Home » Budget Industry » Navy Draft RfP for Littoral Combat Ship Follow-on Frigate Due to Shipyards this Year


Navy Draft RfP for Littoral Combat Ship Follow-on Frigate Due to Shipyards this Year

A modified Littoral Combat Ship design based on the Austal USA Independence-class. US Navy Image

A modified Littoral Combat Ship design based on the Austal USA Independence-class. US Navy Image

The Navy plans to release a draft request for proposal for its planned new class of frigate – based on one of the two existing Littoral Combat Ship hulls – to shipyards later this year, the Program Executive Officer LCS said.

The draft RfP will lay the groundwork for an eventual 2017 RfP that will outline the how the Navy will pick a single design for the frigate follow-on to the two Flight 0 variants of the Littoral Combat Ship – the Lockheed Martin Freedom-class (LCS-1) and the Austal USA Independence-class (LCS-2).

“We’ll be coming out with a request for proposal draft later on this year and full RfP next year to be able to get to, ‘here are some of the good ideas and the innovation the shipbuilders can come up with their proposal for what a frigate should look like against our requirements and capabilities’,” PEO LCS Rear Adm. Brian Antonio said last week.

The Navy and big Pentagon are now working through the acquisition strategy for the frigate following a December memo from Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to trim the Navy’s intended buy of 52 small surface combatants – split between existing LCS designs and a modified frigates – to 40 of the ships.

“Forty LCS/FF will exceed recent historical presence levels and will provide a far more modern and capable ship than the patrol coastals, minesweepers, and frigates that they will replace,” read the Carter memo.

Under the directive from Carter – codified in the release of the FY 2017 budget last month – the Navy will downselect to a single frigate design by 2019 from Lockheed or Austal.

As of last week, the overall acquisition plan for the Littoral Combat Ships and frigate going forward was before Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall awaiting approval, sources told USNI News.

“As we’re transitioning from LCS to frigate, we’re working through an acquisition strategy that’s going to allow us to reflect the execution of what was in the PB 17 budget and of course the Secretary of Defense direction. And we’ll do that in a way that makes the most sense from an acquisition strategy,” Antonio said.
“We’re continuing to work with both of the ship builders and with [Office of the Chief of Naval Operations] on what the requirements will be so we can marry those up and get to a focused multi-mission platform that addresses both the surface warfare and the [anti-submarine warfare] mission areas.”

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A modified Littoral Combat Ship design based on the Lockheed Martin Freedom-class. US Navy Image

The frigates – created by a separate LCS program restructure mandated by former SECDEF Chuck Hagel – will shed much of modular design of the Flight 0 LCS and place an emphasis on anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare.

Those changes include beefing up armor on the frigate, adding an over-the-horizon missile to tackle surface targets and up graded sensors.

News of the RfP plan comes as the Navy kicks off a new Littoral Combat System review panel to examine the ships’ operational, logistics and manning plans as more ships enter the fleet.

  • sferrin

    Somebody please tell me this is a joke.

    • Swiftright Right

      It’s looking more like a nightmare to me.

    • John B. Morgen

      A very [bad] read…..

  • PolicyWonk

    Given that DOT&E has already determined that the so-called frigate version of the “Littoral Combat Ship” (either version) will only retain marginal improvements (due to the fact there is little room for growth), the time to divorce ourselves from either of the current versions is by far the best way out.

    The Navy would be far better off to purchase either the Saudi LCS variant (a huge improvement over what the taxpayers are currently being shafted into paying for), or otherwise cut their losses and buy the excellent HII Legend-class national security cutters that are already on the slipways (then they’d have plenty of commonality/parity with the USCG).

    But I have full confidence that one the current corporate welfare programs will continue despite the poor ROI; the lack of room for growth; the ridiculous expense; and, obvious shafting of the taxpayers.

    • sferrin

      “But I have full confidence that one the current corporate welfare
      programs will continue despite the poor ROI; the lack of room for
      growth; the ridiculous expense; and, obvious shafting of the taxpayers.”

      Perhaps you could explain how spending X amount of dollars on these LCS derivatives benefits “corporate welfare programs” more than spending the same amount of money on bonified frigates?

      • Refguy

        Continuing to buy BOTH designs instead of downselecting like they were supposed to do is corporate welfare for one of the contractors.

        • Greg Lof

          The creation of monopolies by the Pentagons bureaucracy is true corporate welfare for the survivor.

