US defense company Lockheed Martin has contracted naval architecture firm Gibbs & Cox for work on the functional design of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Multi-Mission Surface Combatant (MMSC) ships.
A derivative of the US Navy’s Freedom-variant littoral combat ships, Lockheed Martin’s MMSC was selected to fulfill the Royal Saudi Naval Forces’ (RSNF) multi-mission surface combatant requirement.
In May 2017, the United States Navy and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia signed a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) for four MMSCs. This agreement represents the first sale of a US-built surface combatant to another nation in more than 40 years.
“We are pleased to continue our long-standing relationship with Lockheed Martin and extend our partnership to a new derivative and customer,” said Chris Deegan, Gibbs & Cox president and CEO.
The specifics about the size and armament of the Royal Saudi Navy MMSCs have not been provided yet with only indicators being a US State Department weapon procurement approval from 2015.
Back then, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia requested four MMSC ships that would include COMBATSS-21 combat management systems with five TRS-4D radars. Also included were eight MK-41 Vertical Launch Systems (VLS) (two eight-cell assemblies per ship for 16 cells per hull) and 532 tactical RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM).
Saudi Arabia also requested a possible sale of Harpoon launchers, MK-15 Mod 31 SeaRAM CIWS and MK-75 76mm OTO Melara Gun Systems.
What is known, according to Gibbs & Cox, is that the vessels will be based on the Freedom-variant littoral combat ship’s 118 meter hull and will utilize the same combined diesel and gas propulsion system.