Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I'll Take DDG for 1000 Alex

So you want to talk about something Navy related and interesting? Let's begin with some excerpts from Additional Analysis and Oversight Required to Support the Navy's Future Surface Combatant Plans - GAO-12-113, Jan 24, 2012 as cited in Ronald O'Rourke's latest CRS report China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress (PDF).

the Navy’s choice of DDG 51 as the platform for AMDR limits the overall size of the radar to one that will be unable to meet the Navy’s desired (objective) IAMD [integrated air and missile defense] capabilities. If the Navy selects a 12-foot AMDR—which may reduce the impacts on the ship and design—it may not be able to meet the requirements for AMDR as currently stated in the Navy’s draft capabilities document....

[The] Flight III [DDG-51] with a 14-foot AMDR will not be powerful enough to meet the Navy’s objective, or desired IAMD capabilities. The shipyards and the Navy have determined that 14-foot radar arrays are the largest that can be accommodated within the confines of the existing DDG 51 configuration. Adding a radar larger than 14 feet to DDG 51 is unlikely without major structural changes to the ship. AMDR is being specifically developed to be a scalable radar—meaning that it can be increased in size and power to provide enhanced capability against emerging threats.

According to AMDR contractors, the Navy had originally contracted for an investigation of a Variant 2 AMDR with a sensitivity of SPY+40,144 but this effort was cancelled. They added that the maximum feasible size of AMDR would be dictated by the ship and radar power and cooling demands, but that they had investigated versions as large as 36 feet. Leveraging AMDR’s scalability will not be possible on DDG 51 without major changes, such as a new deckhouse or adding to the dimensions of the hullform itself by broadening the beam of the ship or adding a new section (called a plug) to the middle of the ship to add length. Navy officials have stated that adding a plug to DDG 51 is not currently a viable option due to the complexity, and that a new ship design is preferable to a plugged DDG 51.

The Navy has not yet determined the size of AMDR for Flight III, and two sizes are under consideration: a 14-foot AMDR with a sensitivity of SPY+15, and a 12-foot AMDR with a sensitivity of SPY+11. According to a draft AMDR Capability Development Document, the Navy has identified that an AMDR with SPY+15 will meet operational performance requirements against the threat environment illustrated in the [destroyer] Radar/Hull Study. This document also notes that a significantly larger SPY+30 AMDR is required to meet the Navy’s desired capability (known as objective) against the threat environment illustrated in the MAMDJF AOA. The Navy could choose to change these requirements. The MAMDJF AOA eliminated the DDG 51-based SPY+15 solution from consideration in part due to the limited radar capability, and identified that a radar closer to SPY+30 power with a signal to noise ratio 1,000 times better than SPY+0 and an array size over 20 feet is required to address the most challenging threats. If a 12-foot array is chosen, the Navy will be selecting a capability that is less than the “marginally adequate” capability offered by a SPY+15 radar as defined by the Radar/Hull Study red team assessment. According to Navy officials, only through adding additional square footage can the Navy effectively make large improvements in the sensitivity of the radar the SPY+30 radar considered in the MAMDJF AOA could only be carried by a newly designed cruiser or a modified San Antonio [LPD-17] class [amphibious] ship, and only a modified DDG 1000 [destroyer] and could carry the approximately SPY+25 radar. According to the draft AMDR Capability Development Document, the Navy’s desired IAMD capability can only be accommodated on a larger, currently unspecified ship. As part of the MAMDJF AOA, the Navy identified that DDG 1000 can accommodate a SPY+25 radar. As part of a technical submission to the Navy, BIW—the lead designer for DDG 1000147—also identified a possible design for a 21-foot radar on DDG 1000. The Navy did not include a variant with this size radar in the Radar/Hull Study.

According to senior Navy officials, since the MAMDJF AOA was released the Navy has changed its concept on the numbers of Navy ships that will be operating in an IAMD environment. Rather than one or a small number of ships conducting IAMD alone and independently managing the most taxing threat environments without support, the Navy now envisions multiple ships that they can operate in concert with different ground and spacebased sensor assets to provide cueing for AMDR when targets are in the battlespace. This cueing would mean that the shooter ship could be told by the off-board sensors where to look for a target, allowing for earlier detection and increased size of the area that can be covered. According to the Navy, this concept—referred to as sensor netting—can be used to augment the reduced radar capability afforded by a 12 or 14-foot AMDR as compared to the larger radars studied in the MAMDJF AOA. For example, the Navy cited the use of the Precision Tracking Space System program as an example of sensors that could be leveraged. However, this program (envisioned as a constellation of missile tracking satellites) is currently in the conceptual phase, and the independent Radar/Hull Study red team stated that the development timeline for this system is too long to consider being able to leverage this system for Flight III. Navy officials told us that another option would be to leverage the newly completed Cobra Judy Replacement radar ship and its very powerful dual-band radar to provide cueing for DDG 51s. This cueing could allow the DDG 51s to operate a smaller AMDR and still be effective. The Cobra Judy Replacement ship is comparatively cheaper than DDG 51s (approximately $1.7 billion for the lead ship), and was commercially designed and built. However, it is not a combatant ship, which would limit its employment in a combat environment and make it difficult to deploy to multiple engagement locations.

