Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) released a draft request for proposals (RFP) for the detail design and construction (DD&C) of the future guided frigate program (FFG(X)) on March 1.

The first DD&C contract will cover up to 10 of the expected 20 frigates in the program.

An MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter conducts underway operations with an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter and the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS-4) in late June 2018. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The FFG(X) is meant to fill out the Navy’s plans for over 50 small surface combatants in the future fleet, after all of the Littoral Combat Ships have been built.

Prospective offerors must propose a design based on an existing parent ship design that has been demonstrated at sea and would be build in the U.S.

Last year the Navy awarded five conceptual design (CD) contracts to Austal USAHuntington Ingalls Industreis [HII], Lockheed Martin [LMT], Fincantieri’s Marinette Marine, and General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works [GD]. The CD award aimed to reduce program risk by letting industry mature designs more quickly to meet the Navy’s capability requirements (Defense Daily, Feb. 16, 2018).

The CD phase will end this upcoming June and the Navy expects to release a final version of the RFP in the 4th quarter of 2019 before awarding a contract in FY ’20.

An MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter prepares to land on the littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) off the coast of Southern California.
Photo: U.S. Navy

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

In November, Navy officials told Congress Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson and James Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, validated the FFG(X) requirements and noted the process is proceeding as expected (Defense Daily, Nov. 29, 2018).

In January the FFG(X) program manager said the Navy expects follow-on vessels after the first ship are expected to cost close to $800 million each, significantly below the $950 million maximum allowed cost (Defense Daily, Jan. 17).

The Navy plans to hold an industry day following publication of this draft RFP to review the vessel’s requirements and how the service plans to evaluate proposals.