Jun 25, 2010

Future of the US Carrier's & Gator's Fleet

Too many, too expensive, too “crew expensive”, too old design, too big. Better to design a radically new smaller flattops design family !

+/- 11 US “White-Elephants/Dinosaurs”...use Nimitz/derived Nimitz hull design through 2070’s/even 2080’s ?, a FOLLY !……7/8 ships is a more REALISTIC (strategically, tactically, politically, financially) fleet…

1 CVN of the Enterprise type
1st nuclear powered carrier in the world.
- CVN 61 Enterprise, commissioned 1961, to be retired late 2012 after a last one very expensive foolish ! overhaul in 2008/2009 (more than 663 $ million compared with a initial 453 $ million estimate cost……this only for one or a doubtful two last deployement…). To be replaced by the 1st CVN 78 class (USS Gerald.R.ford) by 2015.

3 CVN of the Nimitz class batch-I
Nuclear powered improved and enlarged version/successor to the “CVA 67 USS John F Kennedy”. With 50 years service life expected. Heavily/Expensively modernized during there mid-life refit (RCOH):
- CVN 68 USS Nimitz, commissioned 1975, RCOH 1998/2001, to be retired by 2025. Likely to be a possible target ? for a prematurely retirement in the next major fleet cuts around 2012-2019 ?
- CVN 69 USS Dwight-D-Eisenhower, commissioned 1977, RCOH 2001/2005, to be retired by 2027. Maybe a possible target ?? for a prematurely retirement in the next major fleet cuts around 2012-2019 ?
- CVN 70 USS Carl-Vinson, Commissioned 1982, RCOH 2005/2009, to be retired by 2032.

5 CVN of the Nimitz class batch-II (Theodore-Roosevelt sub-class)

Slightly improved Nimitz (With improved armor and several minor improvement). With 50 years service life expected:
- CVN 71 Theodore-Roosevelt, commissioned 1986, RCOH on the way, 2009/2012, to be retired by 2036.
- CVN 72 Abraham-Lincoln, commissioned 1989, RCOH expected 2012/2015, to be retired by 2039. Maybe prematurely retired toward the late 2010’s decade if the next major fleet cuts cancel this expensive RCOH ?
- CVN 73 George-Washington, commissioned 1992, forward deployed CVN, RCOH expected around 2015/2018, to be retired by 2042. Maybe prematurely retired toward the late 2010’s decade if the next major fleet cuts cancel this expensive RCOH ?
- CVN 74 John-C-Stennis, commissioned 1995, RCOH maybe expected around 2018/2021, to be retired by 2045.
- CVN 75 Harry-Truman, commissioned 1998, RCOH maybe expected around 2021/2024, to be retired by 2049.

2 CVN of the Nimitz class batch-III (Ronald Reagan sub-class)
Slightly improved Theodore.Roosevelt sub-class (with modified island, several minors improvements). In fact, this 9th and 10th were +/- a “transitional sub-class ship” between Nimitz and Gerald.R.Ford class. With 50 years service life expected.
- CVN 76 Ronald-Reagan, commissioned 2003, RCOH maybe expected around 2026/2029, to be retired by 2053.
- CVN 77 George-H-W-Bush commissioned 2010, RCOH maybe expected around 2033/2036, to be retired by 2060.

And the US Navy was planned to build:

3 CVN of the Gerald R Ford Class
Directly derived from the Nimitz class/sub-class’s, but with many major/minor improvements (new island design, fewer and newer deck lift, newer nuclear reactor, newer electrical catapults, a slightly crew reduction). With 50 years service life expected.
- CVN 78 USS Gerald-R-Ford, to be commissioned by 2015, RCOH maybe expected around 2038/2042, to be retired by 2065.
- CVN 79 (not yet nammed), ordered by 2013, to be commissioned by 2020/2021, RCOH maybe expected around 2044/2047 and retired by 2070. Maybe to replace, in the fleet, at the worse, the early retired USS Nimitz if severe budgets cuts occurred during the 2010’s.
- CVN 80 (not yet nammed), ordered by 2018, to be commissioned by 2025/2026, RCOH maybe expected around 2048/2051, to be retired by 2074/2075. Officially to replace the USS Nimitz by 2024/2025, but if fleet cuts occurred and that the Nimitz was prematurely retired. It is clear that in fact the CVN 80 replace CVN 69 Dwight-D-Eisenhower around 2025/2027.

After CVN 80, great question ?...
The current US Navy’s 30-year (FY2011-FY2040) shipbuilding plan calls for procuring one newer big carrier every 5 years through 2010’s-2040 :
- (CVN 81 ?) ordered in 2023 and commissioned around 2030, to replace CVN 69 Dwigh. Eisenhower or more likely CVN 70 Carl Vinson.
- (CVN 82 ?) ordered in 2028 and commissioned around 2035, to replace CVN 70 Carl Vinson or more likely CVN 71 Theodore-Roosevelt.
- (CVN 83 ?) ordered in 2033 and commissioned around 2040, to replace CVN 71 Theodore-Roosevelt or more likely CVN 72 Abraham-Lincoln.
- (CVN 84 ?) ordered in 2038 and commissioned around 2045, to replace CVN 72 Abraham-Lincoln or more likely CVN 73 George-Washington.

Although more CVN was planned through 2040 under the current plan, he is NOT TOTALLY SURE that the following carriers (CVN 81……) are from the CVN 78 class !