        • sferrin

          In fairness they have different strengths (such as they are).

          • Refguy

            Granted, the winner would just be the less bad.

          • Greg Lof

            And no incentive to preform better.

          • Refguy

            You could still decide that one design is better (which was the original plan) and then have competition for production as the Navy did for the Aegis cruisers and destroyers with Bath and Ingalls. Back in the day the Navy even split production between Navy yards and commercial yards.

          • Greg Lof

            Actually the original plan call for a new improved design, possible not even connected to either prototypes, being ordered by now. It is time we get on with that phase of the program.

    • Tony4

      Saudi variant an expensive gas hog, and NSC, while a better choice, seems overpriced for it’s capability. I am starting to think about a midified versiin if the future USCG OPV – maybe an ASUW and an ASW variant…

      • Rob C.

        Something that was built on commercial/civilian standards? That’s not a good idea.

      • PolicyWonk

        If you look at what an LCS currently costs, and add in a mission package, you’re already talking more money than an NSC.

        And, if you add in what the navy is passing off as a greater offensive/defensive capability (which according to DOT&E can only be classified as a “marginal” improvement) for the so-called FFG LCS variant, now we’re well in excess of either the NSC, or any of our allies high-end frigates.

        With none of the ROI or versatility.

    • David Teer

      the saudi LCS cost $1.5 billion a piece, almost as much as a Burke destroyer.

  • Tony4

    Still a big mistake – excessive tactical speed of these two hulls is next to useless.

    • Greg Lof

      At one time, they thought that steam engines were useless, as were iron hulls and armor. Then we learn how to use them, or someone else found out and used them against us. Let us not be so hasty in assigning value to any future technological advances.

      • PolicyWonk

        The speed requirement (40-knots+) adds tremendous cost to the LCS’s high cost, and complicates the propulsion system considerably, while only providing a marginal advantage that the USN has yet to justify in any compelling way. If all we’re doing is using the speed to catch a drug runner, we could do that with a far less expensive solution than LCS (which is major overkill in that regard).

        The high cost of the propulsion system could drop considerably with a 30-knot requirement, while enabling the ship to be built tougher, carry more armament, and provide better value to the taxpayers.

        Cheers.

  • Greg Lof

    Frankly, the Navy is still not addressing the LCS true problems, by insisting that they retain the LCSs Flight 0 designs. These designs were intended originally to serve as test beds to determine what an operational LCS would require. Instead of using them as such, the Navy skipped the testing and redesign part of the original program and appears to keep attempting to save money by assuming that the first draft LCS story was perfect.

    Frankly, before proceeding with the LCS/FF, the Navy needs to correct the shortcoming of the Flight 0 design. The payload (Mission modules size and weight) should be increased to cover lesson learned too date. The size of unmanned vehicles enlarged to allow future growth. The drive trained redesigned to correct the current problems. The available space for crew also would be enlarged for future growth. And of course adding mounts for long range missile.

    When the LCS’s designs are corrected, then the Navy can create a LCS/FF that has a real chance of success.

    • Refguy

      You say when the DESIGNS! are corrected; shouldn’t we declare one of the contractors a loser and concentrate on one hull?

      • Greg Lof

        Absolutely NOT. The false economy of one size fits all has done too much damage already too the US defenses.

        • Guest

          Correct, but a strawman argument. “One size fits all” would indeed be stupid, like arbitrarily limiting the Olympics to one sport and calling the winner “the best athlete in the world”. That’s not what Refguy (or anyone else) has proposed.

          We have different specs for different classes. The best swimmer is rarely the best marathoner is rarely the best powerlifter. No one wants NIMITZ to sweep mines.

          Do you think it is “false economy” to recognize a gold medalist in EACH sport rather than “everyone gets a trophy”?

          Would it be more “damaging”, or less, if the “trophy” was billions of taxpayer dollars?

        • Refguy

          Only having one LCS design is NOT one-size-fits-all; trying to turn LCS into a frigate probably is.

          • Greg Lof

            I would probably argue the opposite, that reducing your choice to a single design expected to work on all missions, requires that design to be a one-size-fits-all, since that design must either be able to preform all tasks, or fails in doing some task assigned the LCSs. If this is so, which LCS mission would you delete?

