The US Navy awarded a contract on 30 April for the design and procurement of the next generation of small surface combatant – the Guided Missile Frigate (FFG(X)). The contract for detail design and construction (DD&C) of up to 10 vessels (consisting of one base ship and nine option ships) was awarded to Marinette Marine Corporation (MMC) of Marinette, WI.
The FFG(X) will have multi-mission capability to conduct air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, electronic warfare and information operations. Specifically, FFG(X) will include an Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR), the Baseline Ten (BL10) AEGIS Combat System, a Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS), communications systems, MK 57 Gun Weapon System (GWS), countermeasures and added capability in the EW/IO area with design flexibility for future growth.
“Throughout this process, the government team and our industry partners have all executed with a sense of urgency and discipline, delivering this contract award three months ahead of schedule. The team’s intense focus on cost, acquisition and technical rigor, enabled the government to deliver the best value for our taxpayers as we deliver a highly capable next generation frigate to our warfighters,” stated James Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquaisition.
That acquisition process for FFG(X) began in 2017 and has consistently sought to build ships faster and more affordably. For example, because the programme promoted shipbuilding competition, included early industry involvement and open communication between all stakeholders, it has been able to accelerate by almost six years, compared to normal shipbuilding programmes. The full and open competition (request for proposals June 2019, technical proposals received in August, cost proposals in September) resulted in multiple bids being submitted.
The winning bid is for a design based on the FREMM frigate developed for the Italian and French navies and will be built at the shipyard in Marinette. The value of the current contract, if all options are exercised, is reported at $5.5 billion (€5 billion): the USN’s current plans include potential procurement of 20 vessels.