Senior Navy officials told us that the concept of sensor netting is not yet well defined, and that additional analysis is required to determine what sensor capabilities currently exist or will be developed in the future, as well as how sensor netting might be conceptualized for Flight III. Sensor netting requires not only deployment of the appropriate sensors and for these sensors to work alone, but they also need to be able to share usable data in real-time with Aegis in the precise manner required to support BMD engagements. Though sharing data among multiple sensors can provide greater capabilities than just using individual standalone sensors, officials told us that every sensor system has varying limitations on its accuracy, and as more sensors are networked together and sharing data, these accuracy limitations can compound. Further, though there have been recent successes in sharing data during BMD testing, DOD weapons testers responsible for overseeing BMD testing told us that there have also been issues with sending data between sensors. Although sensor technology will undoubtedly evolve in the future, how sensor netting will be leveraged by Flight III and integrated with Navy tactics to augment Aegis and the radar capability of Flight III is unknown...

The Navy’s choices for Flight III will likely be unsuitable for the most stressful threat environments it expects to face....

We recommend that the Secretary of Defense direct the Secretary of the Navy to take the following three actions:...

2. Report to Congress in its annual long-range shipbuilding plan on its plans for a future, larger surface combatant, carrying a more capable version of AMDR and the costs and quantities of this ship....

DOD concurred with our second recommendation that the Navy report to Congress in its annual long-range shipbuilding plan on its plans for a future larger surface combatant carrying a more capable version of AMDR. Given the assessments that the Navy is currently conducting on surface combatants, the Navy’s next submission should include more specific information about its planned future surface combatant acquisitions.
The AMDR is going to determine what ballistic missile defense capabilities the surface Navy will have in the future, there is apparently still some confusion on the AMDR within the Navy. It is very much unclear what the future will hold as funding gets tight, because there is clearly no policy from the Obama administration right now that is informing a strategy that would then inform the DoD how to make decisions - FY13 is purely a budget shell game in the DoD, not a capabilities driven assessment. For example, that X-Band radar recently deployed in the Pacific to monitor the upcoming North Korean rocket launch is not funded in the FY13 budget, so even the technology we apparently need right now isn't protected for next year. For more on the latest budget news related to ballistic missile defense, see Chris Cavas's latest here.

The biggest question though is AMDR and the DDG-51 Flight III. To follow up on that topic, I highlight this Janes Analysis from February 3, 2012 titled Analysis: Arleigh Burke update costs and challenges mount up (subscription only). Pay attention folks, this is probably the most important article written about DDG-51 Flight III to date, and yet another reason why a Janes subscription is worth paying for (if you can afford it).
Efforts to adapt the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer (DDG 51) hull design - now more than 30 years old - to support the US Navy's (USN's) next-generation ballistic missile defence (BMD) radar are becoming costlier and more complicated than the service initially advertised.

A Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) report has indicated that space and cooling limitations within the hull mean that complex design changes will probably be required if the proposed Flight III Arleigh Burke design is to accommodate the Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR).
FYI, the report is called DDG51 Flight Upgrade Study Year 1 Technical Report.
Officials at NAVSEA have suggested that a 'high-end' Flight III destroyer could cost USD1 billion more than the navy's USD2.6 billion estimate for the lead ship. Furthermore, potential for growth will be severely limited and the new ship may have to lose weapon systems to comply with navy requirements, according to an internal NAVSEA study obtained by Jane's. The service declined to comment on the report.
Said another way, NAVSEA's own estimate for lead ship of a potential Flight III destroyer is $3.6 billion, and according to NAVSEA, the growth margins for this new class of ship will be zero - meaning the ship has no room to adapt to new technology throughout it's potential life well into the 2050s and 2060s! It is more than a little frustrating that according to NAVSEA, based on current plans to use the DDG-51 hull - the only surface combatants likely to have growth for future technologies anytime over the next several decades are the three DDG-1000s.
Notionally the AMDR requires five times more power - 2,684 kW - and 10 times more cooling capacity than the current SPY-1D (V) radar on a hull that is already among the most tightly packaged in the navy. According to the report, a suite of X- and S-band radars will consume almost half the power generated by a Flight IIA destroyer cruising in winter conditions. The deficit will require at least the installation of a fourth auxiliary gas turbine generator to allow the AMDR to operate.

