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NAVSEA commences VDS search for FFG 62 Constellation-class frigate

The US Navy (USN) is exploring options for a non-developmental variable depth sonar (VDS) to equip its new FFG-62 Constellation-class guided-missile frigates.

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”.

An adaptation of the Carlo Bergamini-class FREMM frigate platform, in service with the Italian Navy, the FFG-62 is intended to meet the USN's requirement for a new multimission small surface combatant capable of conducting air warfare, ASW, surface warfare, and electronic warfare and information operations. Fincantieri Marinette Marine is on contract for the building of an initial two vessels with options for eight more: the USN plans to procure a class of 20 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”.

Previous NAVSEA presentations and navy budget documentation had indicated that the AN/SQS-62 Dual-mode Array Transmitter Mission System (DART) – in development by Raytheon to meet the needs of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) ASW mission package – would be supplied as Government Furnished Equipment to meet the FFG-62 VDS requirement. Raytheon's website states that the SQS-62 VDS “will be installed on the US Navy's Freedom- and Independence-class [LCS ships] and on the new Constellation-class frigates”.

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