Thursday, November 17, 2011

Keel Laid for First DDG 1000 Destroyer

Via US Navy..
BATH, Maine (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy laid the keel for its first Zumwalt-class destroyer (DDG 1000), Nov. 17, at General Dynamics-Bath Iron Works shipyard in Bath, Maine.

While keel laying was once traditionally the formal recognition of the start of the ship's construction, today's advanced modular shipbuilding allows fabrication of the ship to begin months before. However, the keel laying continues to symbolically recognize the joining of the ship's components and the ceremonial beginning of the ship.

"Keel laying is just the first of many important milestones and events in bringing Zumwalt to life," said Capt. Jim Downey, DDG 1000 program manager, Program Executive Office, Ships. "With the outstanding team we have assembled, I look forward to building on the superb progress we've achieved to date and delivering this extremely capable warship to the Fleet."

The lead ship and class are named in honor of former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo R. "Bud" Zumwalt Jr., who served as chief of naval operations from 1970-1974. The ship's co-sponsors, Ann Zumwalt, Mouzetta Zumwalt-Weathers, and Lt.Col. James G. Zumwalt symbolically authenticated the keel with a plate displaying the initials of all four children of the ship's namesake, including eldest son, the late-Elmo R. Zumwalt III.

Construction began on DDG 1000 in February 2009, and the Navy and its industry partners have worked to mature the ship's design and ready their industrial facilities to build this advanced surface combatant. Zumwalt is currently more than 60 percent complete and scheduled to deliver in fiscal year 2014. Construction on the second ship of the class, Michael Moonsoor (DDG 1001), began March 2010.

Designed for sustained operations in the littorals and land attack, the multi-mission DDG 1000 will provide independent forward presence and deterrence, support special operations forces, and operate as an integral part of joint and combined expeditionary forces. This warship integrates numerous critical technologies, systems, and principles into a complete warfighting system. These include employment of optimal manning through human systems integration, improved quality of life, low operations and support costs, multi-spectral signature reduction, balanced warfighting design, survivability, and adaptability.
Looks like the Marine Corps gets it naval gunnery after all.

Great this is beyond good news.  While the other services are focused on what might come to pass in the budget battles ahead, the Navy and Marine Corps are getting ships into service at an accelerated rate.

Good news indeed.

USMC delays JLTV going with upgraded HUMVEE's?

Jonathan sent me this article (thanks guy) from Bloomberg News covering the JLTV/Humvee issue in the Marines. Read the article but as usual, below are the good bits...
The U.S. Marine Corps may scrap plans to buy new combat trucks until the late 2020s, officials told a U.S. House Armed Services panel.

The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program is under scrutiny in Congress after a Senate panel recommended its termination in September. The Marine Corps plans to develop the new truck with the U.S. Army.

The Marine Corps said it may delay the JLTV and rely longer on its aging Humvee trucks because its priority is to buy new amphibious assault vehicles to ferry Marines from sea to land.

The biggest risk to the plan to modernize the combat vehicle fleet is “not program schedule but rather decision schedules,” Brigadier General Daniel O’Donohue, director of capabilities development, Brigadier General Frank Kelley, the head of Marine Corps Systems Command, and William Taylor, the land systems program executive officer, said today in a joint statement prepared for a hearing of the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee.

If JLTV is delayed, “we lose an opportunity that we cannot readdress” until after the procurement of a new amphibious combat vehicle, or ACV, “in the late 2020s,” the officials said.

Not an optimal solution but one I can live with.  This makes total sense.  If we get involved in another counter insurgency/nation building op then we can pull MRAPs out of storage.  This move could actually start the Marine Corps on the road to getting lighter.

Additionally it will place priorities on weapon systems.  We'll finally start telling policy makers what are must haves and what are nice to haves.  I believe that the JLTV falls into the nice to have end of the debate.

My opinion, but I just don't see how we can afford JLTV's right now...we have too many vehicles/aircraft to replace at one time.  Now if we could only get a handle on our rotary aviation problem...that's going to be the next headache!

I just used the BAE offering as an example of the upgraded HUMVEE.  I don't have a dog in the fight the only thing I would add to this competition is the requirement for a massively upgraded suspension...the TAK-4 from Oshkosh would seem ideal on any of the offerings, but hopefully all the competitors have that issue covered.