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Usn Frigate Program


Ol Paint

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40 minutes ago, bfng3569 said:

Was going to post something similar to Cajer in regards to VLS cells, but also, they may want to rethink the lack of gadgets and widgets....

Saw this article this morning, some interesting thoughts..

https://www.twz.com/sea/the-compelling-case-for-arming-u-s-navy-warships-with-drone-swarms

 

Such systems could be bolted on fairly easily after the fact, so long as they were stand alone systems. If you want them integrated with Aegis, that’s a long lead time item that would delay the whole program.

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Just now, Cajer said:

I would say a delay is better than having it in its current state.  It wouldn't even be able to stay on station off Yemen for a significant amount of time let alone operate in the Pacific.

32 cells is adequate for self defense. ESSM can be used to extend magazine, it has RAM when Burke’s do not, and the 57mm is a rather ideal anti UAV/cruise missile weapon. Using SM-2s for everything is not going to be viable anyway.

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12 minutes ago, Josh said:

32 cells is adequate for self defense. ESSM can be used to extend magazine, it has RAM when Burke’s do not, and the 57mm is a rather ideal anti UAV/cruise missile weapon. Using SM-2s for everything is not going to be viable anyway.

57mm will only work for subsonics and likely only 1 missile.  There won't be slow UAV's getting into 57mm range in the Pacific anyways.  The fact that it has only 32 cells means that it won't be carrying MST or LSRAM, which means it will have no offensive capability in the Pacific. Additionally low magazine size and therefore the necessity of carrying fewer SM's (for ESSM) means that it'll have a hard time protecting transports or multiple will be needed, further reducing the usefulness of the hull.

There's even this congressional review document where they spell out the issues with only 32 VLS and find that adding another 16 would only increase ship cost by ~2%.   Which then baffles me why they didn't just fit more on it to begin with.

https://sgp.fas.org/crs/weapons/R44972.pdf

Edited by Cajer
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1 hour ago, Cajer said:

57mm will only work for subsonics and likely only 1 missile.  There won't be slow UAV's getting into 57mm range in the Pacific anyways.  The fact that it has only 32 cells means that it won't be carrying MST or LSRAM, which means it will have no offensive capability in the Pacific. Additionally low magazine size and therefore the necessity of carrying fewer SM's (for ESSM) means that it'll have a hard time protecting transports or multiple will be needed, further reducing the usefulness of the hull.

There's even this congressional review document where they spell out the issues with only 32 VLS and find that adding another 16 would only increase ship cost by ~2%.   Which then baffles me why they didn't just fit more on it to begin with.

https://sgp.fas.org/crs/weapons/R44972.pdf

I would prefer 48 but 32 is adequate, and changes to the design now only delays production further. I heavily disagree with your assessment that years of delays are worth 16 missile tubes. These ships are not the backbone of the USN and need only handle self defense in a high threat environment; there will be ample Burke’s for the foreseeable future. The absolute most important thing is to get hulls into the water.

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11 hours ago, Cajer said:

57mm will only work for subsonics and likely only 1 missile.  There won't be slow UAV's getting into 57mm range in the Pacific anyways.  The fact that it has only 32 cells means that it won't be carrying MST or LSRAM, which means it will have no offensive capability in the Pacific. Additionally low magazine size and therefore the necessity of carrying fewer SM's (for ESSM) means that it'll have a hard time protecting transports or multiple will be needed, further reducing the usefulness of the hull.

There's even this congressional review document where they spell out the issues with only 32 VLS and find that adding another 16 would only increase ship cost by ~2%.   Which then baffles me why they didn't just fit more on it to begin with.

https://sgp.fas.org/crs/weapons/R44972.pdf

As of right now, the class is supposed to carry 16 RGM-184 in canisters amidship, leaving the VLS cells free for other things.

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The whole point of frigates is to have lightly armed, cheap ships, that can go forward and fly the flag, and perform all kinds of tasks as part of a battlegroup. if you are maxing out launch cells, you may as well just go and buy destroyers, because its missing the point of what they are for.

