Austal USA Reveals Features of Its FFG(X) Conceptual Design for Navy Competition
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Senior Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — Austal USA officials have revealed features of its conceptual design for the Navy’s competition for the Future Guided-Missile Frigate (FFG(X)), an evolution of its Independence-class littoral combat (LCS) design.
The company has provided an artist’s concept and displayed a model Jan. 15 -17 at the Surface Navy Association symposium.
The general form of the Independence is preserved — the trimaran hull, the large flight deck aft, the Mk110 57 mm gun — but many changes are featured.
The Austal FFG(X) design has a longer hull with deck space aft of the flight deck. Occupying that space is a 32-cell-array Mk41 Vertical Launching System battery and two sets of tube launchers for the Naval Strike Missile. The SeaRAM launcher is forward of the bridge rather than on the aft super structure atop the helicopter hangar.
The helicopter hangar is large enough to accommodate an MH-60 helicopter and an MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle. On top of the hangar, where the SeaRAM launcher is on the Independence class, the space was blank.
Terry O’Brien, Austal USA’s vice president of business development, said the space was reserved, per the Navy’s requirement, for a future directed-energy weapon.
The face of the deckhouse superstructure is not as streamlined as on the Independence. The ship’s speed requirement is less than the 40-plus knots of the LCS, and, accordingly, it would be driven by twin controllable-pitch propellers rather than waterjets.