The Pentagon has notified Congress of a planned sale of four littoral combat ships to Saudi Arabia $11.25 billion.
The US State department has approved the deal, the approval allows the Saudis to negotiate contracts for the ships unless Congress passes legislation to block the deal.
The concept behind the littoral combat ship is to “create a small, fast, maneuverable and relatively inexpensive member of the DD(X) family of ships”. The ship is easy to reconfigure for different roles, including anti-submarine warfare, mine countermeasures, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, homeland defence, maritime intercept, special operations, logistics and so on.
The Freedom class and the Independence class are the first two LCS variants. Both are slightly smaller than the US Navy’s guided missile frigates and have been likened to corvettes. They have the capabilities of a small assault transport, including a flight deck and hangar for housing two SH-60 or MH-60 Seahawk helicopters, a stern ramp for operating small boats, and the cargo volume and payload to deliver a small assault force with fighting vehicles to a roll-on/roll-off port facility.
The US is offering a version of the littoral combat ship called the “Multi-Mission Surface Combatant” customised to Saudi requirements.