Lockheed Martin [LMT] has decided to not pursue the guided-missile future frigate (FFG(X)) competition, the company told Defense Daily on Tuesday.

The company had planned to compete in the FFG(X) detail design and construction (DD&C) competition using a version of its Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) following the current five-company conceptual design (CD) contract.

The future Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship USS Billings (LCS-15) conducting acceptance trials in Lake Michigan. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

“After careful review, we have decided to focus our attention on the FFG(X) combat system, delivering Lockheed Martin technologies such as the Aegis-derived weapon system, MK 41 Vertical Launching System, anti-submarine warfare processing, and advanced electronic warfare,” Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Sharon Parsley told Defense Daily. The company’s decision was first reported by Inside Defense.

“We offer the best value to the Navy in this role while meeting our business goals,” Parsley continued.

She also noted that the company “will continue to serve as a shipbuilder for the U.S. Navy, and we’re exploring opportunities including unmanned surface vessels and the large surface combatant.”

In early 2018, the Navy awarded $15 million conceptual design contracts to Lockheed Martin, Austal USA, Huntington Ingalls Industries [HII], Lockheed Martin [LMT], Fincantieri Marinette Marine, and General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works [GD]. The awards are intended to reduce program risk by allowing industry to mature designs quicker to meet the Navy’s capability requirements (Defense Daily, Feb. 16, 2018).

If Lockheed Martin had won the DD&C, it planned to build the frigate at Fincantieri’s Marinette Marine Shipyard in Wisconsin, where the Freedom-variant ships are currently being built. Fincantieri’s own design is based on the European FREMM frigate in use by Italy and France.

The CD phase lasts for 16 months and is due to end in June.

The Navy released a draft request for proposals for the DD&C competition in March. It will cover up to 10 of the expected 20 total frigates in the program (Defense Daily, March 1).

The Navy intends to release the final version of the RFP in the 4th quarter of 2019 before awarding the contract in FY 2020 to a single winner.

Although Lockheed Martin said it is committed to helping the Navy, “after careful assessment of what the Navy is looking for in the frigate, we decided we will not pursue theFFG(X) Detail Design and Construction opportunity,” Parsley added.

However, she noted the company finished a successful concept design effort “and our solution meets all of the Navy’s requirement.” The company is still in the process of delivering that to the Navy, irrespective the DD&C decision.

Lockheed Martin underscored it is still committed to executing the remaining LCS and the four Multi-Mission Surface Combatant (MMSC) program to the Royal Saudi Navy.

The MMSC is also based on the Freedom-variant design and is being built at Marinette Marine. MMSC-1 is set to start production in late 2019 with the follow-up hulls planned to start work in six-month increments starting in late 2020. All four MMSCs are expected to be delivered by 2025.

Last November Lockheed Martin told Defense Daily the MMSC should not be perceived as a shipyard gap filler or alternative to an FY 2019 award for an LCS because serial production at the Marinette shipyard is tied to building two ships per year for efficiency and stable jobs. The company was seeking stable shipyard work until FFG(X) production would start in 2022 (Defense Daily, Nov. 20, 2018).