How will the FFG(X) fit into the US Navy’s future fleet plans? The new-generation frigate could be key to hopes of maintaining a credible forward presence, but questions remain over whether the US Navy has found the right balance in terms of cost and capability, writes Nick Childs.
On 30 April, it was announced that the team led by Fincantieri and Marinette Marine had won the contract to design and build the United States Navy’s new-generation frigate, currently dubbed FFG(X), which could be a pivotal programme for the US fleet. But questions remain over whether the navy has got the balance right in terms of the capability and cost of the FFG(X), and how the vessel will fit into its future fleet plans.
The winning team, which proposed a modification of the Italian variant of the Franco-Italian multi-mission frigate, or FREMM, beat a final line-up that included Austal USA, General Dynamics/Bath Iron Works and Huntington Ingalls. At 7,400 tonnes full-load displacement, the winning design is several hundred tonnes heavier and about seven metres longer than the standard Italian FREMM, to comply with the US Navy’s requirements for survivability and growth potential.
In US Navy terms, the FFG(X) is a small surface combatant, but the design will result in one of the world’s largest modern frigates. Indeed, under current IISS classifications it would be listed as a destroyer.
Beyond the Littoral Combat Ship
The FFG(X) was designed to succeed the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), which had been cut back to 35 ships from a planned 52 because of criticism over its lack of survivability and firepower, as the navy shifted focus to great-power competition. The basic specification of the FFG(X) shows how far the navy has moved on from the 3,000- to 3,500-tonne LCS. The FFG(X) is closer to the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. (end of excerpt)
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