Competition to build the next generation of small, fast combat craft, known as the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), recently took a big step forward with the awarding of contracts to three teams to proceed further with their design initiative. The multi-billion contract, which could be for as many as 60 vessels, is expected to be awarded in about seven months. The three teams left standing include:
Each of the three was awarded a contract for the performance of flight littoral combat ship (LCS) preliminary design. Each contractor will perform a seven-month preliminary design effort to refine its proposed littoral combat ship concept.
LCS will be a high-speed ship designed for fighting in littoral or coastal areas. LCS will feature an advanced hull form and a shallow draft and will be capable of quickly moving through the littoral at speeds of up to 40 to 50 knots.
Operating close to land, LCS will enhance the capabilities of the Navy’s larger multi-mission surface ships such as the planned next-generation destroyer and cruiser and today’s fleet of Aegis warships
By adding mission module packages to LCS, commanders will tailor the ship to combat threats most often found in the littoral: naval mines, diesel submarines, and small fast surface craft.
Each LCS will also have inherent capabilities regardless of the mission module package it is operating with. Each ship will be able to defend itself from attack; conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions; support joint special operations forces; provide joint mobility in the littoral; interdict other ships; and defend the homeland.
To enable this capability, LCS will be networked to share information with other navy ships
, aircraft and submarines, with unmanned vehicles, and with units from the other armed services
"The LCS teams selected represent the best available domestic and international expertise, and reflect strong efforts on the part of industry to provide innovative technologies and operational flexibility for the fleet customer," said John Young, assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition. "Our LCS acquisition strategy supports delivery of the first ship as early as fiscal 2007, within five years of program start. Additionally, the modularity and open architecture design planned for LCS will ensure we continue to bring enhanced capability to the Fleet and that we do so more quickly and at a lower cost."
"The future for the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps team requires us to dominate the near land battlespace and provide access for our joint combat team," said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark. "Our enemies will continue to develop asymmetric means to stop us. LCS will be the asymmetric advantage that will allow us to dominate in this critical area. We need this capability as quickly as we can get it to the fleet."