FSF Seafighter (X-Craft)
In the changing and shrinking global landscape of the 21st century, international militaries must alter their weaponry to combat a new breed of enemies. Historically, naval warships were massive, floating fortresses designed to face off with enemy ships in the open sea or bombard an enemy's coastline from miles offshore. Today, the threat of a more guerilla-style warfare is forcing nations to develop faster, more flexible ships.
In February 2005, the U.S. Navy christened the FSF-1 Sea Fighter, formerly known as the X-Craft. The Sea Fighter is a high-speed, experimental vessel that will test a variety of technologies, including the ability to operate in shallow waters near shore amid mines and small suicide boats.
The Sea Fighter is an aluminum catamaran designed to operate effectively in littoral, or coastal, waters. It can maneuver in as little as 11 feet (3.35 m) of water. The hull number FSF-1 stands for "fast sea frame" and is the first U.S. Naval vessel to have a catamaran design. The experimental vessel will be used to test the hydrodynamic performance, structural performance, structural behavior, mission flexibility and propulsion-system efficiency of high-speed vessels.
The ship's design is flexible to meet the needs of multiple missions. More than 12 20-foot mission modules can be housed in the ship's mission bay, which allows the vessel to be quickly reconfigured to support a variety of potential tasks including battle force protection, mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare, amphibious assault support and humanitarian support.
A multi-purpose stern ramp allows the ship to launch and recover manned and unmanned surface and sub-surface vehicles up to the size of an 11-meter Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB). From its flight deck, the Sea Fighter can operate while supporting one H-60 helicopter or vertical takeoff and landing tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (VTUAV) at a time.
Compared to larger, conventional warships, the Sea Fighter is faster and more agile. Some have compared its performance to that of sports car. The Sea Fighter can reach a top speed of 50 knots (57.5 mph, 92.6 kph) with a full payload and is designed to reach speeds of 40 knots (46 mph, 74 km/hr) in rough seas with waves up to 7 feet (2.13 meters).
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