Congress must address a host of issues before it approves the Navy’s plan to build 20 new guided-missile frigates, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) believes. The Navy is asking for $1,281.2 million to build the first of these FFG(X) ships. Based on the request for the ships in the fiscal year 2020 defense budget, CRS estimates each ship would cost around $900 million each.
The service wants to build the FFG(X) on an existing platform, but still has yet to decide which. The options include the two different littoral combat ship designs, built by Austal USA at Mobile, Ala., and Fincantieri/Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wis., as well as proposals by General Dynamics/Bath Iron Works, Maine, and Huntington Ingalls Industries/Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss.
The Navy issued a Request for Proposal for up to the first 10 ships on June 20, and will respond to those by Aug. 22 and award a contract by next July.
Congress will decide:
* Whether to approve, reject or change the Navy’s 2020 funding request.
* Whether the Navy’s cost, capabilities and growth-margin estimates are appropriate.
* If the Navy plan to build FFG(X) on an existing platform is viable, or if the project should use a completely new design.
* The program’s cost, schedule and technical risk.
* If it would be practical to approve any more ships in 2020, to avoid “potential delays.”
* The possible impact on shipyards and suppliers.
* Whether the ship should be built at a single shipyard, or more than one.
* The possible impact the number of planned ships would have on the Navy’s “surface force architecture.”