Both industry teams contending to build the next Littoral Combat Ships submitted their "final proposals" Sept. 15, and are now awaiting a decision in the U.S. Navy's premier shipbuilding competition.
Navy leaders said for months they expected a decision on the LCS program to be announced over the summer, but that deadline is all but gone, and the service's announcement Aug. 23 that it would seek Final Proposal Revisions (FPRs) for the bids means a selection might not be revealed until shortly before Christmas. A stipulation of the FPRs was that they would remain valid for 90 days. With today's submission, that means the offers are good until about mid-December.
Lockheed Martin and Austal USA are competing to have their design selected as the basis for at least 51 more LCS ships. Along with the design selection, the Navy also will award contracts for a batch of 10 ships to be ordered between 2010 and 2014.
The LCS program has suffered a seemingly endless series of delays, cost growth revelations and course changes since its inception more than a decade ago, when it was conceived as a fast-track effort. Both industry teams have delivered one ship and are building another, but further orders are awaiting the Navy's design selection.
Congress also is growing frustrated with the delays. Just yesterday, the Defense Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in its mark-up of the 2011 defense bill, cut $615 million for one LCS ship from the Navy's budget request for two ships in 2011, citing delays in the program and the unlikelihood that two ships could be ordered in 2011.