Magazine article National Defense

Analysts Worried about New Navy Frigate

Magazine article National Defense

Analysts Worried about New Navy Frigate

Article excerpt

The Navy recently released a request for information from industry as it seeks to acquire a new frigate. Analysts are concerned that the service might not end up making the right cost and capability tradeoffs.

Jerry Hendrix, director of the defense strategies and assessments program at the Center for a New American Security, said new frigates are needed, but he cautioned that they wouldn't be cost effective if the Navy piles on too many requirements.

"Any time that you ... require a ship to be good at all things, you're going to drive up the cost factor," he said during a recent Senate Armed Services Committee subcommittee on seapower hearing.

The "sweet spot" would be a highly capable anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare vessel with a per-unit cost in the $700 million to $850 million range, he said.

"If you exceed that by adding in air defense capability, certainly we start edging over $1 billion per copy. And, at that point in time we'll find ourselves ... [saying], 'Shouldn't we just buy some more Burkes?'" he said, referring to Arleigh Burke-class destroyers which have high-end capabilities including air defense.

The Navy has outlined a "notional" procurement profile for 20 new frigates, currently referred to as FFG(X), that the service would potentially begin buying in fiscal year 2020. …

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