The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is a relatively inexpensive Navy surface combatant equipped with modular “plug-and-fight” mission packages. The Navy wants to field a force of 55 LCSs.
The first two LCSs (LCS-1 and LCS-2) were procured in FY2005 and FY2006 and were commissioned into service on November 8, 2008, and January 16, 2010, respectively. Six more (LCSs 3 through 8) were procured in FY2009-FY2011 at a rate of two ships per year; these ships are now under construction.
The Navy’s proposed FY2012 budget requests funding to procure four more LCSs (hulls 9 through 12). Navy plans call for procuring an additional 15 LCSs in FY2013-FY2016 in annual quantities of 4-4-4-3.
There are two very different LCS designs—one developed and produced by an industry team led by Lockheed, and another developed and produced by an industry team led by General Dynamics. The Lockheed design is built at the Marinette Marine shipyard at Marinette, WI; the General Dynamics design is built at the Austal USA shipyard at Mobile, AL.
On November 3, 2010, the Navy notified congressional offices that it was prepared to implement a dual-award acquisition strategy under which the Navy would award each LCS builder a 10-ship block buy contract for the six-year period FY2010-FY2015. The Navy needed additional legislative authority from Congress to implement the dual-award strategy. Congress granted the authority in Section 150 of H.R. 3082/P.L. 111-322 of December 22, 2010. On December 29, 2010, the Navy implemented the dual-award strategy, awarding a 10-ship, fixed-price incentive (FPI) block-buy contract to Lockheed, and another 10-ship, FPI block-buy contract to Austal USA. LCSs 5 through 8 are the first four LCSs executed under the two block-buy contracts.
Current issues for Congress concerning the LCS program include the Navy’s lack of economic order quantity (EOQ) authority for executing the two block-buy contracts, changes or potential changes to the composition of LCS mission modules announced by the Navy in January 2011, the combat survivability of the LCS, and hull cracking on LCS-1.
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