Expected future cuts in the US carrier’s fleet ?…
Facts: The cost of these CVN, a major concern……
If the lastest Nimitz carrier (USS George.H.W.Bush) cost +/- 7 $ billion, the 1st Gerald-R-Ford cost +/- 14 $ billion (R & D include) and the 2 next reached +/- 10/12 $ billion per copy. For this, in 2009 it was decided to build a new carrier only every 5 years (rather than previously every 4 years). In fact, with cost escalation/inflation, its become clear than by late 2010’s/early 2020’s, the cost of a later 100 000 tons CVN 78 class ships reach easily +/- 15 $ billion (or even worse….)

And even the cost of there mid-life modernisation (RCOH) is a major concern…
- The 1998/2001 RCOH for the USS Nimitz cost +/- 1,8 $ billion.
- The 2005/2008 RCOH for the USS Carl Vinson cost +/- 3,1 $ billion.
- The 2009/2012 RCOH for the USS Theodore-Roosevelt was expected to cost +/- 3,3 $ billion…

Probables scenarios:
But with future probable expected cuts in the US fleet. The temptation may be very great to disarm prematurely 1 or 2 carrier’s (even 3 ? at the maximum) without replacement :
- Either to retire prematurely the earlier ageing Nimitz’s CVN.
- Either to cancel the heavy and expensive mid-life modernization (RCOH) of 1 or 2 later Nimitz’s planned through 2010’s decade (CVN 72 Abraham-Lincoln, RCOH expected 2012/2015 or CVN 73 George-Wahsington, RCOH expected around 2015/2018) and, by result, accelerate their prematurely retirement without “direct” replacement by the late 2010’s decade.
- Maybe more likely a mix, retire prematurely the USS Nimitz and cancel the RCOH of one CVN planned during 2012-2019 period (CVN 72 or CVN 73 ?).
- Either to cancel the procurement of a one or two CVN 78 class (very doubtful, because the construction of these vessels provided a lot of work to U.S. shipyards and avoid a lost of strategic skills).

And although larger ships have many advantages over smaller:
- More able to withstand torpedoes, bombs, missiles damages.
- Bigger and higher hull, for better seakeeping quality.
- Larger fuel tanks, for longer range/autonomy.
- More bigger = more politicaly/deterrent effective (is 90 000 tons of diplomacy).
- Larger hull = larger hangar = larger airwing.
Infortunatly the rising cost of big CVN will push the Americans to slow down their buildings. But this is not a long term solution. In fact, it becomes clear that in future, with UAVs is increasing onboard, with a 100,000 tons ship cost +/- 15 $ billion (or even much more by 2020’s), a VERY strong need for reducing expensive crew and newer threats capable of sinking large ships. The need to develop new, smaller , advanced (and survivable) vessels will be felt…

Smaller ships have fewer but interesting advantages:
- Cheaper ship.
- Very much lesser “crew expensive”.
- +/- usually more "manœuvrable".
- Smaller hull = usually more stealthy.
- More cheaper = able to be built in greater number = more sea presence.

With future trend in aircraft cost (trend expected to last very long), a smaller airwing has not longer a disadvantage, because with very high aircraft cost, even the big carrier’s don’t be able to carry a full airwing (+/- 80/90 aircraft), currently only 65/70 aircraft on board Nimitz’s and in foreseable future, will expect to carry only 50/60 aicraft per 90 000 tons CVN, a lot of folly ! To do this, why have big carrier’s (which can carry up to 90 aircrafts) if you can afford only much smaller airwing.

My opinion: Better to have only +/- 7/8 smaller (but better, advanced, automated, stleathly) new 58/68000 tons “pure” aircraft carrier design

Personnaly, I think that the better solution was to stop the CVN 78 class and buy smaller and cheaper ships : ideally, finish the CVN 78 (because this ship is “now too in advanced building process and too expensive to cancel”), but stop immediately work on CVN 79/80 and begin to study smaller CVN alternative’s for a 1st ship commissioned by 2020/2022, ideals characteristics:
- A smaller “pure” 58/68 000 tons nuclear powered aircraft carrier design, around 278/290 meters length.
- Extremely and Radically much less “crew expensive” than older designs (+/- 5000 sailors for a US Nimitz; +/- 4500 sailors for the newest US Gerald R Ford); With likely only around 1000/1500 sailors for a “pure” new advanced +/- 60000 tons aircraft carriers, +/- similar (in size terms) to the lastest british Queen-Elizabeth design.
- A very advanced design, much more “stealthy” than a Nimitz or a Gerald-R-Ford (Hull, island, noise propulsion…).
- Very likely with a monohull (a more radically advanced catamaran or trimaran hull were unlikely because probably reach a ASTRONOMICAL cost), maybe with a wave piercing hull ?, likely with a radicaly new integrated/compact/stealthy island and clearer hull/superstructures.
- With a slightly smaller airwing than the current Nimitz Airwing (Currently onboard Nimitz’s, +/- 65/70 aicrafts), maybe around 40/55 aircrafts/helico/UAV in this new medium carrier.
- Full UAV capable.
- With probably 2 or 4 conventionnal shaft or even pods ?
- With probably the newest nuclear reactor (similar than onboard CVN 78 class), without need for a expensive refueling during their mid-life refit.

+/- 9/10 US Gator’s (LHD/LHA), use the 1968’s Tarawa hull design through late 2050’s/early 2060’s ?

