New 40 mm Gun

Thales RAPIDSeaGuardian CIWS Euronaval 2016 newsThales RAPIDSeaGuardian Naval Gun System

Navy recognition is reporting the announcement of a new 40mm naval gun system, based on an existing land based system (pdf). It is claimed to be “a new generation CIWS effective against super sonic seaskimming missile thanks to the airburst ammunition, as well as against asymmetric threats…” while having about the same “footprint and weight as a 25mm system.”

The system is interesting, but the star of the show is the gun and its innovative ammunition. The ammunition is “Case Telescoped” meaning that the shell is embedded in the casing and surrounded by the propellent. The gun and its ammunition are products of CTA International, an equal-shares joint venture company between defence companies Nexter (France) and BAE Systems. The resulting round is very short and shaped like a cylinder rather than the typical double tapered shape of most fixed (one piece) ammunition.

cta-40mm-ammo

The short length of the ammunition means that the portion of the gun inside the mount can be very compact. In the illustration below, the 25mm M242 Bushmaster used in the Mk38 mount is at top right and the Case Telescoped (CT) 40mm is at the bottom right. It’s very compact breech mechanism is apparent.

40mm-ctas-gun

Image source: thinkdefence.co.uk

If this gun could replace our 25mm guns on the Webber class WPCs and the Offshore Patrol Cutters, either by replacing the mount or perhaps by replacing the gun in the Mk38 mod2/3 mounts (also a BAE product), it would give us improvements in range, accuracy, impact, and particularly penetration. Rates of fire for the two systems are the same.

Range: 

The effective range of the Mk38 has been variously reported as 2500 or 3000 yards. This has been a matter of concern to me because when approaching a suspicious vessel that might be being used to make a terrorist attack, I believe a cutter should remain at a distance such that improvised armaments cannot target specific critical equipment on the cutter (like its one gun mount). Improvised armaments might include heavy machine guns, anti-tank guided missiles, or Soviet era anti-aircraft or anti-tank guns of up to 130mm. From my observations and research, in order to preclude targeting critical systems, the cutter should initially approach no closer than 4,000 yards while its boarding party investigates. .

The NavyRecognition post reports a claim of 4,000 meters (4,373 yards) for CTA’s 40mm. While I have not been able to find a claimed max range for the CTA 40mm, the maximum range for the ballistically similar Bofors 40mm/70 is 13,675 yards (12,500 m). The M242 25mm used in the current Mk38 mod2 has a max range of 7,450 yards (6,800 m). Assuming the effective range is proportional to the maximum range, the CTA 40mm should be able to effectively engage from beyond 4000 yards (3,659m).

Penetration: 

The image below, from thinkdefence, shows a comparison of effectiveness against armor using armor piercing fin stabilized fin stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS) rounds. 

40mm-ctas-armour-piercing-fin-stabilised-discarding-sabot-tracer-apfsds-t

To me, greater armor penetration translates into being able to penetrate the hull and go on to wreck a larger diesel engine than the smaller round.

As far as I can tell, while there is an armor piercing fin stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS) round for the 25mm, the Mk110 57mm has no round comparable to the APFSDS round offered for the CT 40mm, which has a muzzle velocity of 1,640 meters/second or approximately 5,379 feet/second. The 57mm round would explode shortly after penetrating the skin of the ship, likely before it reached the engine.

Impact: 

Because the 40mm round is about twice as big as the 25mm round, its effective radius is considerably larger.

The image below (also from Thinkdefence) shows a fragmentation comparison between a 30mm airburst round (left) and the 40mm GPR-AB (40mm airburst). The lethal area for the airburst nature at 1,500m is 125m2. Apparently there is no airburst projectile for the 25mm because it is considered to small to be effective. 

40mm-ctas-general-purpose-round-airburst-tracer

Is this gun really ready for “primetime?”

Our friend at thinkdefence.co.uk has done an extensive examination of the development of this weapon.

