Saturday, May 28, 2011

How different is the new destroyer from its Spanish roots? More than you may think



>Photo—2007--Spin the Roulette wheel. Australia's Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Russ Shalders, Minister for Defense Dr Brendan Nelson, and Chief of Defense Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston with model of new Air Warfare Destroyer.<

The Air Warfare Destroyer warship project that the then Defence Minister Nelson signed off on back in 2007 isn’t as simple as just throwing a few Australian specifications at a Spanish design. It is very high-risk.

Australia is not just trying to build an existing Spanish warship design. There are a lot of changes. More displacement; a lot more space needed for crew quarters; provisions; helicopter requirements; weapons systems accessories and more. How much more? It is very possible that it could be way more than our current situation of poor defence project management skills can handle. Consider the list at the bottom that shows the difference between the Spanish design and what Australia really wants for its Air Warfare Destroyer now languishing in project management hell.

All that, and as we now know, the project leaders can’t even produce the basic hull without serious trouble.

A proper Defence bureaucracy would have recognized the huge risk involved before a contract was even signed. Now, it is too late.

See also, today’s update from The Australian. The current government was warned about additional problems with the build back in February.


The Hobart Class - Differences from the F100 Class

Navantia’s F104 ship design is the basis for the AWD. The F104 baseline is being updated for AWD to include;

  • Key F105 features,
  • Australian Combat system modifications, and
  • Selected platform upgrades that are unique to the Hobart Class.

These features are summarised as follows:

F105 Modifications
  • More efficient and powerful diesel engines coupled with improved fuel tank arrangements will provide increased range,
  • The inclusion of a bow thruster will improve manoeuvrability in harbours;
  • Improvements to underway replenishment arrangements for manpower efficiencies;
  • Changes to funnel tops to improve the ship’s air wake; and
  • Bunk size increases to improve habitability.
AWD Combat System Modifications
  • The Hobart Class will use the Aegis Weapon System Baseline 7.1and the AN/SPY-1D(V) Phased Array Radar.
  • The Under Sea Warfare capability will be upgraded by:
    • Enhanced Anti Submarine Warfare capabilities and the addition of a torpedo defence system;
    • ASW decoys for torpedo defence;
    • Enhanced undersea communications;
    • Integration of the MU90 torpedo.

Other changes include:

  • Modification of the MK45 gun and Gun Fire Control System, including provision for Extended Range Munitions (ERM);
  • Addition of the Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC);
  • Modification of the IFF UPX-29 to the current tactical standard;
  • Addition of an Horizon Search Radar (HSR) for improved anti-ship missile defence;
  • Upgrades to the Surface-to-Surface Missile System to improve target selectivity in congested water, littoral and coastal operations;
  • Upgrades to the Very Short Range Defence system to improve its integration and utility against asymmetric surface threats;
  • Upgrades to the Electronic Warfare system, including the addition of electronic attack capabilities;
  • Addition of X/Ka Satcom and INMARSAT Fleet Broadband and INMARSAT C capability;
  • Improved Infrared Search and Track capabilities;
  • Improved Electro-Optical Surveillance capability;
  • Addition of Nulka Launchers for active missile decoys;
AWD-Unique Platform Modifications

The ship’s displacement will be increased to 7,000 tonnes for an improved service life margin.

Cold weather operation will be improved to allow for deployment into Australia’s southern waters.

The hangar will be modified to accommodate a range of helicopters.

Other modifications include:

  • Increased total cold room capacity for improved endurance;
  • Incorporation of a fixed gas detection system to warn of the presence of harmful gases in compartments where personnel exposure risks exist;
  • Modification of the 220V/50Hz network to 240V/50 Hz, incorporation of Residual Current Devices (RCD) and the Australian pin configuration for general purpose outlets, and
  • Modification of existing stowage, and increases in the overall number of stowage facilities, for thermal protective suit and life raft containers.

(Source: Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance)


Matt said...

All I can say is "bloody hell", here we go again, yet another major capital acquisition screw up.
What is wrong with buying a proven product or design off the shelf that best matches our needs then incorporate specific upgrades & improvements over time. Just imagine the ramifications if this project turns into another "Seasprite".

Goldeel1 said...

Whilst I agree with the basic tenet of your argument, that we cannot afford major program screw ups, there are several flip sides to this problem to consider.

Firstly off the shelf does not always work either. Take the Army's M1-A1 purchase. In the end they have ended up with I believe the wrong tank at the wrong price for the wrong role. It is just to damn big for what we actually needed it to do. So damn big in fact that a lot of heavy duty support equipment had to be purchased just to back it up and move it around the country. And when they finally got it some genius realised that it was to heavy to get on and off the Tobruk without structural reinforcement. In essence there is nothing wrong with the Abrams, but everything wrong with the thought processes and management of the program. That is where the real problem lies.

Same goes for Australianizing equipment. You put yourself in the dilemma of either buying strictly off the shelf and ending up with something that does not fit your needs so forcing you to perversely change your needs, or put up with something that just doesn't fit said needs, leaving you with an expensive papered over hole in your requirements. Neither of these two scenarios is good or financially (not to mention strategically) responsible either.

There is I believe nothing wrong per se with either modifying or creating unique capabilities so long as (and this is the important bit) "IT GETS MANAGED PROPERLY FROM INCEPTION". That means DON'T put it in the hands of the DMO or organisations like ASC who have proven track records for balls ups. What was need was a PROVEN local company who had a track record of delivering a product on time, on budget and efficiently. So you end up with a situation where 1). The problem gets locally owned and not in the hands of a foreign multinational who can bugger off (Think Seasprite) at the first sign of big trouble. And 2). It helps to further build upon local skills in a responsible manner that holds out a chance for local projects with gradually greater local needs taken in to account to utilize this method down the track.

In the case of the AWD project the management contract should have gone to somebody like Austal. They would work out the best way t build it and manage it from there. If it falls over due to their incompetence or negligence the bow back is incentive enough to get it right and highlight problems when they arise. Thats code for telling Govt and the public when screw ups are caused by flag officers or the DMO, EARLY before it turns into a disaster.

Thats my two cents....

Matt said...

Goldeel1, Your statement, "IT GETS MANAGED PROPERLY FROM INCEPTION", hits the nail on the head. A closer look at the projects of concern reveals that poor programme management is/was a factor in all cases whereby the required capability or the means to achieve same were not properly defined or the asociated risk was not fully understood ie; Seasprite, Wedgetail & Collins with the posterboy being JSF.
I agree that modifying a proven design to meet a unique capability is often required & perfectly acceptable on the proviso that you have the management & technical skill to do so.

Atticus said...

Exactly, we pay 1.2 billion a year in admin for DMO, to suport 7,500 employees.
What do we get?