2 LHA of the Tarawa class

40 000 tons, 1st major pure big helico-carriers/amphibious ships with well decks. Initially (1970’s) with 20 years service life, during 1990’s extended to +/- 30/33 years service life expected. Now, some U.S. politicians trying desperately to reduce the decline of the fleet, are lobbying to keep these 2 last ageing ships for a another decade. But it is very likely that it can succeed.
- LHA 4 Nassau, commissioned 1979, to be retired by 2012/2013.
- LHA 5 Pelelieu, commissioned 1980, to be retired by 2012/2013.
In fact, these 2 ships will be replaced by only one new ship, the USS LHA 6 America by 2012/2013.

8 LHD of the Wasp class

41 000 tons, slightly improved “Tarawa” design (clearer full fligh deck, flight deck lift moved for better aviation movement onboard, modified island). The 8th and final ship of this class (USS Makin-Island), incorporate some improvement in propulsion and others systems (in fact, this 8th ship, cost +/- 2 $ billion, is a transitional ship between Wasp and America class). With a probable 35 full years service life expected (maybe likely extended to +/- 38/40 years for some ships if the US Navy desperately want to reduce the fall of the fleet size or.....for a few others (likely the most ageing vessel), if future budget cuts fleet occurred, 1 or 2 oldest ships will be prematurely retired ?).
- LHD 1 Wasp, commissioned 1989, to be retired by 2024/2029. Likely to be replaced by LHA 9 (if any fleets cuts/early retirement occurred before…).
- LHD 2 Essex, commissioned 1992, to be retired by 2027/2032. Likely to be replaced by LH(X) 1.
- LHD 3 Kearsage, commissioned 1993, to be retired by 2028/2033. To be partially replaced or not by LH(X) 2.
- LHD 4 Boxer, commissioned 1995, to be retired by 2030/2035. To be partially replaced or not by LH(X) 2.
- LHD 5 Bataan, commissioned 1997, to be retired by 2032/2037. To be partially replaced or not by LH(X) 3.
- LHD 6 Bonhomme-Richard, commissioned 1998, to be retired by 2033/2038. To be partially replaced or not by LH(X) 3.
- LHD 7 Iwo-Jima, commissioned 2001, to be retired by 2036/2041. To be partially replaced or not by LH(X) 4.
- LHD 8 Makin-Island, commissioned 2009, to be retired by 2044/2049. To be maybe replaced (or not ?) by a additional/improved LH(X) “5” or by a newest LHA(X) design/concept ?
In fact, it become clear that this entire class of 8 ships will be replaced by +/- 7 new ships (3 LHA 6 America class, 4 LH(X)).

1 (up to 4) LHA of the America class

45000 tons, In fact, only slightly improved Wasp design (hybrid propulsion, enhanced aviation capabilities, without well decks for amphibious operation for the 1st ship, but very serious US Marines concerns about the lack of well decks probably means that later ships of this class will be modified to re-carry a well deck…=…additional costs…). With a probable 35 or 40 full years service life expected. Estimate cost per ship: 3,8-4,3 billion The current US Navy’s 30-year (FY2011-FY2040) shipbuilding plan calls for procuring 3 others LHA 6 class (by 2011, 2016, 2021) to replace progressively earlier ageing Wasp class.
- LHA 6 America, to be commissioned by 2012, to replace partially LHA-4 Nassau & LHA-5 Pelelieu. To be retired by 2042/2052.
- LHA 7 (not yet named), to be ordered by 2011, to be commissioned by 2016.
- LHA 8 (not yet named), to be ordered by 2016, to be commissioned by 2020/2021. US Marines hope that this ship “re-carry" a well decks…
- LHA 9 (not yet named), to be ordered by 2021, to be commissioned by 2026. Likely to “re-carry” a well decks.

In fact, don’t forget that all current US LHD/LHA design were DIRECTLY derived from the Tarawa LHA class (the 1st ship, USS Tarawa, was keel laid down in 1971, launched in 1973, in service by 1976), this means that the ship was designed around 1968 !!!

Toward 4 new LH(X) thought 2020’s/2030’s ?

The current US Navy’s 30-year (FY2011-FY2040) shipbuilding plan calls for procuring 4 LH(X) in the 2020’s/2030’s to replace progressively ageing later Wasp class:
- LH(X) 1 (not yet named). Ordered by 2025 ?
- LH(X) 2 (not yet named). Ordered by 2029 ?
- LH(X) 3 (not yet named). Ordered by 2033 ?
- LH(X) 4 (not yet named). Ordered by 2038 ?
The 1st ship, LH(X) 1 will be probably ordered by mid 2020’s, commissioned around 2030. The 3 “followers” will be ordered by late 2020’s/late 2030’s and commissioned by 2034/mid 2045. These 4 LHX will re retired by +/- 2065/2980.

