Lockheed Exits Competition for U.S. Navy's Next Frigate
Lockheed Martin has exited the competition to build the U.S. Navy's future frigate, or FFG(X), in order to focus on supplying ships' systems to the winning bidder.
Lockheed had entered the contest proposing a modified version of its Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), whcih is built in Wisconsin by a subsidiary of Fincantieri. The FFG(X) will be a follow-on replacement for the two LCS variants, which have both had their production runs truncated to make way for the new frigate.
In a statement, Lockheed confirmed that it has exited the running and will focus its attention on ships' systems. "[We] completed a successful design effort under the current contract, and our solution meets all of the Navy’s requirements. After careful review, we have decided we will focus our attention on the FFG(X) combat system and overall systems integration," the firm said. "We will continue to serve as a shipbuilder for the U.S. Navy, and we’re exploring opportunities including unmanned surface vessels and the large surface combatant."
Bath Iron Works, Fincantieri, Austal and Huntington Ingalls are still participating in the FFG(X) competition. To meet the Navy's specifications, any winner will have to install the Mk 41 vertical launch system for missiles (designed by Lockheed) and the COMBATSS21 combat control system (also designed by Lockheed).
The FFG(X) marks the Navy's return to a traditional small surface combatant design after the relatively novel LCS. The fast, lightly-armed LCS was intended to field modular mission payloads to take on different assignments at different times, and it was designed starting from a clean sheet. FFG(X) will be built on a proven hull form, with a lower top speed, more armor and built-in weaponry for air defense, anti-surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare.