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Littoral Combat Ship: Need to Address Fundamental Weaknesses in LCS and Frigate Acquisition Strategies

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Technical Report

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U.S. Government Accountability Office Washington United States

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The Navys task force studied a number of options to improve upon known shortfalls in Littoral Combat Ship LCS lethality and survivability. It found that neither LCS variant with minor modifications met the Navys desired capabilities without further tradeoffs. After briefing senior Navy leadership, the task force was directed to further examine the LCS options, which required it to alter or in some cases reduce some capabilities. In late 2014, the Navy recommended and the Secretary of Defense approved procuring both variants of a minor modified LCS, designating it a frigate. The Navy prioritized this option because of its relatively lower cost and quicker ability to field, as well as the ability to upgrade remaining LCS, over making more significant capability improvements. GAOs analysis found the planned frigate will not provide much greater capability in some areas than LCS and that some cost assumptions may have overstated this options affordability. As the Navy pivots from LCS to the frigate program, which is estimated to cost more than 8 billion for ship construction alone, its approach would require Congress to appropriate funding with key unknowns. The table outlines GAOs observations on the Navys acquisition strategy.

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