Probable ship’s caracterictics:
- Very unlikely to use the Wasp/America hull, because, by 2020’s, when the first LH(X) would be authorized under the current plan, the initial Wasp/America hull design would be about 60 years old (issued from the 1968’s Tarawa hull). And I considers it unlikely that a hull ship design that originated in the late 1960’s will prove robust enough to accommodate changes designed to counter threats at sea until the 2070’s (when the LH(X)s would be reaching the end of their 35/40 year service life).
- Very probably to use a new hull design and likely a Monohull type (to reduce cost), because a much more advanced hull form (trimaran) probably each a astronomical cost.
- Probably +/- same size as the America class, 240/250 meters, 45 000/50 000 tons.
- Very likely to carry a radically newer island design (more compact/stealthy), with full phased array radar and integrated mast.
- Unfortunately, although its become clear than in future, crew reduction/ships automation will become a RULE (to save operational cost), I doubt seriously that in this future LHX design, the American engineers choose to radically reduce the ship crew (from +/- 1100 in Wasp’s to 380/500 sailors for example). I think that, in fact, the crew reduction in this LHX design will be only slight/moderate (from 1100 to 750/900).
- With two conventional centerline shaft or maybe pods ?
- Likely all electrics propulsions.
- Probably have some weight growth margin, modular/flexible design, for future upgrade.
- Probably armed with lastest CIWS system (Laser ?).
- Full UAV/UUV/SV capable.
- Very probably conventionally powered, and this, although through 2030’s/2070’s, with oil price up even dramatically, the cost-effectiveness of nuclear versus conventional propulsion rise again. Or even use “pure Green fuel” ?
- With cost escalation/inflation, likely to cost much more than a America class (current estimates: 3,5/4,3 $ billion). The future LHX likely reach around 5 billion $ per unit in the late 2020’s, without problems (or even much more ? 6/8 ?)…
- Very likely to replace not at “1 for 1 basis” the later Wasp class (through 2020/2030, AT THE BEST around 4 new LHX to replace +/- 5/6 later Wasp LHD).
- It is clear that this future program will be, like Wasp’s today, a major program for several decades (late 2020’s-late 2040’s) and that the design will be improved (likely 2 Flight/Batch). Maybe the earlier America's ships will be replaced by a improved LHX “batch 2” ? toward late 2040’s/mid 2050’s ?

My opinion: Better to have only +/- 8 NEW advanced (and modern, stealthy) 35 000/45 000 tons LHX design

Personnaly, I think that the better solution was to stop the LHA 6 America class and buy slightly smaller but cheaper ships : ideally, finish the LHA 6 America (because this ship is “now too in advanced building process and too expensive to cancel”), but stop immediately work on next LHA 7/8 ships and begin to study newer LHX alternative’s for a 1st ship commissioned by 2020/2022:
- A radically newer 33 000/48 000 tons, 240/250 meters monohull design (a catamaran or trimaran hull design, although more efficient, unfortunately probably reach a ASTRONOMICAL cost).
- Likelly with a full clearer flight deck and a smaller/compact/stleatlier island than on board the Wasp/America class.
- With a radically less expensive crew onboard (currently on Wasp’s, +/- 1100 sailors + 1800 troops on board), maybe around only 380/500 sailors + 1500/1800 troops onboard).
- Maybe with 2 conventionnal shaft but probably more likely 2 or 4 pods.
- With well decks (for amphibious use and avoid the LHA 6 class error of omitted the well decks).
- With fewer (and more costly) VSTOL aircraft, helico & UAV on board.
- Design type ?, probably heavily influenced by recent newest foreign design: (French "Mistral " design : 16/21000 tons, 199 meters, 18 knots, 160 sailors + 450/900 troops, 16 to 32 helico + up to 59 vehicles; Spanish "Juan Carlos I": 27 000 tons, 230 meters, 21 knots, 410 sailors + 900 troops, 20 to 30 helico + 40 vehicles; South-Korean "Dokdo": 14/18 000 tons, 199 meters, 23 knots, 700 sailors + 720 troops, 10 to 15 helico + one dozens of vehicles). Or even (on paper) others foreign design (Dutch "Enforcer 22000/30000" family or German "MRD 10 000/MHD 150 "family").

Without doubt a newer (and similar foreign style design) but much enlarged/bigger/robust US design (35000/45000 tons; 240/250 meters, 21/23 knots) will carry 380/680 sailors, 1500/1800 troops, 24 to 36 UAV/Helico/VSTOL aircrafts and 60/80 heavy vehicles + future LCAC(X).

US Naval Aviation, at...the crossroad...

US NAVY (estimations)
F/A-18 Hornet : 1st delivered by 1983, last by 2000. +/- 408 active (late 2008): 74 F/A-18A; 26 F/A-18B; 286 F/A-18C; 47 F/A-18D. All to be replaced by +/- 340/480 F-35C through mid 2010’s/late 2020’s decade.
F/A-18 E/F Super-Hornet: 1st delivered in 1999, last around mid/late 2010’s decade. Currently around 332 in service (156 F/A-18E; 176 F/A-18F), a total of 515 expected by mid 2015. Likely to be replaced around late 2020’s/late 2030’s by a newer F/A-XX program.
Electronics-Warfare aircrafts:
- 81 ageing EA-6 B Growler to be replaced by 85 new EA-18 G around 2011/2014.
- 67 Hawkeye E2-C, to be replaced by newer E2-D.
Heavy helicopters:
- 30/36 MH-53E (mineweesper role).
- CH-46, to be replaced by 48 new OV-22 Osprey.
Maritime patrol aircrafts:
- +/- 130/170 ageing P3-C/EP3-E Orion, to be replaced by +/- 117 new expected P8 Poseidon through early 2010's/late 2020's decades.
Cargos/Transports aircrafts:
- 34 C-2A, maybe to be replaced by new OV-22 Osprey.
- 9 C-40A Clipper.
Training Aircrafts:
- 36 F-5 (26 F-5E; 4 F-5F; 6 F-5N).
- 49 T-6A.
- 229 T-34C.
- 52 T-44A.
- 218 T-45C .
- 49 HH-60H (SAR).
- 119 MH-60 (10 LH-60R; 109 MH-60S) (Multi-purpose).
- 179 SH-60 (129 SH-60B; 60 SH-60F) (ASW).
- TH-57 (44 TH-57B; 85 TH-57C) (Training).
- MQ-8 Fire Scout.

