The Navy's future frigate program is a top budget priority in the coming year because of its implications for the service's future shipbuilding efforts, according to the Navy's top officer.
Speaking to reporters at the Surface Navy Association conference in Arlington, VA, yesterday, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson noted the service needs the FFG(X).
"Also, we're really trying to approach how we design and build those ships differently, which might define a new era, if you will, in shipbuilding," he said.
The four-star said he wants the new vessel to be as "plug-and-play" as possible so it "can ride the technology curve as it advances, so that you can quickly and easily swap out and modernize that ship over time."
Reagan Campbell, FFG(X) program manager within the program executive office for the Littoral Combat Ship, yesterday said the Navy intends to award four to six conceptual design contracts this quarter for the guided-missile frigate replacement program and will then downselect to one vendor.
The frigate, estimated to cost $950 million in calendar year 2018 dollars for follow-on ships, will be competing for money with the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine. The submarine program is the Navy's largest acquisition program, with an expected cost of $267 billion over its life cycle, including $128 billion in research, development and procurement money.