On the Wisconsin shore of the Menominee River a brand new three,000-ton Freedom-class Littoral Fight Ship sits docked within the water. It is already been delivered to the Navy by Lockheed Martin and it is already lively.
A crew of 50 stay aboard and have been conducting exams for six months on close by Lake Michigan. Subsequent month, the warship will probably be commissioned the usLittle Rock earlier than deploying to Florida.
Along with automation that has minimize crew dimension in half versus extra conventional ships of this dimension, interchangeable “mission packages,” and a high pace of 40 knots, the close-to-shore warship will tout one thing else: the flexibility to vertically launch Hellfire missiles (additionally made by Lockheed) to focus on threats on land, sea and within the air.
It is one of many methods Lockheed is seeking to make the controversial ship extra deadly. It is a technique meant to not solely silence critics and snag extra orders, however higher place the highest protection contractor for one of many greatest, most-anticipated new Navy contracts.
“This can be a warship,” says Michele Evans, Lockheed’s vp and common supervisor of built-in warfare programs and sensors, a multibillion greenback Naval programs portfolio that features LCS and the Aegis Ballistic Missile Dense system.
“It actually seems to be to carry vertical launching programs, benefit from plenty of what we develop with Aegis, and finally, we might even have a look at having a laser-based system on this.
“So, we see the expansion potential and I believe there is a need because the Navy seems to be towards a future frigate.”
That future frigate is the Navy’s “future guided missile frigate” or FFG(X), a contest for a next-generation small combatant ship to be based mostly off of an present small floor combatant (like for instance, LCS).
Final week the Navy launched a design request for proposal that is anticipated to be awarded subsequent yr, the final step earlier than chosen contractors construct their ideas. Officers met with trade on Friday to review the hundreds of pages of guidelines.
The ultimate contract is ready to be awarded in 2020, with this system prone to be price about $15 billion, in line with Roman Schweizer, a protection analyst at Cowen. It is anticipated to span not less than 20 ships.
For the Littoral Fight Ship, Lockheed, an LCS co-prime, companions with shipbuilder Fincantieri Marinette Marine and ship designer Gibbs & Cox for its Freedom-class variant.
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