By Emelie Rutherford
The Pentagon’s outgoing purchasing czar said analysis of the Navy’s future cruiser should begin "right away," and maintained the service’s previous plan to base the ship on the DDG-1000 destroyer’s hull should not be dismissed.
Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics John Young told reporters at the Pentagon last Friday he has been "misportrayed" as doing program advocacy for the next-generation DDG-1000. The Pentagon, Navy, and industry recently agreed to truncate the buy of DDG-1000s at three ships and build more DDG-51s (Defense Daily, April 20).
Young said he has been and remains concerned the Navy had not crafted requirements spelling out the need for more than the current cadre of 64 DDG-51s. And he said requirements work done by the Navy as part of an analysis of alternatives (AoA) for the CG(X) cruiser shows that future ship having features of the DDG-1000 hull, including the magnetic and acoustic signatures. Young said it would be "impossible" to build those features into an older DDG-51 hull.
"If the Navy’s requirement for a new cruiser has, by their own analysis of alternatives, some of the attributes of the DDG-1000 hull, we need to sit down as a family and talk through those requirements and…see if they’re affordable," Young said.
Young acknowledged Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead does not want any more DDG-1000 warships beyond the three now planned. Yet Young pointed out that the CG(X) AoA says "the Navy does want the capabilities in a 1000-class hull in their new cruiser."
"I don’t know how you reconcile those two statements," Young told reporters.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced April 6 he wants to delay the CG(X) program "to revisit both the requirements and acquisition strategy." Young said he expects the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review to look at both the CG(X) hull and the number of DDG-51s the nation needs.
The already completed CG(X) AoA showed the cruiser costing $6 billion, Young said, a cost he said the Navy cannot afford.
"If we know we want a cruiser, and that cruiser by the Navy’s own documents has some of the attributes of the (DDG-)1000 hull, please let’s sit down and talk about whether those requirements are firm or tradable, and which of those two (DDG-1000 and DDG-51) hulls–or a totally new-design hull–(is appropriate for the CG(X))," he said.
Young said defense officials have to be "realistic about the requirements" for the cruiser so it is affordable, and consider all hulls in production. Studies have looked at the LPD-17 amphibious ship’s hull for the cruiser, because of the need for a ship with enough hull size, displacement, and power to accommodate the cruiser’s planned radar, he said.
"We need to do that (CG(X) requirements) work right away," Young said.
The defense acquisition chief also acknowledged a draft budget called for producing a "future-surface combatant," which he said was seen as a ship with additional radar capability that would be "a pathfinder to the cruiser that you want to have with even more radar capability;" Yet he said that budget is "now totally in the trash can," and plans for such a future-surface combatant weren’t ready to proceed.
Going forward, Young said a technology effort is starting on the air and missile-defense radar for the CG(X) cruiser. A recent decision memo, he said, "directs (an) independent study of what the future requirements might be like, and what hull might best accommodate that radar and provide the foundation for a future Navy cruiser."
"And that’s what I want analytically determined by the department," he added.
Young said the Navy’s "biggest fear" with the DDG-1000 hull has been its cost. He said he hopes the DDG-1000 will end up as a $2.5 billion hull–a cost goal some observers find daunting–and noted the Navy estimates the new-production DDG-51s would be $2 billion hulls.
"So then you’ve got to decide: which hull, given your requirements for a future cruiser?" he said. "And given the possibility of confidence that the (DDG-)1000 hull can be produced affordably, is it an option?"
President Obama nominated Ashton Carter to replace Young, who is a holdover from the Bush administration. The Senate vote confirming Carter into the position has been stalled by two senators concerned about the nominee’s stance on the upcoming competition for a replacement Air Force tanker.