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5 hours ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

The whole point of frigates is to have lightly armed, cheap ships, that can go forward and fly the flag, and perform all kinds of tasks as part of a battlegroup. if you are maxing out launch cells, you may as well just go and buy destroyers, because its missing the point of what they are for.

Frigates should be directed toward second-line tasks like low-threat presence and open-ocean escort, to free up the top-tier destroyers/cruisers for the front-line operations.  If you want ships to slug it out with a peer, just buy more Burkes or the successor.

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The Mogami frigates are being comissioned without the VLS installed. 10 sets of VLS's have been put in order last year. Those will be installed on 10 comissioned Mogamis in 3, 4, 3 order for years 2025, 2026, and 2027 respectively. Each VLS set has just 16.

Although the Mogami's have eight Type 17 AShMs in separate launchers. Those have a range of 400km while Constellation's NSM has 200/250km range. Type 54A frigates have YJ-83s (sepatate from VLS) with range similar to NSM. Type 52Ds and Type 55 AShMs are YJ-18 (VLS launched) with range of up to 650km. Of course, each ship fits into their parameters and systems of systems, but just interesting.

If they want (needed or not another matter for the frigate) to extend anti-ship range of Constellation frigates, they may want it to load duel-purpose SM-6, which would take up a few VLS.

But anyway, a 3 year delay seems terrible long in this phase of the arms race. And with the delay trajectory on these programs, 3 years has plenty of space to squeeze in another delay-year to make it four in the end.

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23 hours ago, James1978 said:

As of right now, the class is supposed to carry 16 RGM-184 in canisters amidship, leaving the VLS cells free for other things.

The standard asm the newer Chinese ships carry have 50+% more range than the NSM. This means the NSM will never be fired expect at in escorted convoys with how fast the Chinese are building new ships. Meaning the frigates effectively have no offensive weapons.

 

If that 3 year delay turns into 4, it’s absurd to think that they wouldn’t do a small change to add more cells. As the delays seem to be mostly due to construction yard facilities and manning rather than design. So it should be possible to have them work on hull sections not effected by the insertion of addition VLs.

Edited by Cajer
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22 hours ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

The whole point of frigates is to have lightly armed, cheap ships, that can go forward and fly the flag, and perform all kinds of tasks as part of a battlegroup. if you are maxing out launch cells, you may as well just go and buy destroyers, because its missing the point of what they are for.

You’re missing the point that increasing the cells by 50% just increases cost by 2%. You can have a much more capable ship for a negligible cost increase. If it were to scale even quadratically double the cells (64) for an 8% cost even is still very reasonable. Especially as magazine depth and types of weapons carried has a very large effect on ship flexibility, and need to refit before taking on new task/switching theatres.

16 hours ago, shep854 said:

Frigates should be directed toward second-line tasks like low-threat presence and open-ocean escort, to free up the top-tier destroyers/cruisers for the front-line operations.  If you want ships to slug it out with a peer, just buy more Burkes or the successor.

Again 2% cost increase for 50% more cells makes it irresponsible to not get more cells especially with the projected 3+ year delay due to shipyard manning and other issues not related to the design

Edited by Cajer
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8 hours ago, Cajer said:

You’re missing the point that increasing the cells by 50% just increases cost by 2%. You can have a much more capable ship for a negligible cost increase. If it were to scale even quadratically double the cells (64) for an 8% cost even is still very reasonable. Especially as magazine depth and types of weapons carried has a very large effect on ship flexibility, and need to refit before taking on new task/switching theatres.

Again 2% cost increase for 50% more cells makes it irresponsible to not get more cells especially with the projected 3+ year delay due to shipyard manning and other issues not related to the design

Yes, that's how it starts. Then you make improvements by 2 percent all over the place, and suddenly you have made a destroyer.

Basically you want something of the capability slightly above lcs for  vastly less cost. And you don't get that by making incremental improvements.

If you want a destroyer, buy one. There is no need to turn a Frigate into one.

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On 4/6/2024 at 1:55 PM, shep854 said:

Frigates should be directed toward second-line tasks like low-threat presence and open-ocean escort, to free up the top-tier destroyers/cruisers for the front-line operations.  If you want ships to slug it out with a peer, just buy more Burkes or the successor.