US Marine Corps (estimations)
- 340 F-35 B expected to replace +/- 99 ageing AV8-B Harriers and +/- 238 (late 2008) F/A-18 A/B/C/D (1st delivered by 1983, last by 2000).
Attack helicopters:
- 167 AH-1W, to be replaced by 226 new AH-1Z.
Cargo/Transports helico:
- +/- 152/178 CH-53 D/E (late 2008), to be replaced by 227 new CH-53K by 2015/2022.
- 360 OV-22 Osprey expected.
- Ageing UH-1N to be replaced by 123 new UH-1Y by 2016.
Aircrafts Tanker:
- 29 KC-130J.

Obviously the severals problems faced by the F-35 make replacement of ageing aircrafts rather problematic (at the end, it is possible that less than half of the expected aircraft will be eventually delivered !)

Yes, I know, in this editorial, a few others auxiliary (Logistics, training) aircrafts/helico are absent (NU-1B Otter, C-12 Huron, C-20 Gulfstream, C-26 metroliner, C-37 Gulfstream, a few future acquisition programs) . But I do not have forgotten, I just lack time to fully complete this editorial. In the next update of it, I will complete (if you have more accurate data, share this !)

In resume,
its become clear that in a foreseeable future (2011-late 2040’s) it will be impossible and unsustainable (financially speaking) for the US Navy to :
- Maintain 11 big 90 000/100 000 tons CVN, each with 5000 sailors and 65/80 aicrafts on board….
- Maintain 10/11 big 40/45 000 tons LHD, each with 1100 sailors and 30/35 helico on board.
- Buy 550/600 F-35 B/C (especially with a 150-200 $ million per copy).

The US Navy needs to reconsider its plans and buy:
- Fewer
- Smaller
- More modern
design warships "Flattops".

Next editorial: Future of the Italian Fleet.

It may be that in my opinion, I forgot programs ? (or made few mistales ?), then said it ! Feel free to comment and give your opinion !

Jun 18, 2010

Future of the US Heavy Surface Combattant Ships

“Too many shifts, too expensive, too many, a peak at 96 cruisers/destroyers by 2020, then the US Navy will soon return to……REALITY".

22 AAW Cruisers: “Tico’s…the last US cruisers ?”
22 Ticonderoga class AAW cruisers
(CG 52-73: Bunker-Hill, Mobile-Bay, Antietam, Leyte-Gulf, San-Jacinto, Lake-Champlain, Philippine-Sea, Princeton, Normandy, Monterey, Chancellorsville, Cowpens, Gettysburg, Chosin, Hué-City, Shiloh, Anzio, Vicksburg, Lake-Erie, Cape-St.George, Vella-Gulf, Port-Royal). Derived from the Spruance ASW destroyers hull. The initial Spruance hull design have some weight growth margin (for future upgrades). But with the Tico’s (news weapons systems, news radar systems, news superstructures), this “weight margin” has been consumed. The result is that the Tico’s are any real serious growth margin (for a real much heavier upgrade), and have top weight problems. Commissioned in 1986/1994, some to be modernized (200+ $ million per ship, with improved radar/electronics/sensors, BMD capable) by 2008/2015, with expected 35 years of service, all to be retired by 2021/2029. Initially to be replaced by a radical new CG(X) cruisers program, but now, with the collapse of this stillborn program, it is very likely that the 22 “Tico’s” cruisers, the last of the US Navy, was “indirectly” replaced by +/- 14/20 (officially 24) new Arleigh Burke Fligth III.

CG(X): a stillborn program, and dramatic evidence that now the US Navy can not afford new very high-tech warships !
The CG(X) program was announced on November 1, 2001 (at the same time as DDX/LCS programs).

1st phase: 2001/2005: some hope for 19 new ships:
Initially, the US Navy wanted to procure 19 CG(X)s as replacements for its 22 Ticonderoga (CG-47) class AAW cruisers (all to be retired by 2021/2029). At the beginning, the US Navy originally intended to use its Zumwalt (DDG-1000) class destroyer hull design as the basis for the CG(X) design. (The potential for reusing the DDG-1000 hull design for the CG(X) was one of the Navy’s arguments for moving ahead with the DDG-1000 program…). During this phase, the CG (X) design very likely use same hull as DDG-1000 Zumwalt, have probably only one 155mm AGS gun (or any big guns ?), two 40 or 57mm gun in stleathy mount for close range defense againt fast surface crafts, very likely more VLS than a DDG-1000 Zumwalt (80), maybe 120/140 ?, nearly the same superstructures but with much bigger (and powerful) phased array radars.

