navy's ffg(x) program

It’s pretty obvious that the United States Navy has lost faith in its Littoral Combat Ship program. It has been only slightly more than a decade into the program and the Navy has already announced a new frigate program to replace the LCS. The new frigate, currently designated as FFG(X), is to deliver similar performance to the LCS ships while having superior offensive and defensive capabilities. While the Navy’s FFG(X) Program is not surprising, what is surprising is that US shipbuilders will be facing stiff competition from foreign designs.

A list of the current contenders for the FFG(X) program has been compiled below.

Freedom Class Derived Frigate (Lockheed Martin)

frigate
The Freedom class LCS. Lockheed Martin is proposing a larger version of the Freedom design as its potential frigate.

Not surprisingly, Lockheed Martin is pushing for a modified version of its existing Freedom class LCS design. The Freedom Frigate is appears to be an enlarged Freedom, retaining a water jet propulsion system. The Frigate carries either a 57mm or a 76mm main gun, VLS (Vertical Launch System), eight Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and a SeaRAM defense system. The frigate will also have improved sensors and electronics.

Of course, this is all concept. The final design might differ dramatically from what we see now. I was unable to find any reliable data for its specifications. I will add them once the information can be found.

Freedom Frigate Specs:

Unknown at this time.

Independence Class Derived Frigate (Austal)

frigate
The Independence class LCS. Austal is proposing to use this ship as the basis for an improved frigate design.

Austal also has its LCS design in navy service. Like Lockheed Martin, Austal is proposing a modified version of its design for the FFG(X) program. This redesign is much more conservative compared to the Freedom Frigate.

The same Independence class hull is used. However, the flight deck is cut back to allow the installation of eight additional Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers. In addition to the eight missiles that can already be carried, this brings the total of missiles up to sixteen. Their is also room for sixteen cell Mark 41 VLS. The Independence Frigate will carry the same 57mm gun that it currently does.

The Frigate variant is expected to carry more powerful electronics in addition to a new towed sonar array. Austal believes using the existing Independence class hull and power plant will save money for the Frigate program.

Independence Frigate Specs:

  • Length – 419′
  • Beam – 104′
  • Draft – 14′
  • Displacement – 3500 tons
  • Speed – 32+ knots
  • Range – 4300+ nmi
  • Compliment – 130
  • Armament:
    • 1x 57mm gun
    • 16x Vertical Launch Cells
    • 16x Anti-ship missiles
    • 1x SeaRAM
    • 6x .50 machine guns
  • Aircraft:
    • 1x SH-60
    • 1x MQ-8C

 

Patrol Frigate (Huntington-Ingalls)

navy's ffg(x) program
The Coast Guard’s Legend class cutter. This ship will serve as the basis for the Patrol Frigate design.

The Huntington-Ingalls patrol frigate is based on the existing Coast Guard Legend class cutter. Using an existing hull is expected to reduce development time and costs.

Two versions of the Patrol Frigate have been proposed the first is a more modest redesign intended to offer the most cost effective version. It essentially uses the current Legend class layout and weaponry. The only modifications are an improved crane and stern ramp.

The second version is a more thorough redesign with greater amounts of firepower. It replaces the 57mm main gun with a larger, more powerful 76mm gun. It also adds a twelve cell Mark 56 VLS. Eight harpoon anti-ship missiles are fitted for increased anti-surface firepower. Greater anti-submarine capabilities are gained through a towed sonar array and a torpedo launcher on the stern.

Patrol Frigate Specs

  • Length – 418′
  • Beam – 54′
  • Draft – 22.5′
  • Displacement – 4500 tons
  • Speed – 28+ knots
  • Range – 8000+ nmi
  • Compliment – 141
  • Armament:
    • 1x 76mm gun
    • 1x Phalanx 20mm CIWs or SeaRAM
    • 12x Vertical launch cells
    • 8x anti-ship missiles
    • 3x torpedoes
    • 4x .50 cal machine guns
  • Aircraft:
    • 1x SH-60

Click Here for a greater examination of the Legend Class Patrol Frigate Derivative.