Exactly my thinking.

Frigates historically are escorts. Max out the asw capability by all means, with the size of the prc fleet its not a waste. Anything more than that, I simply don't get it. It's going to kill a good design.

 

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51 minutes ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Yes, that's how it starts. Then you make improvements by 2 percent all over the place, and suddenly you have made a destroyer.

Basically you want something of the capability slightly above lcs for  vastly less cost. And you don't get that by making incremental improvements.

If you want a destroyer, buy one. There is no need to turn a Frigate into one.

VLS capacity is one of the most important factors in a modern engagement. No one here is advocating for other changes to be made. You’re the one coming up with that.

One could say it’s even more important for it to have more cells now that it’s delayed, with PRC naval capabilities improving at such a fast rate, as these ships are likely to be in service for at least 20-30 years. 

Edited by Cajer
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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Cajer said:

The standard asm the newer Chinese ships carry have 50+% more range than the NSM. This means the NSM will never be fired expect at in escorted convoys with how fast the Chinese are building new ships. Meaning the frigates effectively have no offensive weapons.

 

If that 3 year delay turns into 4, it’s absurd to think that they wouldn’t do a small change to add more cells. As the delays seem to be mostly due to construction yard facilities and manning rather than design. So it should be possible to have them work on hull sections not effected by the insertion of addition VLs.

And this is exactly the type of thinking that generates requirements creep and spiraling costs.  We've trained the industrial complex under the "defense reform" regime over decades to buy in to programs, then hit the government with costs for changes once the program is underway.

31281d1297194524-change-order-upon-chang

Put another way, there's two phases to projects--too soon to tell and too late to change.  (Sadly, I didn't invent that saying.)

We don't buy ships like widgets, or even airplanes.  We buy bespoke ships.  The F-35 program between LRIP-1 to LRIP-8 (2007-2014, or 8years) spent 23.6B to buy 210 aircraft and didn't exit Low Rate Initial Production until recently.  The LCS program spent 14.8B to buy 35 LCS across both classes FY04-FY19 (15 years). 

Looking at the higher end, the entire contract value for the Flight IIA restart plus the Flight IIA Technology Insertion (12-13 ships--the budget docs are always a little fuzzy) was about $23.3B per FY13 budget documents (DDG 113-116 procured at about 1.84B/ea + 17.7B in a multi-year contract for DDG 117-125) spread across FY10-FY17.

The fix to a lot of the issues with USN procurement is to recognize that we aren't buying enough to enjoy economy of scale and adapt the program plans accordingly.  Stop with the "winner-take-all" monster programs and start bidding out classes of 4-6 ships at a time.  Stop with the "we're going to buy 20-30-40-50 SSC to a single design, with a second yard follow contract, then we'll cut the procurement from 1.5/yr to 1/yr, or maybe 3/4 and get mad that the costs keep escalating." 

Build short production runs that're enough volume to provide profit to the contractors so they stay in business, and a short enough class so the next contract can accommodate all the requirements creep.  Want 48 VLS cells instead of 32?  Put that in the next performance specification.  Want to add SLQ-32(V)15(XP)(QYWZ)?  Add that to the next class.  Put in the performance specs enough requirements to ensure commonality where it counts--standardize data systems, gas turbines, generators, diesels, fans, etc.--and stop worrying about what the ship looks like.  That lets the economy happen on the O&M side while freeing up the design envelope.

Doug

Edited by Ol Paint
Added last two standardization sentences. And fixed the Flight IIA restart ship numbers. Holy cats! I added the wrong column of numbers--the LCS procurement contract price was about $14.8B, not $23.5B.
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18 minutes ago, Ol Paint said:

And this is exactly the type of thinking that generates requirements creep and spiraling costs.  We've trained the industrial complex under the "defense reform" regime over decades to buy in to programs, then hit the government with costs for changes once the program is underway.

31281d1297194524-change-order-upon-chang

Put another way, there's two phases to projects--too soon to tell and too late to change.  (Sadly, I didn't invent that saying.)

