The House Appropriations defense subcommittee is opening the door for the Navy to purchase three Littoral Combat Ships in fiscal year 2019.
The Navy bought its thirty-second LCS in FY-18, meeting its total requirement, but requested another vessel in FY-19 to maintain a bridge for the industrial base until the guided-missile frigate replacement contract is awarded in 2020. In its mark of the FY-19 spending bill, released today, the House Appropriations defense subcommittee approved $1.5 billion for LCS construction, which would pay for three vessels.
Meanwhile, the Senate Armed Services Committee authorized one LCS in FY-19, while their House counterparts have agreed to purchase three vessels.
The HASC version of the bill includes an additional two vessels because members are concerned that building just one LCS in FY-19 will not only damage the two shipyards -- Austal USA and Marinette Marine -- but will negatively impact pricing for the FFG(X) program.
The service plans to purchase 20 FFG(X)s to round out its small surface combatant inventory.
"We're trying to fill the requirement for small surface combatants and taking a pause and stopping the production lines . . . doesn't allow for a favorable pricing point," a House Armed Services Committee staffer said in April.
The service is conducting a force-structure assessment and the small surface combatant requirement could change. The new small surface combatant requirement will determine how many FFG(X)s the subcommittee will authorize in the future, according to the House staffer.