The gun has been adopted by the British Army for installation on two types of armored vehicles and the French are also planning on using it in one of their armored vehicles.

Apparently the gun is a success and will probably find additional application, including, hopefully, a version of the Mk38.

 

 

Ten More Hero Namesakes for the Webber Class

The Coast Guard Compass has published ten more names that will be applied to Webber Class WPC.

Announcements of previous names are here and here. There was a bit of a change in that the name of Joseph Napier was reassigned to WPC-1115 when WPC-1110 was named after Raymond Evans.

Previously assigned Cutter names assigned were:

Bernard C. Webber (WPC-1101)
Richard Etheridge (WPC-1102)
William Flores (WPC-1103)
Robert Yered (WPC-1104)
Margaret Norvell (WPC-1105)
Paul Clark (WPC-1106)
Charles David (WPC-1107)
Charles Sexton (WPC-1108)
Kathleen Moore (WPC-1109)
Raymond Evans (WPC-1110)
William Trump (WPC-1111)
Isaac Mayo (WPC-1112)
Richard Dixon (WPC-1113)
Heriberto Hernandez (WPC-1114)
Joseph Napier (WPC-1115)
Winslow W. Griesser (WPC-1116)
Richard H. Patterson (WPC-1117)
Joseph Tezanos (WPC-1118)
Rollin A. Fritch (WPC-1119)
Lawrence O. Lawson (WPC-1120)
John F. McCormick (WPC-1121)
Bailey T. Barco (WPC-1122)
Benjamin B. Dailey (WPC-1123)
Donald H. Horsley (WPC-1124)
Jacob L. A. Poroo (WPC-1125)

I cannot be sure which hull numbers will be assigned to each of the names, but the names in the order they were announced are:

Joseph Gerczak
Richard T. Snyder
Nathan Bruckenthal
Forrest O. Rednour
Robert G. Ward
Terrell Horne III
Benjamin A. Bottoms
Joseph O. Doyle
William C. Hart
Oliver F. Berry

Presumably they will be WPC-1126 through WPC-1135.

The 2015 Budget is Coming, Really it is, Maybe, Sometime

While the rest of the Federal Government has a 2015 budget, Homeland Security still does not. The DefenseDaily reported the bill out of committee in the House, describing the provisions, including this regarding the Coast Guard:

“The bill would give the Coast Guard $439.5 million above the president’s request, primarily by rejecting proposed cuts “that would have gutted vital Coast Guard operations,” according to the news release. The House committee increased Coast Guard funding to allow more cutter and aviation operating hours, training and maintenance; and to purchase the eighth National Security Cutter, two Fast Response Cutter patrol boats, an additional C-130J aircraft and one H-60 remanufactured helicopter.”

At this point the bill has been approved by the House and sent on to the Senate. DefenseNews talks about why Homeland Security is tied up in Immigration Policy.

It is good to see some additional operational funds, but I am frankly disappointed that there are only two Webber class WPCs included. This was the administration request, but I had hoped to see more added as has been done in the past. It could still happen, so we will have to wait and see.

This does raise the question of what CG-9, the Acquisitions Directorate, is doing about the contract for follow-on WPCs? All options on Bollinger’s original winning bid have expired. The Coast Guard paid for and now owns the design. A new bidding process was expected for the remaining ships, but last year’s buy was apparently negotiated without competition. As the number of ships remaining to be built gets smaller the ability and incentive for other yards to compete against Bollinger’s already established assembly line will decrease.

We also seem to have missed the opportunity for making a Multi-Year Procurement (See also).

US to Sell 8 “Global Response Cutters” (FRC-A?) to Pakistan. Webber Alternative?

Pakistan’s “TheNews” is reporting, “The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Pakistan for GRC43M Cutters and associated equipment parts training and logistical support for an estimated cost of 350 million.”

They are to be built by Westport Shipyard, Inc. (Westport, WA), a company best known as America’s largest yacht builder. We have seen an example of this 43 meter (143 foot) class before. They were demonstrated for the Coast Guard in 2011.

