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									                                                                         THE SHAPE OF THE FUTURE SURFACE COMBATANT

Small But Able Frigate Fleets
By Dr Nik Moss

Nik Moss is the Strategy and Technical            versatility will require new levels of Royal     community at Dstl3 on modular combat
Director of the Naval Division at Thales. He      Navy warship affordability and flexibility        systems packages but this has yet to impact
says that future small but able frigate fleets     of use. With the UK front-line frigate fleet      significantly on the future UK frigate design
demand greater flexibility of use to maximise      numbers only half what they were at the          engineering thinking. In the early post-war
cost effectiveness, and that combat systems’      time of the Falklands War, business as usual     years, the Royal Navy had a number of
modularity has a role to play.                    is not an option when it comes to designing      single-role warships (e.g. Types 14, 41 and
                                                  the future surface combatant solutions.          61), but in more recent times has evolved to

             fter the comparative stability of    These have to maximise an affordable             a more multi-role frigate capability with the
             the Cold War, military strategy      capability with a more modest fleet size. New     Type 22 and 23 frigates embracing elements
             has moved into a more volatile       technologies including greater use of electro-   of both ASW and surface warfare with, as a
             environment with challenging         optics and exploitation of remote unmanned       minimum, effective self-defence against
and increasingly sophisticated asymmetric         sensor systems for enhanced situational          all air threats.
threats. Changing territorial powers and          awareness, and robust management of the              Modularity can take a number of forms,
interests – fuelled by increasing competition     asymmetric threats in the littoral, will also    and there are two well-known examples in
for oil and other natural resources and           impact future frigate solutions with new         naval service overseas today that illustrate
climate change impacts – may aggravate            capabilities emerging to counter the             different approaches:
these tensions in the coming decades. While       changing threats.                                • The Danish Stanflex GRP Ships.
the ongoing land campaigns in the Middle              Under the MoD Defence Acquisition                These have fully containerised weapon
East have the limelight today, international      Change Programme, the S2C2 Pathfinder                 systems for escort, patrol, MCM and
maritime security remains a fundamental           Team has outlined a coherent programme for           other duties. The containers can readily
prerequisite of our global economy. Future        managing upgrades and life extension of the          be inter-changed alongside without any
naval forces will need to continue to evolve      Type 23 alongside new warship procurement            special facilities, and a wide portfolio
to counter unpredictable future threats at        to achieve a natural evolution of the required       of containerised systems is maintained
sea and to support land-based actions in the      escort and other frigate capabilities into the       separately from the ships. They have
projected operating life of the Royal Navy’s      truly ‘future’ surface combatant (FSC) fleet          provided a broader capability with a
next frigate class.                               solution for the Royal Navy [Pathfinder               limited fleet size with modest investment
    The UK Strategic Defence Review (SDR)         industry day1, DEC AWE industry day2]. Not           and provide rapid re-roling in service.4
in 1997 enshrined the need for expeditionary      only is the FSC expected to deliver a wide       • The Blohm and Voss MEKO Modular
warfare in the new world order and this has       range of roles from close consort protection,        Design. This has self-standing engineered
been pursued in the Royal Navy with the           to precision land attack, to deployment of           weapon equipment modules which can
ongoing procurement of the amphibious             future autonomous surveillance systems,              be incorporated in different ship hulls
and carrier task groups and their support         but it is also expected to cope with other, as       designed for this purpose. Historically, this
vessels. Today the Type 23 frigates, conceived    yet uncertain, future maritime threats. It is        approach has maximised design re-use for
originally for Cold War anti-submarine            also required to sustain the Royal Navy’s area       different customers contributing to highly
warfare (ASW), are providing the mainstay         (force) ASW capability post Type 23, and             cost effective warship solutions on the
of the task force escorts, outwith area air       provide command functions. Limited hull              international market5. However, upgrades
defence by the Type 42 and shortly the Type       numbers and inevitable changes in future             with replacement modules and in-service
45 destroyers. They are also fulfilling a range    operational priorities and threats in the            re-roling have not been exploited to any
of general purpose patrol roles, sustaining the   30+ year life of the projected class demand          great extent in the MEKO fleets.
Royal Navy’s global reach capabilities.           increased flexibility of use. This will only be
    With both UK aircraft carrier and             achieved by design. Flexibility of use can be       In the US, the LCS programme plans
SSBN successor programmes looming                 facilitated in various ways, but modularity of   to develop a largely containerised combat
large alongside completion of the Type 45         combat systems’ equipments is a potential        systems fit along broadly similar principles to
destroyer procurement, and the increasingly       enabler, which could reduce refit time for        the Stanflex concept. ThyssenKrupp Marine
expensive land-based military operations,         upgrades to counter changing threats, and        Systems are now extending their MEKO
naval budgets for future frigates to replace      facilitate a degree of re-roling in service.     approach to include fully containerised
Type 23 will be stretched. Addressing the                                                          weapon systems in their new design Littoral
capability gaps opened by the changed threat      Modularity                                       Warship6. Conversely, the new Danish Navy
environment and sustaining the frigate fleet       Work has been carried out in the UK research     Absalom class will use Stanflex-type weapon