We don't buy ships like widgets, or even airplanes.  We buy bespoke ships.  The F-35 program between LRIP-1 to LRIP-8 (2007-2014, or 8years) spent 23.6B to buy 210 aircraft and didn't exit Low Rate Initial Production until recently.  The LCS program spent 21.5B to buy 35 LCS across both classes FY04-FY19 (15 years). 

Looking at the higher end, the entire contract value for the Flight IIA restart plus the Flight IIA Technology Insertion (12-13 ships--the budget docs are always a little fuzzy) was about $23.3B per FY13 budget documents (DDG 113-116 procured at about 1.84B/ea + 17.7B in a multi-year contract for DDG 117-125) spread across FY10-FY17.

The fix to a lot of the issues with USN procurement is to recognize that we aren't buying enough to enjoy economy of scale and adapt the program plans accordingly.  Stop with the "winner-take-all" monster programs and start bidding out classes of 4-6 ships at a time.  Stop with the "we're going to buy 20-30-40-50 SSC to a single design, with a second yard follow contract, then we'll cut the procurement from 1.5/yr to 1/yr, or maybe 3/4 and get mad that the costs keep escalating." 

Build short production runs that're enough volume to provide profit to the contractors so they stay in business, and a short enough class so the next contract can accommodate all the requirements creep.  Want 48 VLS cells instead of 32?  Put that in the next performance specification.  Want to add SLQ-32(V)15(XP)(QYWZ)?  Add that to the next class.  Put in the performance specs enough requirements to ensure commonality where it counts--standardize data systems, gas turbines, generators, diesels, fans, etc.--and stop worrying about what the ship looks like.  That lets the economy happen on the O&M side while freeing up the design envelope.

Doug

I definitely agree with the smaller buys/classes/contracts for ships. This prevents us from being locked in for a 15-20 year production run with outdated designs, which is part of what I’m so worried about with the frigates with a planned build of 20 ships to the current specification.  
 

If the buy was only 6 ships, with options to the the latter, 14 then 32 vls cells wouldn’t be a big issue the get hulls in the water faster. But we still have a 3+ year delay, with no hulls in the water till 2029. Meaning we will operate these until 2060 at the earliest, and I see allot changing between now and 2060

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58 minutes ago, Cajer said:

VLS capacity is one of the most important factors in a modern engagement. No one here is advocating for other changes to be made. You’re the one coming up with that.

One could say it’s even more important for it to have more cells now that it’s delayed, with PRC naval capabilities improving at such a fast rate, as these ships are likely to be in service for at least 20-30 years. 

Yes, but what kind of engagement?

If you want an engagement as part of a fleet action, I can certainly see a need for a high end ASW platform. Kind of like what we British are doing with Type 26. But 95 percent of its life, a Frigate is just supposed to be flying the flag, busting drug dealers, busting pirates, showing the American flag in places where bigger ships arent risked. As Frigates historically did. Arguably you probably dont want to be using expensive platforms for that, because you will never have the numbers to be the places you want to be in numbers.

Where I think you are going wrong is in one platform being able to do all roles. We have decided the Type 26 is too costly to fill all the slots vacated by the Type 23 , and are introducing the type 31, which comes somewhere between the OPV and the Type 23. The Type 26 is being retained for protecting carrier battlegrops.

If you want a cheap frigate, the Constellation isnt it. Look at the Type 31, its designed to come in at 270 million pounds a platform. The Constellation is already coming in at something like a Billion dollars a ship currently. It only looks good value in comparison to an Arleigh Burke, which is about twice that. It doesnt compared to an LCS, which it is going to replace in the low end. Only 2 percent extra cost is going to add up when you built 50 plus hulls.

I dont have a problem with it having launch cells, we are doing the same, even on Type 31. I have a problem with this incrementing up of an already costly ship. And you know full well when the Pentagon gets going the kind of mess they can make of good concepts if you let it get rolling.

