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Report to Congress on Littoral Combat Ship Program

The following is the Nov. 30, 2017 Congressional Research Service report, Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the Report:

The Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program is a program to procure a total of about 32 relatively inexpensive surface combatants equipped with modular mission packages. The first LCS was procured in FY2005, and a total of 29 have been procured through FY2017.

For FY2018, the Navy is requesting the procurement of the 30th and 31st LCSs. The Navy’s FY2018 five-year shipbuilding plan includes a 32nd LCS in FY2019. Starting in FY2020, the Navy wants to shift from procuring LCSs to procuring a new guided-missile frigate called the FFG(X). The design of the FFG(X) is to be based on either the LCS design or a different hull design. The FFG(X) program is covered in another CRS report.

The Navy’s proposed FY2018 budget, which was submitted on May 23, 2017, originally showed a request for one LCS at an estimated cost of $636.1 million. On May 24, 2017, the Navy announced that it was amending its proposed FY2018 budget to request the procurement of two LCSs rather than one, for a combined estimated cost of $1,136.1 million, or an average of about $568.1 million each.

Two very different LCS designs are currently being built. One was developed by an industry team led by Lockheed; the other was developed by an industry team that was led by General Dynamics. The design developed by the Lockheed-led team is built at the Marinette Marine shipyard at Marinette, WI, with Lockheed as the prime contractor; the design developed by the team that was led by General Dynamics is built at the Austal USA shipyard at Mobile, AL, with Austal USA as the prime contractor.

The LCS program has been controversial over the years due to past cost growth, design and construction issues with the first LCSs, concerns over the survivability of LCSs (i.e., their ability to withstand battle damage), concerns over whether LCSs are sufficiently armed and would be able to perform their stated missions effectively, and concerns over the development and testing of the modular mission packages for LCSs. The Navy’s execution of the program has been a matter of congressional oversight attention for several years.

via Federation of American Scientists (fas.org)