Navy Preps to Build New Amphibious Assault Ship


New AmpbThe Navy is getting ready to take the next step in its ongoing competition to build a new amphibious assault ship for the service, officials said.

Called the LX( R ), the new amphib will replace the Navy’s existing fleet of LSD 41/49 dock landing ships in the 2020s and 2030s, said Navy spokesman Matthew Leonard.

“LX( R ) will be a versatile, cost-effective amphibious ship — a success story in balancing cost and requirements while delivering key capabilities. Competition will play a prominent role in the LX( R ) acquisition strategy,” he said.

The Navy plans to award the detail design and construction contract for the lead ship by fiscal year 2020 with delivery planned for fiscal year 2026, Leonard added.

The 1980’s era LSD dock landing ships consist of eight Whidbey Island-class 609-foot long ships. The 15,000-ton ships, configured largely to house and transport four Landing Craft Air Cushions, or LCACs, are nearing the end of their service life.

Both the LSD and the San Antonio-class LPD 17 amphibious transport docks are integral to what’s called an Amphibious Ready Group, or ARG, which typically draws upon a handful of platforms to ensure expeditionary warfighting technology.  The ARG is tasked with transporting up to 2,200 Marines and their equipment, including what’s called a Marine Expeditionary Unit, or MEU.

The current configuration of the LPD transport dock is slightly different than the LSD dock landing ship in that it has more aviation capability, more command and control equipment, a crane for use on small boats and a different well deck configuration, Navy officials said.

The LPD is designed to operate with greater autonomy from an ARG and potentially conduct independent operations as needed. A LSD is able to operate four LCACs and the more autonomous LPD 17 can launch two LCACs.

The new LX® amphib, to be based on an LPD 17, will be designed for independent operations, greater aviation capability and additional command and control technologies when compared with the existing fleet of LSDs, Navy officials said.

“After thorough analysis, the Department of the Navy has determined that using a derivative of the LPD 17 hull form is the preferred alternative to meet LX® operational requirements,” Leonard explained.

Basing the ship on a LPD 17 – as opposed to starting from scratch with a new ship design – helps the existing industrial base and gives the Navy more options to keep costs lower, service leaders said.

“That ship is a good ship and we want to be able to continue to buy that ship. We did cost reduction initiatives to get the ship down under cost. We are on a good track to do that. When we get this ship out in the fleet I think it is going to be a great ship side by side with the LPD 17s,” Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Robert Walsh, director of expeditionary warfare for the Navy, said recently at the Surface Navy Association annual symposium in Arlington, Va.

The LSD, which is key to bringing a lot of equipment from ship to shore in LCACs, does not have the same ability to operate independently of an Amphibious Ready Group compared to the LPD 17.

“The LPD has more robust aviation capability. It still has a well-deck but it is not able to carry as much equipment as an LSD ship. LPD has the command and control and aviation capability to operate independently. The LSD is a cargo ship designed to support the big-deck amphibious assault ship in the ready group,” a Navy official told Military.com last summer.

Having more amphibs engineered and constructed for independent operations is seen as a strategic advantage in light of the Pacific rebalance and the geographical expanse of the region. The widely dispersed territories in the region may require a greater degree of independent amphibious operations where single amphibs operate separately from a larger ARG.

Also, the LPD is able to transport up to four CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters or two MV-22 Ospreys. The Navy had been planning on maintaining only 11 LPDs in the fleet, however additional funding has allowed the service to procure a long-desired 12th LPD, Navy officials said.

Overall, the Navy’s need for amphib continues to outpace the amount of ships available for missions, many Navy and Marine Corps leaders have said.

Recognizing what the Navy has said about its plans and intentions for the new ship, Newport News Va.-based Huntington Ingalls Industries has already unveiled its offering for the LX® competition, calling it the LPD Flight IIA.

The Navy’s LSD dock landing ships are built to house four LCACs or three larger Landing Craft Utility vehicles or LCUs. The ships can also transport up to 36 amphibious assault vehicles. Also, the LSDs have four diesel engines and a helicopter platform with no hangar.

Huntington Ingalls executives say they modified their design to meet the Navy’s adjusted requirements for the LX( R ).

“We deleted the composite mast and deleted the aft house. We took the Marines down to 500 and took half of the medical space away. We took four engines down to two,” said Mike Duthu, director of new Navy programs, Huntington Ingalls. “We deleted a generator, deleted the electrical load topside and we also made some of the systems simpler.”

The Huntington Ingalls design is aiming to propose a ship that is capable of independent operations, aviation missions and extensive command and control technologies, Duthu added.

For example, their offering adds an aviation hangar to the platform in order to better enable sustained independent aviation operations.

“This (LPD Flight IIA) would be our concept going in to LX( R ) as to what we would offer for the Navy’s consideration. We understand that LXR is going to be a competition and that the Navy intends to compete LX( R ),” he said.

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New Navy drone gets its feet wet flying off a Navy destroyer


mq8c_first_flight_at_sea_80030917MQ-8C Fire Scout, the newest naval drone being developed for the U.S. Navy by Northrop Grumman successfully flew the system for the first time off the guided-missile destroyer, USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109), Dec. 16, off the Virginia coast.


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Taiwan Navy Takes Delivery of First Stealth ‘Carrier Killer’ Corvette


Taiwanese Navy Tuo Jiang

Taiwanese Navy corvette Tuo Jiang

The Republic of China Navy has taken delivery of what could be the first of a new class of stealth corvettes, according to local press reports.

