Bucking The Allied Frigate Trend

DAVEBLOGGINS

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“This is an opinion piece by the author for promotion of general discussions by forum members only and not to be published in whole or in part by any other media”.

Ottawa seems to be going against allied cost-reduction trends in putting all its “surface warship eggs” in one, large, expensive CSC Type 26 design basket. Herein lies the quality versus quantity debate concerning naval fleets. The impulse toward a capable, general-purpose fleet is understandable. When you cannot afford a large number of smaller, purpose-built warships, then you try to load as much flexibility and versatility into the limited number of larger platforms you build. Canada has made the case that, by planning to take care of the most demanding missions first, then other roles generally would be covered off as well. The most onerous missions require a fairly large, well-armed, general-purpose surface ship.

Canada's problem is that we tend to procure low-to-middle capability ships, but with a high-end price tag. In terms of capability, the DDH-280 destroyers were an exception with their area air-defence weapons, but even the Halifax-class frigates which followed them were primarily anti-submarine warfare platforms, but with higher general-purpose versatilities added in. At the same time, each ship class cost much more than anticipated- some being labeled “Cadillacs” of their day. The result was that Canada systematically priced itself out of an affordable and effective navy. Canada is not alone with this trend. Even the United States is experiencing the affordability squeeze on its naval force posture as is the United Kingdom. Driven by budget constraints, the USN is divesting some of its larger, high-value naval assets in favour of more mid-sized, lower-end ships. US Navy officials support the idea of shifting the USN’s surface combatant force to a more reduced proportion of large surface ships (cruisers and destroyers), an increased percentage of small surface ships (frigates and littoral combat ships), and a new third tier of unmanned surface vehicles. The current FFG(X) frigate program is a prime example of this trend for the USN. The UK also appears to be following the same trend, with its larger Type 26 frigate being backed up with smaller, less capable Type 31 ships as part of their own National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS).

In Canada, the cost of new warships continues to escalate, but is our navy getting better, more capable warships? The current CSC Requirements Reconciliation and Design process will determine how much capability Ottawa is willing to pay for. The NSS appears to prefer incentive contracting with target price ceilings. These ceilings have thus far not done much to curb cost growth on the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships and the Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels. In any event, it is a good bet that Canada’s variant of the BAE Type 26 Global Combat Ship may be significantly more capable than either the UK or Australian variants.

Ottawa seems to be putting most of its warship “eggs in one basket,” but only because it has to. In my opinion (IMO), not only does Canada not have the financial ability to produce more of these ‘cadillacs’ but it could not man them even if we had the where-with-all. The CSC Frigate, at almost 8000 tonnes, is not a low-to-middle class capability, but a very high-end 5th generation warship with growth potential for the future. This is a "Rolls Royce" of ships which may very well out-perform both the British City and Australian Hunter class Global Combat Ships (GCS). Canada’s reality is that it must produce a very capable warship because we are forced to do more with less due to our geography, environment, mission requirements and defence budget. The CSCs SPY 7 (V) 1 radar system has already been fully developed by Lockheed Martin (LM) with characteristics that are now more capable than the Arleigh Burke SPY 1 family of radars and may rival the SPY 6 AMDR radar system now scheduled to be fitted on the Arleigh Burke Flt III destroyers. The USN FFX (based on the Italian FREMM class) is a mid-sized frigate, but not “low-end” by any means as well.

At the end of the day, will Canada’s CSC be more capable than say a 9,500 tonne Arleigh Burke Flight III destroyer? The answer is, probably not. But is Ottawa willing to pay nearly double the price for a single CSC frigate? Increasing costs per ship doesn’t necessarily reflect better quality. It may only be an indicator of the greater expense involved in Ottawa’s ‘build-in-Canada’ policy. Perhaps one reason Canada has concluded that a small number of mid-sized, very capable, general-purpose warships are preferred over significantly greater numbers of much smaller, more specialized warships comes down to the fact that smaller never equates to cheaper under Ottawa’s ponderously slow, multi-layered, and always expensive defence procurement system. So why try to buck the trend?