MEKO 200 (Atlas North America / Blohm + Voss)

navy's ffg(x) program

For the FFG(X) program, the United States is also looking at warships designed overseas. One of the contenders is the MEKO family of warships. Developed by the German company Blohm + Voss in the late 1970s, the MEKO family of warships have a proven record of success. The latest MEKO 200 design is being proposed for use in the United States Navy.

Due to the variety of MEKO designs, the specs for a US Navy Frigate are unclear. However, MEKO ships can carry up to a 5″ main gun, over a dozen vertical launch cells, harpoon missile launchers, and several CIWs mounts. A MEKO design will offer the US Navy more than enough firepower.

MEKO 200 Frigate Specs:

  • Length – 387′
  • Beam – 49′
  • Draft – 14′
  • Displacement – 3400 tons
  • Speed – 32 knots
  • Range – 6000nmi
  • Compliment – 220
  • Armament:
    • Up to 1x 5″ gun
    • Up to 3x CIWs
    • Over 16x vertical launch cells
    • 8x anti-ship missiles
    • up to 6x torpedoes
  • Aircraft:
    • 1x SH-60

F100 (Bath Iron Works / Navantia)

navy's ffg(x) program

In service with the Spanish Navy, the F100 class frigates are powerful warships optimized for the air defense role. They are one of the few non-American ships fitted with the Aegis Combat System.

Compared to the other frigates currently being considered, the F100 design is one of the most well armed. They carry a forty-eight cell Mark 41 VLS in addition to eight anti-ship missile launchers. They carry a single 5″ gun and space to mount a single CIWs mount. They also carry four torpedo tubes and a towed sonar array for the anti-submarine role.

Its possible that Bath Iron Works and General Dynamics would handle production of a United States variant of the F100 design.

F100 Frigate Specs:

  • Length – 481′
  • Beam – 61′
  • Draft – 15.6′
  • Displacement – 5800 to 6200 tons
  • Speed – 28.5 knots
  • Range – 4500 nmi
  • Compliment – 250
  • Armament:
    • 1x 5″ gun
    • 1x CIWs
    • 48x vertical launch cells
    • 8x anti-ship missiles
    • 4x torpedoes
  • Aircraft:
    • 1x SH-60

FREMM (Marinette Marine / Fincantieri)

navy's ffg(x) program

Rumor has it that the Fincantieri FREMM frigate design is especially attractive to the United States Congress. The FREMM frigates are currently in use by the French and Italian Navies. The frigates are available in a wide variety of configurations including anti-air, anti-submarine, and general purpose warfare variants.

Depending on the configuration, the FREMM frigates carry a combination of 5″ and 76mm guns. Up to thirty-two vertical launch cells can be fitted along with eight anti-ship missile launchers. Torpedoes and remote weapons stations are also fitted.

The United States appears to like this design as a US FREMM variant would likely be built by Marinette Marine in Wisconsin. Marinette Marine, a shipyard owned by Fincantieri, already produces Freedom class LCS. Marientte Marine would allow the US to produce these frigates domestically.

FREMM Frigate Specs:

  • Length – 466′ to 474′
  • Beam – 65′ to 66′
  • Draft – 16′ to 17′
  • Displacement – 6000 to 6700 tons
  • Speed – 27 to 30+ knots
  • Range – 6000 to 6800+ nmi
  • Compliment – 145 to 201
  • Armament:
    • Up to 1x 127mm gun + 1x 76mm gun
    • Up to 3x 25mm remote weapon stations
    • Up to 32x Vertical launch cells
    • 8x anti-ship missiles
    • Up to 6x torpedoes
  • Aircraft:
    • Up to 2x SH-60

What do you think?

What frigate design do you think will best fill the needs of the United States Navy? Let us know in the comment section below. You can also answer via Facebook, twitter, or Google +. You can also look at the NGB take on a modern frigate design.

Also be sure to check out our extensive collection of historic articles if you get bored with current events.

Chris Knupp

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

2 COMMENTS

  1. The FREMM or F100 are obviously the best designs and have already been proven to be effective with our allies and would be the easiest to get into production. The others are just trying to put lipstick on a pig again.

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