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HII's LPD-Based Future Surface Combatant Concept Could Replace Ticonderoga-class Cruisers
 
HII's LPD-Based Future Surface Combatant Concept Could Replace Ticonderoga-class Cruisers
During the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space 2017 exposition held recently near Washington D.C., Huntington Ingalls Industries was showcasing its "Future Surface Combatant" based on a LPD-17 / San Antonio-class hull form.
 
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Sea Air Space 2017 Online Show Coverage - HII Future Surface Combatant
 
 
 
HII's LPD-Based Future Surface Combatant Concept Could Replace Ticonderoga-class Cruisers
 
During the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space 2017 exposition held recently near Washington D.C., Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) was showcasing its "Future Surface Combatant" based on a LPD-17 / San Antonio-class hull form.
     
HII's LPD-Based Future Surface Combatant Concept Could Replace Ticonderoga-class CruisersHII's Future Surface Combatant at Sea Air Space 2017.
     
According to an HII representative, the scale model is representative of what a future surface combatant could look like based on future fleet architecture studies by the US Navy and various think tanks. "It is increasingly clear that they are going to need a combatant with a very large radar to help take the fight to the enemy. Something to operate outside of threat waters but with a radar large enought to see over the horizon" said Steve Sloan, director and program manager for LPD 28/LX(R) programs.
     
Video: HII Future Surface Combatant at Sea Air Space 2017.
     
The scale model on display was actually unveiled as the Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) concept ship at Sea Air Space 2014. As we reported at the time, the LPD-based BMD ship was showing an impressive may be fitted with 288 Mk 41 vertical launch systems (or 144 Mk 57 as an alternative which are the VLS currently fitted on DDG1000 class).

The "Future Surface Combatant" now shows a reduced number of 96 VLS, "That's because the Navy told us they didn't need that many cells" Navy Recognition was told. The Ticonderoga-class cruisers are currently fitted with 122x Mk 41 VLS cells.
     
HII's LPD-Based Future Surface Combatant Concept Could Replace Ticonderoga-class CruisersHII's Future Surface Combatant at Sea Air Space 2017.
     
The Ticonderoga-class cruisers will reach their retirement age of 35 years between 2021 and 2029, although the U.S. Navy may use upgrades to extend their lives to 40 years. The class was first ordered and authorized in the 1978 fiscal year. HII believes its LPD-based concept would be the right solution to replace the ageing cruiser class.

HII's concept ship offers many advantages. The huge (35') fixed S-band radar for starters, which is said to be 2000 times more sensitive than the current SPY-1. An X-band radar sits on top of the mast. A 3-face radar is available as an option to replace the large cubic radar. We were told that the LPD 17 hull form offers signiticant volumes to support other missions: There is provision for an elevator and below deck hangar, both large enought to accommodate V-22 tilt rotor aircraft. There is so much space in the boat valley and hangar space that the VLS cells may potentially be reloaded while at sea. If the aircraft elevator is not needed, the well deck may be retained to support special forces or other needs.

The model on display at the show was fitted with an optional 32MJ rail gun (forward, as main gun), a Mk110 57mm and a RAM launcher back aft for self defense.

In this configuration, the HII's "future surface combatant" is 209 meters (684ft) in length with a beam of 32 meters (105 ft) and a max. displacement of 27,000 tons. The speed is 20+ knots and expected crew is 161 sailors (a significant drop compared to the 300+ crew complement aboard the Ticonderoga-class).

Navy Recognition comment:
While the LPD 17 hull form is slower than the current CG class, the potential of a surface vessel fitted with the maximum size variant of the AN/SPY-6 AMDR radar and a 70+ day mission endurance (without resupply) sounds like a major capability step forward. Add to the mix a likely affordable design (because of the reduced crew and the hot production line) plus the ability to accomodate large, long endurance helicopters (an AEW variant of the V-22 or CH-53 would be ideal) to act as remote sensors, and you have what looks like a very promising CG replacement solution.
     
HII's LPD-Based Future Surface Combatant Concept Could Replace Ticonderoga-class CruisersHII's Future Surface Combatant at Sea Air Space 2017.