Industry teams led by Lockheed Martin [LMT] and General Dynamics [GD] are designing their own Flight 0 versions of LCS. The Navy plans to downselect to a single contractor for later flight iterations of the LCS program.
The characteristics of the competing designs center on differences that stem largely from the planned hull forms offered by the two bidders.Lockheed MartinÃs team, which includes Bollinger Shipyards and Marinette Marine, is offering a semi-planing monohull design that incorporates steel into the hull form. Conversely, GD is offering a trimaran that builds upon the experiences of one of its LCS partners, Australian catamaran house Austal.LCS would also have considerable speed and a relatively smaller crew size compared to other shipsÃ³perhaps as few as 50 sailors onboard.
As LCS is still in development, it has not seen combat.
Currently no foreign users have signed on for the program.
The main feature of LCS that the Navy touts more than anything else is the shipÃs ability to accommodate a variety of mission module packages. At the forefront of these missions are three tasks the Navy considers vitally importantÃ³counter-small boat warfare, counter-mine warfare and anti-submarine warfare (ASW).One of the more troubling aspects of the LCS program is that its fate is tied directly to the NavyÃs ever-shrinking future shipbuilding budget. While this program seems to be in the clear for FY Ã06 budget plan, that may not be the case in later shipbuilding requests. The Navy may build as many as 50 LCS platforms.