The results of the Navy taskforce for a follow-up hull to the Littoral Combat Ship are in, but the service will remain mum on the findings until they’re integrated into next year’s budget, the service said on Thursday.
Instead of speaking to what the Small Surface Combatant Task Force found in their four month study, the service will use the findings to inform the multitude of Department of Navy offices in selecting a ship that will supersede the two variants LCS as the service’s next small service combatant.
“Because the task force alternatives will be considered as part of Fiscal Year 2016 budget deliberations, the Navy will not comment publically on the report’s findings until budget decisions within DoD are finalized,” read a statement from, Sean Stackley, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development & Acquisition (RDA), the Navy’s chief shipbuilder.
A Navy official told USNI News that the service could address some of the process the task force used to reach its conclusion but not the results.
The Navy was mandated in February by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to, “submit alternative proposals to procure a capable and lethal small surface combatant, consistent with the capabilities of a frigate.”
Under the mandate, the Small Surface Combatant Task Force evaluated:
- A modified design of an existing LCS.
- Existing ship designs.
- A new ship design.
The task force also examined ships systems and were provided a cost target for the new effort.
The product of the study wasn’t designed to select a final hull design, but rather survey a range of options evaluating capability and cost for the future small surface combatant, USNI News understands.
The current Flight 0 LCS program — built evenly between Lockheed Martin’s Freedom-class and Austal USA’s Independence class- will be capped at 32 hulls but the Navy will eventually buy a total of 52 ships at roughly the same size.
Given the current strain on the Navy’s shipbuilding budget, an entirely new ship design for the LCS follow-on maybe outside the range of affordability and a variant of one of the two existing LCS hulls maybe the Navy’s most cost effective option.