United States Modern Frigate Design


In a previous article, one of our writers talked about the US Navy’s Frigate Problem. We discussed the issue on the forum and began working on a design that would rectify issues with the current Littoral Combat Ships. What we came up with is a rugged, cheap design built upon the Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate that is fully modernized to operate in a modern combat environment. Without further delay, let us examine the United States modern frigate design.


United States Modern Frigate Design

united states modern frigate designunited states modern frigate design


Length – 445′ OA
Beam – 45′
Draft – 24′
Speed – 30-32 knots
Range – 4800 nautical miles

Power plant is made up of two LM2500 gas turbine engines

1x 76mm OTO Super Rapid
48x Vertical launch cells
8x Harpoon Anti-ship missiles
2x Phalanx CIWs
2x Bushmaster 25mm guns

6x Anti-submarine torpedoes

2x Helicopters carried


I essentially combined an Arleigh Burke class destroyer with an Oliver Hazard Perry class. Perhaps its most accurate to think of it as a smaller, less capable destroyer. I sacrificed the speed of the LCS, but for the most part 44knots was overkill for most operations as well as expensive. Instead a speed of 30 to 32 knots ensures the ship can participate in fleet operations with carriers and destroyers. The adoption of the LM2500 turbines also has the added benefit of greater parts commonality with existing ships, simplifying logistics and decreasing costs.

In addition to speed, I sacrificed stealth as well. In most operations stealth is largely useless. I believe the pursuit of stealthier ships has diminished them in areas like seaworthiness, stability, and ruggedness.

Firepower was increased and expanded upon in this design. I replaced the 57mm weapon with a larger, more capable 76mm OTO Melara gun. The OTO Melara allows for better range and superior dual-purpose capabilities. A major criticism of the LCS ships is a lack of heavy firepower so I added 48 vertical launch cells. This will allow the modern frigate to perform a wider range of missions. I also opted for the inclusion of 8 harpoon anti-ship missiles to increase anti-ship firepower. The ship is also capable in the anti-air and anti-submarine roles as well with six torpedo tubes and the ability to carry two phalanx CIWs or SeaRam launchers. Lastly, two bushmaster 25mm weapon stations ensure protection against small craft.

The ship is large enough to house two helicopters to increase its flexibility even farther.

I am still trying to determine costs, but I would estimate that unit cost would come far below that of the LCS ships. I also foresee the cost to operate and repair to be vastly cheaper as well.

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Chris Knupp

A student of military history, I am working to make history more interesting and accessible for everyone.


  1. I have always thought that basing the new USN frigate design upon the Perry class frigate would be the best option for the US Navy. It would need to be slightly larger than the original OHP and modernized using stealth design features. The slab sides of the original OHP were a missile magnet due to their large radar signature. The new frigate should retain the two helicopter hangars of the OHP, though one of the hangars could easily be configured to support two or three VTOL UAVs. Instead of the OHP’s original Mk 13 single arm missile launcher, the new frigate should have 40 to 48 Mk 41 VLS, though eight of the cells could be of the shorter self-defense version with quad-pack ESSMs. A lightweight phased array radar system like the EL/M-2248 MF-STAR or a lightweight AEGIS equivalent like the AN/SPY-1F should also be incorporated to give the vessel effective self-defense and limited area-defense capability in conjunction with the Standard SM-2/6 series of naval surface-to-air missiles. The SM-6 will also give this frigate an organic anti-ship capability separate from the use of Harpoon SSM’s. Armament would also include a 76mm Oto Melara Super-Rapido automatic cannon, one Phalanx anti-missile gun, a SEA-RAM launcher and a pair of 25mm RWS for anti-small craft defense. The use of the LM-2500 engines is still viable though some uprating of the engines is desirable in a COGAG twin-screw configuration, perhaps with an electric drive for additional flexibility, fuel economy and quietness for ASW work.


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