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16 Feb 18. Navy awards design contracts for future frigate. The Navy has awarded $15m 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 $22m and $23m, 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.
(Source: Defense News)
16 Feb 18. SecAF: Don’t Expect Large Budget Increases After 2019; $2.4bn Set For Light Attack. The Air Force placed a $2.4bn placeholder in the 2019 budget to buy Light Attack aircraft over the next five years, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told reporters this morning.
The service does not plan to buy planes in 2019 but to work with allies to build Concepts of Operations and hone the number of planes both allies and the United States should buy. Then the service will nail down how many to buy and when to buy them, she told us after a Mitchell Institute breakfast.
The Air Force decided to forgo spending $100m on a combat experiment in 2019 and further test Textron’s AT-6 and the Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29. (Long-time Breaking Defense readers will recall this has been going on since 2011: Here’s our comparison of the two planes.) These won’t be just counterinsurgency aircraft toting guns and missiles. Wilson said they’d be consider equipping them with a wide range of sensors.
While she wasn’t specific, it would make sense for them to try electro-optics, electronic warfare, signals intelligence and AESA radar (which can also be used for EW and cyber) and to mix them up. Of course, one of the limitations of smaller propeller aircraft is they don’t generate as much electrical power as a jet fighter does. Wilson also made a point of saying the aircraft would have to be able to network with other planes and with the ground.
Why would the service that flies F-22s want to buy slow-moving, fairly vulnerable propeller aircraft? Wilson put the case well: “We should not use F-22s to destroy a narcotics factory in Afghanistan.”
Wilson clarified another of other budget issues, including why the service killed the JSTARS recap program. Breaking D readers know the primary reason was that it just won’t survive a real war war, plus it’s fulfilling only 5 percent of commander’s requirements. But the broader reason is that a government-funded thinktank (an FFRDC) studied JSTARS for Air Combat Command and said there were much better ways to do more than what this once-revolutionary capability now does, Wilson said.
It also reflects a change in approach to how we gather information about friendly