ASW and surface warfare technology upgrades move to fleet

U.S. Navy shipboard electronics programs move forward on a variety of fronts, amid budget cuts and transitions that emphasize shallow-water littoral operations and unmanned marine vehicles.

BY Edward J. Walsh

Amid continuing budget turmoil and despite the impact of the 2013 budget sequestration, the U.S. Navy has continued to develop and field new capabilities for surface and anti-submarine warfare (ASW), mine countermeasures (MCM), and ballistic missile defense. New surface combatants, attack submarines, amphibious ships, and joint high-speed vessels (JHSVs) moved past key milestones.

Systems development and engineering for littoral combat ships (LCS), Arleigh Burke-class (DDG 51) destroyers, Ticonderoga-class (CG 47) cruisers, and other ships are stressing insertion of new processing and networking technologies for integration of weapons, sensors, and command-and-control systems.

Severe funding constraints led to widespread program slowdowns. A U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) report last June revealed that the sequester cut fiscal year 2013 and unobligated prior-year funding for Navy shipbuilding by some $1.7 billion.

Despite the tough funding climate, the Navy pursued upgrades to ASW systems for surface ships and submarines, addressing the expansion of naval capability among potential adversaries, such as China. In October of last year, as the Chinese People's Liberation Army's navy conducted two weeks of war games in the Pacific, Chinese media cited "awesome" progress by the Chinese navy in strengthening its strategic submarine force, reported to be the world's second-largest.

In a November report, Reuters noted that "for the first time in centuries, China is building a navy that can break out of its confined coastal waters to protect distant sea lanes and counter regional rivals." The report continued that the standoff between China and Japan over control of a group of small islands, called Senkakus in Japan and Diaoyu in China, "has given China an opportunity to flex its new maritime muscle." The U.S. Naval Institute reported in November 2012 that the PLA navy and the Chinese Maritime Surveillance agency, or CMS, expect to operate more than 700 ships by 2020.

Upgrades for ASW were a major Navy priority in 2013. In a significant surface warfare milestone, the littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) returned in late December from a nearly 10-month deployment to the Western Pacific, deemed a "huge success" by the ship's commander. However, Freedom also sailed without its full complement of weapon and sensor packages being configured for surface, anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and mine countermeasures (MCM) operations. The mission modules, being built, integrated, and tested separately from the ship, have been criticized widely.

Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyers all are going through an extensive modernization that will add new combat system hardware and software for ballistic missile defense and wide-area anti-air warfare. Shown here: Donald Cook (DDG 75) underway in the Mediterranean.
Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyers all are going through an extensive modernization that will add new combat system hardware and software for ballistic missile defense and wide-area anti-air warfare. Shown here: Donald Cook (DDG 75) underway in the Mediterranean.

Capt. John Ailes, the Navy's LCS mission module integration program manager, says that a mission package consists of the weapon and sensor module for each of the three warfare areas, when integrated with a helicopter asset-the MH-60R for surface and ASW, the MH-60S for MCM, and the personnel-the mission package detachment and the aviation detachment.


The Navy faces the challenge of inadequate funding for construction of the ships (surface and submarines) that top commanders say they believe the Navy will need in the future. Congressional Research Service analyst Ronald O'Rourke, in a November 2013 study, says "the Navy's FY 2014 30-year (FY 2014-FY 2043) shipbuilding plan…does not include enough ships to fully support all elements of the Navy's 306-ship goal over the long run." The Navy now has about 280 ships.

Zumwalt ( DDG 1000), shown here after launch at Bath Iron Works, Bath, Me., is the first of a three-ship class of new destroyers introduces integrated electric drive and long-range land-attack capabilities.
Zumwalt ( DDG 1000), shown here after launch at Bath Iron Works, Bath, Me., is the first of a three-ship class of new destroyers introduces integrated electric drive and long-range land-attack capabilities.

The Navy, O'Rourke says, "projects that the fleet would remain below 306 ships during most of the 30-year period and experience shortfalls at various points in cruisers-destroyers, attack submarines, and amphibious ships." He points out that the Congressional Budget Office, in its report of October 2013 on the shipbuilding plan, estimates that the plan would cost an average of $19.3 billion per year, or about 15 percent more than the Navy estimates.

In the LCS shipbuilding strategy, one industry team, led by Mariette Marine and Lockheed Martin MS3, is building the Freedom variant, based on a conventional surface combatant design with a steel hull. A second team, of Austal USA and General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, builds the Independence (LCS 2) variant based on a three-hull "trimarin" design with an aluminum hull.

