USS LSM-49 and USS LST-758 beached at Iwo Jima during the campaign to capture the island in February 1945. Photo Credit: Sandy Molenda for his father LT. Felix J. Molenda, USCG, Commanding Officer USS LST-758
Defense News reports,
Northrop Grumman is conducting research and development to adapt its electronic attack platform — built for the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer — to fit on smaller ships, a company official said.
“We’re also looking at opportunities to scale down the system for smaller ship classes — frigates and smaller — and looking at ways to make a scaled-down version of SEWIP that can be effectively employed and rapidly installed on the smaller ship classes,” Mike Meaney, vice president of land and maritime sensors at Northrop, told C4ISRNET.
Dealing with the Navy and defense contractors, you have to ask yourself what do they mean by “smaller?” Frigate and smaller could mean Littoral Combat Ships which are light on EW capability even compared to larger Coast Guard Cutters.
But I think they might also be considering application to the Light Amphibious Warfare (LAW) ships. These could be about the size of an Offshore Patrol Cutter, but they are expected to be simple and inexpensive, costing only about twice what the Coast Guard is paying for its Webber class Fast Response Cutters. In many ways these look like updates of the WWII Landing Ship Tank design. There is currently no intention to arm them with weapons that would protect against cruise missiles. Electronic Warfare might be their only organic defense against that threat.
Note there is currently no Navy program to build such systems, but if Northorp succeeds in getting Navy funding, it may offer a new EW capability for cutters.
USCGC Charles Moulthrope (WPC-1141) prior to departure for PATFORSWA
The US Naval Institute News Service has a short post about a system that will reportedly detect and if required jam the radio frequency signals that control small Unmanned Air Systems like the commercially available hobby drones and similar control systems that might be used on larger UAS.
We noted the presence of this or a similar system on the Webber class cutters being transferred to PATFORSWA in February.
While there are autopilots that allow drones to travel considerable distances to reach fixed geographic points, operating drones that lack autonomous targeting, against moving targets, typically require two radio frequencies, one the video link from the drone back to the operator and one to control the drone, from the operator back to the drone. Jamming either of the frequencies would probably disable the drone. Generally these frequencies are UHF or VHF, limited to line of sight.
Gunner’s Mate Kyle Mendenhall shows the Drone Restricted Access Using Known Electromagnetic Warfare (DRAKE) system aboard USS Kansas City (LCS-22) on Aug. 16, 2021. USNI News Photo
If you expand the photo of USCGC Charles Moulthrope above, you can see a similar system, with its two vertical antenna of different sizes, on the mast port side, slightly below and behind the port blue flashing light, and above and inboard of the small round fixed air search radar antenna.
The US Naval Institute News Service has provided an update on the FFG(X) program, based on a Jan. 15, 2019 presentation at the Surface Navy Association Symposium, by Regan Campbell, Program Executive Office, Unmanned and Small Combatants, which provides both a projected lower unit cost approaching $800M for follow on units (not a lot more than the Coast Guard was paying for its National Security Cutters) and a list of minimal equipment to be included in each ship
There is one particular item on the list of equipment that may be significant for the Coast Guard, “57mm gun (with ALaMO)”. That means the “Advanced Low Cost Munition Ordnance” or ALaMO program to provide guided projectiles for the 57mm Mk110 gun is still on track. Apparently ALaMO uses the same guidance system developed for the Hyper-Velocity Round.
The FFG(X) will also share, in common with all the NSCs, the Mk160 Gun Fire Control System, and with the later NSCs, the Mk20 Electro-Optic Sensor System (Mods may be different). This means we can expect continued Navy support of these systems over the long-term.
Request for Proposal is to be issued Q4FY2019. Contract award is expected Q4FY2020.
I note there is still no image available for Huntington Ingalls proposal which may be based on the National Security Cutter.
Below is a list of equipment for the FFG(X) found on page three of the presentation. I can not claim to recognize all the acronyms. Interestingly there is space and weight reservation for a 150 kW Laser Weapon.
Guided Missile Frigate (FFG(X)) Capabilities
3x3x3 fixed-face EASR (Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar)
Mk41 VLS (32 cell)
SM-2 Blk IIIC
ESSM Blk 2
21 cell RAM launcher (Rolling Airframe Missile)
CEC (Cooperative Engagement Capability)
SLQ-32(V)6 (SEWIP Blk II) w/ HGHS and Specific Emitter
Spectral (Follow on to SSEE Inc F)
AOEW (on airborne asset)
SWAP-C reservation for SLQ-32C(V)7 (SEWIP Blk III Lite)
SWAP-C reservation for 150kw laser
7m RHIB (x2)
57mm gun (with ALaMO)
Mk20 Mod 1EOSS
OTH fire control system
OTH 2x4 (T)/ 2x8 (Obj)
50 caliber machine guns
iStalker w/3600 coverage
Organic MH-60R (x1)
Organic MQ-8C (x1)
Secure & Traverse Aircraft Handling
Horizon Reference System
Night Vision Device Compatibility
AN/SQS-62 Variable Depth Sonar
or Low Band Hull Array
TB-37 MFTA w/ TACI
AN/SLQ-61 Lightweight Tow or
ADC (Torp CM)
Mk41 VLS supports VLA (Vertical Launch ASROC) for allwx stand-off ASW weapon
SVTT – Shipboard Torpedo
GPNTS & ECDIS