Even with the additional generator, the 450 V electrical system in the Flight IIA ships would be too stressed to handle the increased loads, would suffer a high risk of failure and would be "highly unlikely" to be able to support future high-power weapons and sensors. A change to a more robust 4160 V system would require a comprehensive redesign. NAVSEA has studied a hybrid electric drive (HED) using a bidirectional electric rotating machine (ERM) that could power the main reduction gears from the electrical grid and provide power via the ship's prime movers to the grid in a Propulsion Derived Ship Service (PDSS) scheme. The installation of ERMs would mitigate the need for a fourth auxiliary generator but the PDSS variants would face a "complex integration problem in all HED variants" and be "technically risky", the report said. Having also evaluated an integrated propulsion system (IPS) similar to that in the new Zumwalt-class (DDG 1000) destroyers, NAVSEA found that the maximum speed achievable was below the required 30 kt and that it would have involved major equipment arrangement issues. The IPS study was put on hold pending technology developments.
You know it really is amazing to me the Navy is facing so many challenges related to power and energy today, and yet the focus and investment of Ray Mabus on power and energy technologies is related to fuel sources rather than actual propulsion systems. The difference is simple, Ray Mabus has spent his time as SECNAV trying to solve issues related to the US public transportation system rather than investing in the types of energy challenges the Navy faces related to driving ships and fielding unmanned underwater systems. Sorry Mr. Secretary, but Algae fuel and solar power aren't addressing the Navy's energy challenges, those initiatives are distracting attention and dollars away from the real energy challenges facing the Navy.
Mike Petters, the chief executive officer at shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), told Jane's in December 2011 that additional changes to the Flight III would add cost and time. "My view is if this Flight III destroyer comes out and it's radically different [to the existing variants] then we will have missed the boat," Petters said.
I usually agree with Mike Petters, but passing up on a bad deal is not 'missing the boat.'
Meanwhile, inclusion of the AMDR and necessary power and cooling equipment to allow normal operation would push the Arleigh Burke hullform to near its practical limits and far surpass the USN's requirement for hull expandability.

Service Life Allowance (SLA) requirements call for a ship growth potential of 10 per cent by weight and an additional 30.5 cm of length in the ship's center of gravity while complying with survivability rules.

NAVSEA determined that in order for the Flight III to completely meet SLA requirements the ship's beam would have to be increased by 1.22 m, which would reduce the maximum speed by 1 kt and reduce its range by five per cent. The navy examined constructing the deckhouse from aluminum or composites, which would add an extra two per cent of SLA weight and an additional 8.5 cm to the ship's centre of gravity threshold - still far below navy minimums.

These concepts were among the costliest, with a lead ship price of USD3.58 billion, although a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report in January said the USN was unlikely to pursue a non-steel deckhouse.

Compromising on SLA requirements has plagued the USN in the past: the Ticonderoga-class cruiser lost weight from the deckhouse - to accommodate the Aegis combat system - and this led in part to severe hull-cracking problems that have shortened the life of the ship.

Since the NAVSEA report was written a year ago, technology developments have occurred that could increase some of the Flight III's margins.

Raytheon has announced it will use gallium nitride semi-conductors for its S-band AMDR bid. According to the company, the change would allow the same level of capability for one fifth of the power consumption. The USN has also suspended development of the X-band radar for AMDR, which could add short-term power and weight gains to the early Flight IIIs.
In other words, the Navy is cutting requirements to fit a square peg in a round hole. No matter how one looks at the problem, the best ship today for moving the Navy into the future with AMDR is DDG-1000, and if the Navy doesn't like that option - the Navy needs to design a new hull to carry the technologies of DDG-1000.

I find it pretty incredible that in 2012 one can credibly, supported by facts, figures, and analysis; make the argument that the F-22 is a less expensive, more capable option for the Air Force than the Joint Strike Fighter and that the DDG-1000 is a less expensive, more capable option than the DDG-51 for the Navy. I wonder what the cost of adding AEGIS BMD to DDG-1000 is, and if the costs of doing that are less than the costs of insuring the first block of Flight III destroyers still float in 2030, or the costs of insuring those same ships are militarily relevant in 2040.

There really is no way anyone could have known at the time that Admiral Roughead was potentially making the wrong choice when truncating the DDG-1000 in favor of the DDG-51, but it does appear the biggest mistake he made as CNO was betting against the solid work done by Jim Syring who set the DDG-1000 program on the road to success. In the end, Jim Syring was the only guy in the room who continuously beat the drum suggesting the DDG-1000 was the best option for the Navy in the future, and in hindsight Jim Syring was clearly the smartest guy in the room.

Look, if we know the fleet is going to be smaller in the future, the Navy might as well insure every plan insures the fleet fields the technology most likely to be relevant in that future. Stuffing the capabilities of today into every space possible just to produce a DDG-51 Flight III with full knowledge there is no growth margin on the ship is not a credible approach to 21st century seapower by any definition. Is the Navy truly paralyzed when it comes to making shipbuilding decisions because the last CNO had a gut feeling about DDG-1000 (that turned out to be wrong) and set about the Navy on the wrong course? Is there no such thing as a course correction anymore? Fitting square pegs in round holes is perhaps the worst way to plow ahead into the future - and yet, when it comes to AMDR and DDG-51 Flight III - here we are.

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