            As for creating a frigate version of the LCS, or more properly escort version of the LCS, it could be argued either way, that it is one-size-fits-all, or one-size-fits-one. But since the missions this type of vessel will do is far more limited, it would be simpler to design, if we can avoid mission creep. (That is that expression I am thinking of)

          • Refguy

            All of them!? Seriously, I haven’t heard anyone argue that either class is good at anything, so I don’t see how adding the more demanding frigate mission(s) (significant mission creep) will replace failure with success.

  • Secundius

    Actually, it Sounds in someway like “Poetic Justice”. The Biter, Bit. Rumsfeld, Baited the Line, Bush Bit the Bait and Ramrodded Congress for the Fund’s to Build Them. And NOW we (the People) are Paying the Price. Laughable, Isn’t It…

    • Ctrot

      Why do always you type in Sentence Case?

      • Secundius

        Have been doing it so long, that I’m NOT AWARE of it anymore…

  • B.J. Blazkowicz

    Doubling down on failure. The Pentagon must be run by or think the American tax payers are idiots.
    This is what happens when guys with business degrees run the place instead of actual soldiers and engineers.
    Scarp the LCS and buy Type 26’s instead.

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      The Type 26 is no roaring success either (well, obviously non exist yet!)
      Their costs are also ballooning.

      For me, the much cheaper, but dedicated ASW Fridtjof nansen class would suit best.
      Give the existing Freedom Class vessels to the Saudis.

      (I actually think the Independence class has its appeals though)

      • PolicyWonk

        The Saudi’s don’t want the Freedom class LCS’s (in fact – ALL of our allies that were initially interested in LCS walked away).

        • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

          Haven’t they asked for 4 (beefed up) ‘Freedoms’?

          • PolicyWonk

            Yes they did. But these are *very* beefed up variants built on the “Freedom” design, with serious upgrades both offensive and defensive: in short – what the USN maybe *should’ve* bought.

            The Saudi’s are paying for ALL the development costs for the new (and more substantial) variant. The smartest thing the USN could do, instead of wasting taxpayer time and money on a mere marginal improvement (such as the so-called FF/LCS variant discussed in this article), is simply add onto the Saudi variant, if they must stick with the Freedom-based design.

            The the Saudi’s pay all the development costs, and the US taxpayers for once get a reasonable deal.

          • David Teer

            the saudis are paying $1.5 billion per ship. They have way too much oil money to throw away

          • PolicyWonk

            That includes the development costs, spare parts, etc.

          • David Teer

            for 1.8 billion they could buy burkes….. if congress would allow the sale.

          • Secundius

            That’s Always ASSUMING that the Saudi’s Actually Want Them…

    • PolicyWonk

      Type 26’s?

      There isn’t anything to buy, and there won’t be for years (that said, the Brits build some pretty nice ships).

      We could buy the excellent, and proven, Legend Class NSC’s now, as they are building on the slipways. And by more than tripling of the number of sea-frames, the costs of an already high-value asset would clearly come down even further – and the USN would have parts, training, and infrastructure commonality with the USCG.

      Hence – that is what seems to make the most sense.

      • B.J. Blazkowicz

        I should typed it out and said invest into the Type 26 program. It’s what I get for being lazy.

        The Legend Class though a good idea would need a firepower upgrade. Any new ships would have to be based on Patrol Frigate 4921. As it has vertical launchers. COTS is pretty much the wave of the future. Since the Pentagon just can’t keep up with civilian tech development.

        • David Teer

          The navy has no option at this point. With all the Perry’s now retired and the Avengers about to start retiring, there is no time to design and build a new ship.

    • Greg Lof

      I said this before, if you intend to build something like the Type-26, the USN already has a better design to start with than a foreign import. The Spruance class or even the a stripped down Tico, would be a better starting point.

      • B.J. Blazkowicz

        Spruance class is too old. Many of them have already been disposed off or dismantled. Only the PF Foster is still in service.
        While downsizing the Ticonderoga would be take too long. Their cruisers for a reason.

        The Navy would be better off reclassifying the Burke-class or adopting an upgraded Legend Class Frigate based on Patrol Frigate 4921.

        • Greg Lof

          You misunderstand me, I looking at either class as a starting point for a new design, rather than using old hulls. My current ideas on this proposal would starts by replacing the drive with a hybrid CoDEaG, 64 Mk41 cells with ESSM, VLA, LRASM and Tomahawk missiles, a five inch Mk45 Mod4, 4 LAMPS, a stem boat ramp, and Mk 32 torpedoes. With a simplified version of Zumswalt’s fire control system with SPY-3.

