Something for the Coast Guard as “Navy Squeezing Costs Out of FFG(X) Program as Requirements Solidify”–USNI

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)
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
Identification (SEI)
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)
Mk160 GFCS
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
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
Launch (Obj)

Frigate Weapon
System (FWS)
Advanced Cyber

Target Designator, Perhaps Other Uses, Time for a New Alidade?

SOFRESUD “Intuitive Pointing Device” (IPD)

Looking at a new device caused me to consider how we might improve an old one, the Alidade.

SOFRESUD Intuitive Pointing Device (IPD)

NavyRecognition reports an innovation in target designation that might have some additional uses.

Performances are the following:
• Portable and mobile with full angular coverage
• Accurate and quick designation
• Day or night capability with digital zoom
• Data, audio and video recording and transmission
• All weapon and combat management systems compatible
• Optional on picatinny rails: counter-UAV & blinding non-lethal accessories

It is not really a firecontrol system, it’s an “Intuitive Pointing Device” (IPD). They refer to it as predesignation. It is really just a very sophisticated way to quickly and accurately input visual bearing and elevation, laser range, and image to a combat management system or remote weapons control station. This is seen as needed particularly for fast and/or stealthy targets and low-level surface or ground-based targets that can be seen but are difficult for radar to pick out of the clutter. Sounds particularly useful in the swarm attack scenarios the Navy has been so concerned about.

In its full configuration, the new IPD integrates many sensors to ensure all conditions capability:
– Extreme low light camera
– Uncooled IR camera
– Eye-safe laser rangefinder
– Fiber optic gyrometers
– Ambient microphone
– Display

Photo: “SOFRESUD’s IPD has a “slew to cue” capability when coupled with the remote weapon stations (such as a Nexter Narhwal or MSI Defence Seahawk) (or the Mk38 mod2/3–Chuck) vis the combat management. IPD operators can there steer and point the RWS to the exact location of the target. Optional equipment can be attached to the IDP thanks to picatinny rails: Sights, laser pointers, dazzlers…”

A Better Alidade:

I got to thinking about alternative uses for this device, including visual navigation, setting buoys, or just checking contacts for bearing drift. That, in turn, got me to think about our customary visual bearing determination device, the alidade. I don’t think they have changed since WWII.

Photo: 090113-N-9758L-040 PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (Jan. 13, 2009) Quartermaster 3rd Class Mark Minick, assigned to the Pearl Harbor-based guided-missile cruiser USS Chosin (CG 65), looks through the telescopic alidade as the ship departs Naval Station Pearl Harbor during the Commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific (MIDPAC) Surface Combatant Group Sail. (Original Navy description)

Our alidades have no low light level or IR capability or any way to measure distance. They have no electronic connection to pass either bearings or a picture of what is being looked at.

Wouldn’t it help the shipping officer in combat if he could get both an electronically transmitted visual bearing and a visual of a contact that would allow him to see the target bearing?

Visual navigation could be both quicker and more reliable if bearings could be quickly and reliably be passed electronically with the navigator able to confirm that the bearing taker is looking at the point the navigator intends.

The OOD or other bearing takers could benefit from a low light level or IR capability.

And off course the ability to point at air targets might be useful.


While the ergonomics of our alidades are very comfortable, there are potential problems with the IPD. Because it looks a lot like a gun, using it may lead to misunderstandings. There must be a protected place to put it down when not in use, but it is not illustrated. It’s probably too heavy to be used over long periods without some form of support.

If it were redesigned to rest safely on the gyro repeater and be used for bearing taking from there, it might solve some of these potential problems. Still to point to air targets you would want to be able to lift it off the stand, here a collapsible wire stock might be helpful.