Future Surface Combatant (FSC) Design
The Royal Navy's next generation frigate replacement needs to be adaptive throughout its service life in order to adapt to changing technologies and requirements beyond 2050. The FSC is likely to be "modular" in design, changing equipment and roles. Initial concepts evaluated in 2003 could carry a series of unmanned craft including helicopters, reconnaissance drones, mini surface boats and small submarines. A "quick look" study contract was awarded by the Ministry of Defence to BMT Defence Services of Bath in March 2003, with the mother/daughter idea one of several FSC concepts being considered. The others involved much larger ships designed to be faster, stealthier and more adaptable than existing ships. BMT also considered a pentamaran that would displace about 9,000 tons and launch missiles and amphibious commando ships. One of the key strengths of the pentamaran hullform in military vessels is the large upperdeck area relative to size. The ability to utilise this in support of aviation assets, beyond those typically associated with the corvette/OPV, provides a step change in the traditionally expected capabilities.
Ship operational considerations comprise mission profiles and operational requirements. Mission duration was 45 days. From historical data, it was initially estimated that the FSC will spend 22% of its time in refit, 41% at sea, 14% in maintenance, and 23% in other activities.
The ship will be designed for a general purpose role including anti-submarine work but a design has not been decided. A high degree of automation is likely, meaning the crew could be as few as 100 strong. The FSC could be a variation of the Type 45 Destroyer design, however a trimaran (three-hulled) ship would be a high profile, revolutionary design that would offer the benefits of being more stable in rougher sea states, more efficient in the water (less drag) and give more deck space to install weapons systems and allow more area for landing helicopters on the flight deck. As well as being more comfortable for the crew operating the FSC, greater stability allows communications equipment to be stored higher in the ship, which would improve the performance of the transmitters and receivers.
For the most of the Navy's life the traditional mono-hull has been the chosen design, not surprisingly due to its numerous advantages, such as low power requirements for long distances at low speed, durability, cost efficiency and adaptability to weight change. With these being only a few of the advantages it has also disadvantages, such as its large water plane area which reduces its seakeeping abilities, unfavourable stability characteristics, limited speeds and small deck areas.
The other major technological breakthrough the Royal Navy could benefit from is the use of Electric Propulsion motors. UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) concept architecture for ship Integrated Full Electric propulsion (IFEP) is already partially implemented on the British Royal Navy's Type 23 and SRMH [FMP1] classes. Defence Procurement Minister Baroness Symons said: "The introduction of electric ship propulsion may be as significant as the change from sail to steam. It could mean the warships and submarines of the future would be more effective, would be better places for their crews to live and work on, and would be built and operated at a lower cost to the taxpayer. The work now underway will place the Royal Navy and the French Navy at the forefront of this exciting technological development."The two class solution would include the Versatile Surface Combatant, expected to enter service around 2023, and a 'Military Off The Shelf' variant known as the Medium Sized Vessel Derivative expected to enter service between 2016-19. Two major new developments to come with the FSC are the possible incorporation of a trimaran hull and the implementation of electric motors to power the ship.
The innovative F5 Future Fast Flexible Frigate concept, proposed in September 2007 by BMT Defence Services and its sister company BMT Nigel Gee, forms the basis for a family of future warships that provide high deployment speed, flexibility, and the potential to swing rapidly between roles. The F5 concept is founded on the patented pentamaran hullform, originally developed for modern fast and efficient commercial multi-hulled passenger ferries and container ships. The pentamaran combines a slender extended centre hull, stabilised by pairs of port and starboard outer hulls, to give a large and stable low drag hull form, as well as side protection and easy berthing. The extended center hull of the pentamaran, and the full breadth superstructure across the wide beam of the ship make the F5 an excellent weapons and sensors platform. It allows clear separation of topside sensors, such as a fixed four-face MPAR, and 64 VLS weapons silos in two modules fore and aft, as well as an electromagnetic rail gun, all with good arcs of fire. The F5 uses a novel COmbined Gas, electric and Gas (COGLAG) waterjet propulsion arrangement to provide low speed efficiency and excellent cruise and boost performance. The F5 also boasts a double hangar capable of housing two Merlin type helicopters.
A Multirole Monohull Warship (MMW) would be fitted with a variety of weapons and sensors that will allow it to carry out its tasks. The ship could launch Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles as well as Harpoon ASW missiles. To provide self-defence from air attacks Aster 15 missiles could be fitted along with two 30mm guns and two Millennium guns. In attack against submarines the ship can use its Magazine Torpedoes and its two Merlin Helicopters. When assisting in Naval Gunfire Support the 5-inch Mk 45 gun is used. Countermeasures include, Seagnat, deflectors and a towed decoy. An Integrated Full Electric Propulsion could consist of four gas turbine alternators, two WR21 (25MW each), one Tempest (9.5 MW) and one TM2500 (2.5 MW) all capable of providing electrical power for both domestic services and propulsion.
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