                                                                                                            OCTOBER 2007 RUSI DEFENCE SYSTEMS 101
                                         THE SHAPE OF THE FUTURE SURFACE COMBATANT

system containers, but there is no plan to            large silo, a major gun system, the basic   the ship’s helicopter, which comes with
interchange them to re-role ships in-service7.        communications fit, and most importantly     an on-board support package. However,
    Neither the MEKO-like engineered                  the command systems infrastructure.         before considering the implications of a
weapon systems modules, nor totally                   Primary sensors would also fall into        broader approach, it is important to gain
containerised combat systems equipments,              this category, but may benefit from          some insight into whether such modularity
fit readily into the UK procurement and                an integrated mast installation that        might be expected to contribute to greater
operational context for the future surface            facilitates ready upgrades with modular     fleet flexibility, and hence effectiveness and
combatant. Wholesale modularisation will              elements in the sensor systems.             affordability in the context of the FSC.
inevitably incur additional procurement costs      • Additional role-specific combat
which will be more exposed in a small fleet,           system elements, which can be both          Operational Analysis
and ship space and weight constraints with            accommodated readily in batch builds        A first step has been taken in Thales with
a number of separate containerised systems            of the ships as required, and also          simple operational analysis (OA) models
may further limit achievable warship combat           enable role change in-service within        that simulate tasking of the fleet ships in
systems’ payload. Further, the future surface         maintenance periods of no more than a       the geographical space over prescribed
combatant needs to evolve cost effectively            few weeks. Here the case for a MEKO-        time intervals, and determine the achieved
alongside Type 23 upgrades with some                  like logic might be beneficial using         utilisation of ships and separate combat
commonality of equipments, and sustain                engineered ‘modules’ with allocated         system modules (which may be fitted
high-end, naval warfare capabilities at long          space, weight and services in the ship      away from home base). Using operational
range, remotely from other assets.                    layout. These would focus on specific        demand models aligned with current Royal
                                                      aspects of capability, e.g. ASW, littoral   Navy fleet-tasking policies and simulating
                                                      anti-surface warfare (AsuW) and anti-air    future unplanned tasks arising from
                                                      warfare (AAW) with CIWS, new sensor         different levels of required future military
                                                      and decoy systems for soft kill, and        intervention, the ship and combat system
                                                      special fits for additional surveillance     module utilisation achieved against the
                                                      capabilities. Modular elements within       demands have been modelled stochastically
                                                      the envisaged integrated mast assembly      over a five-year period.
                                                      for primary sensors would also be               The example tasking demand (Figure
                                                      engineered in a like manner to support      2) shows how the nominal 25-ship fleet is