2rd phase: 2006/2008: Oil prices up, nuclear arrives, warships growth in size & down in number…fewer hope for 5 big nuclear powered and 14 conventionnal cruisers:
But subsequently, however, by +/- 2007, the Navy appeared to back away from the idea of reusing the DDG-1000 hull design as the basis for the CG(X) (at the same time, the DDG-1000 program began to seriously “listing”). The Navy testified in 2007 that the power requirement of the CG(X) combat system, including the new radar, could be about 30/31 megawatts (compared with about 5 megawatts for the Aegis combat system). This meant that the Navy studied:
- A new +/- 16000 tons hull in two versions: one enlarged DDG-1000 Zumwalt hull, and one more conventional hull (ie. less stealthy), intended for the AAW Fleet protection. (and even the use of the LPD-17 class hull were discussed !).
- And a new even much more larger hull (+/- 20/26000 tons), with a more conventional hull (ie. less stealthy, to reduce cost), nuclear powered, intended for ballistic missile threat. With probably a very powerfull BMD radar, with more than 180 VLS and likely CIWS laser capable.

2009/2010: A reality, 5/7 $ billion per ship, simply unaffordable !

By early 2009, it was reported than the Navy look the option to buy only 8 CG (X) and slow the delivery rate of these ships (only 1 ship every 3 years !, the 1st commissioned by 2023 and the 8th ship around 2044 !), but the game had lasted long enough and should stop the farce. By the end of 2009, the US Navy began to propose the formal cancellation of the CG(X) program and instead procuring an improved version of the DDG-51 (the Flight III version). Officially, 2 reasons driven this final choice:
- “affordability considerations.”
- “Any foreseable need for hig tech AAW cruisers able to face well coordinated mass attack of cruiser-missile (dozens and dozens of incoming enemy cruise missiles at the same time).
But what the us navy did not realize was a destroyer or a cruiser takes 4/6 years to build. A missile, it takes only a few weeks / months to be built…

Several studies show that the cost of these cruisers easily reach 5 to 7 $ billion per unit (+/- 5 $ billion for the 16000 tons version and +/- 7 $ billion for the larger version, and even much more at the end, with cost inflation……likely to reach +/- 10 $ billion per unit, at the late 2010’s/early 2020’s, for the 20/26000 tons nuclear powered version ).

Land attack (now ? AAW capable) destroyers: too ambitious, too early
The Zumwalt destroyers program begin in the early 1990’s. In November 2001, the program was restructured and finaly named the DDG-1000 Zumwalt class by 2006/2007. Intended to be a multi-mission destroyer with an emphasis on naval surface fire support and operations in littoral waters. The DDG-1000 was expected to to introduce new technologies that would be available for use on future Navy ships (to serve as the basis for the Navy’s now cancelled CG(X) cruiser). With an full displacement of +/- 14 500 tons, the DDG-1000 design is 55% larger than the Navy’s current 9,500-ton Aegis cruisers/destroyers.

2,7/3,3 $ billion per ships, even more ? (versus 1,8/2 for a Arleigh Burke), too expansive !:

Recently, the U.S. Navy still made some changes! by eliminating a initially expected radar and by adding a new one (likely a AMDR radar for AAW use). A pathetic choice (but proves that the US Navy seeks urgent to have a maximum of BMD warships capable) when we see that the U.S. Navy has canceled in 2007/2008 a DDG 1000 hull AAW version for the CGX….

Initially (late 1990’s/early 2000’s), the US Navy wanted to replace 32 ageing Spruance class ASW destroyers (1970’s era) by +/- 30 new Zumwalt, but rapidly, with a DRAMATICALY cost increase, the requirement drop to +/- 24 by 2004/2005 and after soon by +/-16, then 7/8 and finally only 3 (the 3th ship was hardly finally secured only by considerable politicians lobbying).

The Zumwalt program has received a total of +/- 15.3 $ billion in funding (FY1995 through FY2009). This total includes +/- 7.4 $ billion in R & D, and about $8.0 billion in procurement funding. In the FY2010 budget, the Navy estimates the cost for the first 2 DDG-1000 at 6,6 billion (3,3 billion per ships) and estimates the 3th ship’s cost at $2,7 $ billion.
(some CBO estimates were even worse...........).

In resume:
- 4 ships = a capability.
- 2 ships = a technology demonstration.
- 3 ships = represents a lot of uncertainties and poor vision from the US Navy or US congress...

3 Zumwalt DDG class:
(DDG-1000/1003: Zumwalt, Michael-Monsoor, third not yet named). To be commissioned 2015/2017, with probably +/- 40 years service life, to be retired by 2055/2057.

AAW DESTROYERS: “argh !, No, the Arleigh Burke design is not eternal !!!!”
21 Arleigh Burke Flight-I:

Arleigh-Burke, Barry, John.Paul.Jones, Curtis-Wilbur, Stout, John.S.McCain, Mitscher , Laboon, Russell, Paul-Hamilton, Ramage, Fitzgerald, Stethem, Carney, Benfold, Gonzalez, Cole, The-Sullivans, Milius, Hopper, Ross). Whitout hangar for helico. Commissioned in 1991/1997, Originaly with 30 years of life, extended now to 35 years service life expected. To be progressively modernized (BMD capable, 190 $ million per ship). The fact that these vessels do not have hangar will, for sure, a reason to disarm them relatively quickly towards their end of career. To be retired around 2026/2032 (and partially replaced by some Arleigh Burke Flight-III).

