General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW) has proposed a design based on a family of AEGIS Frigates designed by the Spanish shipbuilder Navantia for the U.S. Navy’s planned Guided Missile Frigate (FFG(X)) acquisition.
The company was awarded a $14.9 million contract for the concept design of the new next-generation frigates by the U.S. Department of Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA). The contract award enables Bath Iron Works to mature the design to meet the specifications established by the Navy that will be used for the Detail Design and Construction request for proposals.
The contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the total value of the contract to $22.9 million.
The F100 Álvaro de Bazán-class multi-role frigate is one of the few non-US warships to carry the Aegis Combat System and its associated AN/SPY-1 radar. Japan’s Kongō class, South Korea’s Sejong the Great class, Australia’s Hobart class and the F100-derived Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen class of frigates/ destroyers also use the Aegis system.
“Bath Iron Works looks forward to working with Navantia to further develop a guided missile frigate design that meets the needs of the U.S. Navy,” said General Dynamics Bath Iron Works President Dirk Lesko.
The Navy’s initial request for proposals in November required that frigate designs be based on an existing hull form that is already in service. The Navy has said the requirement will make the planned production of 20 frigates more affordable and bring the ships to the fleet more quickly. The Detail Design and Construction award is planned to be in 2020.
Bath Iron Works designed the Navy’s prior frigate, the Oliver Hazard Perry class, and built many of the hulls. Bath Iron Works partnered with Navantia in the 1980s to adapt the Oliver Hazard Perry design for construction by the Spanish shipbuilding industry and for use by the Spanish Navy .
Bath Iron Works currently has under construction Zumwalt-class destroyers Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) and Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002), and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers Thomas Hudner (DDG 116), Daniel Inouye (DDG 118), Carl M. Levin (DDG 120) and John Basilone (DDG 122).
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 AEGIS-equipped 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).