                                                      ease of upgrade and technology              stretched by unplanned (emergent) tasks
                                                      insertion to counter changing threats.      on top of lower priority standing tasks,
Figure 1: A modular warship [Thales]                • Fully containerised systems for specific     recognising standing tasks are abandoned
                                                      missions, which can be fitted in a           to resource the required intervention
                                                      standard container and exchanged on         actions, and available ships exclude those
Combat System Fits                                    deployed ships in a few hours either        undergoing scheduled support activities,
These high-intensity and global-reach                 alongside or even by air or sea in          refits, work-ups etc. at base.
warfighting needs of the Royal Navy frigate            sheltered waters. Examples here include         The current T23 and T42/T45 capability
fleet – which include not just the warship             remote vehicle systems for enhanced         has been compared for nominal 50- and
engineering, but critically the crew training         surveillance above, on and below water,     25-ship fleets in Monte Carlo multiple
and effectiveness, and the logistical and in-         remote mine countermeasure (MCM)            simulations with statistically varying task
service support – might encourage a more              systems, equipment required by EMF,         demand of the same overall intensity, and
pragmatic approach. An exploration of                 and facilities for disaster relief, etc.    also compared to a 25-ship T42/45 and
something that lies between the extremes of           Committing to 20ft ISO containers to        FSC fleet where the FSC is assumed to have
fully containerised systems and a traditional         provide ease of transport and handling      a significant modular combat system fit,
bespoke fit is worthy of closer scrutiny for           worldwide is attractive, but will impact    allowing it to cover a wider range of tasks
FSC. It is also helpful to consider which             on ship design and space requirements.      than would be possible with a bespoke fit.
combat system elements are expected to be             Some standardisation of on-board            No one FSC ship can carry all the capability,
subject to significant technology change and           services interfaces to the containers       but the modularity permits re-roling with
refresh in the warship’s life, and to design the      would be important. The MoD Dstl            prescribed combat system elements on
installations to best facilitate this process.        studies provided a survey of these          deployments remote from home base.
    Conceptually we might consider three              potential options.3                         In this simple simulation example, no
types of combat system fit for FSC:                                                                constraints on crewing, or availability
• A core combat systems capability,                In practice there will be variations on        of the required modular combat system
    which is designed as integral to all           these themes, but in combination all three     elements, have been imposed, but the ship
    ships and is a universal part of the class     of the above ‘types of installation’ could     allocation accounts for the base port activity
    capability solution. This would focus on       contribute to a cost-effective, holistic       constraints of maintenance, refits, work-up
    physically large elements like the main        warship design for the FSC. Today we           and training in the available fleet tasking
    vertical launch missile system with a          already have some modular systems like         model (Figure 3).

