The US Navy announced on Wednesday that construction of the next-generation Constellation-class frigate, codenamed FFG(X), has officially begun at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyards located in the state of Wisconsin and according to information the first ship is expected to be delivered to the US Navy in 2026with the Americans having already exercised the option for the acquisition of the second and third – in order – frigate of the same type.
Worth noting that the manufacturer has undertaken the construction of two new frigates a year, a total of 10 frigates and each is intended to join an aircraft carrier strike group, however the workload may lead the US Navy to include other shipyards in the production linesuch as the Bath Iron Works of General Dynamics, which built the first Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, as well as the Ingalls shipyards.
The Constellation-class frigates are based on the design of the Italian company Fincantieri for the FREMM-class frigates and according to Captain Kevin Smith, who is the Director of the development program:
“These warships will perform a number of missions such as operations against enemy surface units, electronic warfarewith strong anti-aircraft capabilities“, while adding that “it can, in some ways, be considered a destroyer, but the difference is that it does not have the payload, armament and missile systems that one expects to see from a destroyer. That’s why it’s a frigate.”
The characteristics of next generation frigates
Constellation class ships will they are 151 meters long, displacement of 7,300 tonsthey will have 16 launchers for Naval Strike Missile – NSM (with over-the-horizon strike capability), RAM systems (Rolling Airframe Missiles), 57mm Mk 110 type gun and Mk41 vertical launch system with 32 cells for RIM-174 and RIM-162 missiles (ESSM Block 2), while it will still be able to carries an MH-60R SeaHawk helicopter and one drones such as the MQ-8C Firescout.
Also, Constellation-class multi-role frigates will initially be equipped with the Aegis Baseline 10 combat system;which has advanced radars such as the AN/SPY-6(V)3 and AN/SPS-73(V)18 for tracking threats and enemy surface units, but also for effective interception enemy ballistic missiles and neutralizing droneshelicopters, cruise missiles, fighters and other aircraft.
Still, they will have significant capabilities in anti-submarine warfarewith the AN/SLQ-61 type towed sonar, with the advanced AN/SQS-62 VDS sonar, which will be utilized bywith the battle management system for anti-submarine warfare type AN/SQQ-89(V).
The US Navy’s design, in the late 2010s, eset the goal of operating a total of 355 ships by 2030. Although it will not be able to succeed him, nevertheless the construction of the first Constellation-class frigate this year, it can be a good “omen” and benchmark for achieving this goalat least until 2040.
The US Navy recognizes that the competition with the Chinese Navy will intensify and escalate in the coming years and that is why it wants to “run” the Constellation programs as well as next generation DDG(X) destroyers so as to “play on a level playing field” in the Indo-Pacific.