WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Shipbuilders Austal and Lockheed Martin won over $1.1 billion combined to build variants of littoral combat ships, the US Defense Department said in a press release.
"Austal USA located in Mobile, Alabama and Lockheed Martin Corp. of Baltimore, Maryland have each been awarded not-to-exceed congressional cost cap contracts of $584,200,000 for the construction of a littoral combat ships (LCS)," the release said on Friday.
Austal will build the Independence version of the LCS which is smaller, lighter and faster, according to published reports. Lockheed Martin will construct the Freedom variant, a larger version.designed anticipating increasing threats from coastal mines, diesel submarines, pirates and small fast attack boats of the type the Iranians employ, according to published reports.
Both shipbuilders will be responsible for complete design, planning, construction and test and trials activities in support of delivery of this ship to the US Navy, the release added. The two LCS warships are expected to be delivered to the Navy in October 2023.
The development and construction of this vessel class if famous for being plagued by cost overruns. Last year, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain has criticized the programme, saying that a s much as $12.4 billion has been wasted by the US Department of Defense for 26 littoral combat ships with no practical combat capability.
However, apart from domestic market, Lockheed Martin will reportedly sell four Freedom-class ships to Saudi Arabia for $6 billion.