigates in the RAN have a MK 41 VLS cells with ESSM on them. The Turkish Navy is also planning a similar upgrade to their ships. The other ships in other naval service still retain the Mk 13 single arm launcher.

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      • #4
        What was the decision to de-fang our Perry Frigates of AAW capability? What if there comes a situation where we can't have a Burke destroyer escorting a troop, helo or jet carrier? Wouldn't it be nice to have that option if an enemy fired an anti-ship missile at smaller USN ships?
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        • #5
          I believe the FFG Perry frigates were turned into FF frigates due to the high maintenance costs for the Mk13 launcher.
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          • #6
            Originally posted by Frtigern View Post
            What was the decision to de-fang our Perry Frigates of AAW capability? What if there comes a situation where we can't have a Burke destroyer escorting a troop, helo or jet carrier? Wouldn't it be nice to have that option if an enemy fired an anti-ship missile at smaller USN ships?
            The Mk 13 launcher and SM-1 was no longer supported by the USN. So it made sense to take it out for spares for US allies who still use it.

            Second, the primary mission of the Perry's are sea interdiction, policing, and boarding, not maritime combat. So it will never find itself in a situation where a Burke is required. If it does, then the battle group commander is not doing its job.

            Third, if an anti-ship missile is fired at it, its Nulka decoy system will protect it. People forget that in more missiles have been decoyed instead of intercepted.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by FTCS View Post
              The only FFG's the Navy has at this time are the Oliver Hazard class guided missile frigates, with the USS Ingram FFG-61 the newest (commissioned 1989) and getting pretty long in the tooth. I will try to answer your question about "zone defense" and "point defense".
              Zone Defense is really not correct terminology. I think what you are thinking about is fleet anti-air warfare or area-defense. The newest guided missile destroyer to enter the fleet is the USS Michael Murphy DDG-112. She is equipped with the Ageis Weapon system with the Standard (SM-3) surface-to-air missile. Each AAW platform has an assigned area to protect the carrier battle group. The missile has a range of >500km or >270miles with a ceiling of >160km or >100miles. All ships are connected via the NTDS(Naval Tactical Data System) allowing them to see what anyone else is seeing in the battle group including the air-born early warning air-craft.

              Now point-defense is strictly defense of own ship and this is carried out by the Phalanx CIWS (close-in-weapon-system). The new Alreigh Burke DDG's are also armed with the evolved Sea Sparrow missile (ESSM), developed by Raytheon. ESSM is an advanced ship self-defense missile for use against anti-ship missiles; they also have the new Phalanx 1B upgrade which includes a Thales Optronics HDTI5-2F thermal imagery, improved Ku-band radar and longer gun barrel providing an increased rate of fire of 4,500rpm Now nothing says that the SM-3 couldn't be used for defense of own ship, it is. But the main purpose of the AAW platform is to protect the high value targets, you are expendable.
              Well, the Arleigh Burke class and Ticonderoga class have for SAM(Surface to Air Missiles) SM-2's.. most will be block III or IIIa/b (different seekers) the range on them is limited to about 50 miles. The SM-3 is the missile used to shoot down with a skin to skin contact (it doesn't have an explosive warhead, since it's purely kinetic kill) an ICBM/Satellite (the USS Lake Erie used a SM-3 to shoot down the satellite a few years back) the newest missile to enter the fleet is the SM-6, which combines the range/endurance of the SM-3 with the seeker of the AMRAAM missile (fire and forget, where the SM-2 was guided all the way to the target by either AEGIS or the Mk-82 illuminators)

              NTDS is no longer used in the Navy, it was replaced by ACDS on Carriers, large deck amphibs etc, AEGIS is the weapon system in use on all our current cruisers and destroyers. AEGIS uses CEC (cooperative engagement capability, a real time data network where one ship can use anothers radar data to launch missiles etc) in Block VI and above, and Link 16 in older ships.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by dundonrl View Post

                NTDS is no longer used in the Navy, it was replaced by ACDS on Carriers, large deck amphibs etc, AEGIS is the weapon system in use on all our current cruisers and destroyers. AEGIS uses CEC (cooperative engagement capability, a real time data network where one ship can use anothers radar data to launch missiles etc) in Block VI and above, and Link 16 in older ships.
                Old habits die hard, and I totally agree NTDS is old hat, but so am I. NTDS was the forerunner of CEC. NTDS just falls off my tongue a lot easier (or in this case fingers).
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by FTCS View Post
                  Old habits die hard, and I totally agree NTDS is old hat, but so am I. NTDS was the forerunner of CEC. NTDS just falls off my tongue a lot easier (or in this case fingers).
                  I know what you mean, the first Combat Systems I worked on was LHD-ITAWDS, the version of ACDS on Wasp class amphibs. ACDS being the replacement for NTDS.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by IDonT4 View Post
                    Second, the primary mission of the Perry's are sea interdiction, policing, and boarding, not maritime combat. So it will never find itself in a situation where a Burke is required. If it does, then the battle group commander is not doing its job.
                    So where does escorting a Carrier fit into your analysis?

