Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Is Lucy, tee'n up the Ball for Charlie Brown Again?

Beware of the Good Idea Fairy riding in to save you on the back of a unicorn.

How many times will we have to go through this cycle? 

Have we learned anything? I hope so. 

We have a new Fleet Structure Assessment on the way that is going to try to describe how we get to 355 by 2030.

This is great ... this is welcome ... but this is worrisome as I am hearing things that are giving me an eye twitch.

I think Meghan is trying to trigger me, but here we go;
“We haven’t done a really comprehensive force structure assessment in a couple of years; 2016 was the last one. So we started on a new path for that last fall, and what we’re finding in that force structure assessment is that the number of ships we need are going to be more than 355. And when you add in some of the unmanned vessels and things like that that we’re going through experimental phases on, it’s probably going to be significantly more than [355],” he said.

“There are certain ship classes that don’t even exist right now that we’re looking at that will be added into that mix, but the broad message is, it’s going to be a bigger fleet, it’s going to be a more distributed fleet, it’s going to be a more agile fleet. And we need to figure out what that path is and also understand our topline limitations, because no one wants a 355-plus fleet that’s hollow, that we can’t maintain. So we’re looking at balancing all those things.”
Wait ... we need to define "new" here. "New to the USN" or "new" as in PPT thick? I'm sorry, I'm not sure how we get anything in numbers by 2030 that can come from a fresh design;
Marine Corps and Navy officials at various conferences have suggested that the services are narrowing in on the Offshore Support Vessel as a model for what they want. Having several OSVs instead of one dock landing ship (LSD), for example, might be able to carry the same number of Marines but distribute them across the littorals instead of concentrating them on one hull – which defensively makes them harder to target and offensively allows them to be more agile under the Distributed Maritime Operations and Expeditionary Advance Base Operations concepts.
This has promise. There are some solid designs already out there.

If you are looking for numbers fast that have limitations, but are built here and have bite, we can look at the Ambassador MK III, I guess.

We are a a decade-and-a-half away from my call for PLAN SALAMANDER to license build an already building ship until we can get our act together for a domestically designed platform - but that is the only way to get there.

Tons of FREMM? I assume we will find out sooner more than later what magical class of ships this is going to be, but it can't be a clean sheet design. It can't be fully of "cutting edge" technology that as of the second month of 2020 is only PPT thick....can it?

No, really - it can't be. We've seen this movie before.

Like April 2012?

...where do we find ourselves with LCS. They are coming to the Fleet - in mass. More show up every few months. No mission modules. No actual proof of concept. Still slathered with technology risk and some things we do know; only 4-months deployable in an 8-11 month new normal .......... all disjointed and still not getting me closer to where I want to be - I want to be proven wrong, but so far I am only being proved right with each passing fiscal quarter. Each fiscal quarter I also see those who careers, reputations and ego are wrapped up in LCS act like the below when they have to explain away hard facts - and rely on hope.

We are a few years past the point of stopping all the damage LCS will cause in opportunity cost ... but not too late to mitigate its full impact. We won't be able to stop at 24, but not too late for 36. If we get all 55, it will be too late. We will have paid Bentley prices for a Yugo.
Heck ... Jan 2010 when we were looking at the NNFM and Reforming the Confederate Navy?
- Build DDGs at a limited rate, sufficient to keep one shipbuilder’s line open, and to keep technology current, but with the intent of reducing the Aegis force to 30 warships within 25 years. The steady state force of 30 ships costs $60B, so the SCN per year for a 30-year combat life is $2.0B.
- Introduce several affordable frigate designs of 2,500 to 3,000 tons and about 25 knots, with the goal of creating a force of 90 ships at a unit cost of $400M. Essential features are at least eight upgraded TASMs (tactical Antiship Missiles), strong close-in defense, and a modern ASW suite. The ships will emphasize sea strikes and ASW. Each must carry a helicopter or pair of UAVs.
- Design and build simple corvettes carrying about 50 land-attack missiles—upgraded TLAMs as it were. They are not fast, but 25 knots is desirable. They operate in silence, with any radiating platform being in the air or scores of miles away. Because of their simplicity and American shipbuilder design experience with stealth properties, the first design will probably be very much like the final one.

Merely for completeness we include here a component of 20 auxiliaries. The numbers and costs are unchanged from the 313-ship Navy plan.
Good googly moogly we have lost a decade spinning our wheels.

I will keep an open mind here - but there are firm constraints and restraints to get to 355 by 2030 ... with new platforms.

Words mean things ... and I will hold further critique in abeyance until I see how we are defining "new." 

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