The National Fleet Plan had some clues regarding equipment that we can expect on the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC). Apparently there will be a lot of commonality between the Navy’s LCS and future generation frigates, the Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPC), and the Bertholf Class NSCs. My last discussion of the equipment on the OPC can be found here: “Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPC), the Other LCS” which contains information not addressed here. Generally the information below does not look much different but I will try to point out any significant differences.
Command, Control, and Communications (Ref. Section 5.5):
The recommended NTNO (Navy Type Navy Owned–Chuck)systems to meet C3 commonality and interoperability for the OPC are as follows: MIL UHF LOS 225-400 MHZ (Digital Modular Radio (DMR), ARC-210, PRC-117); MIL UHF SATCOM (DMR, ARC-210, PRC-117); Messaging (DMR SATCOM, ARC-210, PRC-117); Tactical Data Link (LINK 11; Joint Range Extension (JRE) Link-16, forwarded LINK 22); VACM (KY-100M, KY-58M, KYV-5M). (p. 22)
I am very pleased to see LINK 11, 16, and 22 on the list although this is probably a “junior edition” of these systems. These systems are becoming so ubiquitous if you don’t have them, you are more of a burden than an asset. The table on page 24 seems to indicate that the OPCs will not have an airsearch radar, but will have a multi-mode radar that will be common with Navy systems (p.50). Its not clear what that will really mean for the ship’s capabilities. As far as I can tell, the only air search on the NSCs is the EADS 3D TRS-16 which is also a multimode radar combining air search, surface search, and fire control functions. This radar is likely to be replaced by the newer EADS Cassadian TRS-4D multi-function radar.
Sensors (Ref. Section 5.6): The OPC will have a multi-mode radar, Electronic Warfare Systems, Decoy launching system, Sensitive compartmented information Network, TACAN, and CCOP (Cryptologic Carry-On Program).
The recommended systems to meet Sensor commonality and interoperability for the Offshore Patrol Cutter are as follows: TACAN; Multi-Mode Radar; IFF; SEWIP (SLQ-32/SSX-1 replacement); and MK-160 Gun System. (p. 25, 5.6.b.2)
Weapon Systems: The OPC will have a 57mm, 25mm, and .50 cal guns. (It is not addressed in this document, but there have been indications that two of the .50 cal. are to be mounted in stabilized remotely controlled weapon stations. The 25mm will presumably be a Mk38 mod2 or 3) The OPCs will not incorporate either a CIWS or degaussing (p.32). (I do have reason to suspect that the OPC is fitted for upgrade to include CIWS.)
It will also have ADNS (Automated Digital Network System), Sensitive Compartmented Information Network (SCI-Networks), Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Service (CANES).
Notes on the Ship’s Signals Exploitation Equipment System and Unmanned Aircraft System, “OPC has the same space, weight and power requirements (as the NSC–Chuck) reserved but a system has not been selected.” (p. 24)
It appears the gun firecontrol system, may include only Electro-Optical control cued by the multimode radar, and that it will not include the AN/SPQ-9B which is used on the National Security Cutters (I think this may be a change). There is a note on the Gun Fire Control System: “OPC will have a fire control radar capability (MMR-presumably multimode radar–Chuck) to provide tracking information and slew of the GWS camera, but slew and fire of the GWS cannon remains under manual control.” (p.24) Hopefully, an integration of the multimode radar with the weapon 57mm and perhaps the 25mm will permit blind firing of these systems, otherwise some visibility conditions may preclude effective fire control and certainly reaction times, particularly against air targets, will not be as good as they might have been.