US Navy awards design contracts for FFG(X) frigate

The US Navy has selected five contenders for its FFG(X) future frigate program and awarded them conceptual design contracts on February 16.

The selected companies are Austal and Lockheed Martin with their adaptations of littoral combat ship designs, Huntington Ingalls Industries with its offshore patrol cutter-based frigate design, Fincantieri Marinette Marine with the FREMM frigate-based bid and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works who has teamed with Navantia to propose a design based on Navantia’s Aegis frigate family.

All five contenders have received $14.9 million contracts and are expected to complete the designs by June 2019.

The navy did not say how many companies submitted their proposals for the FFG(X) program and the only known contender that was not chosen is the Atlas USA and TKMS team which proposed a MEKO A-200 adaption.

The first FFG(X) is expected to be ordered in 2020. The navy will buy one in 2020 and one in 2021 continuing with two ships per year from 2022. The FFG(X) program foresees an initial acquisition of 20 ships.

Major warfare systems that the navy would like to have on the frigate include an Aegis-derivative COMBATSS-21 combat management system, a C4I suite, an Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR), Mk53 Decoy Launching System (Nulka), a SeaRAM Mk15 Mod 31 in addition to a UAV and an MH-60R helicopter.

What the navy is particularly interested in is the ship’s vertical launch cell potential to support Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile Block 2 and/or Standard Missile-2 Active missiles. The navy wants a description of launcher type and cell quantities the proposed design could accommodate.