The U.S. Navy awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation an additional contract modification for further work on the LHA 6 amphibious assault ship. The contract award will be utilized for special study work and for additional long-lead time material procurement to support ship construction. This $20 million contract modification provides for special studies and analyses on LHA 6's systems, including hull, mission, total ship survivability, warfare, machinery and aviation. Engineering, planning and technical support work will be accomplished as requirements leading to the detail design development. Additional funding will be utilized for the long-lead material. The detail design and construction contract award is expected in 2007. The LHA 6 will replace the LHA 1 class of amphibious assault ships, and will have the flexibility to operate in the traditional role as the flagship for an expeditionary strike group (ESG) as well as potentially playing a key role in the maritime prepositioning force future (MPF(F)). Northrop Grumman has built five LHAs, as well as seven USS Wasp (LHD 1)-class ships. The company's Pascagoula shipyard is currently building an eighth LHD, Makin Island. LHA 6 will be a variant of the gas-turbine powered LHD 8. The one key difference is that the LHA 6 will be built without a well deck, which will optimize the ship for aviation operations. Changes from the LHD design include an extended hangar deck with two overhead cranes, extended high-bay areas for aircraft maintenance, a reconfigurable command-and-control complex, a relocated and smaller hospital facility, additional aviation fuel capacity, and numerous aviation-support spaces. These changes equate to a ship that is much more capable of providing the nation with its only sustainable, forcible entry capability. LHA 6 will facilitate forward presence and power projection in support of expeditionary operational concepts as an integral part of joint, interagency and multinational maritime forces. It will embark, support and operate for sustained periods with landing force elements, including the STOVL F-35 B Joint Strike Fighter and the tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey aircraft. It will also embark various naval amphibious tactical and administrative organizations for command and control.