                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/compacf...n/photostream/

                    You can clearly see an OHP class Frigate (USS Vandegrift) in the background of this pic & the USN Info under the pic states...

                    ANDAMAN SEA (Oct. 12, 2012) The aircraft carriers USS George Washington (CVN 73), USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), the guided-missile destroyers USS McCampbell (DDG 85) and USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) and the guided-missile frigate USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) steam together in formation. Ships and aircraft of the George Washington and John C. Stennis carrier strike groups are currently exercising to hone their collective interoperability, readiness, and the capability to respond quickly to various potential crises in the region, ranging from combat operations to humanitarian assistance. As two of the Navy’s 11 global force carrier strike groups, the strike groups are further ensuring security, stability and peace in the vital Asian-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jennifer A. Villalovos/Released)

                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/compacflt/8078965777/
                    ...So what role would it play in the CSG?

                    By the way, that pic is attached to THIS story.
                    Asia/Pacific Military Blog & Forum: http://PacificSentinel.blogspot.com

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Herman Hum View Post
                      I believe the FFG Perry frigates were turned into FF frigates due to the high maintenance costs for the Mk13 launcher.
                      That was after the missile it fired, the SM 1 was taken out of service. ASROC was deemed not sufficently useful on its own to justify the cost of maintenance of the system. I was working with ComNavSurfPac in the maintenance department N4356 when they decided to do this.

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                      • #12
                        You can clearly see an OHP class Frigate (USS Vandegrift) in the background of this pic & the USN Info under the pic states...
                        They do tin can things...plane guard, SAR, ASW, check out surface contacts.
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                        • #13
                          Although my experience is over 30 years out-of-date (NTDS flub) concepts are basically the same. In a CBG(see I still think old terms), CSG I guess is the new terminology. Your most HVA (high value asset) is the carrier and is in the center of the defensive ring. The inner ring of defense is your AAW assets where you will find the CG's in the group. The next ring out is your AAW/ASW assets DDG's, and FFG's, the next ring out is the ASW asset in the group, the SSN fast attack sub. Somewhere out there is the airborne early warning aircraft also the CAP (combat air patrol). These assets are vectored toward the threat axis. Now the problem with surface ASW operation where the FFG is operating is noise. Passive sonar is the prime sensor, thus they do a lot of sprint and "drift" using VDS (variable depth sonar) and hull mounted sonar (all in passive mode). The FFG's and DDG's also will carry the LAMPS helicopters for ASW and possible ASuW over-the-horizon targeting if necessary. So, the FFG can be a positive asset to the group, however she is slow(29kts) whereas the DDG can run at 32kts. If I was the group commander, I would use the FFG as escort for the replenishment ships. But that is just my opinion. Again, I am 30 years out of the loop, so I may be way off base.
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                          • #14
                            I'm 40 years out. Wonder if the Navy even uses ships for plane guard in this century?
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by FTCS View Post
                              Although my experience is over 30 years out-of-date (NTDS flub) concepts are basically the same. In a CBG(see I still think old terms), CSG I guess is the new terminology. Your most HVA (high value asset) is the carrier and is in the center of the defensive ring. The inner ring of defense is your AAW assets where you will find the CG's in the group. The next ring out is your AAW/ASW assets DDG's, and FFG's, the next ring out is the ASW asset in the group, the SSN fast attack sub. Somewhere out there is the airborne early warning aircraft also the CAP (combat air patrol). These assets are vectored toward the threat axis. Now the problem with surface ASW operation where the FFG is operating is noise. Passive sonar is the prime sensor, thus they do a lot of sprint and "drift" using VDS (variable depth sonar) and hull mounted sonar (all in passive mode). The FFG's and DDG's also will carry the LAMPS helicopters for ASW and possible ASuW over-the-horizon targeting if necessary. So, the FFG can be a positive asset to the group, however she is slow(29kts) whereas the DDG can run at 32kts. If I was the group commander, I would use the FFG as escort for the replenishment ships. But that is just my opinion. Again, I am 30 years out of the loop, so I may be way off base.
                              Basically the FFG is little more than a sensor platform today. Even with the SM 1 available it has a very limited engagement range and envelope. It has next to no long range offensive weapons. In ASW it has / had only short ranged (relatively speaking) ASROC and homing torpedoes. Most of the FFG 7's (earlier blocks) couldn't carry an SH 60. The later ones with the extended helo deck can. That becomes the ship's major ASW weapon.
                              The 3" and Phalanx are self defense basically.
                              What the FFG is otherwise, is a radar, ESM, and sonar platform. Problem here is that these systems on those ships are pretty thin and basic. The sonar is a medium frequency so-so one. The ESM is spartan at best. The radar is sufficent for warning but not near state-of-the-art.

                              That is, they have become the "Flower class" ship today. An available low cost, low risk platform of dubious value. Unlike the Flowers though, they have the potential to be upgraded in the event of a major war as the hull and machinery are sound designs.

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