The Pentagon plans to cut the total number of Littoral Combat Ships by 20 — from 52 to 32 — according to a Wednesday report in Defense News.
According to the paper, the decision was included in a Jan. 6 memo signed by acting deputy secretary of defense Christine Fox based on guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
“We continue to work with the office of the secretary of defense on our surface ship acquisition plan,” a Navy spokesperson told USNI News. The service declined to comment further.
When contacted OSD had not formulated a comment on the Defense News story as of this posting.
Rumbling of a cut to the two-hull, 52-ship program are not new.
In the last year, the services have plotted several different courses for budgeting that included alternative budget plans tied to budget restrictions imposed by sequestration cuts. The regular fully funded program objective memoranda (POM) was developed in tandem with a so-called alternative version (ALT POM).
In September a version of the ALT POM contained a cut to a mere 24 hulls, ending the program at the Navy’s current commitment to each variant of the ship.
Lockheed Martin’s Freedom-class and Austal USA’s Independence-class have been lighting rods for critics since the program’s inception. Detractors say the ships are under armed and armored and the modular design of the LCS mission packages are too untested to be reliable in active service.
In 2010, the Navy announced an $8.9 billion buy of 20 of the ships as follow-on to two of each variant purchased by the Navy to test the designs.
The Navy had planned to execute a second buy of 24 ships as part of the Fiscal Year 2015 budget.
The Defense News report indicated the Navy may fight to increase the number of the ships and final number was far from over.
“This isn’t over yet,” the paper quoted an unnamed Navy official.