It also requires intelligence gathering and scouting, some ground combat support capabilities, and the ability to act as a local command node, sharing tactical information with other Navy aircraft, ships, submarines, and joint units.
At the same time, however, the US Navy needs ships that can act as low-end fillers in other traditional fleet roles, and operate in the presence of missile-armed enemy vessels and/or aerial threats.
As the saga of the USA’s cost-effective but short-lived FFG-7 frigates proved, “future-proofing” and upgradeability for key systems, electronics, and weapons will be critical if these small surface combatants are to remain useful throughout their mechanical lives.
Niche providers and related partnerships include: The LCS-2 Independence Class offers a futuristic but practical high-speed trimaran, based on Austal designs and experience with vessels like the US Marines’ Westpac Express high-speed transport, and the Army and Navy’s TSV/HSV ships.
It offers an especially large flight deck (7,300 square feet) and internal mission volume (15,200 square feet mission bay) for its size, with a 3,500 square foot helicopter hangar.
The hull is aluminum, but the trimaran design offers additional stability options, and may help the ship survive side hits.
The Independence Class will carry a General Dynamics designed combat system, and standard LCS weapon fittings.