With nearly 83 destroyers and cruisers, the US Navy today has the most formidable naval capacity in terms of anti-aircraft and anti-ballistic defense, as well as in the field of firepower towards land, all these ships being equipped with both the AEGIS anti-aircraft and anti-missile system and Tomahawk cruise missiles. On the other hand, since the withdrawal of the OH Perry frigates, it has suffered from a significant weakness in the area of anti-submarine escort. Indeed, if the Arleigh Burke destroyers actually have an AN/SQS-53 hull sonar, a towed sonar and two SeaHawk anti-submarine warfare helicopters, their displacement and their acoustic discretion do not make them not a leading anti-submarine warfare platform, especially since it is almost impossible to effectively carry out an anti-air defense and anti-submarine warfare mission simultaneously. Beyond the surface fleet, the other components of the US Navy's subsurface fight have also lost numerous capabilities, with the withdrawal of the S-3 Viking from the embarked air group, nuclear submarines Virginia-class attack aircraft more effective in power projection than in the hunter-killer role, and the P-8A Poseidon which, to date, only has part of their capabilities in this area.
The fact is, most Western fleets significantly reduced their anti-submarine warfare capabilities with the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the end of the Cold War. Most of them have in fact, like the US Navy, largely favored anti-aircraft capabilities or even autonomy at sea and low-intensity missions, rather than maintaining this type of capabilities. As such, the French Navy which, with its very effective Aquitaine class frigates in this area, its Atlantic 2 maritime patrol planes and its new Suffren class SNAs, acts as an exception by having maintained a high level of sub-surface combat skills, to the point of being regularly highlighted by NATO during joint exercises . However, anti-submarine warfare has again become, in recent years, a subject of major concern for Western navies, with the modernization and rapid rise in power of the Russian submarine fleet, but also of that implemented by the People's Liberation Army, both of which have efficient and discreet submersibles such as the Russian Iassen and Borei, or the Chinese Type 039.
It was to meet this need that at the end of the 2010s, under the leadership of the late Senator John McCaine, and almost against the advice of the US Navy, the latter launched a new program aimed at to acquire 20 multi-purpose frigates with advanced anti-submarine warfare capabilities. It was the Italian Fincantieri which won in 2020 following an open competition, the European manufacturer having been able to simultaneously benefit from an excellent offer both in terms of performance and price on the basis of the Italian FREMM, and a significant industrial presence across the Atlantic thanks to the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyards which already produced the Freedom class LCS. The first unit of this class, the USS Constellation , is currently under construction, while the next two units, the USS Congres and the USS Chesapeake, were ordered in 2022. But while current planning calls for delivering to from 2025 alternately 1 then 2 frigates each year in a sawtooth model, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gilday, now intends to produce 4 frigates per year thanks to the involvement of a second shipyard .
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