Australian shipbuilder, Austal has released a statement after being awarded a US$15 million fixed price contract for the next-generation Guided Missile Frigate FFG(X) Concept Design.
The statement said that the company will develop the Austal Frigate design to meet the FFG(X) system specification with the goal of reducing cost, schedule, and performance risk for the follow-on detail design and construction contract.
“Austal welcomes this contract as an endorsement of our advanced, technology focused design; something that underpins everything we do and is at the heart of what has built our reputation over the last 30 years,” Austal CEO, David Singleton said.
“Our continued investment in research and development to support the technology of our vessels is what has kept our designs at the forefront of advanced naval capabilities,” Mr. Singleton said.
“Austal’s design department is always increasing its capability to offer the latest technological developments on all our platforms,” he said. “Highly technical engineering, research and development, and advanced digital design concepts are continually improved to set the standard of what is possible in naval design.”
“With this latest announcement, the United States has recognised the importance of being able to operate the most advanced naval vessels and we are excited to work with them to develop the technology to do this. Our design team in Mobile will be leading the work on the Austal Frigate, and I have every confidence that they will excel in delivering the next generation frigate design to support the United States Navy,” Mr Singleton added.
The conceptual design effort will inform the final specifications that will be used for the detail design and construction request for proposal that will deliver the required capability for FFG(X).
Austal USA is already delivering two classes of ship for the United States Navy through the Spearhead Class, Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) and the Independence Class, Littoral Combat Ship (LCS).
FFG(X) is the notional designation of a class of multimission guided-missile frigates for the US Navy, to be contracted from 2020, as a follow-on to the modular Littoral Combat Ship.
The FFG(X) was announced in a US Department of Defense Request For Information (RFI) on 10 July 2017.
The five contenders selected for the concept desigh contract are Austal USA, Huntington Ingalls (HII), Lockheed Martin, Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW).
Austal USA is offering a frigate based on its Independence-class littoral combat ship and Lockheed Martin is offering Freedom Frigate based on the Freedom-class littoral combat ship. Both LCS ships are already in service with the U.S. Navy.
Italian shipbuilder, Fincantieri is offering its FREMM multipurpose frigate through its U.S. subsidiary, Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM). The FREMM frigates were originally designed by DCNS/Armaris and Fincantieri for the French Navy and the Italian Navy. FMM is already partnering with Lockheed Martin for the construction of Freedom-class littoral combat ships.
General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW) is partnering with Navantia to offer the latter’s Álvaro de Bazán-class F100 frigate which is in service with the Spanish Navy. Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) is offering a patrol frigate based on the National Security Cutter (NSC, Legend-class cutter) operated by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The concept design contract work is expected to be completed by June 2019.
The U.S. Navy intends to award the contract for the first FFG(X) in 2020. It will buy one in 2020 and one in 2021, followed by two each year after that, for a 20-ship class. The U.S. Navy wants the follow-on ships in the FFG(X) program (i.e., ships 2 through 20) to have an average unit procurement cost of not more than $950 million each (in constant 2018 dollars).