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Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)/Frigate Program: Background and Issues for Congress

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Technical Report

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Congressional Research Service Washington United States

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The Navys Littoral Combat Ship LCSFrigate program is a program to procure a large number of LCSs and modified LCSs. The modified LCSs are to be referred to as frigates. The LCS program has been controversial over the years due to past cost growth, design and construction issues with the lead ships built to each design, concerns over the ships survivability i.e., ability to withstand battle damage, concerns over whether the ships are sufficiently armed and would be able to perform their stated missions effectively, and concerns over the development and testing of the ships modular mission packages. The Navys execution of the program has been a matter of congressional oversight attention for several years. Prior to December 14, 2015, Navy plans called for procuring a total of 32 LCSs and 20 frigates, for a total of 52 ships. A December 14, 2015, memorandum from Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus directed the Navy to reduce the LCSFrigate program to a total of 40 ships. The memorandum also directed the Navy to reduce planned annual procurement quantities of LCSs during the Navys FY2017-FY2021 five-year shipbuilding plan, and to neck down to a single design variant of the ships starting with the ships to be procured in FY2019. Two different variants of the LCS are currently built by two shipyards. The first LCS was funded in FY2005, and a total of 26 have been funded through FY2016. The Navys proposed FY2017 budget requests 1,125.6 million for the procurement of the 27th and 28th LCSs, or an average of 562.8 million for each ship. The Navys proposed FY2017 budget also requests 86 million in so-called cost-to-complete procurement funding to cover cost growth on LCSs procured in previous fiscal years, and 139.4 million for procurement of LCS mission module equipment.

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