The locally built 500-ton Tuo Jiang was delivered to the Taiwanese Navy from shipbuilder Lung Teh Shipbuilding at the harbor of Su-ao in a Tuesday ceremony.

“With the completion of this new-generation warship, Taiwan’s naval combat capabilities have reached a milestone,” Taiwan’s Minister of Defense Yen Ming said during the ceremony.
“The Tuo Jiang is the fastest and most powerful vessel of its kind in Asia, and underscores the Navy’s success in implementing the national policy of creating a self-sustaining defense.”

Taiwan has said it wants to purchase up to a dozen of the corvettes that can travel at speeds in excess of 40 knots and will likely be armed with a domestic supersonic anti-ship missile.

“Armaments reportedly include the Hsiung Feng III (HF-3) ramjet-powered supersonic anti-ship missile,” reported Jane’s Defence Weekly in March.
“The HF-3, manufactured by the defence ministry’s Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST), is touted as Taiwan’s most potent weapon against the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN’s) aircraft carrier.”

Taiwan is also slated to acquire up to four U.S. Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates in the next few years following the approval of an arms sale act last week.


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The 10 Most Important Things In The World Right Now


FloodHello! It’s Christmas Eve. But first, here’s what you need to know.

1. Sony Pictures has reversed its decision to pull “The Interview” from all theatres and said the film will now play in more than 200 cinemas around the US on Christmas Day, a move that was praised by the White House.

2. Standard & Poor’s said there’s at least a 50% chance that Russia’s credit rating will be lowered below investment grade, also known as junk, within 90 days.

3. South Korean officials charged Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and the head of its domestic partner with illegally operating rental cars as taxis, Bloomberg reports.

4. Former US President George H. W. Bush was admitted to a Texas hospital Tuesday night suffering shortness of breath.

5. Coca-Cola is reportedly planning to cut as many as 2,000 jobs globally in the coming weeks, in addition to getting rid of executive perks and holiday parties, as part of a plan to save $3 billion in its annual budget.

6.The Navy SEAL who says he shot Osama Bin Laden, 38-year-old Robert O’Neill, is reportedly under investigation for leaking secrets.

7. Australian police arrested two men in Sydney on Wednesday, with one allegedly in possession of documents connected to a planned terrorist attack on government targets.

8. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was reelected by parliament on Wednesday, paving the way for him to launch a new cabinet with a new defence minister.

9. The United Nations’ disaster chief has warned of more natural catastrophes in the coming decades.

10. At least 100 people were stranded by floods at a resort in a Malaysian national park, which is experiencing its heaviest rainfall in more than four decades.

And finally … 

An Italian circus is in trouble for disguising chow chow puppies as pandas by dying them black and white.

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Resurrected US Navy Traders to serve on Brazilian aircraft carrier


C-1_trader800The Brazilian Navy is restarting the refurbishment of eight C1/S2 carrier based transport aircraft. If everything goes according to plan, four ex-US Navy C-1A Trader aircraft that have rested for 26 years in the aircraft boneyard in Arizona will return to sea, operating from the deck of Brazil’s aircraft carrier São Paulo.


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China’s Strange Fascination with the Soviet Navy


Lyle J. Goldstein

military, Asia-Pacific

“We Will Die, but … Sink the Enemy’s Entire Squadron:  We Will Not Cause Our Navy to Lose Face”

Russia is back in vogue among Chinese strategists, at least for now.  Undoubtedly, this excitement is partly the result of recent geopolitical developments in Eastern Europe, but the trend was also evident before the Ukraine Crisis.  Whereas discussions of direct historical links between Chinese and Soviet strategy had been a somewhat taboo subject for decades, these discussions are now becoming ever more common.   A recent Chinese book published by the Chinese military, for example, describes in extreme detail the critical Soviet aid given to the establishment of China’s naval air force back in the early 1950s. However, these discussions go well beyond history to draw major overarching lessons for future Chinese naval development, including “缓解…本土战略压力 [relieving strategic pressure against the … homeland].”

One late 2014 study from the November issue of 东北亚论坛  [Northeast Asia Forum] relates how the Soviet Navy, by the time of the late Cold War, possessed no fewer than 1,880 ships, including 361 submarines. With a  “远洋进攻性” [far seas offensive type] doctrine of naval power, “… the Soviet Navy had become a significant strategic factor.”  This edition of Dragon Eye will evaluate that particular article, which was the result of a multi-year project supported explicitly by the Chinese military. Its authors, moreover, are both affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences in Beijing.  Some American China specialists evidently regard this Chinese-language academic journal as not worthwhile to examine, but I respectfully disagree.

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Navy 2015: Congressional Clashes Over LCS, UCLASS & Carriers


USS Washington

Smooth sailing is not in the Navy’s forecast for the next year.The service faces big decisions on major programs, and we can expect clashes between Navy plans, congressional politics and budgetary realities on three of the biggest: the upgunned Littoral Combat Ship, the UCLASS armed drone, and the jewel in the Navy’s crown, the nuclear aircraft carrier. The

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Top Stories 2014: U.S. Navy Acquisition


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Taiwan thanks U.S. for frigate sale


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China lodges protest after Obama approves Taiwan frigate sale


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