The CSC Type Frigate, as so far designed, is a very high-end and capable Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) warship with a combined AAW, ASW and ASuW capability. The first batch of CSC frigates will be AAW orientated, able to take on this roll with weapons like SM-2 Block IIIC with possible growth for the SM-3/6 systems, ESSM missile systems , Tomahawk Long Range Cruise Missiles in its MK 41 VLS, along with an improved Naval Surface Missile (NSM) and Close In Air Defence Missile System (CAAMS). The inclusion of the Leonardo 5” 127mm naval gun for Naval Gunfire Support with the ability to strike with guided and Anti-Air munitions is a much better choice for Canada, than the American 5” MK 45 Mod 4 gun to be fitted on the Hunter and City class frigates. LMs SPY 7 V (1) AESA radar along with a new and improved CCMS 330 Combat System, also by LM, will be key components to all of this. You cannot, and should not compare apples to oranges with the Arleigh Burke destroyers and CSC frigates, but IMO in terms of Aegis platforms, the CSC can more than hold its own, and will be the back-bone of the RCN for this century. Yes, Canada is “bucking the trend”, however Canada will have a much more capable navy because of it.
 

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Today's naval trend seems to be bigger is better, just like the good old days of dreadnoughts and battleships. Even the so called Constellation/FFG-X or SSC (Small Surface Combatants) weights in around 7500+ tons (equal that of a Type 052D/DL guided missile destroyer.

Larger ships means more magazines, larger engine and generators especially now that todays navy seems hungry for power generation not only for more powerful radars and electronics, but also to future proof such ships for eventual installation of laser weapons.

Canada's Type 26 are just part of this trend towards heavier, meaner more sophisticated hulls. Australian Hunter class, Britain's City class, Italian DD-X as well as German F127 future frigate are part of with this trend . With maybe the exception of Japan who's now going the opposite with the Mogami class FFG.
 

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Most navy are facing cost issue due to multiple vendors involved and a need to keep the industry alive , as threat are less and conflict aren't natural for them .

So they go for sophisticated machine
 

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I will talk about india here .

We were too backward in naval affairs for a lot of tine and a primary customer for russia .

Things started changing and lot of research project initiated back in 2000's , most faced difficulty and some were like a dead end .

Funding was quite low ,but first the hull indigenization and material indigenization was undertook .

Followed by secondary sensors , satcoms ,some ew elements , then the jv missile brahmos was added . Followed by jv sam barak 8 .

At the same time indigenous project were continued .
.
Currently 7 frigate and 4 destroyer will be delivered in 2021-2025 time frame based on above systems .

Then comes the next phase of naval development , the proper long range mf(multi functional not mofo) radar , air search radar , etc .

Conclusion of above rant...


That all navy should look at jv for a initial program and follow it with indigenous products with experience and tot from best system used in initial programs .

Domestic vendor reduce supply hassles , provide know how , and most importantly you can modify it in its life multiple times without high fee and no involvement of any other government .


For allied forces , another route is reducing costs at places they can , most european stuff are overpriced a bit , instead a objective during development should be cost cutting too
 

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It seems to be because they don't need convoy escort frigates anymore. So they put money into bigger war fighting frigates. Japan has the second best navy in the world, and they already have those big war fighting ships, so they are building 22 convoy escort ships.
 

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It seems to be because they don't need convoy escort frigates anymore. So they put money into bigger war fighting frigates. Japan has the second best navy in the world, and they already have those big war fighting ships, so they are building 22 convoy escort ships.

Actually for escort duties, I think bigger ships makes more sense. Look at the composition of what a US CSG look like and you'll see ships larger than 8000 tons bristling with sensors and weapons. Not only the hull need to be big to carry those, it needs to carry enough fuel as well as supplies. This is the peril of being a blue water navy.

For US allied navy such as Britain RN, they're going to have to be big, consider the next naval showdown in support of the USN will be the Pacific, which is far far away from home waters. For Japan it make sense they're going for smaller, mass produced ships like the Mogami's as they're the first bastion of allied naval power in the first island chain against China. They'll need to spread out those Mogami's hunting PLAN submarines, conduct escort duties. Japan MSDF Mogami's will also likely operate near it's own home waters under the protection of allied air and naval forces as well as friendly SAM and A2/AD bubble across the first island chain. Geography did dictate how navies operate and specified warships for its own need.
 

