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  • Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit...
    Posted by Bill Sweetman 2:25 PM on Nov 26, 2008

    Looking at the photo of USS Freedom, the US Navy's first Littoral Combat Ship, in the latest issue of DTI (page 26) one word came to mind.


    I learned about rabbits from Peter Varnish, a Royal Navy boffin who was one of the leaders in the UK's efforts to apply stealth technology to warships. The RN's work in this field started with emergency actions during the 1982 Falklands war - where the service lost the destroyer Sheffield and the containership Atlantic Conveyor to radar-guided Exocet missiles - and by 1984 was so advanced that Margaret Thatcher could trade it to the US in return for British access to the Lockheed F-117 stealth fighter program.

    Talking about this much later, Varnish explained that "rabbits" - the term could pre-date Admiral Nelson for all I know - are, in British naval architect jargon, the various excrescences that get added to the ship during construction or in service, courtesy of the dockyard supervisor or anyone else with a welding torch. It used not to matter so much, but a single rectangular locker can have a bigger radar cross section than the rest of the ship once we start talking stealth.

    So here's Freedom, with low-RCS features like canted sides and no side walkways:

    blog post photo

    And the rabbits have apparently been busy doing what rabbits do best. Note the radomes, which certainly don't look like bandpass designs and are quite the wrong shape anyway, not to mention the ironmongery bolted to the mast.  

    Thyssen-Krupp Marine Systems' Kockums unit, however, has been at work with the twelve-bore and myxomatosis:

    blog post photo

    Visby does have conventional-looking masts, but they cunningly disappear in stealth mode. The new Thyssen-Krupp CSL design is similarly clean, and it will be interesting to see what the Israeli LCS will look like when they get delivered.

    pic credits: US Navy, Saab

    Tags: ar99, lcs, stealth

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