WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Based on a comprehensive review of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) acquisition program, Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter announced March 15 that he is prepared to lift a previously issued stop work order for construction of LCS 3.
The ship is currently under contract to Lockheed Martin Corp. Maritime Systems & Sensors unit, Moorestown, N.J. Lifting the stop work order is contingent upon the Navy and Lockheed Martin reaching agreement on a renegotiated contract.
As a result of a nearly two-month assessment, the Navy has revalidated the warfighting requirement and developed a restructured program plan for the LCS that will improve management oversight, implement more strict cost control, incorporate selective contract restructuring and ensure that an important warfighting capability is provided to the fleet consistent with a realistic schedule.
This plan will ensure best value to the Navy for the completion of LCS ships 1-4, procurement of existing designs in fiscal 2008 and 2009 to fill the critical warfighting gap and establish a sound framework for transition to a single selected design in fiscal 2010. The Navy will work closely with Congress on reprogramming actions necessary to bring this program forward.
"It is vital that the Navy continue through first of class construction challenges to complete LCS 1 and LCS 2. When these ships are delivered, we will be able to fully evaluate their costs and capabilities," said Winter. "LCS 3 construction may be resumed under revised contract terms that rebalance the risk of cost growth between the government and industry. LCS 4 construction will continue as long as its costs remain defined and manageable."
Under the restructured program plan, the Navy will recommend deferral of procurement of LCS in fiscal 2007 and use those funds to complete the construction of LCS 1-4. The Navy intends to continue with a plan to procure a reduced number of ships in fiscal 2008 and 2009 within existing budget resources and with the approval of Congress because of the compelling need to address critical warfighting gaps in the littorals and strategic choke points.
The Navy will transition to a single seaframe configuration, incorporating a Navy-specified open architecture combat system, in fiscal 2010 after an operational assessment of all critical factors between LCS 1 and LCS 2. The Navy will hold a full and open competition of the selected design (flight 1) for the fiscal 2010 seaframe procurement to reduce life cycle costs of the program.
"LCS is needed now to fill critical, urgent warfighting requirements gaps that exist today. It is imperative that the Navy deliver this warship class and its important capabilities to the fleet as soon as possible," said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Mullen. "It is just as imperative that we do so in the most cost effective manner possible."
The LCS is an entirely new type of U.S. Navy warship. A fast, agile, and networked surface combatant, LCS's modular, focused-mission design will provide combatant commanders the required warfighting capabilities and operational flexibility to ensure maritime dominance and access for the joint force. LCS will operate with focused-mission packages that deploy manned and unmanned vehicles to execute missions as assigned by combatant commanders.
Operational experience and analyses indicate that potential adversaries will employ asymmetric capabilities to deny U.S. and allied forces access in critical coastal regions to include strategic choke points and vital economic sea lanes. Asymmetric threats will include small, fast surface craft, ultra-quiet diesel submarines and various types of mines.
LCS will also perform special operations forces support; high-speed transit; maritime interdiction operations; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and anti-terrorism/force protection. While complementing capabilities of the Navy's larger multi-mission surface combatants, LCS will also be networked to share tactical information with other Navy aircraft, ships, submarines and joint units.
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