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Canada is the second largest country in the world in terms of land it occupies. It has oceans in North, West and East. The north is frozen most of the year. So the need of naval platforms are going to be quite different to most other countries. But US and Russia are in the same situation. So there could be some analogies there.
Being part of NATO brings in certain responsibilities. Wide natural resources in and around the country that need to be defended, and off shore duties. need a very strong and a sizeable naval force.
The bigger the ships you have the more capable you are both as a naval fighting force and more proficient in air defence capabilities. But that means more financial burden both initially and and whilst running it.
Do you want in majority littoral waters defence or Blue Water defence? Are you intending to meet your adversaries at their doorstep or do you want to defend your waters close to you if and when your adversaries come to your waters? How much of a deterrence you want to portray with your naval power?
Type 26’s are nearly 150m long 6900-8800 ton class destroyer size frigates. They are ideal for the waters around Canada. They can accept large Chinook size helicopters on it’s deck. It can stay at sea for long periods of time. Very capable and ideal ship for Canada.
The financial aspect is the problem though. Also losing a ship of this caliber would be devastating. So may be cutting the numbers of these platforms and adding more littoral defence frigates could be a choice.
 

RogerRanger

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Canada is the second largest country in the world in terms of land it occupies. It has oceans in North, West and East. The north is frozen most of the year. So the need of naval platforms are going to be quite different to most other countries. But US and Russia are in the same situation. So there could be some analogies there.
Being part of NATO brings in certain responsibilities. Wide natural resources in and around the country that need to be defended, and off shore duties. need a very strong and a sizeable naval force.
The bigger the ships you have the more capable you are both as a naval fighting force and more proficient in air defence capabilities. But that means more financial burden both initially and and whilst running it.
Do you want in majority littoral waters defence or Blue Water defence? Are you intending to meet your adversaries at their doorstep or do you want to defend your waters close to you if and when your adversaries come to your waters? How much of a deterrence you want to portray with your naval power?
Type 26’s are nearly 150m long 6900-8800 ton class destroyer size frigates. They are ideal for the waters around Canada. They can accept large Chinook size helicopters on it’s deck. It can stay at sea for long periods of time. Very capable and ideal ship for Canada.
The financial aspect is the problem though. Also losing a ship of this caliber would be devastating. So may be cutting the numbers of these platforms and adding more littoral defence frigates could be a choice.
Fascinating comment. When I put down an 'ideal' Canadian navy, I thought about a Littoral frigate, to support the operations of the blue water frigates. I don't think the Canadians have the money, but it would be a solution for them, to bridge the cap between the blue water and patrol ships. This is the same problem as Britain has, we have no brown water or littoral capable ships. Nothing. So we can't defend Britain at all at the moment. And we are right next to France/Belgium/Holland/Germany/Denmark/Norway/Spain. All of which have invaded Britain or tried to invade or pulled us into a war in Europe twice.
 

Lonewolf

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Fascinating comment. When I put down an 'ideal' Canadian navy, I thought about a Littoral frigate, to support the operations of the blue water frigates. I don't think the Canadians have the money, but it would be a solution for them, to bridge the cap between the blue water and patrol ships. This is the same problem as Britain has, we have no brown water or littoral capable ships. Nothing. So we can't defend Britain at all at the moment. And we are right next to France/Belgium/Holland/Germany/Denmark/Norway/Spain. All of which have invaded Britain or tried to invade or pulled us into a war in Europe twice.
Littoral water submarine is your answer , better than frigates for tge purpose , ships won't come close enough
 

Nilgiri

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Today's naval trend seems to be bigger is better, just like the good old days of dreadnoughts and battleships. Even the so called Constellation/FFG-X or SSC (Small Surface Combatants) weights in around 7500+ tons (equal that of a Type 052D/DL guided missile destroyer.

Larger ships means more magazines, larger engine and generators especially now that todays navy seems hungry for power generation not only for more powerful radars and electronics, but also to future proof such ships for eventual installation of laser weapons.

Canada's Type 26 are just part of this trend towards heavier, meaner more sophisticated hulls. Australian Hunter class, Britain's City class, Italian DD-X as well as German F127 future frigate are part of with this trend . With maybe the exception of Japan who's now going the opposite with the Mogami class FFG.

Probably more power concentration into such assets is way to go and balance it (numberwise) with more dispersal in UUV domain increasingly available there.
 
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