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Posted: 1/25/2006 9:29:38 AM EDT
Aerospace Daily & Defense Report

Navy Oks Aviation-Heavy, Smaller Amphibious Assault Ship
By Michael Bruno
01/23/2006 09:29:57 AM

After $1 billion in additional cuts to its proposed design and construction costs that trimmed its multimission aspect in favor of an aviation role, the Defense Acquisition Board has approved Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Landing Helicopter Assault (LHA)-Replacement amphibious assault ship program to enter system development and demonstration (SDD).

The milestone B review occurred Jan. 11, although it previously was scheduled for Nov. 22, 2005, according to the board's Web site. Navy Rear Adm. Charles Hamilton III, program executive officer for ships, told the Surface Navy Association's national symposium on Jan. 12 that officials cut "desirement" out of the program to get to a first-ship $2.762 billion (fiscal 2007 dollars) price with which they could live.

"We go from a high-price ship to an affordable ship in a way that gets the capability we need and no more," Hamilton said, noting that new Navy chief Adm. Mike Mullen has pushed programs to streamline requirements and identify must-have features.

The design of the LHA(R) had been the subject of considerable controversy within the Navy for some time, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The Navy conducted an analysis of alternatives (AoA) considering six different designs, from one that would be essentially the same as the LHD-8 to another, called the Dual Tram, that would weigh 70 percent more than existing amphibious assault ships and have two separate flight decks so that fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft could operate simultaneously. That is something not possible on current LHA and LHD ships, the CBO reported in November 2004.

According to the AoA, the Dual Tram design would have a displacement of 69,000 tons, as large as the former Midway class aircraft carriers, and cost an average of about $3 billion apiece. But the CBO estimated the cost would be closer to $4 billion each.

"It had a pretty pricey sticker on it," Hamilton said Jan. 12.

In February 2004, officials settled on a new 50,000-ton LHA version they called LHA Plug Plus. "But certainly the affordability issue was still out there," the admiral said.

The final version - the 45,000-ton LHA 6 - is a modified LHD variant reconfigured to meet aviation-specific requirements. Senior officials decided to close the well deck - a source of major debate between the Navy and Marine Corps - because closing it makes the LHA(R) more specialized than earlier amphibious assault ships that could launch smaller landing crafts.

The LHA(R) will replace the aging LHA Tarawa class ships, and may eventually replace the LHD Wasp class as well.




Link Posted: 1/25/2006 1:32:21 PM EDT
evening bump
Link Posted: 1/25/2006 1:51:41 PM EDT
Looks like a Birtish aircraft carrier
Link Posted: 1/25/2006 4:26:17 PM EDT

Originally Posted By AcidGambit:
Looks like a Birtish aircraft carrier



No ski-jump!
Link Posted: 1/25/2006 4:29:06 PM EDT
Looks like a Wasp-class LHD.
Link Posted: 1/25/2006 7:47:15 PM EDT

Originally Posted By COLE-CARBINE:

Originally Posted By AcidGambit:
Looks like a Birtish aircraft carrier



No ski-jump!



I was making a funny.
Link Posted: 1/25/2006 7:58:53 PM EDT

Why seal up the well deck? Why make it "more specialized"? That seems kind of backwards. I should think they'd want to leave the well deck there. Sure, they might not intend to use it most of the time but isn't it better to have it in case they do need it for some reason?

Link Posted: 1/25/2006 8:05:04 PM EDT
sweet
Link Posted: 1/26/2006 3:58:48 AM EDT

Originally Posted By XeroSygnal:
Why seal up the well deck? Why make it "more specialized"? That seems kind of backwards. I should think they'd want to leave the well deck there. Sure, they might not intend to use it most of the time but isn't it better to have it in case they do need it for some reason?




Has to do with the USMC's adoption of STOM. Amphib assault over a defended beach is out. Manuevring directly from the sea to the objective is in.
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 12:34:27 PM EDT

Originally Posted By H46Driver:

Originally Posted By XeroSygnal:
Why seal up the well deck? Why make it "more specialized"? That seems kind of backwards. I should think they'd want to leave the well deck there. Sure, they might not intend to use it most of the time but isn't it better to have it in case they do need it for some reason?




Has to do with the USMC's adoption of STOM. Amphib assault over a defended beach is out. Manuevring directly from the sea to the objective is in.



Ah, I see. I didn't know that amphibious assaults like that were going away. Thanks for clarifying.
Link Posted: 1/28/2006 12:43:15 PM EDT
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