                                                                              THE SHAPE OF THE FUTURE SURFACE COMBATANT

                                                      even in extremis in transit to theatre, although   have to be arranged to provide containerised
                                                      training and crew work-ups to achieve the          systems with electrical power and combat
                                                      required readiness will still have to be           systems data connections, cooling water or
                                                      allowed for.                                       HVAC to maintain environmental needs,
                                                          More needs to be done to demonstrate           and fire management systems. Container
                                                      and bound potential cost benefits of this           handling and storage on board, and access
                                                      approach, including consideration of time          to other facilities like cranes and remote-
Figure 2: Example of surface combatant fleet           and cost impacts on crew training and the          vehicle launch and recovery arrangements,
tasking over five-year period [Thales]                 need for extended work-ups to address crew         will impact the ship layout aspects. At a
                                                      and equipment changes on deployed ships,           fundamental level the greater variable load
                                                      management (logistics and maintenance)             will have to be managed with regard to
                                                      of separate combat systems modules, as             intact and damage stability characteristics
                                                      well as the impact on the ship design              of the platform, possibly requiring variable
                                                      envelope and engineering and procurement           ballast provisions.
                                                      cost consequences. This is worthy of
                                                      serious analysis in the context of the whole       Conclusion
                                                      life-cycle cost and fleet capability for the        In summary, the future challenge for
                                                      future surface combatant class that is             the Royal Navy’s frigate fleet in way of
                                                      expected to be operational in the Royal            flexibility and affordability in an uncertain
Figure 3: Stochastic analysis of fleet effectiveness   Navy to at least 2060.                             and challenging world could benefit from
[Thales]                                                                                                 increasing the modularity of combat
                                                      Implications for Future Design                     systems fitted to the warships. Engineering
Capability Shortfall                                  There are two important implications for           studies and cost benefit analysis are needed
The results identify capability shortfall in          a future surface combatant design if it is to      to scope, inform and optimise the benefits
specific warfare areas (such as ASW) for               facilitate such modular options. Combat            at the warship concept level before the
the fleet make-up achieved in theatre. In              system architectures need to make it easy          FSC solution is committed in the
the case of the bespoke fleet, the shortfall           for major additions and changes to combat          procurement programme.
might reflect a lack of the right type of ship,        systems equipments, providing near instant
in specific roles like area ASW, while other           ‘integration’ within a more federated
needs like ASuW and AAW close consort                 command systems approach. The modular
protection are met by the available ships.            approach has to cater for accurate ship sensor
In the modelling assumptions made here,               and weapon systems alignment, and cater            1
                                                                                                             MoD DIS Pathfinder Industry Day hosted by DMA,
such shortfalls impact even the standing              for sensor systems with their own processing       London, 30 January 2007
tasks to a degree because of other ship               and track management systems to be added
availability constraints arising from base port       and changed out without recourse to time-          2
                                                                                                             DEC AWE Industry Day hosted by DMA, London,
maintenance, refits, training and other non-           consuming and costly integration activities.       22 June 2007
operational activities.                               Evolving open systems architectures at
    The ability to carry out the synthesised          different levels, and moving to a more             3
                                                                                                             Dstl report (UK RESTRICTED) TR12552 V1.0,
task demand with warships at the required             distributed computing environment with             November 2004
readiness levels is impacted naturally by             ‘data models’ shared between suppliers
fleet size. However, transit times to theatre          so that separately supplied systems can be         4
                                                                                                             Modular Concept for Warships, Future Danish
are a significant constraint in the scenarios          added readily on board without any major           Naval Capabilities, A. S. Pedersen, Naval Team
considered, and there is only a modest                integration activity, will be an important         Denmark, Future Surface Warships Conference,
difference in the 50- and 25-ship fleets for           enabler for this. The MOSA8 multi-company          September 2003
the same assumed intensity of demand,                 team is exploring industrial consensus
which is sized for objectives appropriate to          options with the MoD, which would facilitate       5
                                                                                                             German Frigate for the Future MEKO D, Wolfgang
the smaller (bespoke) fleet. The modular               such an approach.                                  Bohlayer, Blohm & Voss, Future Surface Warships
25-ship fleet, in contrast, has a much higher              From a platform engineering perspective,       Conference, September 2003
level of task delivery with some modular              provision for modules has to be designed for,
combat system elements changed out on                 and requires some changes in the way ship          6   The MEKO CSL Littoral Warship, Wolfgang
ships remotely from home base. A separate             layouts are optimised and the design and           Bohlayer, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, Future
benefit of the utilisation of modular elements         through-life growth margins are allocated.         Surface Warships, September 2006
is the reduced number of equipments needed            Margin policies in particular will need to
to meet the total demand. This recognises             change, perhaps trading off part of the            7
                                                                                                             Jane’s Navy International, February 2007
that these combat system elements are not             through-life weight growth allowance against
required on all ships, or while ships are out of      a greater variable load for containerised          8   1st Maritime Combat Systems Conference,
service in maintenance periods and refits, or          systems. Ship services and infrastructure          6–7 June 2006

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