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Lockheed Martin to build 4 MMSC ships for Saudi Arabia in $1.96B contract

By
Ed Adamczyk
The U.S. Navy announced on Friday that Lockheed Martin will build four Multi-Mission Surface Combatant ships for the Saudi navy, similar to the littoral combat ships USS Freedom, rear, and the USS Independence, in a $1.96 billion contract. File Photo by Lt. Jan Shultis/U.S. Navy/UPI
The U.S. Navy announced on Friday that Lockheed Martin will build four Multi-Mission Surface Combatant ships for the Saudi navy, similar to the littoral combat ships USS Freedom, rear, and the USS Independence, in a $1.96 billion contract. File Photo by Lt. Jan Shultis/U.S. Navy/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin will build four Multi-Mission Surface Combatant ships for Saudi Arabia in a $1.96 billion contract, the Pentagon announced Friday.

The ships are derived from the Navy's Freedom-class littoral combat ships, and will be built at the Fincantieri Mariette Marine shipyards in Mariette, Wis. It is the same shipyard currently producing the Navy's littoral combat ships. The contract is part of the Foreign Military Sales agreement between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

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The diesel-powered ships, about 377 feet long, are steel monohulls with an aluminum superstructure. They are capable of fast open-ocean travel as well as operation in shallow water near shores, and have armaments which include an Mk 110 57 mm gun, an Mk 49 missile launcher with RIM-116 Rolling Airframe surface-to-air missiles and .50 caliber machine guns.

The contract is part of a $20 billion modernization of Saudi Arabia's navy. In 2015 the U.S. State Department announced its approval of a possible FMS sale of the ships. The majority of the work will be performed in Marinette, Wis., and is expected to be completed by June 2026.

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