The Navy’s detailed FY 2020 budget request documents, released Monday, spell out what the service expects future guided-missile frigate, FFG(X), construction and shipbuilding funding and timelines will be over the next several years

The Navy’s documents underscore the FFG(X) program will continue to refine cost estimates to support the upcoming FY ’20 detail design and construction (DD&C) contract award.

The USS Manchester (LCS-14) while completing acceptance trials in Dec. 2017. (Photo: U.S. Navy courtesy of Austal USA).

The service expects to award the first frigate, FFG-1, in July 2020, have it start construction in July 2022, and then have it delivered by July 2026. Over the rest of the future years defense program (FYDP), the Navy plans to duplicate this timeline but with two ships per year while making some gains on delivery time.

The Navy will award two FFG(X)s per year in April from 2021 – 2024, up to two years later each will start construction, and about four years later the ships will be delivered.

Relatedly, the service also released its FYDP funding plans for the frigate. Previously, the Navy’s request called for $1.28 billion in FFG(X) spending in FY ’20, but in the following years the service wants to increase the program’s budget. In FY ’21 the Navy requests $2.06 billion, FY ’22 $1.75 billion, FY ’23 1.79 billion, and FY ’24 1.83 billion.

According to budget documents, the frigates will feature a Raytheon [RTN] Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR), a Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) Block II (SLQ-32(V)6), the MK 48 gun system, a 21-cell Raytheon Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) guided missile launching system, a 32-cell MK 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS), an eight-cannister Over-the Horizon (OTH) missile launcher, a Nulka MK 52 decoy launching system (DLS), the AN/SQQ-89 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) combat system, the AN/USG-2B Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) to integrate fire control sensor data into a single data source and share with other ships, and a frigate weapon system command and control system derived from the Aegis Common Source Library .

Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) released a draft request for proposals (RFP) for the DD&C earlier this month. The DD&C is expected to cover the first 10 of an expected 20 frigates in the FFG(X) program (Defense Daily, March 1).

The future USS Sioux City (LCS-11) finishing acceptance trials in Lake Michigan in May 2018. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

Prospective frigate offerors must propose a design based on an existing parent ship design. Last year, the Navy awarded five conceptual design (CD) contracts to competitors Austal USAHuntington Ingalls Industreis [HII], Lockheed Martin [LMT], Fincantieri’s Marinette Marine, and General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works [GD] (Defense Daily, Feb. 16, 2018).

The DD&C contact is not limited to the CD winners.

The CD phase will end in June and then the Navy expects to release a final RFP in the 4th quarter of 2019 before awarding the first contract in 2020.

In January, the FFG(X) program manager said the Navy expects follow-on ships after the first frigate will cost about  $800 million each, significantly below the $950 million maximum allowed cost (Defense Daily, Jan. 17).