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"The U.S. Congress Could Save the Navy’s Oldest Cruisers" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP24 Oct 2017 9:50 p.m. PST

"The U.S. Congress is beginning to write the Defense Department's budget for 2018. For the Navy, that means yet another heated debate over the future of the branch's 22 Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers.

The Navy wants to decommission 11 of the 567-foot-long cruisers at a rate of two per year starting in 2020, leaving the other 11 to sail on into the 2030s. Under the Navy's current plan, the last Ticonderoga-class vessel would decommission in 2038, at the ripe old age of 42.

But some members of Congress want potentially all of the aging cruisers to remain in service through the 2030s — for two reasons. First, keeping older ships in the fleet longer is one way to achieve the Navy's longstanding goal of growing the fleet from today's roughly 280 front-line vessels to as many 350…"
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Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP25 Oct 2017 10:45 a.m. PST

Typical of congress: wanting to achieve 350 front-line by changing the definition of "front-line".

Not sure what I think. With the right upgrades those ships could be useful. They have AN/SPY-1 eg Aegis and their VLS can use SM-3s. They have two VLS systems in addition to their Harpoons and some other launchers. They have two 5" guns and two Phalanx systems. Granted all that was nifty back in the '90s, but Ticonderogas have shot down satellites. All they need is some stealth upgrades, right?

I guess unless you have a way of building two ships per year starting in 2020 that will have that many VLS tubes you might as well keep using them. If it were up to me, I suppose I'd tell Congress I want to lay them up, then when Congress says "no" I could say, "well, we're going to need half a billion each to make them stealthy, and here's where those jobs would be created…" and end up with twenty two fairly useful ships.

emckinney25 Oct 2017 12:01 p.m. PST

There's a severe problem with ramping up production of equivalent hulls. Truly, it doesn't make sense to say that you have a goal of increasing the size of the fleet to 350, but then watch it fall for several years.

If nothing else, keeping more ships in service keeps the pipeline open for more POs, CPOs, and officers to gain experience and promotion. Look at what just happened with having to pull 1,000 pilots back to active service.

Lion in the Stars25 Oct 2017 4:45 p.m. PST

Stealth isn't something that you can easily retrofit, you'd be looking at completely replacing the entire superstructure of the Ticos (and making them look like the Burkes). And that would take each ship out of service for probably 2 years.

A more reasonable reason to keep the Ticos in service would be to keep the trained crews.

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP26 Oct 2017 1:02 p.m. PST

Reducing intrinsic radar cross section would require rebuilding the superstructure, at the least, and that may not be worthwhile. But there are other kinds of stealth. ECM, decoys of various types, and probably other things we don't know about.

Plus, you might be able to do a few simple things to the superstructure to reduce radar return somewhat. If the goal is not "true stealth" but just making it more difficult to get a good radar fix that could improve things for a few million and a few weeks. Just change the most reflective features.

So you don't need to make it perfect, just better. You just want to keep the ship useful, not make it state-of-the-art.

Lion in the Stars26 Oct 2017 7:19 p.m. PST

There are lots of things you can do that will increase you radar return.

My subs actually had a couple small aluminum 'balls' (really 3 circles all at 90deg to each other) that we had to mount when we were surfaced. Sailboats have the same thing.

But reducing your RCS takes a lot of deliberate work.

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