Lockheed Martin Pulls Out of U.S. Navy’s FFG(X) Frigate Competition: Reports

Lockheed Martin has pulled out of the U.S. Navy’s next-generation guided-missile (FFG(X)) frigate competition, USNI News reported Tuesday citing company officials.

“The company elected to focus on its involvement developing the frigate combat system and other systems rather than forward its Freedom-class LCS design for the detailed design and construction contract Naval Sea Systems Command plans to issue this summer”, Joe DePietro, Vice President of Small Combatants and Ship Systems at Lockheed Martin, told USNI News.

“We reviewed the entire program and obviously, given some of the stuff that has already happened that is outside of the contract for the program – that includes the designation of our combat management system, COMBATSS 21, derived off of Aegis; we have the Mk-41 vertical launch system; the processing for our anti-submarine warfare area; advanced [electronic warfare] and platform integration.”

“As we evaluated all of those different areas, we determined not to pursue, as a prime contractor, the FFG(X) detailed design and construction”, he added.

The company had earlier submitted its Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) parent design in response to the FFG(X) conceptual design solicitation with Fincantieri Marinette Marine as its shipbuilder and Gibbs & Cox as its naval architect, and was one of the five contractors who were awarded a $15 million conceptual design contract by the U.S. Department of Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) to mature their proposed ship design to meet the FFG(X) system specification.

The other contractors selected were Austal USA, Huntington Ingalls (HII), Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW).

Even though Lockheed Martin will not pursue the FFG(X) program as the prime contractor, it will supply a number of subsystems for the winning ship design including its COMBATSS-21 combat management system, derived from the Aegis Combat System (ACS).

The company will also be partnering with Italy’s Fincantieri which is offering FREMM (Fregata Europea Multi-Missione, European Multi-Mission Frigate) multipurpose frigate design for FFG(X) bid through its U.S. subsidiary, Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM). FMM is already working with Lockheed Martin for the construction of the Navy’s Freedom-class littoral combat ships.

FFG(X) is the notional designation of a class of multimission guided-missile frigates for the U.S. Navy, to be contracted from 2020, as a follow-on to the modular Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). The FFG(X) was announced in a U.S. Department of Defense Request For Information (RFI) on 10 July 2017.

The conceptual 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.

The Navy will buy one frigate 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).

The contenders for the FFG(X) bid are:

Austal USA is offering a frigate based on its Independence-class littoral combat ship (LCS).

Austal FFG(X) Guided Missile Frigate Concept
Austal FFG(X) Guided Missile Frigate Concept offered for U.S. Navy FFG(X) program.

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.

Auvergne (D654)
Auvergne (D654), an Aquitaine-class FREMM anti-submarine warfare (ASW) frigate of the French Navy

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.

SPS Blas de Lezo (F103)
SPS Blas de Lezo (F103), an Alvaro de Bazan (F100) class guided missile frigate of 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.

USCGC Bertholf (WMSL-750)
The U. S. Coast Guard’s first national security cutter, USCGC Bertholf (WMSL-750), operating in concert with the service’s Ocean Sentry HC-144A maritime patrol aircraft and a MH-65C helicopter on Monday, Feb. 11, 2008. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by PAC Tom Sperduto)

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