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21 October 2020

Constellation-Class Guided-Missile Frigates

The Constellation-class (FFG 62) multi-mission guided-missile frigate is being developed by Fincantieri Marinette Marine for the US Navy.
Constellation-class guided-missile frigates are being developed by Fincantieri Marinette Marine. Credit: Marinette Marine Corp.
The frigate can carry an MH-60R Seahawk helicopter. Credit: Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Langholf.
The lead vessel will achieve initial operational capability by 2030. Credit: White House.

The Constellation-class (FFG 62) multi-mission guided-missile frigate is being developed by Fincantieri Marinette Marine for the US Navy.

The frigate will have the capability to carry out multiple missions, including anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and electronic warfare. It can operate independently or as a part of a strike group. It is designed to perform operations in littoral and blue water environments.

The lead ship in the class, USS Constellation, is the fifth US Navy vessel to be named Constellation.

The USS Constellation is scheduled to be delivered in 2026 and is expected to achieve initial operational capability (IOC) by 2030.

Constellation-class frigates development

The notional designation of the Constellation class frigates is FFG(X) and the US Navy intends to acquire up to 20 Constellation-class frigates under the FFG(X) programme.

The US Navy released a request for proposal (RFP) for the FFG(X) detail design and construction contract for the first ten vessels in June 2019. It received technical proposals in August 2019, followed by cost proposals in September 2019.

"The lead ship in the class, USS Constellation, is the fifth US Navy vessel to be named Constellation."

Austal USA, Fincantieri Marine Group, General Dynamics, Huntington Ingalls Industries and Lockheed Martin competed for the FFG(X) programme. The US Navy awarded a $15m contract to each shipbuilder for the conceptual designs of the frigate and Fincantieri emerged as the winner.

Fincantieri Marinette Marine partnered with Gibbs & Cox and Trident Maritime Systems for transforming the FREMM vessel to US design standards.

The US Navy placed a $795m contract with Fincantieri Marinette Marine for the concept design and construction of the USS Constellation in April 2020. The vessel will be based on its FREMM frigate platform.

The contract also includes options for nine additional ships, which if exercised, will bring the total value to $5.58bn. Fincantieri will also provide post-delivery availability support and crew training, under the contract.

Design and features of Constellation-class frigates

The Constellation-class frigate will incorporate a modified FREMM design that can meet the mission-specific requirements of the US Navy.

It will have a length of 151.8m, a beam of 19.81m, and a draft of 7.01m. The displacement of the vessel will be approximately 7,500t. It will have the capacity to accommodate more than 200 personnel and will be able to operate with dual crews.

The vessel will feature improved lethality and survivability, and also increased electromagnetic manoeuvre warfare (EMW) capability, which offers multiple options to fleet commanders, as well as to support the National Defense Strategy during a range of military operations.

The frigate will have the capability to carry an MH-60 Seahawk helicopter and an MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system.

Weapon systems

The frigate will be installed with Mk 41 vertical launch system (VLS) for launching surface-to-air missiles such as for Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) Block 2 and Standard Missile (SM)-2.

It will also be armed with an MK 110 57mm gun and canister launched over-the-horizon missiles and anti-ship missiles.

Sensors aboard Constellation-class

The new frigates will be equipped with a baseline 10 Aegis combat management system, an Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR), and Raytheon’s AN/SPY-6(V)3 radar.

Other sensors include a lightweight towed array sonar, a variable-depth sonar (VDS), and an undersea warfare / anti-submarine warfare combat system.

Propulsion

The vessel will be equipped with combined diesel-electric and gas (CODLAG) propulsion system. The guided-missile frigate can generate 12MW of power, making it a future-proof platform.

It will be able to cruise at a sustained speed of more than 26k. The combat ship will offer a range of more than 6,000nm at a speed of 16k.

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