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DART concerns prompt VDS search for FFG 62 Constellation class frigate

The US Navy (USN) and Fincantieri Marinette Marine say they are examining options for an alternative non-developmental variable depth sonar (VDS) for the new FFG-62 Constellation-class guided missile frigates due to concerns over the performance of the Raytheon AN/SQS-62 Dual-mode Array Transmitter Mission System (DART) VDS that was initially chosen for the vessels.

In a request for information (RFI) issued on 7 February, the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) said it was “conducting market research to identify potential sources of a mature, fielded, and proven [VDS] system that possesses the capability to accomplish [FFG] anti-submarine warfare [ASW] mission requirements”. Respondents were given just a week to submit data on candidate solutions.

An adaptation of the Carlo Bergamini-class FREMM frigate platform already in service with the Italian Navy, the FFG 62 Constellation-class frigate – previously known as FFG(X) – is intended to meet the USN's requirement for a new multi-mission small surface combatant able to conduct air warfare, ASW, surface warfare, and electronic warfare and information operations. Fincantieri Marinette Marine is on contract for the build of an initial two vessels with options for eight more: the USN currently plans to procure a class of 20 Constellation-class ships.

The frigate ASW sensor suite is planned to combine the AN/SQQ-89A(V)16 Surface Ship ASW Combat System with a VDS ‘tail'. According to NAVSEA, the VDS should be able to “operate in challenging environments with the capability to detect, locate, and identify a broad range of submarines, unmanned underwater vehicles, and other underwater objects”.

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