Littoral combat ship Freedom (LCS 1) the first LCS in the fleet, here underway near Pearl Harbor following her western Pacific deployment last year, represents the conventional hull LCS variant.
Littoral combat ship Freedom (LCS 1) the first LCS in the fleet, here underway near Pearl Harbor following her western Pacific deployment last year, represents the "conventional" hull LCS variant.

The Navy hopes to build a total of 52 LCS vessels. The Navy in late September accepted delivery of Coronado (LCS 4), aiming at commissioning in April. In December, Milwaukee (LCS 5) and Jackson (LCS 6) were launched at the Marinette Marine and Austal USA shipyards, respectively. The two teams are building or are under contract for ten more LCSs.

In a major step for the surface Navy, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in late October launched the guided missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) at its Bath, Maine, shipyard. It is the first of a three-ship class of next-generation destroyers armed for long-range land attack and fire support for Marine Corps and Army infantry units ashore.

Zumwalt, planned for delivery late this year, is 600 feet long and displaces 14,500 tons. The two following ships, Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) and Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002), are being built at Bath with Monsoor scheduled for delivery in 2016 and Johnson in 2018. Zumwalt and Monsoor both are built with composite deckhouses fabricated by Huntington Ingalls Industries in Gulfport, Miss., and shipped to the Bath yard. Composite structures are lighter than steel and present a lower radar signature, but are more expensive.

In August, however, the Navy awarded Bath a contract worth $212 million to build a steel deckhouse for Johnson after failing to reach agreement with Huntington over the cost of a composite deckhouse for the ship; officials of the Naval Sea Systems Command say the program office had identified weight savings in the design to compensate for the weight of the steel deckhouse.

The Independence class LCS variant is on a trimarin hull. Shown here: the second trimarin, Coronado (LCS 4) underway after completing acceptance testing last fall.
The Independence class LCS variant is on a trimarin hull. Shown here: the second trimarin, Coronado (LCS 4) underway after completing acceptance testing last fall.

The Navy's attack submarine force achieved several milestones, including the christening, in early November, of the Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS North Dakota (SSN 784) at the General Dynamics Groton, Conn., Electric Boat shipyard. The boat is the eleventh Virginia-class submarine. The North Dakota, planned for delivery this year, is the first built with a bow redesigned to accommodate two large Virginia-class payload tubes capable of launching Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles and unmanned undersea vehicles. The tubes replace the configuration of 12 torpedo tubes of the first 10 boats of the class.

The christening follows commissioning of Minnesota (SSN 783), tenth of the class, in September. Electric Boat has started work on John Warner (SSN 785), South Dakota (SSN 790), and Delaware (SSN 791) - the last of the Virginia Block III contract.

In a major surface warfare step, the Navy in June awarded a multiyear contract for construction of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, one for four ships with an option for a fifth, to General Dynamics Bath, and a second contract to Huntington Ingalls for five ships. One of the Bath ships is funded in 2013; the others are funded, one per year, from 2015 through 2017. The Huntington Ingalls ships are funded, one each year, from 2013 through 2017. The awards include options for engineering change proposals, design requirements, and post-delivery availabilities that could bring the Bath award to more than $3.5 billion and the Huntington award to nearly $3.4 billion.

The ships contracted are the Burke Flight IIA configuration, which started with DDG 79. The Navy plans to award a contract for a Flight III configuration in 2016, following a final decision on the Flight III design. The Navy originally intended to complete the Burke class with DDG 112, at 62 ships, but in 2008 restarted the program when it ended the Zumwalt program at three ships.

The San Antonio (LPD 17) class of 11 amphibious ships will replace four classes of 41 older amphibs. Shown here New York (LPD 21) arriving in New York harbor.
The San Antonio (LPD 17) class of 11 amphibious ships will replace four classes of 41 older amphibs. Shown here New York (LPD 21) arriving in New York harbor.

In June 2011, the Navy awarded the first restart contract to Hunting- ton for DDG 113 and in September awarded a contract for DDG 114 and another to Bath for DDG 115 with an option for DDG 116. In November, Huntington Ingalls laid the keel for John Finn (DDG 113). DDGs 114 through 116 also are being built.

In October, the Navy took delivery of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Somerset (LPD 25), the ninth of the planned 11-ship class amphibious assault ships being built by Huntington Ingalls. The San Antonios will replace 41 older amphibs of four ship classes. The ship completed acceptance trials in September.