          • B.J. Blazkowicz

            Sounds like an absurd amount of work. It would be cheaper to upgrade a design already in service and make that ship the class leader.

          • Greg Lof

            Well, if I really had my way, and not have to meet peoples expectations of a frigate, I would be building DD(x)s and CG(X)s.

            And was I doing precisely what you suggested? I upgraded an existing design, the Spruance class hull, updating their machinery with and existing and tested propulsion system. Plus I used the USN’s newest fire control system?

            BTW, Scott would a DD(x) or a CG(x) count for that dinner?

          • B.J. Blazkowicz

            The only way that would work if you based it off the Foster. Which I think I said already. That also assumes that they didn’t destroy the tools and aren’t using them or the docks for other ships. Most likely to repair or upgrade Tico’s.

            Don’t know who Scott is but they canceled the Zumwalts at four and a Destoryer is too large for Brown water operations. CG(X) is dead in the water at this point.

          • Secundius

            There’s a Rumored Report of Reintroducing the Mk.7 “Okie City” Missile House for Emplacement on the Larger Ships (like Aircraft Carriers and Gator-Freighters). But instead of Horizontally Laid Missile with a Directional Launcher. Vertical Launchers Instead, 3 Houses of 25-missiles each instead the Old Houses of 18-missiles each…

        • Refguy

          You do realize that Spruance and Tico are the same hull, right?

          • B.J. Blazkowicz

            Still doesn’t make them interchangeable. Tico has at least thirty feet on the Spruance.

          • Refguy

            I see you edited this since you sent it – changed 50 feet to at least 30, but the 17th edition of Ships and Aircraft of the US Fleet (Polmar) says it’s only 4 (four) feet. I can check other editions if you insist.

          • B.J. Blazkowicz

            I meant length wise. Beam and draft don’t matter all that much.

          • Refguy

            I’m also talking about length. Spruance 528′ 11″ lwl, 563′ 2″ loa.
            Tico 532′ 8″ lwl (sorry for the original error in converting fraction of a foot to inches, the other conversions were always correct), 567′ loa. Difference is slightly less than four feet.
            Actually, changing length by adding or removing a constant cross-section module is done all the time (usually adding) and is easier than changing beam. You can add a blister, which will have a larger effect on speed than changing length, but reducing beam is very difficult and will probably have a disastrous effect on stability.

  • RobM1981

    You want an Rfp?

    1,500 tons
    30 cell vls, or larger. Reloadable underway
    Helo hangar
    Ciws or sea ram
    One 5″ gun
    Various smaller weapons
    30 kts
    Etc.
    stop trying to sell a patrol craft as a frigate. What an insult.

    • DaSaint

      You can’t pack that into 1500 tons . And you’d face the same criticizm, no SSMs.

      • RobM1981

        Sorry, I was busy coming down with flu. Wow, but that was fun…

        Meant to write 3,500 tons. Yeah, 1,500 is way too small.

        VLS could ship whatever SSM they finally deploy, no?

        • DaSaint

          Personally, I prefer the trimaran, just wish the hull were steel. Yes, VLS could theoretically accomodate SSMs, but they’re usually angled instead.

          These ships could be modified as needed to serve their intended low end roles.

          • Secundius

            Possible Solution for you Posco of South Korea, which is the Parent Company to USX (formally United States Steel) Produced “Triple Nickel” or (Ti5Al5V5Mo3Cr) Three Times Stronger than Titanium and with 1/3rd the Weight of Steel…

  • Guest

    CODAG or CODLAG GEARING, VLS, APAR or Elbit 3D ASR.

    • DaSaint

      Not bad.

  • DaSaint

    As always, lots of opinions. All ships can’t do everything. We’ve got DDGs and CBGs to do the real fighting, when necessary. All these have to do is hold their own, be flexible, and maintaon a presence.

    Upgrades that includes SSMs, VL ESSM, a towed array and torp countermeasures, with increased range and the ability to use the power of those gas turbines for electricity for future direct energy weapons would be fine.

    With their extensive hangars and UAV capabilities, they should be able to effectively monitor threats at a distance. No one ever refers to this new paradigm. Being part of this information network is more critical than ever and will change the way future naval battles are fought, rhe way radar did once introduced.

