By Geoff Fein
While there is agreement among industry and Navy officials that the most prudent path forward for CG(X) is a mod repeat of the DDG-1000 hull, a question has surfaced as to whether the tumblehome hull form could support the most capable radar being discussed for the next-generation cruiser.
In a July 2 letter to Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), John Young, the Pentagon’s acquisition chief, acknowledges the DDG-1000 hull form could not support certain radars being considered for CG(X).
"I agree that the Navy’s preliminary design analysis for the next generation cruiser indicates that, for the most capable radar suites under consideration, the DDG-1000 hull cannot support the radar," Young stated.
However, Young added, that it is his "understanding that engineering analysis shows that the existing DDG-1000 hull design can support significantly more capable radar suites than the existing DDG-51 hull design."
Because the Navy is currently engaged in determining the best approach for CG(X) and is trying to finalize the analysis of alternatives, what specific radar Young is describing is unknown.
CG(X)’s prime mission will be for missile defense, which will require a highly capable radar system to track ballistic missile threats. However, it is also likely CG(X) will be required to be capable of air warfare, undersea warfare, surface warfare, and long-range strike, similar to how the current guided missile cruiser fleet is employed.
Young’s comments in his letter to Taylor also appear to call into question an internal study done earlier this year by Northrop Grumman [NOC] that showed a mod repeat for CG(X) is the best approach for the Navy.
That study looked at three hull forms for the cruiser: DDG-51, LPD-17 and DDG-1000.
DDG-1000 has been designed in every aspect to be modified into an AAW (anti-aircraft warfare ship) Northrop Grumman said (Defense Daily, Jan. 15).
Young’s letter was in response to a letter Taylor, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower and expeditionary forces subcommittee, sent to him in June raising concerns that DDG-1000 has the potential to bankrupt all other Navy shipbuilding efforts and could cripple the service’s shipbuilding plan (Defense Daily, June 9).
Taylor’s letter followed Young’s appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee where Young questioned numbers contained in a May 7 letter sent from Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead to Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Mel Martinez (R-Fla.).
Young questioned the accuracy of Roughead’s letter, which stated life-cycle costs of the new DDG-1000 destroyer and older DDG-51 destroyer are similar while the procurement cost of a DDG-51 is "significantly less." (Defense Daily, June 5).
Roughead’s letter was seen on Capitol Hill as bolstering the stance of lawmakers who want to re-start production of the DDG-51s and stop the Navy’s plans to continue purchasing the nascent DDG-1000s.
Young said he had "a number of concerns with the letter [to Kennedy] that was provided to the CNO for his signature," saying the "letter’s numbers are based on key assumptions and are incorrect in some cases."
Young added that while it is not possible to quickly estimate the production cost of a redesigned DDG-51 alternative, "I suspect that given the dense and complex nature of the DDG-51 hull, as compared to that of the DDG-1000 hull, the cost of a redesigned DDG-51 very likely will be equal to or greater than that of a DDG-1000."
Lawmakers are divided over whether the DDG-1000 program should move beyond two ships or whether the Navy should restart the DDG-51 program.
In February the Navy awarded General Dynamics [GD] and Northrop Grumman contracts to build the first two ships of the Zumwalt-class of combat ships. (Defense Daily, Feb. 15).
Since then, some House members have examined ways to take funding for the third ship and use it to buy additional T-AKE supply ships, or whether to abandon additional DDG-1000s for more DDG-51s.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has steadfastly maintained their opposition to doing anything that would take funding away from DDG-1000.
Young has been a strong advocate for DDG-1000, and his letter pointed out concerns that restarting the DDG-51 program would pose risk to the Navy’s shipbuilding budget.
For example, Young noted that production hours for one DDG-1000 are about 2.5 times that of one DDG-51 restart ship.
"This validates DoD’s experience that two to three DDG 51 destroyers need to be purchased annually to sustain the production workload base for two surface combatant shipyards," he said in his letter. "That number of DDG-51 ships costs more per year than one DDG-1000 follow [on] ship. The cost per year for modified DDG-51 ships would be even higher."
Additionally, Young pointed out that vendor base issues, configuration change issues, equipment obsolescence and re-start of production lines would need to be resolved to award and construct additional DDG-51s.
The cost of building DDG-1000 would increase if the program is limited to two instead of seven ships, he added. And there will be cost associated with shutting down the program if it is limited to just two DDG-1000s.
Young added that the research, development, test and evaluation efforts for the DDG-1000 program, "must continue in order to deliver two complete lead ships and to support the Dual Band Radar for the CVN-21 program."
In a June 6 letter to Young, Taylor said he is concerned that "to my knowledge, there is no Joint Requirements Oversight Council or Marine Corps requirement for fire support that can only be provided by the DDG-1000."
Young said the Joint Requirements Oversight Council validated the Operational Requirements Document (ORD) for the DDG-1000 program. "The ORD includes a requirement to provide precise and sustained naval fires at extended ranges. The DDG-1000 with its Advanced Gun System firing the Long Range Land Attack Projectile is the only ship that can achieve that validated requirement."
BAE Systems makes the Advanced Gun System. Lockheed Martin [LMT] makes the Long Range Land Attack Projectile.
Young also said the DDG-1000 program is positioned for better execution than either the DDG-51, LPD-17 or Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) efforts, where the level of concurrent design, development and construction were critical flaws that led to significant cost increases on the lead ships.
DDG-1000 is further along in design than any previous surface combatant at the time of contract award, easing fears that with slightly more than half of the design complete, construction costs could increase (Defense Daily, Feb. 20).
Detail design for the Navy’s next generation surface combatant is 55 percent complete, and according to the Navy is on schedule to be 85 percent complete before the start of fabrication next month.