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Monday, March 25, 2013

Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background and Issues for Congress

Ronald O'Rourke
Specialist in Naval Affairs

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. Twelve LCSs have been funded through FY2012, and the FY2013-FY2017 Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP) calls for procuring 16 more, in annual quantities of 4-4-4-2-2.

The Navy’s proposed FY2013 budget requests $1,785.0 million in procurement funding for the four LCSs requested for FY2013. The Navy’s proposed budget also requests $102.6 million in procurement funding for LCS mission modules.

There are two very different LCS designs—one developed by an industry team led by Lockheed, and another developed by an industry team that was 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. LCSs 1, 3, 5, and so on are Marinette Marinebuilt ships; LCSs 2, 4, 6, and so on are Austal-built ships.

The 20 LCSs procured or scheduled for procurement in FY2010-FY2015—LCSs 5 through 24— are being acquired under a pair of 10-ship block buy contracts. Congress granted the Navy the authority for the block buy contracts in Section 150 of H.R. 3082/P.L. 111-322 of December 22, 2010, and the Navy awarded the block buy contracts to Lockheed and Austal USA on December 29, 2010. The contracts are both fixed-price incentive (FPI) block-buy contracts.

The LCS program has encountered controversy from time to time over the years over various program-related issues. Some observers, citing these issues, potential future Navy operations, and potential future constraints on defense spending, have proposed truncating the number of LCSs to be procured. In response to criticisms of the LCS program, the Navy over the years has acknowledged certain problems and stated that it was taking action to correct them, disputed other arguments made against the program, and maintained its support for the program and for procuring a total of 55 LCSs.

Current issues for Congress concerning the LCS program include the LCS’s prospective mission performance and cost-effectiveness, the combat survivability of the LCS, hull cracking and engine problems on LCS-1, and corrosion on LCS-2.

Date of Report: March 14, 2013
Number of Pages: 103
Order Number: RL33741
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