An interesting ship model was unveiled April 8 by Huntington Ingalls Industries at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space gathering outside Washington: a ship intended primarily for the ballistic missile defense mission.
Using the basic LPD 17 hull designed for the U.S. Navy’s San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ships — all of which are built by HII — the BMD ship incorporates an Aegis-type phased array radar atop the superstructure. The aft deck, devoid of much of the topside structure of the LPD 17, is ringed by 18 16-cell vertical launch system launchers, for a total of 288 missile cells. Like the existing Mark 41 and Mark 57 VLS launchers in the fleet, the ship’s VLS would presumably be able to launch a variety of weapons, including SM-2, SM-3 and SM-6 Standard missiles, Tomahawk cruise missiles, and other weapons.
Forward on the ship, HII placed a fairly large rail gun mount, a system now under development by the Navy. The model features 57mm guns in mounts similar to those on the Littoral Combat Ships and Coast Guard National Security Cutters, but not the Mk 46 30mm mounts fitted to LPD 17s.
On April 9, HII released a video to show off the new ship:
The seagoing BMD mission currently is filled by cruisers and destroyers carrying the Aegis combat system. Beyond the BMD role, the multi-mission warships can carry out a variety of roles including air warfare defense, anti-submarine warfare and surface combat, and some analysts see the BMD mission as unfairly restricting the ships’ operational abilities.
The idea of a dedicated BMD ship has been around for several years, but this is the first time a concept design has been displayed. HII provided few details with the model other than the following characteristics:
“Design margins provide flexibility for ballistic missile defense missions with the capacity for powerful radars, mission magazines, and command and control systems.
PRIMARY SYSTEMS OPTIONAL SYSTEMS
> 21′ S-Band Radar Below Flight Deck Hangar
X-Band Radar High Energy Weapons
Vertical Launch System (VLS) – Laser
– Mk 41 and/or Mk 57 – Rail Guns
Increased Power and Cooling
The model shows an MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft on an aft elevator being lowered into a hangar.
The concept does not feature a well deck, and the aft engine uptakes are arranged on the centerline, restricting interior space in the forward hangar or mission bay.
HII representatives said a variety of propulsion and power plants could be fitted in the ship.
The LPD 17-class ships have an overall length of 684 feet, with a beam of 105 feet, providing a very large capacity for a dedicated BMD ship.
Last year, HII unveiled another stripped-down version of the LPD, dubbed LPD Flight II, offering a lower-cost alternative to the LPD 17s, which cost about $1.7 billion each. The Flight II design could be a contender for the future LSD(X) project, intended to provide replacements for today’s LSD 41 Whidbey Island-class landing ship docks. A Flight II model also is on display at Sea-Air-Space.
HII also unveiled their design for the U.S. Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC), a 25-ship class that is the largest U.S. shipbuilding project up for grabs. At least eight shipbuilder and design teams are vying for the OPC. More on this later.
And this is here just because I like it. The U.S. Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command’s speaker booth is next to HII’s displays, and the NAVSEA folks came up with this clever billboard for the first major deployment of the Littoral Combat Ship USS FREEDOM (LCS 1). The “stars” shown on the poster are the ship’s commanding officers and other Navy officials in the chain of command. FREEDOM, which arrived in Manila, Philippines on April 9, is on the front end of a planned ten-month deployment to operate out of Singapore.
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