MarineLink is reporting that Lockheed will be awarded a sole source contract to provide integrated combat management systems for the planned 20 frigate variants of the Littoral Combat Ships.
U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command announced its plan to award Lockheed a sole-source contract for development and construction of two initial combat systems in a federal notice earlier this month. The news was first reported this week by the U.S. Naval Institute News earlier this week.
Why might this system go on the Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs)? The system is a modified version of the Aegis system. Apparently an outgrowth of the system already on the monohull Freedom class LCS. The National Security Cutters of the Bertolf Class also use a modified version of the Aegis system. Looking at the graphic above apparently from Lockheed you will not in the description that the system is intended for “patrol ships” and refers to PCC combat management systems.
The MarineLink article talks about an intention to do software upgrades to the existing systems on the Freedom class Littoral Combat Ships. Presumably there might also be upgrades to the system on the Betholf class.
If we are lucky (and smart) we may end up with common systems across the entire new generation of 33 large cutters. And hopefully the Navy will pay for it. Having a common system over what could be 85 ships (32 LCS, 20 FF, 8 NSC, 25 OPC) has got to lead to some economies of scale.
I believe it’s the same one that’s on the Incheon class Frigate Batch 1 and soon to be Batch 2
The picture that Marine Link and Chuck posted is of the Samsung-Thales Naval Shield system on an Korean FFX. The contract Lockheed just won was for COMBATSS-21.
“And hopefully the Navy will pay for it.”
We ought to recall that Congress gives us the money, not the Navy. The Navy Type/Navy Owned program is a separate line item in the Navy budget- it could just as easily be a line item in the CG’s budget. When the NTNO budget isn’t enough for the CG to purchase (or maintain) the gear it needs (or has), the Navy doesn’t rob another account to cover the gap.
There is an inter-service agreement that the Navy will pay for Coast Guard combat systems. There are lots of advantages to standardization with the Navy including more economical larger buys and common training. It works as long as the Navy sees our costs as a miniscule part of their budget, which they usually are. I think we might run into trouble if our cost actually adversely effected Navy programs.
There are other potential problems with the CG not funding their own programs. The Navy certainly does not see any advantage in making Coast Guard platforms a viable alternative to Navy platforms and therefore a budget competitor. There is also a possibility the CG will simply take what the Navy gives them, instead of thinking through our, perhaps unique, mission needs. For instance, the Navy feels no need for a light weight anti-surface torpedo, while I think the CG needs one, to allow even our light unit to stop large merchant ships.
The choice of the 57mm Mk 110 may fall in this category as well, although it does meet at least some of the Coast Guard’s needs.
wouldn’t a small lightweight torpedo also be good for the shallow waters, or even used against a midget sub?
I am aware of the inter-service agreement, but again, it doesn’t matter to a Program Sponsor where the money comes from… the first few 57mms were paid for with CG money… just that the money comes from somewhere. As for support, that again is a problem… the Coast Guard only uses the O&MN money to maintain its NTNO systems, so if the Navy shorts our O&MN funding, our maintenance suffers.
And short they do… through ‘taxes’ (cuts taken out of funds by OSD, OPNAV, NAVSEA and finally PEO IWS). Each might by just 1-1.5%, but it does mean less is left. 2nd, the Navy funds O&MN to ~85% of the maintenance baseline (what the engineers determined is needed) on the premise that a ship that spends 6 months deployed (at 100% maintenance level), 6 months in workups (at 100% maintenance level), and 6 months in dockside (at 50% maintenance level) only needs 83% of total repair funding. The CG’s optempo is different; but try as I might, I could not get that concept through to the Navy’s fund masters.
A third problem with using NTNO funds is that only systems the Navy ‘programs of record’ can be leveraged for USCG service. So… we end up with a $6M SLQ32 when a $500k Argo ESM system would have been better (and lighter, easier to train, cheaper to repair, et al) for the CG’s mission.
The CG could maintain the same level of interoperability without going through the Navy for funding. By doing so, we outsource the acquisition and repair of systems we use in everyday ops.
Well that NSC C2 system was an unsupportable nightmare. Pretty sure its already been replaced by SEAWATCH. SEAWATCH is now the standard C2 suite for CG cutters. My understanding is that SEAWATCH will be used on the OPC as well.
BTW, CG funded SEAWATCH, Navy pays for less than you think these days, doesn’t help that they don’t use any of the same systems as our legacy cutters anymore. Lets see how much they contribute towards the SLEP for the 270s. If I remember correctly they paid for most of the 378 FRAM and 210 MMA.
“If I remember correctly they paid for most of the 378 FRAM and 210 MMA.”
Again, there is a difference between someone paying for it and someone asking Congress for the funding and just handing it off. The CNO never reached into his pocket and pulled out the cash for a cutter – his staff simply acted as messengers between the CG and Congress.
Ship Construction Funding (SCN to Navy finance types) is “a multi-year appropriation and normally remains available for obligation for five fiscal years
or the obligation work limiting date (OWLD) of the ship under construction.”
A ready made multi year appropriation is of great use on long tern ship building / ship repairs.
It does seem a lot easier to add a given amount of money to the much larger Navy/DOD budget than to the much smaller CG/DHS budget. Amount seems to matter less than percentage.
Multi-year contracts are a sore point with me. Why are we not using one for the Webber class?
The USCG paid for the ICGS C2 debacle then paid to replace it. Again not using the performance guaranty.
Information on an upgrade to the Freedom’s combat system. http://news.usni.org/2016/02/19/uss-freedom-modernization-boosts-reliability-increases-combat-capability?utm_source=USNI+News&utm_campaign=0ff3579bd9-USNI_NEWS_DAILY&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0dd4a1450b-0ff3579bd9-230448833&mc_cid=0ff3579bd9&mc_eid=e873a959e6
Sounds like worthwhile improvements, made a bit easier by the use of COTS (commercial off the shelf) equipment.
More information on development of the system now officially selected for the frigate version of the LCS, http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/news/defence-news/2016/august-2016-navy-naval-forces-defense-industry-technology-maritime-security-global-news/4303-us-navy-selects-lockheed-martins-combatss-21-open-architecture-cms-for-lcs-frigates.html
Nov. 14, 2016 – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has been awarded a contract from Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) for the design of C4ISR and machinery control systems (MCS) for the U.S. Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPC).