Next year the U.S. Navy will down-select a single design for future Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) acquisitions. The two shipyards currently constructing LCS 3 and LCS 4 will continue their work, but only one will get follow-on construction contracts for ships of this class. Following the decision, the Navy is expected to issue new construction contracts, reflecting the new strategy with a single prime contractor and shipyard to be awarded a fixed price incentive contract for up to 10 ships, with two ships in fiscal 2010 and options through fiscal 2014.
There are two different LCS hull forms: a semi-planing monohull (Freedomclass) and an aluminum trimaran (Independence Class). The seaframes are designed and built by two industry teams, led by Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics.
“Both ships meet our operational requirements and we require LCS now to meet the warfighters’ needs,” said Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations. “Down-selecting now will improve affordability and allow us to build LCS at a realistic cost without compromising critical warfighting capabilities.”
While the original LCS program suffered from excessive cost overruns throughout its early phase, the new acquisition strategy provides the benefits of producing multiple vessels continuously over several years, by awarding a larger number of ships across several years to one source. The Navy will accomplish this goal by issuing a new fixed-price incentive solicitation, for down- selecting one of the two designs, beginning in fiscal 2010. The Navy will re-open the competition for a second source for the selected design beginning in fiscal 2012. Combat systems, for up to five additional ships will also be provided by a second source.
The Navy plans to field up to 55 vessels of this class to provide surface combatant commanders with the capability to defeat anti-access threats in the littorals, including fast surface craft, quiet operating submarines and various types of mines.