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Navy Goes International for LCS Radar

by: Matthew Potter
September 21, 2011

Category: Austal, Business Line, Companies, Contract Additions, Contract Awards, Countries, Department of Defense, Events, Lockheed Martin, Marinette Marine, production program, SAAB, Services, Sweden, U.S. Navy, United States | RSS 2.0

Update at 1700 CDT – The post has been updated to make clear that the SAAB radar has been selected only for the Austal USA version of the LCS.

The U.S. Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is a small combatant designed to fight close in to shore. It will carry out a series of different missions including anti-piracy operations, Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), surveillance and reconnaissance and sanction enforcement. It is unique to the U.S. Navy at this time in that two very different designs with the same basic capability are being built from two contractors This is to allow rapid production.

LCS construction is being carried out by Lockheed Martin (LMT) teamed with Marinette Marine Corp. of Wisconsin as well as Austal USA, a subsidiary of Australian company Austal. The Navy has ordered 9 of the ships so far split between the two teams.

The Navy announced this week that it has decided to install the Sea Giraffe AMB radar onto the Austal USA version of the LCS. This system is manufactured by SAAB’s (SAABB) American subsidiary. The “Agile Multi-Beam” radar provides air and surface surveillance capabilities and is used to generate a three dimensional picture of the area to support operations. It has already been installed on a variety of combatants in use with countries like Sweden, Canada and Australia.

No value for the contract was given.

The first two, LCS 1, USS Freedom, and LCS 2, USS Independence, have already been completed.

The Navy had gone back and forth on the acquisition strategy for the ship due to concerns about price and schedule after the first two were put on contract. The original plan to use the two sources was ended and there was discussion of ordering batches of ten to a single producer at a time. After the proposals were received for the first contract from Lockheed and Austal the prices were so good the Navy went back to ordering from two suppliers.

Late last year the Navy gave contracts for ten ships each to the two companies.

The LCS remain controversial due to their size, weapon suite and capabilities. The Navy seems committed to the program and has begun large scale production. The decision to use the Sea Giraffe also highlights their commitment. It is uncommon for a non-American system to be ordered like this. The standard U.S. Navy radar and combat system, the AEGIS Weapon System, is much too large for the LCS and buying an existing system like this should save time and schedule.

As with all new classes of ships once they have been in service for a few years, worked out their kinks and demonstrated their capabilities they will be accepted and should be a valuable addition.

Due to the concerns about future shipbuilding budgets and capabilities the LCS if it really is built in the numbers proposed will make up a decent portion of the U.S. surface fleet by mid-Century. Ships last a long time and can receive incremental upgrades as technology progresses and that is what will happen with this class.

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  1. Saab wins U.S. Navy radar contract | MaritimeSecurity.Asia on September 22nd, 2011 11:03 am

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