7 Arleigh Burke Flight-II:
(DDG 72/78:
Mahan, Decatur, McFaul, Donald-Cook, Higgins, O'Kane, Porter). Whitout hangar for helico. Commissioned 1998/1999, with full 35 years service life expected, to be progressively modernized (BMD capable, 190 $ million per ship), the fact that these vessels do not have hangar will, for sure, a reason to disarm them relatively quickly towards their end of career. To be retired around 2033/2034. Likely to be partially replaced by last’s Arleigh Burke Flight-III.

2 Arleigh Burke Flight-IIA:
(DDG 79/80: Oscar-Austin, Roosevelt), 5"/54 gun variant, with helico hangar and full 40 years service life expected, to be modernized (BMD capable, 190 $ million per ship), commissioned in 2000, to be retired around 2040. Likely to be replaced by radical new DDG(X), likely ordered early 2030’s.

4 Arleigh Burke Flight-IIA:
(DDG 81-84:
Winston.S.Churchill, Lassen, Howard, Bulkeley), 5"/62 gun variant, with helico hangar and full 40 years service life expected, to be progressively modernised (BMD capable, 190 $ million per ship), commissioned 2001, to be retired around 2041. Likely to be replaced by new DDG(X).

28 Arleigh Burke Flight-IIA:
(DDG 85-112: McCampbell, Shoup, Mason, Preble, Mustin, Chafee, Pinckney, Monsen, Chung-Hoon, Nitze, James.E.Williams, Bainbridge, Halsey, Forrest-Sherman, Farragut, Kidd, Gridley, Sampson, Truxtun, Sterett, Dewey, Stockdale, Gravely, Wayne.E.Meyer, Jason-Dunham, William.P.Lawrence, Spruance, Michael-Murphy). With 5"/62 gun, helico hangar, no 20 mm CIWS variant, full 40 years service life expected, to be progressively modernized (ABM capable, 190 $ million per ships), commissioned 2002/2011, to be retired around 2042/2051. Likely to be replaced by new DDG(X).

Never forget that the initial official requirement (mid 1980’s/late 1990’s) of Arleigh Burke DDG for the US Navy was 57 !. With the first problems encountered (2003/2005) with Zumwalt class, the official requirement quickly growth to 62 and now, with the severe reduction of the Zumwalt and the collapse of the CGX programs, the US Navy, to avoid a serious “workload” fall for the 2 main warships shipyards (Northorp Grumman/Pascagoula; Bath & Iron Works) and to deseperatly reduce the down size of the fleet, growth again the official need of Arleigh Burke to 71/88, and was planned to build:

9 Arleigh Burke Flight-IIA+:
(DDG 113-121: William.S.Sims, Callaghan, Scott, Chandler, not yet named). This 9 ships were similar to others Flight-IIA, but incorporate some sensors modifications (BMD capable from their beginning). Current estimate cost for a current Arleigh Burke Flight-IIA+, +/- 1,8 $ billion. Expected to be ordered throught FY2010-FY2015. With 40 years service life expected, to be commissioned around 2015/2020, to be retired around 2055/2060. Likely to be replaced by new DDG(X).

24 ? Arleigh Burke Flight-III (the probable “Tico’s” and “earlier Burke’s” replacement, a cruiser that does not speak its name?):

The US Navy plans call for shifting in FY2016 to procurement of a new version of the DDG-51 called the Flight III version. Possible ship characteristics :

- To have a new BMD capable radar, the AMDR (a smaller version of the radar planned for the CG (X)).

- But this new AMDR is more bigger than the current Aegis onboard the Arleigh Burke DDG, there appears to be some questions as to whether the DDG-51 hull/deckhouse will be able to accommodate the AMDR (if the AMDR proved too large to fit inside the deckhouse of a DDG-51 without raising the ship’s center of gravity and destabilizing it, the Navy would need to lengthen the ship, further increasing its displacement/cost).
- If the ship were finally enlarged/lengthened, the deletion of the standard 5” gun for a new one 155mm AGS gun is possible.
- Maybe replacement of the relatively ageing Mk41 VLS system (1980’s) by new Mk57 VLS (same as VLS aboard the newest DDG-1000 Zumwalt class).
- Maybe improved power generation (very likely, because a new need in higher power for the new radar carried).
- Improvement in ASW warfare (new sonar, countermesure).
- A slightly crew reduction (from +/- 275/330 in others Arleigh Burke to 240/290 in this flight-III).
- Likely a slightly re-design of the ship superstructure (lightly more compact/stealthy).

In fact, it become clear that if the Navy does not need to lengthen the DDG-51 hull, those Flight III’s will cost around 2,4 $ billion per ship (+/- 500$ million of increase, largely due to new sensors/radars, 30% more than a Arleigh Burke Flight IIA: 1,8 $ billion). But if the navy enlarge/lengthen the ship design, the Flight III’s will cost around 2,6/3 billion…whithout problems…

Detailed design work on the Flight III DDG-51 will reportedly begin in FY2012/2013. The Navy’s 30-year (FY2011-FY2040) shipbuilding plan calls for procuring 24 Flight III DDG-51s between FY2016/FY2031, very likely to replace 22 Tico’s AAW cruisers and 28 Arleigh Burke Flight-I/II (= 24 new ships commissioned in 2021/2035 to replace 50 olders decommissioned in 2021/2034), but attention, with a constantly increasing cost, the figure of 24 seems very optimistic. Personnaly, I find that probably fewer ships (from officially 24 to +/- 16 to 20 ?) new Flight III will be built, with a likely 40 years service life, to be commissioned around 2021/2035, to be retired around 2061/2075. Maybe to be replaced by the last future DDG(X) batch/flight or a radical new futuristic warships concept (2060’s-2100’s era).

