LCS to frigate transition likely troublesome, US senators worry

Members of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee have urged lawmakers not to approve the U.S. Navy’s block buy request for the acquisition of frigates and thereby keep oversight of the potentially worrying program.

During a Senate Armed Services Committee meeting on Thursday, Paul L. Francis, Government Accountability Office (GAO) managing director, acquisition and sourcing management, said that Congress should not approve a block buy of the frigatised LCS before a first ship is built and tested.

The U.S. Navy plans to request authorization for a block buy of all 12 frigates and funding in the fiscal year 2018 budget request for the lead frigate.

According to a report by the GAO, the frigate version of the littoral combat ships are experiencing the same acquisition struggles that the LCS experienced.

The report said the navy’s revolutionary LCS program failed to deliver expected results ending up costing twice as much as expected yet delivering less capability than expected.

“Ships were not delivered quickly to the fleet at low cost. Rather cost, schedule, and capability expectations degraded over time,” GAO said.

“The littoral combat ship is an all too common example of defense acquisition gone awry,” Senator John McCain, who has long been critical of the LCS shortcomings, said in the opening of Thursday’s hearing.

Paul Francis also noted later in the hearing that the frigate would cost at least $100 million more than the LCS, stressing the fact that the frigate acquisition should be a separate program with its own milestone decisions.

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