    • PolicyWonk

      How right you are – the original “street fighter” concept was for a heavily armed littoral-oriented combatant. Instead, we’ve got a 3000-ton speedboat that has yet to perform even one useful task. It cannot protect itself from any sort of navalized opponent, and would in fact have its clock cleaned by a Pegasus-class hydro-foil, or for that matter a Skjold.

      The idea was to create something tough that would reduce the burdens of the Burkes in the littorals. And the so-called Littoral Combat Ship fails miserably in this respect.

  • ElmCityAle

    No VLS with associated fire control systems = not a modern Frigate, it’s that simple. Even the Saudi’s understand that fact. To the horror of those still stuck on medium/big guns (with little modern naval combat history indicating their worth), I would even trade the 57mm mount for 16 VLS cells if that was the choice.

  • Mike

    If I had a choice I would go with the Freedom class, but would prefer they just start over and design a real frigate from the ground up using experienced naval designers and not someone who sets in an office playing on their computer with idea based some movie or TV show they saw.

  • Sam Culper III

    I’d be crying if I wasn’t laughing reading this junk. The LCS is gold plated turkey. Just end it and work on a real frigate like the OHP class. The LCS takes too long to build, costs too much, is not survivable enough, and definitely not lethal enough. Who cares it can go 40kts when it can’t outrun Chinese anti-ship missles. The LCS is like a 3,000 ton jetski just good enough to do donuts, which is all the Independence class has been doing lately in photo ops while the Freedom class is getting towed to port. Presence doesn’t matter if our enemies are laughing at our hardware choices and think can easily beat the ship in combat. Have you see just how well armed with antiship missiles the Chinese Type 54 and Type 022 are? Those are the ships the LCS would likely face against. We should be building ships like the Danish Absalon class. Quality matters not just quantity.

  • Ed McCarthy

    Jesus, give them to the Coast Guard. They could make better use of them.

    • Refguy

      Why do you want to punish the Coast Guard?

  • old guy

    A logical follow-on to “OL HUNK-A-JUNK would be a Presidential YACHT. Either design could qualify as the basis.

  • Refguy

    They will down select in 2019?! Three years! But next year we will have a new President, new SecDef and a new SecNav. In the meantime, the Navy and the contractors will slow roll this until the new guys get up to speed and impose their own ideas on the requirements.

  • sferrin

    The replacement for these things should be the General Dynamics Multi-Mission Combatant. Not throwing antitank missiles on LCS and calling it a frigate. For the money being spent there is no excuse for less.

  • old guy

    Isn;t it wonderful how the PIE-IN-THE-SKY dreamers never let reality disturb their musings/

  • John B. Morgen

    The Navy should buy and modify the British Type 23 Duke class frigate, which is better armed than the two LCS classes.

  • Andy Thompson

    Putting a few insignificant weapons on the LCS in an effort to try to save it is like putting lipstick on a PIG! It’s STILL A PIG !!!! LCS needs to be cancelled before more money is wasted. Use our money wisely.

  • michael aller

    I thought the Air Force peeing away millions on the useless C – 27 Airplane for Afghanistan was the worst military blunder of the decade. But the LCS program has got it beat. Military incompetence / Corruption ? What ?

    • Byron G.

      The F-35, LCS, X-band radar platform are examples of over-budget, under-performing disasters that should have been shut down billion$ ago. The only good thing is that no serviceman have had to go into combat using them, yet. The Army has a budget busting battlefield intelligence software system (shown on 60 Minutes), which has been integrated into combat ops, unfortunately, despite Palantir being clearly superior.

  • BlueSky47

    Wait a second here, years ago they were saying the LCS could do “everything” it would replace frigates, minesweepers, it would hunt submarines, take out enemy ships, it was the fastest thing on water, it could do special ops, take out fleets of Iranian speedboats, protect the battle group, own the littorials yada yada, that’s why we needed 50 of them. Now they’re saying we need to ‘upgrade’ it, what happened…..?

    • Matt Slattery

      Long range ship to ship missiles and better Radar happened. Sit still and you will be pancaked by the newly invented wheel.

  • BlueSky47

    wow, it’s got 50 cal and 25 mm guns-that truely is a BATTLE FRIGATE, able to take on all enemies both foreign and in Congress

    • Dennis

      I agree, a POS Corvette has more capabilities than this over priced patrol boat.