In November, the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) completed builder's trials, aiming at delivery by Huntington Ingalls this year. The ship is the first of the LHA class that will replace the Tarawa- class LHAs, the last of which, Pelelieu (LHA 5), will be taken out of service when America is delivered. Huntington also is building Tripoli (LHA 7), scheduled for commissioning in 2018.

LCS shipbuilder Austal USA is under contract to build 10 joint high-speed vessels, for rapid transit of personnel, vehicles, and materiel from amphibious ships to shore. The first ship, Spearhead (JHSV 1), in September completed initial operational test and evaluation, conducted over several months since delivery to the Navy in December 2012.

The JHSVs, displacing 2,500 tons, will be capable of hauling 600 tons of cargo and personnel at speeds of 35 to 40 knots, with a range of 1,200 miles. The JHSV construction, based on a design of a commercial ferry, required no development of military-unique systems or technologies.

In May of last year, the company delivered Choctaw County (JHSV 2) to the Navy, following acceptance trials in the Gulf of Mexico and, in June, launched Millinocket (JHSV 3) and lay the keel for Fall River (JHSV 4).

Anti-submarine warfare

The LCS ASW mission package-the last of the three mission packages to be fielded-will consist of t he TB-37 multi-function towed array (MFTA) and an active emitting variable-depth sonar (VDS). The MFTA is part of the SQQ-89(v)15 undersea warfare system installed aboard the Burkes and Ticonderogas.

Capt. Ailes explains that as the submarines of potential enemies have become quieter, they become more difficult to detect in deep water because of the acoustic layer that inhibits the penetration of active sonar signals. The LCS will deploy the VDS and the MFTA below the acoustic layer, where the VDS signal that will reflect off the submarine hull for detection by the MFTA.

The concept, Ailes says, is based on introduction of innovative software developed by the Lockheed Martin Corp. Mission Systems and Training (MS2) segment in Syracuse, N.Y., for the SQQ-89(v)15 and designated "advanced capability build 13,"

The ACB 13 program enables the integrated MFTA-VDS system to operate effectively through the noise clutter of shallow littoral waters, and at higher ship speeds than possible with earlier versions. An advanced development model, using a VDS developed by Thales, already has been tested. The program is still evaluating other VDS options.

The ASW package also will include a lightweight torpedo acoustic countermeasure, or TACM, towed behind the ship, that will emit high-powered signals to distort the homing sensor of an approaching torpedo. The MFTA-VDS system is scheduled to go through at-sea testing aboard Freedom in late 2014.

The PEO for Littoral Combat Ships is evaluating a persistent littoral undersea surveillance (PLUS) system consisting of five sea gliders developed by the University of Washington and six Remus long-endurance unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). While not part of the LCS ASW package, PLUS could be considered for future deployment for surface combatants.

The UUVs, fitted with sensors, submerge to collect environmental data that could reveal the presence of submarines. The data is transmitted to the smaller sea gliders, which rise to the surface to transmit the data to collection points ashore. The Naval Undersea Warfare Center tested the system in late September; testing will continue until early 2015, when the Navy will decide whether to test the system with the fleet.

The Navy moved ahead with other ASW systems, including work with Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems on improvements for the AQS-22 airborne low-frequency sonar (ALFS), which operates from the MH-60R helicopter from Burke DDGs, Ticonderoga CGs, Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, and aircraft carriers.

The effort will upgrade the sonar transmitter-receiver and introduce advanced beamforming and waveform-generation capabilities for the in-water sensor.

Lockheed Martin developed the ALFS processing system, which is integrated with the Mk 54 lightweight ASW torpedo, enabling the helicopter to detect and attack submarines independent of other ships and aircraft. The Navy exercised an option to a contract award to Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training for definitization of FY 2013 production requirements and FY 2013 production of the SQQ-89(v)15, and awarded a new contract for production of the TB-37 MFTA.

The MH-60S Seahawk variant, deploying multiple S mine countermeasures systems, will serve as the aviation component of the LCS anti-mine mission package, while the R variant supports the surface and ASW mission packages.
The MH-60S Seahawk variant, deploying multiple S mine countermeasures systems, will serve as the aviation component of the LCS anti-mine mission package, while the "R" variant supports the surface and ASW mission packages.

The company also won contracts for development and production of the newest generation of the submarine acoustic rapid commercial off-the-shelf insertion (A-RCI) for 12 submarines. The A-RCI is the Navy's approach to streamlining the fielding of new processing technologies for submarine acoustic systems.

