According to the statement of the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy has awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin and Austal USA for the supply of three additional littoral combat ships.
Austal USA was awarded a contract modification by the U.S. Navy to build two additional Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ships, its sixteenth and seventeenth ships in the class.
The award of LCS 32 and 34 is a clear sign of the continued confidence the Navy has in Austal’s LCS program. The specific value of each contract is under the congressional cost cap of $584 million per ship.
Lockheed Martin Corp. also was awarded a contract by the U.S. Navy for build and supply of one Freedom-class LCS 29 littoral combat ship (LCS).
The U.S. Department of Defense noted that all work is expected to be completed by September 2024.
The LCS is the most advanced high-speed military craft in the world and is intended to operate in coastal areas around the globe. As a key part of the U.S. Navy fleet, they are highly maneuverable and configurable to support mine detection/elimination, anti-submarine, and surface ship warfare.
The vessels come in two highly similar models, the Freedom-class by Lockheed Martin and the Independence-class by Austal USA.
The Independence-class by Austal USA has trimaran hull, that provides the ship with superior seakeeping, fuel efficiency, survivability and the capacity to carry a large, modular cache of weapons packages.
The Freedom-class by Lockheed Martin is a semi-planing steel monohull with an aluminum superstructure. The design incorporates a large reconfigurable seaframe to allow rapidly interchangeable mission modules, a flight deck with integrated helicopter launch, recovery and handling system and the capability to launch and recover boats (manned and unmanned) from both the stern and side.