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LCS Program Faces Additional Scrutiny from Congress

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The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam in March enroute to Singapore. US Navy Photo

The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam in March enroute to Singapore. US Navy Photo

At least one Congress member is expected to try and slow development of the Littoral Combat Ship program during debate this week over the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, according to a report in Defense Daily.

The LCS backlash follows the leak of a draft copy of a Government Accountability Office report that called for Congress to slow development of ship construction and the accompanying mission packages.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) plans to introduce an amendment that would, “adopt the draft GAO report’s recommendation to delay procurement of additional ships until operational and developmental testing is complete, according to a congressional aide,” reported Defense Daily.

“The apparent disconnect between the LCS acquisition strategy and the needs of the end user suggests that a pause is needed,” read the draft of the GAO report. “Congress is in a position to slow funding… pending the results of the technical studies that are already underway.”

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) said last week he would plan to hold a series of hearings seeking clarification from the Navy on the progress of the LCS program.

“I have felt that LCS had bumps in the road but it was moving. The only thing that’s really raising this flag is what this GAO report may or may not say,” Forbes said in a June 4 meeting with reporters.

The Navy has requested funding for four LCS hulls as part of its FY 2014 budget submission as part of a 24-ship plan that will buy two variants of the ship — a steel mono-hull from Lockheed Martin and an aluminum trimiran from Austal USA. The service is also developing mission packages that would focus on surface warfare, mine countermeasure operations and anti-submarine warfare.

The first LCS, USS Freedom (LCS-1), is currently on deployment in the Pacific based in Singapore.

The House is expected to debate the defense bill Wednesday.