The US Navy wants the new frigate to be a much more capable ship than current LCS

The U.S. Navy will be looking at multiple existing ship designs for its new frigate instead of focusing on simply up-gunning the troubled littoral combat ships, the service’s request for information has revealed.

Published on July 10, 2017, the RFI outlines what the U.S. Navy wants the future Guided Missile Frigate (FFG(X)), as the frigate is now officially called, to be capable of.

The FFG(X) design is expected to draw on existing parent designs adapted to navy capability requirements. Unlike the LCS, the frigates should be able to integrate into carrier strike groups and large surface combatant led surface action groups but also be able to defend itself during independent operations.

The navy is also expecting the frigate to assume some of the duties of large surface combatants like the over-tasked Arleigh Burke-class destroyers during “operations other than war”. These operations include presence missions, security cooperation activities and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) efforts among other.

The U.S. Navy wants the frigate to have a 25 year service life and a grade A shock hardening for propulsion, critical systems, and combat system elements to retain full air defense and propulsion capabilities.

Major warfare systems that the U.S. Navy would like to have on the frigate include an Aegis-derivative COMBATSS-21 combat management system, a C4I suite, an Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR), Mk53 Decoy Launching System (Nulka), a SeaRAM Mk15 Mod 31 in addition to a UAV and an MH-60R helicopter.

What the navy is particularly interested in is the ship’s vertical launch cell potential to support Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile Block 2 and/or Standard Missile-2 Active missiles. The navy wants a description of launcher type and cell quantities the proposed design could accommodate.

A Detail Design and Construction contract is expected to be awarded in FY2020. The navy wants to buy one ship in 2020 and 2021 followed by two ships per year from 2022.