 

 

 

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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Posted (edited)
31 minutes ago, Cajer said:

I definitely agree with the smaller buys/classes/contracts for ships. This prevents us from being locked in for a 15-20 year production run with outdated designs, which is part of what I’m so worried about with the frigates with a planned build of 20 ships to the current specification.  
 

If the buy was only 6 ships, with options to the the latter, 14 then 32 vls cells wouldn’t be a big issue the get hulls in the water faster. But we still have a 3+ year delay, with no hulls in the water till 2029. Meaning we will operate these until 2060 at the earliest, and I see allot changing between now and 2060

There's still a chance for the Constellations, because the only contract out there is for the first 10 (4 + 6 options) and any second-yard hasn't been awarded. 

As far as the 2%, that number is not applicable.  The report link you provided states:

Quote

A May 14, 2019, Navy information paper on the cost impact of expanding the FFG-62 VLS capacity from 32 cells to 48 cells states

"To grow from a 32 Cell VLS to a 48 Cell VLS necessitates an increase in the length of the ship with a small beam increase and roughly a 200-ton increase in full load displacement. This will require a resizing of the ship, readdressing stability and seakeeping analyses, and adapting ship services to accommodate the additional 16 VLS cells..."

That paper was from May 2019, before the DD&C contract was awarded in April 2020.  At that time, before detail design commenced, incorporating the change would've been easy to do.  Trying to add length and modify systems now for a ship that started construction in 2022?  I'd expect that estimate to be off by an order of magnitude, at least.

Doug

Edited by Ol Paint
Changed "contested" to "awarded"
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12 minutes ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Yes, but what kind of engagement?

If you want an engagement as part of a fleet action, I can certainly see a need for a high end ASW platform. Kind of like what we British are doing with Type 26. But 95 percent of its life, a Frigate is just supposed to be flying the flag, busting drug dealers, busting pirates, showing the American flag in places where bigger ships arent risked. As Frigates historically did. Arguably you probably dont want to be using expensive platforms for that, because you will never have the numbers to be the places you want to be in numbers.

Where I think you are going wrong is in one platform being able to do all roles. We have decided the Type 26 is too costly to fill all the slots vacated by the Type 23 , and are introducing the type 31, which comes somewhere between the OPV and the Type 23. The Type 26 is being retained for protecting carrier battlegrops.

If you want a cheap frigate, the Constellation isnt it. Look at the Type 31, its designed to come in at 270 million a platform. The Constellation is already coming in at something like a Billion dollars a ship currently. It only looks good value in comparison to an Arleigh Burke, which is about twice that. It doesnt compared to an LCS, which it is going to replace in the low end. Only 2 percent extra cost is going to add up when you built 50 plus hulls.

I dont have a problem with it having launch cells, we are doing the same, even on Type 31. I have a problem with this incrementing up of an already costly ship. And you know full well when the Pentagon gets going the kind of mess they can make of good concepts if you let it get rolling.

 

 

 

With the declining fleet numbers, all ships will need to be able to conduct fleet and high level wartime actions. Especially as crew costs are becoming a significant part of lifetime vessel costs and all ships require a base level of crewing regardless of how fancy it is. It’s also becoming a big headache to find enough crew meaning allocating them to more numerous capable platforms is going to present additional manning problems
 

Additionally allot of the traditional frigate roles you mentioned are now being fulfilled by the coast guard. I have a friend in there that is routinely deployed abroad on the super expensive legend class, for both anti piracy, international training, and flying the flag operations (the last of which is getting prohibitively expensive and might be reduced). With the price of the new coast guard ships (750 million!), they should be and are taking up traditional frigate roles, leaving warships to do warship things

Edited by Cajer
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2 minutes ago, Cajer said:

With the declining fleet numbers, all ships will need to be able to conduct fleet and high level wartime actions. Especially as crew costs are becoming a significant part of lifetime vessel costs, and a big headache to find enough crew. 
 

Additionally allot of the traditional frigate roles you mentioned are now being fulfilled by the coast guard. I have a friend in there that is routinely deployed abroad on the super expensive legend class, for both anti piracy, international training, and flying the flag operations (the last of which is getting prohibitively expensive and might be reduced). With the price of the new coast guard ships (750 million!), they should be and are taking up traditional frigate roles, leaving warships to do warship things

Yeah, thats a pretty fair point I have to admit.

