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Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) See Growth In Prices

The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is a new class of light warships for the U.S. Navy designed to fight close inshore and have the ability to mix-and-match its systems to the mission requirements. The Navy currently has ordered four of the controversial ships two each from Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics. The plan is to buy three more in 2010 from one or both of the contractors.

Due to cost growth in the first two ships the Navy had at one point had canceled the contracts for ships 3 and 4. Congressional pressure made them order these next two ships. The initial estimate was that the ships would cost $220 million on average but the price tags have slowly escalated over time. Now LCS 1 is estimated to cost $637 million and hull 2 $704 million. Congress has placed a cap of only $460 million for the average cost. The Navy originally intended to build over fifty of the vessels.

With the continued cost growth of the existing program it is hard to see how the Navy can continue it. There will have to be a restructuring of the costs and number of ships planned. If not the program will like the bigger DDG-1000 class look like a good candidate to end with the Navy having to accept a new design or continue constructing existing ships.

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