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That was the US Navy’s idea for the low-end backbone of its future surface combatant fleet.

Inspired by successful experiments like Denmark’s Standard Flex ships, the US Navy’s billion “Littoral Combat Ship” program was intended to create a new generation of affordable surface combatants that could operate in dangerous shallow and near-shore environments, while remaining affordable and capable throughout their lifetimes. In practice, the Navy hasn’t been able to reconcile what they wanted with the capabilities needed to perform primary naval missions, or with what could be delivered for the sums available.

Team Lockheed Martin’s LCS-1 Freedom Class offers a proven high-speed semi-planing monohull, based on Fincantieri designs that have set trans-Atlantic speed records.

The design will use the firm’s COMBATSS-21 combat system as the fighting electronic heart of the ship, has shock-hardened the engine systems, and uses a combination of a steel hull and aluminum superstructure.

Ultimately, the US Navy is trying to replace 56 vessels: 30 FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigates, 14 MCM Avenger Class mine countermeasures vessels, and 12 MHC-51 Osprey Class coastal mine hunters.

Niche providers and related partnerships include: The LCS-2 Independence Class offers a futuristic but practical high-speed trimaran, based on Austal designs and experience with vessels like the US Marines’ Westpac Express high-speed transport, and the Army and Navy’s TSV/HSV ships.

It offers an especially large flight deck (7,300 square feet) and internal mission volume (15,200 square feet mission bay) for its size, with a 3,500 square foot helicopter hangar.

November 9/17: The US Navy has awarded a .4 million contract to BAE Systems to exercise options for post-shakedown availabilities (PSA) for the USS Little Rock and USS Sioux City littoral combat ships (LCS).

Work will be carried out onboard USS Little Rock LCS-9 and USS Sioux City LCS-11 Freedom-class littoral combat ships at BAE’s facility in Jacksonville, Fla., with completion scheduled for February 2019.

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