Drop “Littoral Combat” – The 17 American ships of the Independence class are surveillance frigates
Throughout the debate over the concept of the battered and widely derided “littoral combat ship”, the Independence The littoral class combat ship has been both misnamed and constantly misunderstood. the Independence The class trimaran is best described as a surveillance frigate capable of bolstering America’s cunning at sea.
As the old-fashioned naval warfare planners of the American cruiser / destroyer community bonded to make the aluminum trimaran a conventional “trade-with-the-enemy” surface fighter, electronic lethality and potential intelligence gathering of these and fast ships have been systematically overlooked.
Well equipped, a Independence The class surveillance frigate can serve as an electromagnetic warfare threat, collecting everything from tactical targeting data to strategically relevant emissions. Optionally add a Marine Corps Reconnaissance element, and things could get interesting.
The Navy’s current rush to add ship-killer naval strike missiles to the littoral combatant fleet may offer a boost to conventional lethality, but nowadays surveillance data and “lethality.” more subtle and sophisticated electronic attack capabilities are no joke. .
Even though the new missiles aboard a Independence The class ship will probably never be used more than once, the grizzled set of old Aegis-loving American surface warriors adore the combat boost. But once every ship gets a few low-cost spectrum tweaks, combat commanders around the world will demand constant access to the Independence Classroom intelligence gathering skills.
Make a few simple changes:
The main “littoral combat” missions of mine and submarine warfare are basically exercises to deploy sensors and collect information, so why not expand the mission and collect protected intelligence? and electromagnetic warfare the true future of Independence Classify?
The additional combat capabilities of the aluminum trimaran require better targeting capabilities on the horizon anyway. By tinkering on the long-range naval strike missile, the range of over 100 nautical miles of the Independence The new weapon in the class extends beyond the reach of the ship’s original sensor suite.
So, with that in mind, a first step in stimulating the Independence Class lethality in the electromagnetic spectrum may well be to replace the ship’s existing Sea Giraffe radar with the evolving corporate aerial surveillance radar from Raytheon Technologies. This swap extends the range of the ship’s sensors, better supporting the new anti-ship missiles. But the new Raytheon radar also offers additional capabilities and, with the small Raytheon radar already planned to embark on the new Constellation Class frigate, purchasing a few more sets now will help accelerate the development of radar training infrastructure, foster platform community, and reduce the unit cost of the “old-fashioned” multi-mission frigate already expensive.
Add cooperative engagement capability, high bandwidth data links and secure organic command and control facility on board, an update Independence The spy ship can pump data from a diverse range of sensors into multi-agency data websites for analysis, targeting or action.
The requirement exists. Independence surveillance frigates are already doing good service in the southern oceans, supporting Coast Guard drug operations. But a modification Independence The surveillance frigate can do a better job of maintaining a sprawling, persistent sensor network, potentially carrying redeployable underwater sensors, a set of unmanned Coast Guard Boeing ScanEagles, or a set of high-endurance surveillance drones. from another agency.
With a few other electronic tweaks, these next-generation greyhounds can easily provide targeting data to US Coast Guard interdictors or other friendly law enforcement means. Benefiting from plenty of space and speed, the Independence The surveillance frigate can help manage the regional data collection network while circulating within the Coast Guard Interdiction Fleet, transferring detainees, or managing other ancillary things that reduce efficiency and “Time on duty” of existing Coast Guard drug patrols.
Further offshore, when a swarm of militarized fishing boats from China descends into friendly waters, a Independence The class surveillance frigate can deploy and operate with sensors capable of tracking the widely dispersed fleet in fine detail, allowing friendly countries to identify, detain or even sink blatant thugs. Equipped with both traditional weapons and electronic attack capabilities, a Independence The class surveillance frigate has the potential to deactivate and detain individual ships, or take less immediately noticeable action to degrade the range or effectiveness of China’s militarized horde of fishing vessels as it sweeps , in the manner of Genghis Khan, the mainland ports of China.
The lessons learned from these law enforcement operations can then be transferred to the Mediterranean, the Western Pacific, and the more “sporting” hot spots off Taiwan and a few other democratic island nations that China is in the process of developing. destabilize.
There is a lot of work to be done.
Rather than despair of how the Independence The class is not a conventional frigate and then marginalize it, the Navy must let the trimaran surveillance frigate play in the battlespace of distributed maritime operations. In contested waters, even large multi-carrier battle groups will appreciate any additional security that the electronic trimaran’s lingering surveillance bubble could offer.
TS Kuhn would approve:
Of course, all of this may never happen. The former Aegis Mafia are a smug group, too focused on defending battlegroups, and they gleefully urge America to spend destroyer Aegis’ money on getting a conventional frigate. Former Aegis destroyer captain Carlos Del Toro awaits confirmation to become the next Secretary of the Navy.
Although good fighters, their vision is often too narrow. At the height of their service, the former mafia Aegis looked down upon their less capable rivals, poking fun at the Soviet Union’s rusty auxiliary ships, general intelligence ships, intelligence-oriented “AGI” trawlers. They laughed at the weakly armed France Floreal Class Surveillance Frigate and rejected critical contributions to the Falklands War by the ice patrol ship HMS Endurance. They generally view minor programs and missions with disgust, neglecting the jagged handful of WWII destroyer escorts that were lucky enough to be converted to high-speed transports or APDs.
But these are precisely the types of ships that can shape the future of the 17 Independence Class ships that will remain in the fleet after the first two experimental Independence Class ships, the USS Independence (LCS-2) and USS Coronado (LCS-4) are taken out of service.
As a “Littoral Combat Vessel”, the Independence The class will be fine, benefiting from the Navy’s current emphasis on reliability, methodically solving mundane issues on certain parts. But, to really function, ships need a surveillance-focused restart, as well as the right resources so that creative and astute users can show the hidden rulers and downpours of the US fleet of cruisers / destroyers that the U.S. ships without vertical missile launch systems can actually fight at sea too.