FUTUR DDG(X) : the later Arleigh-Burke replacement, 2030-2050’s, please, avoid the DDG-1000/CG (X)/LCS errors !!!.

Some report also states procurement of a new class of DDG(X) destroyers will begin around FY-23/FY-32 (The 2011 plan has pushed back the DDG(X) procurement from 2022 to 2032, which means it would be a successor to the DDG-51 Flight III), likely to become the “workhorse” of the American surface combatant fleet through +/- 2040’s/2080’s. Possible design feature includes:

- Very unlikely to use the DDG-51 hull (Because, by 2032, when the first DDG(X) would be authorized under the current plan, the initial DDG-51 design would be about 50 years old. And I considers it unlikely that a ship design that originated in the late 1970s/early 1980s will prove robust enough to accommodate changes designed to counter threats at sea until the 2070’s/2080’s. (when the DDG(X)s would be reaching the end of their 35/40 year service life).
- Very likely to use a new hull design: Monohull type (in this case, very likely to incorpore the lastest Zumwalt hull experience) or even trimaran hull (much improved/more bigger/robust LCS 2 Independence design) ?.
- Bigger (usually) than Arleigh Burke design (9500 tons), likely around 12/15000 tons.
- Extremely and radically much less “crew expensive” than a Arleigh Burke (275/330 sailors), and likely to incorporate improved “crew reduction” experience from the DDG-1000 class (140 sailors per ship). Very likely around +/- 100/120 sailors per new DDG(X) ?

- Maybe without two conventional shaft, but with pods or even pump jets ?
- Likely all electrics propulsions.
- Probably have some weight growth margin, modular/flexible design, for future upgrade.

- Armed with a new 155mm AGS gun or more likely with a even much more newer electric gun (a “railgun”, actually under initial demonstrator trials). With numerous VLS (80/120 Mk57 VLS or next ? models), CIWS Laser, UAV/UUV, mother ship fully capable.
- Nuclear or conventionally powered ?, great question, why ?. Simply because, through 2030/2080, with oil price up even dramatically, the cost-effectivness of nuclear versus conventional propulsion rise again. Or even use “pure Green fuel”.
- Price per ship, +/- 4 $ billion for a new DDG (X) design (2010 estimates), but with cost escalation, likely to rose around 5/8 $ billion by the late 2020’s/early 2030’s…).
- Very likely to replace not at “1 for 1 basis” the later Arleigh Burke (through 2035/2060, AT THE BEST around 30/35 new DDGX to replace +/- 45 Arleigh Burke Flight II/IIA/IIA+ DDG).
- It is clear that this future program will be, like Burke’s today, a major program for several decades (2030’s-2060’s) and that the design will be improved (likely 2 or 3 Flight/Batch).

The expected timeline in the future DDGX project could be slightly modified because there is a hole/gap in massive DDG disarming during 2035-2040 (this "hole/gap" is due that if the earlier Burke have 35 years service life, the laters Burke have full 40 years service life, which will cause a small few years hole/gap in the massive decommissioning of the Burke DDG). This hole/gap could be exploited by the U.S. Navy for slightly delaying its future DDGX (and refine the design) or full headed with this program and partially allow for growth (brieftly) in destroyers fleet size around 2035/2040.

Or Toward a Hybrid UAV-Light-Carrier/AAW Cruiser/Destroyers design (12/18000 tons) ?
With expension of UAV/UUV use in naval warfare and cost escalation in shipsbuilding industry. It seems possible that in the 2020/2030’s, the concepts of high end cruisers/destroyers and light UAV/UUV Carriers merging into one ship design. Why, simply because don’t forget the very interesting current BAE-system concept of UVX warships design (which combines weapons/stealthy superstructures of very advanced destroyers design in the fore part of the ship, and extended modular facilities/flight deck aft for UAV/UUV/Mothers ships operation.).

In fact, It becomes very clear that the US Navy reached a probable maximum extreme “peak” of +/- 96 Cruisers/Destroyers around 2020 (22 Tico’s, 71 Burke’s, 3 Zumwalt’s, and this helped by the fact that the canceled or slowed/reduced CGX/DDG1000 programs were only partially replaced by the additional buying of 9 Burke’s…….Burke’s whose design is ALREADY EXISTING).

But in the 15 years following years (2020/2035) the massive withdrawal of the Tico’s/earlier Arleigh Burke’s (and their replacement by FEWER new vessels) will quickly reduce the number of heavy units.
It is very likely that around 2050, the US Navy align only around +/- 43/52 cruisers/destroyers (+/- 9 Burke Flight-IIA+; 3 Zumwalt; +/- 16/20 Burke’s Flight-III; +/- 15/20 new DDG (X), a more REALISTIC AND REASONABLE heavy surface combatant fleet size when we see that the high end tech warships hare more and more expensive…

And by 2060 around 46/55 cruisers/destroyers (+/- 16/20 Burke’s Flight-III; 30/35 DDG(X)).

PS: the LCS program will be discussed further in another editorial

Next editorial: Future of the US carrier’s & big gator’s (LHD/LHA) and US naval aviation (of course !).

It may be that in my opinion, I forgot programs ? (or made few mistales ?), then said it ! Feel free to comment and give your opinion !