The US Navy released the first formal details on what it wants in its guided-missile frigate in a new request for information. The Navy desires to award a Detail Design and Construction contract in FY2020 for the future Guided Missile Frigate (FFG(X)).
According to the RFI, "The purpose of this type of ship is to (1) fully support Combatant and Fleet Commanders during conflict by supplementing the fleet's undersea and surface warfare capabilities, allow for independent operations in a contested environment, extend the fleet tactical grid, and host and control unmanned systems; and (2) relieve large surface combatants from stressing routine duties during operations other than war.
"This platform will employ unmanned systems to penetrate and dwell in contested environments, operating at greater risk to gain sensor and weapons advantages over the adversary. The FFG(X) will be capable of establishing a local sensor network using passive onboard sensors, embarked aircraft and elevated/tethered systems and unmanned vehicles to gather information and then act as a gateway to the fleet tactical grid using resilient communications systems and networks."
USNI News reports that the Navy still has not worked out how to incorporate Vertical Launching Systems into its frigate plans, and the RFI does not include VLS in its chart of required weapon systems. In all, the Navy is looking to acquire 20 such frigates.