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Report to Congress on U.S. Navy Frigate FFG(X) Program

The following is the April 4, 2019 Congressional Research Service report, Navy Frigate (FFG[X]) Program: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

The FFG(X) programis a Navy program to build a class of 20 guided-missile frigates(FFGs). The Navy wants to procure the first FFG(X)in FY2020, the next 18 at a rate of two per year in FY2021-FY2029, and the 20thin FY2030. The Navy’s proposed FY2020 budget requests $1,281.2 million for the procurement of the first FFG(X). The Navy’s FY2020 budget submission shows that subsequent ships in the class are estimated by the Navy to cost roughly $900 million each in then-year dollars.

The Navy intends to build the FFG(X) to a modified version of an existing ship design—an approach called the parent-design approach. The parent design could be a U.S. ship design or a foreign ship design.At least five industry teams are reportedly competing for the FFG(X) program. Two of these teams are offering designs for the FFG(X) that are modified versions of the two Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)designs that the Navy has procured in prior years. The other three industry teams are offering designs for the FFG(X) that are based on other existing ship designs. One of these three other industry teams is proposing to build its design at one of the LCS shipyards. The Navy plans to announce the outcome of the FFG(X) competition in July 2020. The LCSprogram is covered in detail in another CRS report.

The FFG(X) program presents several potential oversight issues for Congress, including the following:

  • whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s FY2020funding request for the program;whether the Navy has appropriately defined the cost, capabilities, and growth margin of the FFG(X);
  • the Navy’s intent to use a parent-design approach for the FFG(X) program rather than develop an entirely new (i.e., clean-sheet) design for the ship;
  • cost, schedule, and technical risk in the FFG(X) program;
  • whether any additional LCSs should be procured in FY2020 as a hedge against potential delays in the FFG(X) program;
  • the potential industrial-base impacts of the Navy’s plan to shift in FY2020 from procuring LCSs to procuring FFG(X)s;
  • whether to build FFG(X)s at a single shipyard, as the Navy’s baseline plan calls for, or at two or three shipyards;and
  • the potential impact of the FFG(X) program required numbers or capabilities of U.S. Navy cruisers and destroyers

Download the report here.