Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR Dec16/Jan17 Contents SURFACE COMBATANTS
according to crew of the Coronado. The context
was unfortunately given scant attention following
the launch, with most focusing instead about the
missile not hitting the target.
The ship was also the first LCS to complete
a Structural Test Firing (STF) of the 30 mm gun
mission module in April 2014, and the first to test-
launch Norway’s Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile
(NSM) in September that year. Although there is
no current requirement for the missile aboard the
LCS, the test was to determine its feasibility for an
increased anti-surface warfare role for the ships in
the future should the need arise.
The ship has also been fitted with the Surface
Warfare (SUW) mission package for its maiden
Singapore deployment, comprising of two 11-meter
rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIB), two Visit, Board,
Search and Seizure (VBSS) teams and two Mk 46
Mod 2 30mm high-velocity Gun Weapon Systems
(GWS), manned by 19 embarked personnel from
Surface Warfare Mission Package Detachment 2.
The SUW package also comprises of an aviation
detachment from the Wildcards of Helicopter
Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23 Detachment 4,
made up of two Northrop-Grumman MQ-8B Fire
Scout unmanned aerial vehicles a Lockheed-Martin
MH-60S Seahawk multi-mission helicopter and 25
Lieutenant Commander Evan Young, Officer in
Charge of HSC-23 Detachment 4 told APDR
that detachment plans to develop and integrate
shipborne tactics while on deployment, with it’s
role being primarily to “execute surveillance and
build a recognised maritime picture for the force
multiplication of this ship”.
HSC-23’s deployment on board the Coronado also
has a number of firsts; namely the first deployment
of the MQ-8B with the Telephonics Corporation
AN/ZPY-4(V)1 radar and the first time the MH-60S
has been involved in an LCS deployment, with
previous LCS deployments to Singapore utilising
the MH-60R variant and MQ-8Bs with only the
FLIR Systems Brite Star II day/night Electro-Optical
turret with a laser target designator fitted.
According to the U.S. Naval Air Systems
Command, the AN/ZPY-4 significantly expands the
search area for the ship’s combat team with the
ability to simultaneously track up to 150 targets and
increase detection accuracies out to 130 km (70
HSC-23 Det 4’s LCDR Young gave the example
of the Fire Scout flying to the limit of LCS radar and
then being able to use its own radar to extend radar
coverage for the ship with the UAS being able to
maintain up to 4 hours on station. The Fire Scouts
are flown from an onboard mission control console
that can handle both being flown simultaneously,
although typically only one aircraft is airborne.
Landing the Fire Scout is done automatically, with
the UAS being able to sense winds, pitch and roll
of ship using datalinks to consistently land on the
exact same spot of what is described as a “forgiving
flight deck” measuring 1,030 m2 (11,100 sq ft) that
is able to support two Seahawks, multiple UAVs, or
one CH-53 Sea Stallion-class helicopter.
In early September, the U.S. Naval Surface Force
Pacific Fleet announced an overhaul of the LCS
force employment strategy designed to "simplify
crewing, stabilise testing and increase overseas
deployment presence availability", with the first
two ships from each class, namely the Freedom,
Forth Worth, Independence and Coronado, being
designated as testing ships.
This will allow the U.S. Navy to conduct near- and
long-term testing for the entire ship class without
affecting deployment rotations, with the remaining
24 ships already budgeted for being assigned to six
four-ship divisions, divided between the Pacific and
Under the new plan, the Independence-class
ships will be based in San Diego and Freedom-
class ships will go to Mayport, Florida. Each division
will have one warfare focus -- surface, mine or anti-
submarine, with the aim to maximize the capability
of the LCS.
The way the ships are crewed will also change,
with the 3-2-1 crewing model being abandoned
in favour of a two-crew "blue/gold" model where
one set of crew will be able to complete homeport
training and workups while the other crew deploys
with the ship.
The new personnel arrangement will have a
core crew of 70 sailors that will be trained to
conduct one of the three warfare missions and a
23 person air detachment for a total of 93 sailors
aboard, rather than the mission package crew being
separately embarked as is now the case.
The U.S. Navy has also cut its planned buy of the
LCS from 52 to 40, and continued concerns over
the capability and survivability of the class against a
“peer competitor” has also resulted in the decision
to cap the standard LCS fleet to 32 ships and
introduce a new ship class with improved ASuW
and ASW capabilities.
The new Small Surface Combatant will still carry
mission modules but drop the modularity and high-
speed requirements, and an RFI issued in April
2014 saw Lockheed Martin, Austal USA, Huntington
Ingalls Industries, and General Dynamics Bath Iron
Works submitting their respective solutions.
Austal USA submitted a modified Independence-
class ship, adding permanently installed systems
like a towed array sonar, torpedoes, vertical launch
anti-submarine rockets, and aviation capability to
support the MH-60 helicopter in place of mission
The modified Independence-class ship will also
have a VLS for Standard missiles, a 76 mm gun in
place of the 57 mm gun, and can take on an Aegis
or ADMR radar, although the U.S. Navy has since
decided it will not require the missiles or larger gun.
The new class was officially designated a frigate in
2015, with the U.S. Navy expecting to downselect a
winning design for production in 2019.
Although not a formal ally of the United States, Singapore has
been a strong supporter of the Washington’s security presence
in the region and is also an important port of call for U.S. military
ships and aircraft transiting or operating the region.
USS Freedom’s place was taken by USS Forth Worth in late 2014
and she was immediately thrown into action, being part of the
multinational effort to find the ill-fated Air Asia Flight 8501, which
had crashed into the Java Sea during stormy weather on the 28th
of December that year.
22 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter DEC-JAN 2017
15/12/2016 1:04 PM
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