The U.S. Navy’s chief shipbuilder is defending Monday’s $1.4 billion awards for the next four Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) in the midst of the current congressional battle over military funding, the service told USNI News on Monday.
“One of our imperatives in dealing with this fiscal crisis is to execute our programs as effectively as possible,” said Sean Stackley, assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development & Acquisition, in a statement provided to USNI News.
“In the case of the Littoral Combat Ship, the Navy has moved forward today with funding the Fiscal Year 2013 ships. In doing so, we continue to leverage the tremendous savings of the competitive block buy contracts on this program.”
The awards are split between $696 million for two of Lockheed Martin’s Freedom-class (LCS-1) monohull variant and $682 million for two of Austal USA’s Independence-class (LCS-2) aluminum trimaran.
After a heated competition between Lockheed and Austal to produce the final variant of the LCS, the Navy elected to purchase both types of ships in early 2011. The $957 million deal paid for one of each variant with contract options for 18 additional ships. The current option will fund LCS-13 thorough LCS-16.
USS Freedom (LCS-1) left Friday for a deployment to Singapore. Eventually the Navy wants to forward deploy the ships in groups of four operating with rotational crews. The eight-month deployment will test manning and concepts of operation for the ship class.
The deployment, “underscores the Navy’s commitment to the LCS program,” Stackley said.