 

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4 minutes ago, Ol Paint said:

There's still a chance for the Constellations, because the only contract out there is for the first 10 (4 + 6 options) and any second-yard hasn't been contested. 

As far as the 2%, that number is not applicable.  The report link you provided states:

That paper was from May 2019, before the DD&C contract was awarded in April 2020.  At that time, before detail design commenced, incorporating the change would've been easy to do.  Trying to add length and modify systems now for a ship that started construction in 2022?  I'd expect that estimate to be off by an order of magnitude, at least.

Doug

That’s true however I don’t think very much if any work has been done thus far beyond the first ship. So change to the rest of the buy should be much easier.

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3 minutes ago, Cajer said:

That’s true however I don’t think very much if any work has been done thus far beyond the first ship. So change to the rest of the buy should be much easier.

That's not how shipbuilding works.  Options have been exercised for the frigates 2-4, already.  By the time the redesign work is done to make the kind of change proposed, it would likely be prohibitive to rework those hulls to make the necessary modifications.

This scenario is where the much-derided "fitted for, but not with" actually makes a difference.  The whitepaper cited indicates lengthening the hull is required, which means there aren't space & weight reservations in place.  That's how a Spruance evolved into a Ticonderoga without changing the hullform (don't be fooled by the length difference--that's the additional overhang of the bulwark).  The -963s were designed with massive margins on space and weight to an extent that hasn't been repeated since.

Combatants aren't WWII T-2 tankers where you cut out the ship in half and add parallel midbody.  Or the Stewart J. Cort:

FFYQVEvWUAMbEI8.jpg

6d9e47aaad235e7fb36613ec8738b032df8a8c5f

Compare the above to the model below.  It's not easy to add length to accommodate the additional cells. 

uss_constellation__ffg_62__by_oscerf_deu

Doug

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21 minutes ago, Ol Paint said:

That's not how shipbuilding works.  Options have been exercised for the frigates 2-4, already.  By the time the redesign work is done to make the kind of change proposed, it would likely be prohibitive to rework those hulls to make the necessary modifications.

This scenario is where the much-derided "fitted for, but not with" actually makes a difference.  The whitepaper cited indicates lengthening the hull is required, which means there aren't space & weight reservations in place.  That's how a Spruance evolved into a Ticonderoga without changing the hullform (don't be fooled by the length difference--that's the additional overhang of the bulwark).  The -963s were designed with massive margins on space and weight to an extent that hasn't been repeated since.

Combatants aren't WWII T-2 tankers where you cut out the ship in half and add parallel midbody.  Or the Stewart J. Cort:

FFYQVEvWUAMbEI8.jpg

6d9e47aaad235e7fb36613ec8738b032df8a8c5f

Compare the above to the model below.  It's not easy to add length to accommodate the additional cells. 

uss_constellation__ffg_62__by_oscerf_deu

Doug

I agree it’s not just welding on a new section. Some design changes will have to be made with rerouting and extending electrical and other conduits. However as it would most likely be extending the current vls hull section (not adding on a new one), there is already likely a conduit “shadow” (lack or lower density) directly behind it to some degree which will make things easier. 
 

With the current delays, work on other parts/hull modules/sections may likely have also been pushed out making changes easier. 
 

I am unsure if it was designed this way to begin with, but plugs were also added to the later Virgina class subs to add in more VLS and additional special forces deployment capabilities. That’s surely a harder task even more time for a total redesign. This is in addition to the designed bow needed for the new sonar arrays between the block ii/iii boats

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On 4/5/2024 at 2:00 PM, Josh said:

Such systems could be bolted on fairly easily after the fact, so long as they were stand alone systems. If you want them integrated with Aegis, that’s a long lead time item that would delay the whole program.

the idea would be to have them tied into AEGIS and even if its a bolt on set up, still need to plan for space.

 

Integrating them with AEGIS should be more of a software issue i would think.

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