Austel USA, which built the future USS Cincinnati -- its 11th littoral combat ship for the U.S. Navy -- is developing plans for a next-generation guided missile frigate. Photo courtesy U.S. Navy
June 21 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy released the final solicitation for companies to bid on the design and construction of the next generation of guided-missile frigates, the FFG(X).
The request for proposals, or RFP, are for the first 10 ships -- one base ship and nine option vessels. The Navy said Thursday it expects to award a contract to one company in fiscal year 2020.
Interested bidders will have until Aug. 22 to submit their technical proposals to the Navy and until Sept. 26 to submit their pricing proposal, USNI News reported.
The Navy released a draft RFP to industry on March 1 and hosted an Industry Day event on March 19 to gain feedback.
The Navy wants more weapons and capabilities than the two current littoral combat ships currently in production.
The branch said the next-generation frigate will have "multi-mission capability to conduct air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, electronic warfare and information operations. " The ship would have at least 32 vertical launching system cells and an AEGIS-based combat system.
The Navy awarded five development contracts in July 2018 to shipbuilders to refine an existing parent hull design as a basis for the frigate, which must be build in domestic shipyards, according to federal law.
The $15 million contracts were awarded to Huntington Ingalls Industries, Austal USA, Lockheed Martin, Fincantieri Marine and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works to refine their own frigate parent designs.
Navy acquisition executive Hondo Geurts told Congress last year he anticipates the lead ship's cost will be $1.2 billion.
Lockheed Martin, which builds the Freedom-variant littoral combat ship, was part of the early process but announced it would not continue with the frigate competition. Austal USA is building four Independence-class LCS ships in Mobile, Ala.
The Navy wants to reach the full requirement of 20 ships and is planning a second contract closer to fiscal year 2025 for the next 10 ships "to ensure more accurate pricing on out-year ships." This will be beyond the six years planned for this initial contract.
A parent ship design must have been through production and demonstrated in full scale at sea.
The first ship would be outfitted 72 months after contract award.