The competition to build the US Navy’s next class of frigates has moved forward with five designs receiving $15 million contracts to mature their development.
The designs are each bidding for a contract to produce twenty next-generation guided missile frigates under the FFG(X) program. The program will follow on from the current LCS production lines and the new vessels are being designed to address some of the criticisms of the LCS vessels, such as their limited offensive firepower and limited integration with naval battle groups.
Under this next stage of the program, the conceptual designs will be developed and analysed for sixteen months ahead of a final proposal to be submitted for consideration in 2019. The final contract will then be awarded in 2020.
In a statement issued on Friday the Naval Sea Systems Command said that “these conceptual designs will reduce FFG(X) risk by enabling industry to mature designs to meet the approved FFG(X) capability requirements.”
“The contracts based on these requirements will facilitate maturing multiple designs during the 16 months of the conceptual design phase, and will allow the Navy to better understand the cost and capability drivers across the various design options. Furthermore, this will inform the final specifications for a full and open competition with a single source award in FY20 for Detail Design and Construction (DD&C) of the FFG(X).”
Each design is based on an existing class already in service or production for the US Navy or a foreign partner. Foreign designs required a partnership with a US based shipyard, and contractors were only allowed to make one bid as a prime contractor, but can support other bids as a subcontractor. The anticipated cost per vessel is between $800 and $950 million.
The five designs progressing into the next stage are;
An enlarged and upgunned variant of the Independence class LCS designed by Austal USA and to be built in their Mobile, Alabama shipyard.
An enlarged version of the Freedom class LCS, similar to the 4, 000 ton variant being built for the Royal Saudi Navy, designed by Lockheed Martin and to be built by Fincantieri Marinette Marine at Marinette, Wisconsin.
A 6,700 ton variant of the Italian FREMM frigate being offered by Fincantieri Marinette Marine to be built in their Marinette, Wisconsin Shipyard.
A variant of Navantia’s F100 design that is already in service with the Spanish, Norwegian and Australian navies, to be built by Bath Iron Works in Maine.
A frigate variant of the US Coast Guard’s Legend class national security cutter designed by Huntington Ingalls Industries to be built at Ingalls Shipyard in Mississippi.