The US Navy let a $795-million contract to Fincantieri to begin building a new class of guided-missile frigates, in the first new major shipbuilding program the service has started in more than a decade.

Fincantieri, which will build its frigate at its Marinette Marine shipyard in Wisconsin, based its FFG(X) design on the FREMM multi-mission frigate already operated by the French and Italian navies.

The detail design and construction contract covers one ship in the current Fiscal Year 2020 and options for as many as nine more ships, for a total value of $5.58 billion if all options are exercised.

It will be the ship that the LCS should have been. It’s a proven design in operation and has flexibility for growth.

The Navy utilized existing systems already fielded on other surface combatants in the fleet. These systems include an Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR), Baseline 10 Aegis Combat System, Mk 41 Vertical Launch System, and other communications and defensive systems with hot production lines and proven performance in the fleet. This not only speeds up the frigate design and construction effort but also has benefits for the cost of procuring these as GFE, maintaining a common inventory of spare parts and training sailors to operate the same system across multiple ship classes.

In this author’s opinion, it’s a good ship at the right time with multi-mission capability built on proven systems. The price is reasonable and even though the license is for ten, that is expandable, possibly to other shipyards as well. Well done, Navy.

15 COMMENTS

        • And stopped building CG’s, with the rationale that the DDG 51’s were good enough. And while I agree that the Arleigh Burke Class is the backbone of the current navy, there are not enough of them. The FFG’s will have a cruising radius and will be able to defend themselves while retaining an offensive punch. I’d send them ALL into Asiatic waters to patrol the WESTPAC. The Navy created what they thought would be a species of cruiser with the DDG 1000 ships, but they turned out to be expensive distractions.

        • There was a “loyalty test” during the Obama years. “Are you a Democrat?” If the answer was “yes”, you made flag rank. If not, you could retire as a captain and go gentle into that good night.

  1. And a real gun that’s proven and works and can actually provide naval gun-fire support, even if it is only a trumped up 3″ (76mm) gun. Much better than the 57mm that doesn’t work on the LCS.

    Though I was kinda hoping a lengthened version of the National Security Cutter, but the FFX/FREMM at least has a history of working well.

    • The National Security Cutter is a success story for the Puddle Pirate mission. Stretching it would have meant a complete re-design and who knows how long it would have taken to incorporate the VLS, etc. The FREMM frigate is turn key. We can churn those designs out and have them to the fleet in a few years.

  2. Hopefully they are building the twin screw option. The single screw version sucks… And THIS should have been what the Navy bought, not Vern Clark’s Little Crappy Ships.

    • My sense is that it includes the twin screw system, not the antique system we had on the FFG 7 – Oliver Hazard Class Perry Frigates. The FFG 7’s had that weirdly mounted single 3″ 50 amidships and the single missile launcher forward – with a rail system that wasn’t working just as often as it was. Even if it had to rail and fire an ASROC, odds are it couldn’t. The FFG 7’s depended on the helicopter to do the heavy lifting in ASW, and while it’s a good option, it shouldn’t be the only option.

      The FFG 7 had the twin screw so that it could operate the Prairie Masker, and I wouldn’t want to bet my life on that working in combat as it was advertised to the Navy to work by beltway bandits.

    • In this case, the Navy is doing a GREAT job. But you’re right. Under a Biden/AOC ticket, it would be scrapped.

  3. It’s a start. Not going to be enough to keep us capable if this is ALL that gets built but it is at least
    a start.

    • There is a reality setting in both in the Pentagon generally, and in the Navy specifically, that we will have a hot war with China within the decade. I’m not saying that it’s inevitable, but the military is gearing up. As evidence, look at the US Marine Corps. It has COMPLETELY restructured itself, shedding heavy armor and bridge building equipment and is adding ship killing ballistic missiles that can be emplaced for Pacific Island warfare. I agree that the FFG(X) program is not enough against the People’s Liberation Army’s Navy, but adding a maritime strike dynamic with B-1B’s (if that happens) and other contemplated moves, does add serious teeth to the capacity to sink the Chinese navy. I don’t think that they will offer themselves up for destruction easily, but the US, under President Trump, is a lot more capable than it was during the 8 miserable years of Obamanation.

  4. This could be very good news, indeed.

    There’s still time to screw it up, though.
    -Kle.

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