WASHINGTON, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy has delayed its decision on which of two designs of the Littoral Combat Ship it will purchase.
The Navy, in a statement released late Monday, announced it will request Final Proposal Revisions "soon" from competing firms Lockheed Martin and Austal USA.
"The Navy anticipates that FPRs will be received in September 2010, and will require that these revised offers remain valid for 90 days," the service said in its statement.
The LCS is a new breed of warship. It's a fast, modular, networked surface combatant designed deploy manned and unmanned vehicles to execute missions as assigned by combatant commanders.
LCS will also perform Special Operations Forces support, high-speed transit, maritime interdiction, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection.
The Navy in 2004 had decided to build competing designs for the vessel -- one from Lockheed Martin and the other from General Dynamics -- but in 2009 changed its mind and announced it would chose only one design for production.
At least 51 ships are at stake, a DefenseNews report said. The Navy has already bought two ships from each competing team and wants a force of 55 LCSs.
General Dynamics and its shipbuilder, Austal USA, split earlier this year for the purposes of bidding on the current contract for 10 ships vessels. Another contract will be awarded in 2012 but under Navy rules the winner of that award can't be associated with the current contract.