The U.S. Navy has sent out a design request to the defense industry for a new combat frigate that is capable of operating in a variety of ways in contested environments. In addition to over-the-horizon guided-missile capabilities, the Navy wants its new frigate to be able to destroy swarms of attacking small boats, operate drones in the air and under the water, accompany and support aircraft carrier strike groups, and conduct other operations. The Navy wants its new FFG(X) to be able to conduct advanced surface and anti-submarine warfare as well, an announcement from Naval Sea Systems Command noted. The new platform will “employ manned systems to penetrate and dwell in contested environments, operating at greater risk to gain sensor and weapons advantages over the adversary,” it added. In addition, the Navy is turning to industry to develop advanced command-and-control, networking technology and sensors as well. “FFG(X) will be capable of establishing a local sensor network using passive onboard sensors, embarked aircraft and elevated/tethered systems and unmanned vehicles to gather information and then act as a gateway to the fleet tactical grid using resilient communications systems and networks,” the Navy announcement states. In addition, the ship “will perform its missions in complex electronic warfare and anti-ship missile threat environments, and, therefore, when available from other Navy efforts, will integrate hard-kill with advanced soft-kill systems at the combat systems level to enable the most effective offense and defense management of onboard weapons and decoy inventories.”
Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.