In June, Naval Air Systems Command awarded a production contract to ERAPSCO, a joint venture of Sparton and Ultra Electronics, for production of 9,400 passive SSQ-53F sonobuoys for detecting submarines. The sonobuoys detect and classify submarines, and gather environmental data on water conditions for analysis of sonar propagation and projections of acoustic range.

Surface Warfare

The Navy improved surface fleet capabilities through numerous technology insertion and systems engineering programs. A major long-term modernization initiative for the 62 Burkes now in the fleet will be extended to new-build ships. Navy officials hoped in their FY 2013 budget proposal to decommission seven of 22 Ticonderoga-class cruisers. Congress rejected that plan and provided additional money to retain the ships.

The Navy tried again in its FY 2014 budget; again Congress provided money to keep the ships. The Navy points out, though, that the major cost in keeping the ships is the cost of personnel they require. Those 22 ships represent cruiser baseline 2 through 4. The baseline 2 ships (CGs 52-58) have been upgraded with a new Aegis combat system program called ACB-08 that provides improved anti-air warfare capability. Baseline 3 and 4 cruisers (CG 59 through 73) and all the Burke destroyers are getting new a baseline 9 combat system program, baseline 9A for the cruisers, and 9C for the DDGs now in the fleet.

BAE Systems will carry out the modernizations under a multi-year, multi-option Navy contract, for the work, at its San Diego, Norfolk, and Mayport, Fla., yards. Aegis prime contractor Lockheed Martin MS2 officials say baseline 9 decisively enhances the ships' ability to provide integrated air and missile defense or IAMD by "dynamically balancing" radar resources, using a new multi-mission signal processor.

The MMSP and baseline 9 support the Naval integrated fire control-counter-air (NIF-CA), which gives the ship the capability to engage a target it does not detect with its own sensors, by capturing data through the Raytheon-built Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) from remote airborne sensors such as the E 6D surveillance aircraft and the Army's joint land attack cruise missile defense elevated netted sensor system.

The offboard sensor data flows through CEC, which is integrated with the Aegis. The combat system generates targeting data to the SM 6 air defense missile. The Navy and Lockheed Martin conducted a live-fire test with NIF CA last August aboard Chancellorsville (CG 58), the first cruiser to go through the modernization. The Burke-class John Paul Jones destroyer (DDG 53) also has completed its upgrade and is replacing Lake Erie (CG 70) in Hawaii as the cruiser goes through its modernization in San Diego. However, in mid-November a BQM-74 target drone, about 12 feet long, struck the central computer space of the Chancellorsville deckhouse while the ship was underway off San Diego conducting her combat system ship qualification trials. The repairs will cost about $30 million and take about six months.

The CG and DDG modernization adds the evolved Seasparrow air-defense missile and new block 1B of the Phalanx terminal defense gun. A newer iteration will bring in the SPQ-9B search radar and surface electronic warfare improvement program or SEWIP (block 2). The new-build destroyers, beginning with DDG 113, get the IAMD capability through a baseline 9D. Baseline 9E supports two Aegis Ashore systems, one to deploy in Rumania in 2015 and the second to Poland in 2018.

In a headline-making development for surface combatants, after a closely watched competition the Navy in October awarded Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems a contract worth $385.7 million for engineering and modeling development and design, development, integration and delivery of an integrated air and missile defense radar (AMDR), planned for the Flight III Burke-class destroyer program, scheduled to start in FY 2016.

The AMDR will be the foundation for IAMD capability for the Flight III ships into the long term future, replacing the Aegis SPY-1D(v). Raytheon partner General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems will develop the AMDR digital receiver and exciter. Other team members are Anaren, responsible for beamforming technology, and CGR Technologies, TTM Technologies, and Major Tool & Machine.

The AMDR integrates S-band and X-band radars and a radar suite controller for multi-dimensional target detection and tracking. The S-band system conducts wide-area search, tracking, ballistic missile detection, and communication with the ship combat system. The X-band performs horizon search, precision tracking, discrimination, communications, and terminal target illumination.

Kevin Peppe, Raytheon's vice president for Seapower Capability Systems said that "some may be surprised" at the Raytheon AMDR win. Raytheon, as systems integrator for the Zumwalt class, integrates the Raytheon S-band and a Lockheed Martin X-band system as the dual-band radar for those ships. Raytheon also long has built the SPY-1D(v) transmitter and the Aegis Mk 99 fire control system.

Raytheon officials say the critical component of the company's AMDR design is the use of gallium nitride for monolithic microwave integrated circuits for the AMDR transmit-receive modules. The gallium nitride, they say, permits significant reductions in module size and weight.

