The Navy issued two requests for information (RFI) for the planned large surface combatant (LSC) on Feb. 19.

The RFIs, posted to FedBizOpps, are part of a requirements analysis process for a future surface combatant force being conducted by the Navy, which is envisioned to include the LSC. The Navy is currently developing requirements for the LSC.

The LSC is planned to succeed the Arleigh Burke-class DDG-51 Flight III destroyer.

The Flight III DDG-51 is primarily an upgrade of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer’s radar and electric power generating capabilities to allow it to use the Raytheon [RTN] AN/SPY-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar.

The Navy expects to build up to 12 DDG-51 Flight III ships before it moved on to the LSC.

Responses to the RFIs are due by April 1.

The USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) fires an SM-6 Block IB missiles during Formidable Shield 2017. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The Navy underscored the LSC will be a new acquisition program that will “leverage the DDG 51 Flight III combat system” while also evaluating the integration of non-development mechanical and electric systems into a new or modified hull design. This design is meant to incorporate “platform flexibility and growth opportunities to meet future Fleet requirements.”

The Navy is using the RFIs to gather industry insight at part of the market research to support the requirements development and design effort for the new ship class. One RFI focuses on shipbuilders, ship designers, and ship and combat system integrators while another focuses on system and equipment providers.

“A requirements analysis process has been conducted to determine initial draft requirements. Once requirements are sufficiently mature the Navy would likely conduct a government led Preliminary Design (PD) and Contract Design (CD) followed by industry-led Detail Design and Construction contract(s),” the RFIs said.

The Navy has not yet determined the level of industry involvement in the PD and CD phases, but it will likely cover focused, funded studies and/or as members of an integrated design team.

The Navy said while these RFIs are primarily targeted at industry, it is also interested in input from academia, professional organizations, other non-traditional defense contracting entities like OTA consortiums, and those with experience in the design and production of large surface combatants.

The RFI said the service intends to evaluate several capability areas for potential integration into the initial LSC baseline, including: the ability to integrate warfare system elements like the DDG-51 Flight III; increased flexibility and adaptability features like expanded space, weight, power, and cooling service life allowances to enable faster and more affordable upgrades over the ship’s service life as well as allow for fielding of future high demand electric weapons and systems; enabling the ship’s vertical launch system to accommodate larger missiles for greater speed and range weapons; and more capability for an embarked warfare commander plus staff.

Notably, the Navy will evaluate adding 360-degree coverage with directed energy weapons as part of the LSC baseline. Possible ship designs should try to accommodate these capability increases while also considering “additional growth capacity for projected future systems requirements.”

The Navy underscored it is seeking designs that incorporate flexibility to allow “timely and affordable” back-fit and forward-fit future systems and meet future emergent needs via “evolutionary block upgrades” and modernization.

The service included 22 questions in the shipbuilder/ship designer/combat system integrator RFI and another 23 questions in the system and equipment provider RFI.

The specific questions range from innovative ideas to accomplish the intended LSC characteristics on a modified or new design ship to what design features should the Navy use to facilitate rapid upgrades and reduce acquisition costs through controlling labor cost drivers.

Artist rendering of the first Flight III DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the future USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125). (Image: Huntington Ingalls Industries)

This effort is also looking for ideas on approaches to modularity and open systems architecture to help increase ship flexibility and adaptability. The RFI then asked how these approaches could be applied to modified ship designs as well

The Navy said partial responses are allowed and even encouraged. “A respondent need not respond to all questions for their responses to be considered,” the RFI said.

The service is also considering conducting an industry day to follow-up on the RFI. If it occurs, the industry day will be classified.

Late last year, Rear Adm. Ron Boxall, Director of Surface Warfare (N96), said the Navy is hoping to get the LSC on contract by 2023 or 2024. The LSC is likely to include DDG-51 Flight III capabilities on a new, larger hull (Defense Daily, Oct. 29, 2018).