Austal has an idea about redesigning its Littoral Combat Ship to fit what the Navy wants in a frigate. A frigate is typically a smaller ship the protects other warships. When it was first conceived, the LCS was meant to perform multiple missions, including minesweeping and anti-submarine warfare. That hasn’t changed.
But now, Admirals want more firepower.
The LCS has been criticized for what some see as its lack of survivability in combat and minimum firepower. But Austal aims to change that.
The Mobile shipbuilder showed off a model at the Navy Leagues Sea-Air-Space Conference last month with significant design changes. They include a shorter flight deck to make room for 8 more anti-ship missiles for a total of 16.
But published reports say what has the Navy’s attention in the company’s design is the option of adding a vertical launch missile system that can fire a wide range of missiles. That would increase its lethality at longer ranges and expand the types of missions the ship could perform.
The trade off in the design is a slight reduction in the ability to carry out airborne missions. Reducing the flight deck and in turn, the mission bay which would accomodate only one Sea Hawk Helicopter and one Fire Scout Drone, instead of two apiece.
The Navy was set to award a $9b frigate contract in 2018 but has pushed that award back a year to further study the Austal frigate design.