Late last week, the Navy announced that it was taking the route less traveled: instead of choosing one of the two bidders angling for the Littoral Combat Ship program—either the Lockheed Martin-designed monohull, or the General Dynamics/Austal designed trimaran, the service awarded fixed-price-incentive contracts to both for the design and construction of a 10 ship block-buy each.
One of the big criticisms of the award is that the two different ships use different weapons systems—which is likely to make the logistics of keeping both types ships in the water a huge headache for the service, while driving up costs.
My colleague Michael Fabey fleshes this out a little further today, writing that that the Navy has failed to outline the it’s intentions regarding the two different combat systems on the variants. One of the reasons that the Navy is giving for the dual-buy strategy is that in the long run it will save on costs, but the Congressional Research Service says not so fast: “Developing a new combat system for the two LCS designs might costs tens of millions of dollars,” a CRS analyst Ronald O’Rourke told Congress last year. In fact, CRS and the Congressional Budget Office estimate that the development of a new common combat system for both LCS designs it could cost the Navy up to $1.8 billion, and “adapting one system for both variants could cost about $910 million,” Fabey writes.
Now that the new Congresscritters are in town, might one expect some hearings about this in the near future? The Navy isn’t doing a great job getting out there and making their case, so someone might have to step in to force them to explain their thinking.