U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said the Pentagon's plan to truncate the Littoral Combat Ship program at 40 ships instead of 52 reflected budget pressures and was "not an indictment" of the program.
Lockheed Martin Corp and Australia
's Austal each
build different models of the smaller, fast coastal warships. Carter said he wants the Navy to have a competition and pick just one supplier for future ships.
Work said the Pentagon decided to buy two of the ships in fiscal 2017, instead of scaling orders back to just one ship as Defense Secretary Ash Carter
had ordered in a memo late last year, at the Navy's request. He said the move was meant to help ensure a smooth transition to a future competition by keeping both shipbuilders working for another year.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)