In late October Lockheed Martin, which has built the Aegis system and acted as combat system integrator for decades, filed a protest of the award with the General Accounting Office. On January 10 the company suddenly withdrew the protest, "for the good of the Navy."

Even while it won't lead the AMDR work, Lockheed Martin still will play a major role in building and integrating ship combat systems. In March 2013 won a $100.7 million award to act as Aegis combat system engineering agent, for which Raytheon also competed, and then, in late December a $574 million contract for Aegis work for seven new-build Burke DDGs, with an option for Poland's Aegis Ashore system. The cruiser-destroyer modernization and Aegis Ashore programs also make Lockheed Martin a key player in development and fielding of sea-based ballistic missile defense.

In early December, Raytheon won a $75 million contract to build hardware and electronics for Zumwalt and Michael Monsoor (DDGs 1000 and 1001). The work includes the towed-array sonar, canister components for the Mk 57 vertical launch system, and procurement for electronic elements for Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002).

Zumwalt is fitted out with 20 MK 57 vertical launch modules, each housing four cells capable of launching Tomahawk cruise missiles for long-range land attack. The class also introduces an advanced gun system capable of firing 155-millimeter GPS-guided long-range land-attack projectiles (LRLAPs) to ranges in the vicinity of 80 nautical miles.

Shipboard power

In mid-2013 the Navy's Electric Ship Office released a "Naval Power Systems Technology Development Roadmap," a long-term strategy for continuing the shift to an all-electric fleet over the 30-year shipbuilding plan. The roadmap examined potential opportunities for new technologies in near-term (five-ten years), mid-term (10-20 years), and long-term (20-30 years). In the next 10 years, the roadmap calls for development of an "energy magazine" to support advanced weapons and sensors; energy recovery capability; prototypes of a ship power-management controller, and advanced medium-voltage DC technologies as an alternative to AC power, among others.

Mid-term planning aims at a future destroyer (DDX) in 2031; a new LCX follow-on to the current LCS program in 2030; and a big-deck amphibious ship in 2024. Arctic operations and ship fitted with mission modules, and low observability are seen as major drivers.

The far-term projects introduction of new directed-energy weapons and higher-power sensors that will require huge increases in power. The roadmap explains that developments in industry will serve as benchmarks for exploration of many power technology directions, for example, controls, distribution systems, energy storage, electrical rotating machines, power converters, and prime movers.

In the near-term, the Navy has established the goal of cutting fleet fuel consumption by 15 percent by 2020, although it has not set a baseline from which to calculate reductions.

Despite long-term interest in integrated electric power systems, most Navy surface combatants use gas turbine or diesel engines as prime movers to generate propulsion power. Power is managed by conventional switches, converters, and distribution systems. Ship systems, are supported by a separate power architecture.

The move to integrated electric drive is well underway. The Wasp-class amphib Makin Island (LHD 8), commissioned in 2009, is powered by hybrid diesel-electric power system of two General Electric LM2500+ gas turbine engines for high speeds and two electric motors powered by six diesel generators for lower speeds, roughly 12 knots and below, and introduces a zonal power distribution system.

The America (LHAR) class will get the same system. The Zumwalt class is powered by an integrated power system consisting of two electric motors powered by two 34-megawatt advanced induction motors built by GE Power Conversion; the restarted Burkes also will be powered by a hybrid system.

Research on power systems continues. In September 2013, the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division's Ship Systems Engineering Station tested a prototype 6,600-volt, 14 megawatt high speed generator-the most powerful high-speed generator ever built, officials say. The high-speed generator test program started in 2013 aimed at developing the power system for the now-canceled CG(X) program. The work now focuses on evaluating potential for high-speed generators for future ships.

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) in Arlington, Va., is working with an Electric Ship Research and Development Consortium (ESRDC) to developing an "electric ship" power generation architecture for future weapon and sensors, propulsion, and ship services. A first step is demonstration of a prototype solid-state power conversion module that incorporates semiconductors fabricated from silicon carbide which, because of higher energy density, can operate at higher voltages and frequencies than silicon. The prototype is being evaluated at the Center for Advanced Power Systems at Florida State University, one of the eight ESRDC members (others are MIT, University of Texas, University of South Carolina, Mississippi State, Purdue, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the Naval Postgraduate School).

"The only way we're going to get to the future [for shipboard power] is to start over with an entirely new architecture," says Sharon Beermann-Curtain, the ONR program officer, adding that such an architecture is needed to support future sensors and weapons such as lasers and railguns.

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