This composite construction vessel is closer to the original concept of the FRC than the Webber Class, and it appears that the cost is about three quarters that of the Webber class. Claims are also made of lower maintenance and longer hull life. They are also faster. Now that the initial contract for the Webbers has run its course, perhaps it would be a good time to reevaluate these as an alternative.

Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention.

“Cutter X” Revisited

L'AdroitStarbBow
Photo: French Patrol Vessel, L’Adroit, DCNS photo

Almost two years ago I made a proposal for an alternative fleet mix. Since then the cutter recapitalization program has moved along. Funding of the eighth and final National Security Cutter is expected in FY2015. 30 Webber class WPCs have been funded and the contract with Bollinger has run its course. The Administration has asked for funding of two more in FY2015. If the Congress does what they have done in the past the Coast Guard may get funding for as many as six.

Like the original post, the purpose here is to offer another possible cutter fleet mix that might be procured at the same cost as the “Program of Record” (POR) that would include approximately the same number of units but provide more large “cruising cutters”, eg, over 1000 tons (49 vs 33), while hopefully replacing the existing WMEC fleet earlier, avoiding the worst of the disastrous drop in the number of major cutters that appears likely in the 2020s, and providing more cutter days while requiring fewer or at least no more personnel than either the legacy fleet or the POR.

The original post was largely in response to a Department of Homeland Security study modeling the effectiveness of alternative fleet mixes, “Options for the Future USCG Cutter Fleet Performance Trade-Offs with Fixed Acquisition Cost,” by Alarik Fritz • Raymond Gelhaus • Kent Nordstromr (.pdf). My hope was to offer a better alternative that might be evaluated by a follow-on study.

What comes through loud and clear, from that study is that:
◾The Coast Guard need some ships with the capability to do boat and helicopter ops in State Five Seas particularly for operations in the Northeast and Alaska.
◾In the Southeast and West, where the primary missions are Drug Enforcement and Migrant Interdiction, we are a long way from a point of diminishing returns, that is, mission performance is directly linked to the number of cutters, effectiveness increasing in almost direct proportion to the number of cutters available.
◾The cutters’ ability to launch boats and helicopters in State Five conditions are much less important in the West and Southeast where most of the cutters are normally deployed.

Meanwhile the Coast Guard’s responsibilities continue to grow.

The concept of Cutter X was basically to take the equipment and crew of the Webber class and put them in a larger, higher endurance, more seaworthy hull and augment the crew only as necessary to deal with the additional endurance, the availability of two boats and helicopter and/or UAV operations. The original post provided several examples of similar ships, and since then I have posted another example. Basically the result is a relatively simple vessel, only a bit more sophisticated than a 210 but grown about 50% larger with the possibility of a hangar in addition to the flight deck. My presumption would be that these ships would rely more on shore based aircraft rather than an organic air search capability, meaning the tempo of air operations would be lower than for larger cutters. They might operate more frequently with UAVs rather than helicopters. In other words, a ship of about 1,500 tons, about half the size of the OPC, closer in size to a 270 than a 210 (but perhaps longer than the 270, L’Adroit at 1,450 tons full load is over 285 feet long), and about four times bigger than a Webber class WPC. Other characteristics I would expect are a speed of approximately 24 knots, a range of 5,000 miles or more, and an endurance of at least three weeks. Weapons would initially be limited to a single Mk38 mod2 25mm and crew served .50 cal.

L'AdroitHangar
Photo: L’Adroit, looking forward from the flight deck toward the superstructure and the hangar.

Basically my assumption was and is that the tradeoffs between ship typed would work something like this:

1 NSC = 2 OPCs = 4 “X” class = 12 FRCs

This equates to approx. prices of: $700M/NSC, $350/OPC, $175M/Cutter X, and $60M/FRC.

