Posted: January 11, 2017 3:19 PM

Features Shaping Up for Lockheed Martin’s Frigate Proposal for Navy

By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor

ARLINGTON, Va. — Lockheed Martin has continued to refine the notional features of its proposed new frigate (FF) design based on its Freedom-class littoral combat ship (LCS).

Sean Patton, the company’s director of business development for littoral ships and systems, told Seapower Jan. 11 at the Surface Navy Association National Symposium that the crew size would be approximately 130, including detachments, compared with 90 on the LCS.

Patton expects the FF to retain the 118-meter length of the Freedom class, with a steel hull and an aluminum topside. The additional berthing and cooling requirements, along with other hull, mechanical and electrical enhancements, will involve approximately a 40-percent redesign of the ship.

He said the stern ramp for launching 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) on the LCS would have to be eliminated on the frigate to allow operation of a multifunction towed array and a variable-depth sonar. The starboard-side 7-meter RHIB would be retained and another 7-meter RHIB added, probably on the port side.

The FF would feature increased armor protection for survivability. The COMBATTS combat system to be used by the next batch of LCSs also will be used on the FF. The combat system will integrate the new Airbus TRS-4D solid-state search radar, the SLQ-32 with the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) upgrades or a “SEWIP Lite” version, and the NULKA expendable decoy launcher. The Phalanx close-in weapon system will be replaced by the SeaRam missile launcher.

The FF also will be armed with an over-the-horizon anti-ship cruise missile, yet to be selected by the Navy, to give the ship the ability to “out-stick” an adversary ship.

The Mk 46 30mm guns of the LCS surface warfare mission package could be retained on the FF, but Patton said there are other gun systems which are lighter which could be substituted.

“There are a lot of tradeoffs,” he said, noting that weight considerations could result in selection of a gun with lighter weight.

Patton said the Freedom-class hull has “the capacity and the flexibility to handle” the modifications to produce a formidable frigate.

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