WASHINGTON —The Navy has awarded $15 million contracts to five companies for conceptual designs for the FFG(X) program.

Huntington Ingalls, Lockheed Martin, Austal USA, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, and Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri have all been asked to submit mature designs over the next 16 months before the Navy drops down to a single detailed design and construction contract.

All the contracts contain options that could grow the value to between $22 million and $23 million, according to the contract announcement. The work is expected to be complete by June, 2019.

The U.S. Navy intends to award the contract for the first FFG(X) in 2020. It will buy one in 2020 and one in 2021, followed by two each year after that, according to the Navy’s most recent 30-year shipbuilding plan. The U.S. Navy’s requirement is for 52 small-surface combatants, the bulk of which will be LCS.

Both Austal and Lockheed Martin are competing amped up versions of their littoral combat ships. Huntington Ingalls is offering a version of the Coast Guard’s National Security Cutter. Fincantieri is offering its FREMM design. General Dynamics is offering a patrnership with Spanish shipbuilding Navantia, for its F100 frigate.

The Navy is looking for builders to balance value and capabilities, according to a statement, the Naval Sea Systems Command.

“Throughout the accelerated acquisition process for FFG(X), the Navy will incentivize industry to balance cost and capability and achieve the best value solution for the American taxpayer,” the statement reads.

David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.

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