HENDERSON, Australia, April 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy has funded the construction of two additional Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ships by Austal USA, a subsidiary of Australia's Austal Limited.
The LCS 22 and LCS 24 will be the ninth and 10th Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ships built by Austal under a 10-vessel contract.
The funding amount is about $691 million, Austal Limited said in a news release.
"It is pleasing to see the Navy's confidence in Austal's ability to produce these high quality vessels," said Austal Chief Executive Officer Andrew Bellamy. "We have developed considerable know-how as the LCS program has matured and look forward to constructing the newly funded ships, which secure work at our U.S. shipyard through to 2020."
Littoral Combat Ships are designed to combat threats from close to shore using special weapons and mission packages. The vessels are smaller than a guided missile frigate, can handle helicopter aircraft and can be used as a small assault force transport. The LCS comes in two variants – Freedom class and Independence class, which has a trimaran hull.
Austal currently has seven LCS at various stages of construction at its shipyard in Mobile, Ala. Included is the