It is no longer possible to trade-off NSCs for X class cutters, so the new alternative mix would look like this:

8 NSCs, 15 OPCs, 26 “X” class, and 42 FRCs

This gives us as many vessels as the program of record (91), more “cruising cutters” capable of sustained distant operation (49 vs 33) including 23 ships (8 NSCs and 15 OPCs) that are capable operating boats and aircraft in sea state 5 for Alaska and the Northeast, and 15 OPCs with ice strengthened hulls for operation in the Arctic and potentially the Antarctic.

Like the previous post I’ll compare this possible fleet mix to the Coast Guard Fleet as it existed in 2000/2001 (which was larger than the existing fleet) and the fleet in the Program of Record (POR), on the basis of cutter days available and crewing requirements using both conventional and augmented crewing.

Crewing:

For the analysis below I have used the following as the personnel allowances for the new classes:
◾NSC 122
◾OPC 90 (still to be firmed up)
◾FRC 24 (includes two extra junior officers assigned to gain experience)

While some of the vessels cited in my previous post as comparable to Cutter X are crewed by as few as 30, which I will use as a lower limit, I believe the Coast Guard would use more, if only as an opportunity to provide more at sea experience. At most, the personnel allowance should not be more than that of the 210s. My figures may be out of date, but at least at one point that was a crew of 62. I’ll use this as the upper limit.

Cutter Days AFHP and Crew Requirements:

The 2000/2001 fleet: Theoretically the 2000/2001 fleet could have provided 8,140 cruising cutter days away from homeport (AFHP) (44 cruising cutters x 185 days) and would have required a total personnel allowance of 5,477 (1.49 cutter days/crew member).

The Program of Record: Without augmentation, the program of record would theoretically provide 6,105 cruising cutter days AFHP (33 cruising cutters x 185 days) and require a total personnel allowance of 4,618(1.32 cutter days/crew member).

With Augmentation (increasing their personnel allowance by a third and running the cruising cutters 230 days/year) the program of record would theoretically provide 7,590 cruising cutter days and require a total personnel allowance of 5,693 (1.33 cutter days/crew member).

Proposed Mix: Without augmentation, the proposed mix would theoretically provide 9,065 cruising cutter days AFHP (49 cruising cutters x 185 days) and require a total personnel allowance of between 4,114 (assuming a crew of only 30 for Cutter X, 2.2 cutter days/crew member) and 4,946 (assuming a crew of 62 for Cutter X, 1.83 cutter days/crew member).

With Augmentation (increasing the personnel allowance of the cruising cutters by a third and running them 230 days/year) the proposed mix would theoretically provide 11270 cruising cutter days AFHP (49 cruising cutters x 230 days) and require a total personnel allowance of between 5,150 (assuming a crew of only 30 for Cutter X, 2.19 cutter days/crew member) and 6,259 (assuming a crew of 62 for Cutter X, 1.80 cutter days/crew member).

What about the loss of FRCs? The proposal would trim 16 FRC from the POR. They are projected to operate up to 2500 hours per day. If we assumed that all 2500 hours were devoted to offshore cruising for the 16 additional units, that would add 1667 days AFHP to the POR for a total of 7,772 days AFHP for the un-augmented fleet (1.68 cutter days/crew member) and 9,257 days AFHP for the augmented POR (1.63 cutter days/crew member)(disregarding the 42 additional FRC that are included in both the POR and my proposed fleet mix).

In summary Cutter Days Available:
◾————————————–————–Un-Augmented———Augmented by 1/3
◾2000/20001 (cruising cutters only)—————–8,140———————N/A
◾POR (cruising cutters only)—————————6,105——————-7,590
◾POR (w/1,667 additional FRC day AFHP)——-7,772——————–9,257
◾Proposed Mix w/Cutter X (cruising cutters only)9,065—————–11,270

It looks like this alternative provides an improvement of at least 16.6% over the program of record, possibly as much as 48.5% depending on how you view the FRCs as a patrol asset. It appears that the un-augmented version gives virtually the same number of ship days away from homeport (within 2% assuming both we count the additional WPCs as cruising cutters and that the augmented ships provide 230 days AFHP. If they provide only 225 days AFHP even this small advantage goes away) as that of the augmented version of the program of record while requiring 13 to 28% fewer crewmembers (several hundred to over 1,000). And without the possibly problematic requirement for augmentation.

