This scale model featured a number systems never seen before on a Freedom type Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), including four Nulka decoy launchers, eight NSM anti-ship missile launchers, two SEWIP Block 3 jamming modules and eight Mk41 vertical launching systems (VLS). Note that according to Lockheed Martin, these are the larger variant of the Mk41 (also known as “strike length”) meaning that, theoretically, an LCS in this configuration could deploy Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles (more realistically, the VLS would be used for quad-packed ESSM surface to air missiles, meaning a total of sixteen missiles).
Note that these four key systems (Nulka, NSM, SEWIP B3 jammers and Mk41) are also government furnished equipment (GFE) selected for the FFG(X) future frigate program of the U.S. Navy.
We reached out to Lockheed Martin’s Joe DePietro to learn more about this LCS design update. DePietro is Vice President and General Manager for Small Surface Combatants and Systems.
Naval News – What were you demonstrating with this scale model at SNA?
Joe DePietro – LCS is a growing and relevant part of the Navy’s fleet. It is unique among combat ships with its shallow draft, speed and flexibility. In the future, we think LCS can have even more warfighting capabilities than it has today. This model was an example of some of the changes that would make LCS more lethal and survivable.
Naval News – How do you make the LCS more survivable?
Joe DePietro – LCS is already a strong asset to the Navy fleet. Its speed, shallow draft and flexible hull space provide the Navy with a combat ship designed to serve specific and evolving missions. At Lockheed Martin, we think LCS can gain additional warfighting capabilities with over-the-horizon missiles, which we’re already working on. We also think advanced electronic warfare capabilities, decoy systems and advanced radars could be part of the LCS’ future.
Naval News – Can you confirm that the Mk41 VLS on the scale model are full length, therefore the LCS with upgraded lethality could theoretically launch Tomahawk and VL-ASROC?
Joe DePietro – Our model included four strike length single-cell VLS as a proposed warfighting enhancement. Tomahawk and VLA are currently fired from the strike length VLS.
Naval News – The model shows the VLS on the starboard side, in place of one of the two 30mm cannon. Why is this? Can they be swapped? Can a total of 16x VLS be fitted (in place of both 30mm cannons)?
Joe DePietro – The Lockheed Martin model is reflective of a conceptual design. The specific location and quantity of launchers is something Lockheed Martin looks forward to determining in cooperation with the Navy. The Freedom-variant LCS is flexible because of its modular weapon stations and Lockheed Martin’s COMBATSS-21 Combat Management System built from the Common Source Library (CSL), which creates the ability to integrate current and future weapons.
Naval News – Can these lethality and survivability upgrades be retrofitted to existing hulls or is it for new built LCS only?
Joe DePietro – The proposed warfighting enhancements could be retrofitted into existing hulls or added at the start of construction on new hulls moving forward. In fact, on LCS 27, the production design incorporates space and weight for over-the-horizon missile upgrades.
For the SNA 2019 symposium, Lockheed Martin wasn’t showcasing its “Freedom Frigate” scale model unveiled at SNA last year. It was however “teasing” on a screen what appears to be a new frigate design for its FFG(X) proposal (picture above). Lockheed Martin representatives would not comment on this teaser.
Asked recently if Lockheed Martin would be showcasing a new scale model of its FFG(X) design at the upcoming Sea Air Space exposition, a company spokesperson told us decision about the company’s booth content would be made as the date of the show approaches. Sea Air Space 2019 will be held May 6 to 8, 2019.
The spokesperson said the following about Lockheed Martin’s FFG(X):
We look forward to the draft RFP, expected in March. We’ll take a look at those requirements and make a decision in the next few months.
Regarding Lockheed Martin’s FFG(X) design, we are drawing not only on our experience on the Freedom-variant LCS but also on our proven design and integration capability. In terms of specific capabilities or GFE on FFG(X), the Navy decides on that with the requirements in the RFP.