Is it doable? What is the timing? How would it effect with other programs?

The eight NSC should be essentially fully funded by the end of FY 2015. Thirty FRC are already funded. Funding twelve more to bring the total to the proposed 42 by the end of FY2017 would only require funding four per year, and might be done in only two years if Congress continues funding six a year, meaning funding for construction of X class cutters could begin in FY2018.

I think the funding could look something like this

————-OPC—X class
FY 2017—–1
FY 2018—–1——–1
FY 2019—–1——–1
FY 2020—–1——–1
FY 2022—–1——–2
FY 2023—–1——–3
FY 2024—–1——–3
FY 2025—–1——–3
FY 2026—–1——–3
FY 2027—–1——–3
FY 2028—–1——–3
FY 2029—–1——–3
FY 2030—–2——–0
FY 2031—–1——–0

The proposed mix funds 33 new generation large cutters by FY 2026, four years before the POM. The cutter X program would be fully funded in FY2029. Through FY2030, when the Program of Record is expected to be completed, it will have funded 48 new generation large cutters compared to the 33 new cutters of the Program of Record. In FY 2031 the proposal will add a 49th cutter. Since the X class cutters are nearer the size of existing cutters, they might also reduce the expense of modifying the shore establishment to support a larger number of OPCs. Additionally eliminating the requirement for augmentation will minimize new construction ashore to support the augmentation crews.

Other Considerations:

The proposed fleet mix has a pyramidal structure that may work well as a training ground for COs, e.g., assuming O-3s command the 42 Webber class (I know currently we have been using O-4s), O-4s command the 26 X class, O-5s command the 15 OPCs, and O-6s command the 8 NSCs.

Politically it is probably better for the Coast Guard to have two concurrent shipbuilding programs (OPC & X class) rather than just one, since that will normally lead to budgetary support from two Congressional delegations.

CG issues Draft RFP for Second Phase of FRC Procurement

page1-640px-USCG_Sentinel_class_cutter_poster_pdf

The Acquisition Directorate is reporting that they have issued a draft Request for Proposal (RFP) for a new contract to build Webber class WPCs.

It will provide for options of either four or six cutters per year for seven years. If all options were exercised the maximum number of cutters that could be built would total 42, but this probably will not be the case.

In February 2012, the Coast Guard exercised a $27.2M option to purchase the “Procurement and Data License Package” for the Webber class Fast Response Cutters, so the Coast Guard can allow other shipyards to bid to build follow-on ships of the same class.

25 September 2013, the Coast Guard exercised an option for six more cutters. This resulted in a total 24 Webber class built or under contract. I believe this was FY2013 money and we will see another contract to exercise the final option on the existing contract bringing the total to 30, which leads to a question. There is a statement in the RFP that I find difficult to understand, B.2.(b) “The total number of cutters obtained under this contract will be limited to twenty-six (26).” All along the program of record has been 58 of these vessels. The maximum number of vessels that can be funded under the phase one contract is 30 cutters so why limit this second contract to 26 when we have a stated requirement for 28 more? Does the Coast Guard plan on making a sole source buy of two ships in FY2015 and award this contract in FY2016?

Why preemptively limit the buy to less than the total of the options anyway. There might be a change of plans that would increase the Coast Guard requirement. The Navy might want to buy some using our existing contract, or the Coast Guard might want to make a Foreign Military Sale purchase on behalf of a friendly foreign government.

Despite being probably the best candidate we will ever see (a mature program with a proven product, approved by the Department for full rate production, that will continue for at least another five years), I saw no indication that a multi-year procurement was considered. I would hope that savvy ship builders would offer this as an additional option. It is still not too late for the Coast Guard to obtain Congressional permission to award a Multi-year Procurement for these ships. Or for Congress to direct this money saving procurement method.